Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking Back at 2013 and Plans for 2014

Looking Back at 2013 and Plans for 2014

Each year is a precious gift that shouldn't be squandered.
A large portion of my time in 2013 went to planning my wedding. I made the bouquets, boutonnieres and table arrangements along with the other preparations.

Some of us have less time in which to accomplish our goals than others. In my situation, as well as other writers and artists I know, we deal with chronic illness. This is not a pity me post by any means. I am having to adjust and relearn how to do tasks that once came easy. This is imperative, but frustrating. This year I WILL find what works to make me a more productive writer.
By posting what I accomplished in 2013 it will help me see what progress I made and in turn, I hope it will encourage others, too. The other portion of this post will be the goals I'm striving to reach in 2014.

2013 Writing/Visual Art Accomplishments:
*Published: The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes, The Celtic Heritage Series
*Published: My photographs in Eye on Fine Art Photography Magazine, the premier issue January 2014.
*Camp NaNoWriMo: I reached 50,000 words
*NaNoWriMo: I reached 50,000 words
*I managed to write a handful of blog posts
*I attended a conference presented by the Northwest Houston RWA chapter. A short story/novella request, and a request by an editor and a literary agent for a synopsis and the first three chapters of my Camp NaNo novel.
*I painted a mixed media portrait of Sparky Lionel Urban. I haven't been able to paint for a few years. Happy about this!
*Updated two covers. One for the recipe book and the other for Christmas of Hope.

Goals for 2014:
*Learn how to use my Wacom Digital Tablet
*Learn how to maximize the features on my Canon PowerShot SX500 IS, while learning more about photography
*Finish polishing my novella and submit
*Finish/edit/polish both novels
*At least start on the outline steampunk romance
*Get a rough draft on my children's book and consider the illustrations
*Submit and focus on agent representation
*Finish and publish book two of The Celtic Heritage recipe book series
*I entered my art and photography into 4 contests this year so far

This is a large list for me but having projects in various stages of creation helps the goals become more realistic.
I've found having both long and short term tasks gives me a better idea of what I can work on now while giving me something to continue to strive for as the year progresses.

Some lessons I've learned personally:
Do the best you can with the skills and abilities you've been given. Make the world a better place. A kind word or act, getting rid of the people who tear you down and love you for the beautiful person you are. Family doesn't always mean those who are blood related to us, sometimes the best family is the one who opens their arms to you and includes you into theirs. I've experienced this blessing within the past three years. Trust doesn't come easy for me but I'm learning how to open enough to give people a chance. If they show their true colors and can prove hurtful to me, I move on.

This past year I've also learned how to embrace and be thankful for the gifts from the Universe. Don't dwell on the negative, you'll only get more. Reprogram old habits and patterns that prevent me from becoming the best person I can be. Fear in my personal life can easily translate into fear in my writing and art. As a creative personality, we pull from withing ourselves the words we paint on the page, paper, or through the lens of a camera. Having the courage to work through the rough places and come out victorious makes us stronger. This is something I have to remind myself of from time to time.

I've had tremendous adjustments in 2012 and 2013 personally. When you've never had an atmosphere to create without abuse it takes the mind and body time to learn how to work in the new environment. The sheer joy of relaxing and not having every aspect of my life controlled makes me want to grateful tears of happiness. My husband is gentle, brilliant in so many areas, creative, supportive and has an amazing sense of humour. David never, ever, tells me no I can't do something new when it comes to my writing and art.

The photo was taken from our backyard. We live in a small Texas town and I love it. Beauty like this feeds my heart and soul. I'm so thankful I get to experience sunsets such as this.

By giving me the room to create and learn, I had my photography accepted in a fine arts magazine. I started learning photography earlier this year. I never imagined I would sell any of my work so quickly. The acceptance has spurred me to do more this year.

I look to 2014 for the blessings God will give and for the chance to show love and help others.

My wish for all of you: accept the blessings, find true love, are in a safe place and push aside your fear to reveal the gifts you have to share with others. All of you are beautiful.

Hugs and love to all,
Tambra Nicole

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Contests for Artists and Writers: Good or Evil?

Contests for Artists and Writers: Good or Evil?

I have more experience in contests for writers than in the area of my visual art.
Having said this there are two sides which this post will explore.

First off, let me say I have seen writers gain attention and exposure by placing in contests.
I've also seen some writers enter and waste their money. One contest and the comment from one judge impacted me. Her name is Adrienne DeWolfe. A wonderful author, speaker and teacher. Adrienne's comments encouraged and helped me focus on the technical aspects as a beginning writer without becoming overwhelmed.


My scores were thus: one loved the story and characters, one judge hated everything, and one was mediocre about my contest entry. I never could figure out how that kind of scoring was supposed to help me. When I began to see a pattern I stopped entering writing contests.
The explanation I was given for the scoring: I just didn't write well for contests. The answer never made sense to me since I was selling my work. My thought process stuttered on that phrase. I write what I love and what readers want to read. Readers come first.
I don't write for any contest. I write the stories that come from my heart and for my readers.

I write romance and paranormal romance. The professional organization I belonged to had chapters across the country who offered contests. It provided a great way for the winners to get their work in front of an editor or literary agent. This can be a good way to get your writing placed in front of these professionals quicker than sending in a query and waiting.

Very recently I began entering contests for my photography and paintings.
I have an account at Fine Art America and I've slowly entered some contests to test the waters. To see what kind of response I'll receive from my peers. Dealing with the art community further than just locally is going to take me a little while to learn. Each discipline has their own way of doing things.

This month I entered four different contests on the Fine Art America site.
I hope the exposure from this art site will expose my work to a wider audience. The contests I entered a way to bring positive attention to my forms of creativity.

This post is personal opinion and personal experience. Not everyone has the same results.

In the future, I may well enter a few writing contests. Things are much different for me now. Possibly timing and the Universe are also involved.

Good or evil?
This question is going to be answered differently by each one of you. The experiences you've had in the past play a part in the decision process. It does for me.
Asking yourself questions and giving truthful answers can make the experience easier.

Why are you entering a contest?
What do you expect to happen?
Can you deal with rejection?
Are you able to pick out the information you can use and toss the comments that aren't useful?
How much weight does winning a contest really hold?
Will this contest assist you in the goals you've set?
Can you afford the fees?

Contests can be a wonderful way to gain feedback on your work and give you a better idea of where you are: such as beginner, intermediate or advanced level.
They can open up networking channels with other authors or artists.

The dark side of contests can be an area people would prefer not to talk about. Cheating or squishing the results to a certain type of writing style or artwork because that is what is accepted by the powers that be.
The amount of money spent on entering contests mounts quickly. Not receiving the feedback needed hinders the creative process (at least it did for me.) The frustration from not getting anywhere affects the entire inner workings of the artist/writer.

The work we create is a part of us. Learning how to separate ourselves from our creation can be a painful process. It is hard to not take the rejection personally. Growing as an artist is vitally important. Accepting not everyone will like your work is one of them. Be warned there are people out there who think personal attacks on authors or artists is constructive criticism. Ignore those individuals.

Research the contests you'd like to enter. Make sure they are in line with the work you do and check to make sure the organization is legitimate. When researching go to more than one place on the internet.

Contests are a tool in the arsenal for the artist and writer. Using the information and the experience is a way to give you a point of reference for you as a professional. Let me repeat this: contests are tools for the artist and writer. This is the point of the entire post. Contests are neither good nor evil.

If you decide to dip your toes into the water and enter a contest, I wish you the best.
If you choose not to take the contest pathway but have found another way, good for you!

For those interested in viewing my online portfolio at Fine Art America: Here is where you can purchase my work in a variety of sizes and more.

Create with love and passion. Create because of the joy it brings to your soul for that in itself is a precious gift.

All the best,
Tambra Kendall-Sas

***Please note: the photographs in this blog post are created and owned by Tambra Kendall-Sas.
Thank you for respecting my art.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Self Published and Indie Authors: Professionalism Counts

In the beginning of my writing journey I made it a point to join writing organizations from local to national.
I learned quite a bit of the business side of things from Romance Writer's of America. I'm grateful for the experience.

This post in response to the requests I keep receiving for reviews for authors. Some ask first, others just send an attachment with a request. I get requests for book in genres I don't even read. The emails have been respectful, don't get me wrong. I'm just seeing more and more in my email. The fact is, I don't have the time.
I AM NOT A REVIEW SITE. I don't want to sound mean but the message needs to be seen.

Authors of self-published/Indie books, please contact book review sites that are aimed at the kind of books you write.
This is where I mention research in the title of this blog. When you self publish it means you do all the work. Cutting corners shows in your writing, marketing and social interaction.

These are what I term "Cold Call Hit and Run's." By contacting legitimate review sites you can get the quotes and exposure you're looking for. Establishing a good business relationship with book reviewers benefits everyone: the author, the reviewer and the potential readers.
Self Published and Indie Authors: Professionalism Counts

I write romance, nonfiction and children's. By sending my work to a review who doesn't deal with anything I write it makes me look bad. The writing community is smaller than you know. I've sat back and watched for 24 years how the industry has evolved. Change doesn't always come easy. Adjustments continue to be made. Lines cross and blur.

Self publishing and Indie publishing has opened so many doors for authors. It's an exciting time to be an author, no question about it but remember this is also a business. Even it is just you. Word will get around if your research is sloppy and inaccurate.
You must learn the basic elements of writing before you put your work out there. People are going to be spending their hard earned money on a product that has your name on it. Do you want to put out the best book you can, or are you going to flood the market with something is a piece of crapola.

What I'm trying to explain is professionalism.
There are people who have money and access to technology many of us don't have. That shouldn't stop you from learning how to write the best book you can, learn the industry and how it works. Go to conferences if possible where you can get this information. There are online conferences now so you don't have to leave your house.

Savvy Authors is a fantastic organization. They have workshops in a wide variety of areas, various lengths and cost.
Romance Writers of America is the largest professional writing organization in the United States. They offer local and online chapters, a monthly magazine and a national conference. RWA is also located in Australia. Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Most of these organizations are genre specific, I know. These organizations can help you with craft and learning the business. You can network and make contacts.

So, to recap:
Find review sites that review the type of book you write. Find more than one because review sites are busy and you might not get reviewed.
Research the business side of writing.
Be professional.
Don't slack off and write a pile crap. Readers know and throw your book across the room. They will tell all their friends.
The publishing industry is smaller than you think. If one of your goals is to sign with a literary agent and get into a New York publisher this is especially true. The agent you have today, may be the editor you have tomorrow. If you've made either one of them mad they will remember.

I have a very small window of time in which to write and market my work, so I have to be extremely careful. I'm always striving to learn the craft of writing and the business side of things. The publishing industry is fluid. You can't sit back and rest on accomplishments from years ago.

My goal was to impart knowledge to those beginning authors who have not had the chance to learn how to conduct themselves in a professional manner and to give a place of direction to find it.

All my best,
Tambra Nicole Kendall-Sas

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Art/Creativity Explosion!

This is blog post I just wrote for my account at Fine Art America.
I have artwork and photography for sale in a variety of sizes, as well as other options. I do hope you'll stop by!

The link is:

Late November 2011 my life changed. I didn't know at the time just how much and how quickly.
My best friend/sister introduced me to a wonderful man. I thought if this turns into friendship, I'm okay with this. When she introduced us, I had made up my mind I was going to write my books and continue with my art. I wasn't out looking to date or anything like that. I was happy with my life and with myself.
Well, David and I immediately got along and discovered so many things we had in common. Still, both of us had been terribly burned in the past, so Kath acted as a go-between for awhile. She told me to call him. I said, "no way." I really liked him and I don't chase men. Yeah, I'm a bit old-fashioned but that's me.
Fast forward to April 2013: David and I were married in a historical building in a nearby town, in a small, intimate ceremony.

What does all of this have to do with an art explosion?
His love and support has given me the confidence to learn and try things I would have shied away from despite wanting to do them.
This year I bought my first good camera. A Canon PowerShot SX500 IS. Photography has been an area I've been interested in for a long time.
Since I do watercolors, taking photos so I could paint from them was the original idea. Now, I'm discovering how much I love photography itself.
The photograph of the flowers symbolize the explosion of creativity I'm experiencing. This photograph was taken on the grounds where I was married earlier this year.

I have a watercolor series I can't wait to start. I'm a long time fan of fantasy art and have wanted to create a series. I hope to have the first one out early in 2014 (this is a tentative date). Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo, Brian Froud and Beatrix Potter have all been tremendous influences on my work.

Digital art is another area I've long desired add to my creative endeavors. I have a WACOM Intuos 5 tablet and the learning curve is a bit steep. I'm used to looking at my paper and creating. Trying to sketch and look at the monitor is going to take some getting used to but I'm excited about mastering (to the best of my ability) this area of art.

Being creative extends to cooking. My first cookbook: The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes is part of my Celtic Heritage Series.
It's available in Kindle and in print. The book has received mostly 5 star reviews on Amazon, so thank you to those who took the time to review the book!
Currently, I'm gathering information on book two of the series.

My art explosion is photography, digital art, a fantasy series and writing fiction and nonfiction.

Each day is a blessing and I can't wait to get up and CREATE something or many somethings as the case may be.

I hope the excitement, joy and passion for what I do shows through. I want my art to affect people in a positive way. It is an honor to have
people think enough of what I create to buy the item and include it in their lives.

My wish is that you find your passion and share it with the world; to make this a more beautiful place that we all share.

All the best!
Tambra Kendall-Sas

Monday, May 27, 2013

Writing Technique Books: For Beginners To Advanced Writers

Writing Technique Books: For Beginners To Advanced Writers
by Tambra Nicole Kendall

I'm going to begin by listing books I go to on a regular basis on my bookshelf. I'm a firm believer in you never stop
learning or improving your writing skills. I know it can cost a great deal of money to build a library of writing resource books. Buy a few books at a time.
Many libraries have an inter-library loan system.

Debra Dixon's GMC books is must have. Without understanding goal, motivation and conflict you have no story. Her book helped clarify so many points for me. My poor book is highlighted and underlined within an inch of its life.

Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Learn what yours are so you can be the best writer you can.

I want to give my readers the best story I possibly can. For me, that means constantly studying and working on all areas of fiction writing. The more I understand, the better I can help students when I teach.
Readers don't have to spend their hard earned money on my books. When they do, I don't want to violate their trust by giving them sloppy writing.

Writing is a commitment. It takes putting your butt in the chair and writing. No one. And I mean NO ONE writes perfectly.
With time, practice and knowledge you can write a pretty clean first draft, which will save time later. To do this you need to learn the craft of writing.

Some books are easier to write than others. Having the right books to make the process easier. Every writer has a process that works for them. Find yours. Some writers are plotters, some are pantsers (they have an idea and not much planning) then you have what I am: a combination plotter. I need direction but I also need the freedom that comes from pantsing. A story is fluid so I need the ability to change without a huge ordeal.

Most of us write tons of crap but that's how you learn. You can't edit a blank page.
Join writing organizations, go to workshops and conventions. Not only will it help you learn the craft of writing but it will help you begin your writing network.
As I posted in another article on this blog. Be professional and courteous. Mind your manners, you never know who is reading your comments. The writing community is smaller than you realize.

Here is a list of books I keep close by when I'm writing. I also have recommended these books to my students over the years. I hope you find them useful as well. There is a wide range of titles that serve all writing levels.

Tambra Nicole Kendall's Writing How-To Book List

The Writer's Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts To Ignite Your Fiction
ISBN: 1-58297-411-X, fw Publications, Inc.

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Elements of Fiction Writing Series, Writers Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-906-6

Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Elements of Fiction Writing Series, Writers Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-927-9

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
University of Oklahoma Press
ISBN: 0-8061-1191-7

20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-595-8

Writing Novels That Sell by Jack M. Bickham
Published by Simon & Shuster Inc.
ISBN: 0-671-68393-4

Stephen King: On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft
Published by Scribner
ISBN: 0-684-85352-3

Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon
Writer's Digest Sourcebook
ISBN: 1-58297-027-0

First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 1-58297-296-6

From First Draft to Finished Novel by Karen S. Wiesner
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 978-1-58297-551-1

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 0-89879-821-3

GMC Goal, Motivation and Conflict The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon
Gryphon Books for Writers
ISBN: 0-9654371-0-8

As always, I wish you the very best in your writing journey.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.

Tambra Nicole Kendall

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes

The Scottish-English Texan: 56 Teatime Recipes is my first cookbook. I'm so happy to share it with everyone.
This is volume 1 in the Celtic Heritage Series. Two more are in the planning stages.

Teatime can be utilized for almost any occasion. Weddings, baby showers, an afternoon spent with friends, Christmas, graduation. For fun. Any day, every day. You can have high tea, low tea, cream tea or a cambric tea.
Valentine's Day is coming fast. A Valentine's Day tea would be lovely and romantic.

I've always found hot tea comforting. I even drink it in the summer, although not quite as much since I am in Texas.

The recipes in the book are traditional and I've added some my own in the mix along with a touch of Texas. Some of the recipes you'll find are: Cucumber-Dill sandwiches, Indian Chicken Salad and Spiced Egg Sandwich also known as Egg Mayonnaise.
Crumpets with their little dimples oozing with melting butter, hearty scones and oatcakes
Butter cake with chocolate filling, shortbread and toasted teacakes. No teatime recipe book would be complete without curds. My book features lemon curd, orange curd and clotted cream.

There are times when spirited beverages are included in a celebration. There is a section included in The Scottish-English Texan Teatime Recipe book which features measurement chart for bartenders and the difference between whisky and whiskey. There is more than just a spelling difference.

The book reached bestseller status in the first few days of publication and five star reviews. You can purchase the book in print from Amazon or CreateSpace. The electronic format from Amazon.

Print book from CreateSpace

Print book from Amazon
EBook link is:

Teatime is a comforting and relaxing way to spend time with family and friends. It can also become a tradition to pass down in your family.

All the best,
Tambra Nicole Kendall

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fiction Writing Mistakes Series

Fiction Writing Mistakes Series:Backstory and Hooks
by Tambra Nicole Kendall
Daughters of Avalon Publishing, LLC

This is a six part series that will focus on common fiction writing mistakes.


A portion of this is taken from my characterization and plot workshop.

Remember to begin you story at the point where the character’s life has or very quickly experiences a big problem that has stopped their everyday lives. That’s not to say you’re not supposed to know the backstory, you do. The trick is to trickle it in throughout the story and in places where it makes sense so it will have the most impact.

Backstory immediately kills the forward pace of the story, which is why you need to ask yourself does it really need to be in there. If the answer is yes, then make sure your transitions are clear. Do this as quickly as you can. Like a flashback, too much of this stops the action in the story.

Backstory is not something you need to be heavy-handed with. If background must be given, do it later (not at the beginning) but after you’ve pulled the reader in with the action of the story.

Don’t forget stories begin in media res, in the middle of things. Long passages describing the town, the location or pages of internalization jerks the story to a stop.
Your opening needs to catch the attention of the reader or editor, you have a few sentences. If the person is generous, a paragraphs at most.

Long detailed descriptions of the hero/heroine’s childhood, pets, home etc. won’t get you past the first reader at a publishing house. Always ask yourself, does this piece of information really need to be here? Does it move the story forward or reveal something important about the character?


Inner backstory (how it defines character)

The character’s reaction to a circumstance can be defining either positively or negatively.
Many writers use childhood influences to help create their main characters to get started.

One of the first issues a child confronts is trust. Babies need to feel secure and safe, to trust their parents to love and care for them. If trust is lacking, the child will carry this throughout their life.
Using characterization: when the character’s life changes in stability the trust issue can re-emerge such as in romance, romantic suspense or any genre where a there is a relationship.

If there isn’t love, trust and security, children experience a lack of support which causes a lack of belief in themselves. Criticism replaces love. Their low self-esteem and self-confidence affects the issue of identity where it is especially strong during the high school years.

Archetypes and what type of character such as: thinking, intuition, sensation and feeling will assist in character creation. Learning how the inner person of the character you’re creating will be stronger and more understandable to the reader.

Here are two questions you can as yourself:

Are there any traumatic incidents that affects the character’s behavior?

What internal and external forces drive my character? How does it affect his/her GMC?

A traumatic incident colors a character's perception, their point of view. In our lives and the lives of our family and friends this is also true. This is where the building of the character arc begins.
A character is internal as well as external.

The character's inner backstory is important to their continued development throughout the story. The attitude they have comes out in dialogue, action and how they relate to the other characters in the book.


Knowing your character before you begin writing can help in creating a hook sentence. Dialogue and action are two ways to hook the readers attention. Hook sentences are clear and straightforward. You only have a few sentences so grab the reader and don't let go.

Here is the opening paragraphs from my Christmas romance, Alpin MacKibble's Christmas Wish. I've used dialogue as my hook and trickled in a bit of backstory (the dog hating assistant manager.)

“Behave, Alpin. Stay inside until we reach the pet food aisle.” Melody Barton whispered as she stroked the silky head of her West Highland white terrier. Grabbing a grocery cart, she placed her fuzzy bundle of energy onto the red plastic seat and prayed her baby would stay hidden from the dog hating assistant manager.
The cold wind gusted pushing hard at her back. Melody pulled the sides of the leather tote bag higher to protect Alpin and hurried inside the Big Tex grocery store.

This is the beginning of A Taste of the Forbidden:
“This is all your fault.” Jason Devon stood on the back porch and glared at Fetch, his vampire golden retriever puppy. “You just couldn’t leave that cat alone. Now I’ve got meet the feline’s owner to discuss damages to her property.” His fingers bent the note from the woman releasing an intoxicating scent in the air.
Jason stood still. Stunned.
The past four years he’d searched for the woman who enveloped him in her unique essence, the one who touched him body and soul. He’d never forget this heady fragrance. Exotic. Sensual. Floral. His cock stirred in response. A deep-seated hunger so fierce and raw clawed its way from his chest radiating out in painful pulses.

My examples are two different kinds of romances but both (I hope) show you how hook sentences and a trickle of backstory work together to keep the reader turning the pages.

Throughout my years of teaching, I've seen beginning writers focus so much on getting the hook sentence right, they neglected the writing of the story itself.
Everything hinges on something else in writing. Not knowing your characters affects plot and dialogue which affects pacing get the picture.

Chapter Ending Hooks serve a similar purpose as a beginning hook sentence, they end at a point where the reader has to turn the page so they can find out what happened. A cliffhanger of danger or peril, or a place where the character is a place of cross roads in a decision. These are examples of chapter ending hooks.

I hope you find this post on backstory and hooks helpful.
I look forward to hearing from readers and writers about this topic.

All my best,
Tambra Kendall