I finally got something done!

December 17, 2007

Long time, eh? I’m just relaxing a bit tonight. Listening to some music, answering some messages and, oh yeah, writing a blog post for the first time in weeks. I’ve spent the past few days finishing up a complete redesign of my website, which has had the same look for almost 3 years. I’m really happy with the way it turned out and I’m happy with the software I finally chose to build it with. That was a big decision for me. I was using Frontpage on my windows pc, but I wanted something different to use on my Mac. Finally found it and got the project off the ground. My blog is now integrated into my site, but I still will probably post at WordPress also, to reach a different audience. I’m just happy that I’ve finally been able to complete my move to a Mac workflow and eliminate my need for a windows pc. Good thing, too, as my pc is about 9 years old and takes a LONG time to do anything.

Sometime before the end of the year, I will post my thoughts on all (or most) of the books I’ve read this year. I read more than I thought. The list has 20+ books on it. Not bad, right? That’s about 2 per month. It will take me a while to write that up.

We are just about ready for the holidays here in the Chambers household. It’s funny. Every year we have at least one gift that we are really excited to give to someone. This year is no different. That’s the coolest thing, for me. I took my two youngest girls to a Christmas shop that is just down the road from us, but we’ve never been to before. They have unusual hours. It turns out that the “shop” is located in a huge barn next to an old farmhouse built in 1647. The property is just gorgeous. The shop is great. They must have a million little things in there. Mostly Christmas related, but lots of other stuff as well. Upstairs I found a big crate sitting on the floor. It was filled with old albums. 33s, 45s and 78s. Yes, 78s. I picked up a 78 rpm copy of the Davis Sisters “I forgot more than you’ll ever know”. Released in 1953. The disc is thick and heavy and I think it’s pretty darn cool. Anyway, that’s the kind of thing you can find in that Christmas shop. I’ll be going back.

new discoveries abound

August 6, 2007

Curse you, Cecil Castellucci! How dare you directly affect my writing life. AGAIN! Kidding, of course. Through Miss Cecil, I’ve discovered writers such as John Green, Maureen Johnson, Markus Zusak, Jo Knowles, etc. The list goes on and on. I’ve read a lot and I’ve learned a lot. Now, Cecil has a link in her blog to a program called Scrivener, which may be exactly what I’ve been looking for. It is like a workbench for book building. It looks completely cool. Later today, I’ll be diving in for a trial run. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

The Beach Torture Event went well enough. The family had a mostly good time and it wasn’t too bad for me. I didn’t have to spend much time on the beach, although I know that the eleven other people I was there with were getting a bit aggravated with me because I had no interest in what everyone else was doing (sitting on the beach for hours). I guess they just couldn’t understand how someone could dislike doing that. I can’t figure out how doing that doesn’t drive them crazy with boredom. Despite the fact that I didn’t spend much time at the beach, I still felt pretty busy all week. I did visit a very cool children’s book shop called the Children’s Book Garden, where I picked up a copy of When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, which I’m not finished reading yet. I also paid a visit to my favorite Ocean City, MD attraction, the Wheels of Yesterday museum and giftshop. I just love that place.

So, all in all it was a decent vacation, but I’m glad to be home. School starts in three weeks and the kids’ sports practices start this afternoon, so the busy time is upon us.

cafe writing

July 31, 2007

Here I am, writing in a cafe. I’ve never done this before, since I thought there would be way too many distractions for me to try to write in public, but it’s working out pretty well. My short story Sharpest Knife in the Block is finished and submitted. I think it turned out pretty well. It’s a little dark in mood, but I like it. Today was the deadline, so it had to get done, although I’m sure I’ll still be changing parts of it weeks from now. The cafe I’m sitting in isn’t the type of cafe you are probably picturing in your mind. There is an indoor ice skating rink here. There is a pizza stand. There is the restaurant where I had breakfast and there is a coffee stand which will provide me with all of the Starbucks Caramel Lattes I can drink. There is not a lot of activity in here, even with all of those attractions, since the main attraction around here is located just through the doors at the end of the room. There is a beach out there. And the ocean. That’s where all of the people are.

I am not a big fan of the beach and the ocean, so I am sitting in this “cafe” banging on my iBook, drinking overpriced beverages and thinking about stories. Ahhh. This is the life.

Well, I’ve already used the titles of “Bits and Pieces” and “Flotsam and Jetsam” so there’s no way I will use either of them for this post, even though that’s pretty much what this one will be.

Trip report

We just spent a long weekend in Washington D.C. and it was, overall, a really nice time. The hotel was nice, but the rooms were mediocre. We had connecting rooms with the other family that was traveling with us and it’s a good thing, since the toilet in one room only worked intermittently. Also, the hotel charged $25/day to park. That’s hard enough to swallow, but our vehicle is too large to fit into an indoor garage (which is where most hotel guests with cars park and is nice and secure) so we had to park in “oversized” parking which turned out to be an alley behind the hotel. I paid $50 to park in an alley! I think next time, we’ll stay outside the city. Maybe Arlingon. Anyway, we walked the kids’ legs off the first day, but we did see a lot. We adopted a much more relaxed pace for the rest of the weekend and had a really good trip.

What is with these geneology sites?

I’ve been kind of casually researching my family tree and the amount of information available on the internet is astounding. Even more astounding is the amount of money you have to pay to access it. You can get a sampling of info from Ancestry.com for a reasonable fee, but to really research you need full access, which costs almost the same as the Gross National Product of a country like Belgium. So imagine my glee when I discovered that my local library will give me access to all of the census data for free. They use a site called HeritageQuest and it comes with a decent search function. It seems, though, that the search function isn’t quite as decent as I’d hoped, since I have been unable to locate information that I know should be there based on my Ancestry.com research. Maybe I just need to tweak my search a bit. I’ll investigate that more in the coming days.

Overpriced Beverage Report

I had a really good Chai Latte at Starbucks while in D.C. A well made Chai is a true thing of beauty.

Where the #!*& did he get that?

My 4 year old son knows he’s not supposed to pick his nose, so last weekend he asked his grandmother if it would be ok for him to pick his eye. I don’t know, maybe he just HAD to pick SOMETHING.

It’s just time

Time, that is, to redesign my website. JPChambers.com has had the same layout since its inception and I think it’s time for a new look. Maybe something cleaner and easier to read. I definitely need to make more room for the writing and less room for the other design elements. I’m also probably going to finalize my conversion to an all Mac workflow. Until now, I’ve been using Frontpage (in Windows) for my website design and maintenance and the iBook for all of the writing and research. There are at least a couple of good options for me to investigate, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

That’s all for now.