quick update

January 21, 2008

jpchambers.com has been kind of wacky lately. I’m having trouble publishing updates to it. Anyway, my “people” are working on the problem and hopefully things are back to normal soon. I’ve been holding off on the blog entries because my site also hosts a blog and I can’t update that one! So as you can see, I’ve decided that things will just have to go on without the main site blog for the time being.

Things are going along pretty well lately. I’m doing a bit of freelance writing work that a good friend was so gracious as to send my way. It’s nothing any of you would be interested to read. It’s technical/business type stuff.

Those of you who are familiar with me know that I’m no big New England Patriots fan, so seeing them play in the SuperBowl is no big deal for me. However, in my basement I did find a relic from my days as a salesman . It’s a full case of plastic Patriots cups. They’re not the disposable kind, either, they’re nice! I’m going to try to get them listed on Ebay as soon as possible and try to sell them off in the next week or so. I’ll let you know how it goes.

reading: the Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

ok. now back to work.

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sports, music and books

January 10, 2008

Hey everyone.

Is it already January 10? Man, the year is just FLYING by. So do I have anything to say? Of course I do. Just a few months ago, we had no kids taking gymnastics classes and now we have three kids taking gymnastics classes. How about that? I thought we were done with gymnastics after Son #1 stopped doing it. Now Son #2 and Daughters #2 and 3 are taking classes, although the girls’ class is mostly to help them become better cheerleaders, not gymnasts. Oh, and baseball season is just around the corner. You’d think all of this activity involving the kids would be a goldmine of funny stories for me to write for you guys, and it should be. Stay tuned.

Two friends of mine have released their new cds in the past few weeks. The new record by Ike is called Where to Begin and it is really good. It’s a little harder than anything John and his various band incarnations have done in the past. It surprised me, as I’ve been hearing most of these songs over the past year and I wasn’t expecting the cd to sound the way it does. Great work, guys. Andrea Glass has released Stood Under Stars and, again, wow! Andrea is a really good acoustic/country/Americana artist I met a few years ago when she was making recordings in her kitchen. Now she’s teamed up with some really outstanding musicians, travelled to Nashville to record and is currently in the middle of her UK tour. She’s accomplished a lot in such a short time and the music is fantastic. Give it a listen.

The new site design for JPChambers.com has received nothing but positive reviews so far. So if you have anything negative to say, get it in before I get too cocky! On the fun page, I’ve added a link to a nerd test. I tested sort of medium nerdy. Not as bad as I thought!

Finally, if you have heard me talk about Markus Zusak or read what I’ve written about his books, then you know how impressed I am with him and his work. The Book Thief may be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s a link to an interview he did about the book.

I finally got something done!

December 17, 2007

Hey.
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.

decisions

November 22, 2007

Just when I’ve convinced myself that no publisher or agent will be interested in a collection of personal essays and memoirs from some unknown writer, and I decide to break up the collection and try to sell it in other ways, I just can’t let go. I’ve been considering writing for Associated Content and also looking into paid blogging. I know you’re thinking that I don’t even update my own blog often enough as it is, but being paid and under some deadline might be just the kick I need. The problem I have? Rights. I just don’t want to give up any rights to my work to a non-traditional publisher. I just don’t feel like I can trust them. I really love most of the stuff I’ve put up on my website and, although I realize much of it would need to be edited and rewritten to be truly publishable, I’m willing to do that. I’d just hate for those essays to be in the hands of some internet content producer and unavailable to use in my book. It may be time to take a fresh look at them all, including many I haven’t released yet, bundle them all up and ship them off to the real world. Nothing to lose, right? I just want it to be right. I want to make the best decision.

And I want to sign on with someone who will publish Young Adult Novel also.

See, there’s just no satisfying me, is there?

AND, happy Thanksgiving.

AND, I ordered Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle from Amazon because I couldn’t find it elsewhere and I also needed a few more dollars on my order to qualify for free shipping. What did I order initially? Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas in SURROUND SOUND! Whoo, Baby, I can’t wait for that package to arrive.

day late

October 26, 2007

Man, it’s so easy to continue not writing when you get into the habit of not writing. All of our fall sports stuff is over now and things are getting back to normal. Vacation is coming, but this one should be fun. Then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. OK, I know I’m skipping a few weeks here and there, but it goes so fast. That’s one of the reasons that I begin to celebrate Christmas (my favorite time of year) on November 1. I don’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving like most people. To me, Thanksgiving is a holiday which falls during the 2 month Christmas season. The old Christmas song cds are ready to go. See? It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m looking right past it. Halloween is just a speed bump in the fast lane to Christmas.

So now that I’ve proclaimed the next two holidays to be completely irrelevant, what else should I write?

Well, The Book Thief is pretty good so far. I haven’t been able to just sit and read it uninterrupted, so I’m only about 1/3 through. A few pages here, a few more there. It definitely has a different style and feel to it. Overall I’m impressed with Markus Zusak, I have to say.

On the subject of cover songs, Dexter has commented on that post with a cover of an Amy Winehouse song, but I had never heard the song to begin with so it didn’t have quite the effect on me that it should have. However, if you want to hear a cool version of Led Zeppelin’s Since I’ve Been Loving You then check out what Corinne Bailey Rae does with it. Regular readers know how much I like Corinne to begin with and here she performs a classic song in her own style.

I’m feeling some guilt over not posting an October essay for JPChambers.com and here it is almost November and I’m not sure what to post for that, either. I haven’t written much new material the past few months, so maybe this blog entry will be the kickoff for some regular writing sessions. NaNoWriMo is next month (November, of course), but I think I’ll have to sit this one out. I’ll see what happens.

—————-
Now playing: Corinne Bailey Rae – Since I’ve Been Loving You
via FoxyTunes

tomorrow

October 24, 2007

Tomorrow, I blog.

Tonight, I enjoy the rain, and the cool weather and the quiet of a house full of sleeping children.
Maybe I’ll read some more of The Book Thief.
Maybe I won’t.

Teaser payoff

October 3, 2007

Wow. Where to begin? Let me go read the teaser. I’ll be back.

Ok. I’m back. First up, extracurricular activities. We have one high schooler playing field hockey, one younger boy playing football and one younger girl cheerleading. That means we have a practice or game every day after school and on Saturday also. Sorry to say that the high school field hockey games get the short shrift due to timing of it all. So being busy every evening and during the weekends results in the days being full of running errands. Also, the youngest boy is doing gymnastics once a week. Almost forgot about that! I’m not complaining. It’s really a lot of fun, just hectic.

Next. Why does September feel like July? It’s because of the sun. It’s giving us way too much heat and I don’t like it. The weather man on the news calls the sunshine we experience “abundant”. I would call it “incessant”. Interesting how one little word change can alter the whole meaning of a sentence. All right, so I can just pretty much write off September as just another month of summer. Fine. What about October? It’s October right now and we’re anticipating temps in the mid 80’s this week. WHY? It’s highly irritating to get a sunburn while watching a football game. The universe is weird lately.

Here’s what I’ve been reading: Devilish by Maureen Johnson. Pretty good. So far, MJ’s books have been fairly consistent. I’m about halfway through Cecil Castellucci’s Queen of Cool and, well, I’m not really digging it very much. I can’t relate to any of the characters. Why, you say, would I expect to relate to any of the characters in a book written for teenage females? Well, I respond, there are teenage males in that book and I have been one of those before. Still can’t relate to, or even like, the characters. That is NOT a comment about Cecil’s writing ability, ’cause I like her. I’m just not digging this particular book. Next up for me is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Marcus, you may remember, wrote The Messenger, which is my favorite read of the year so far.

Someday I may tell you how the whole “John is a sports announcer” thing happened, but for now just know that it’s a lot of fun. Our teams play their home games at the high school field and they have an announcer to introduce the teams and say the results of each play and who was involved in it and the scores and all that stuff. I was asked initially to just announce the games for my son’s team (the youngest team) but midway through my first game, the league officials asked me to take over and work all of the games (there are three different levels, so three games) and I accepted the invitation. It’s been great. The crew I work with is really good and getting better, as am I. After last week’s games, the league told me that the job is mine for as long as I want it. If only it involved some sort of monetary exchange, which it doesn’t. I do get free food, however, so someone must have tipped them off to my weakness.

Well, this post has gone on long enough and I am kind of busy today (did I mention that?) so I’ll save the “love of Cracker Barrel restaurants” story for another time.

P.S. David Sedaris was in Wilmington, DE last night and I had to miss it! I told you the universe was messed up.

I’m sitting here fighting the very strong urge to spend the rest of the night watching Arrested Development on dvd instead of writing blogs and whatnot. Arrested Development was SUCH a great show. Laugh out loud funny stuff in every episode, even the early ones before the writers just went crazy and started throwing in every wacky idea they could think of. There were only three seasons and the dvd sets aren’t expensive (unlike those dastardly HBO show dvd sets) so if you don’t have them … why? What’s wrong with you? Don’t like humor? Don’t like being entertained? I really don’t understand you sometimes.

Speaking of great tv, BBC America has started showing reruns of MI-5 (Spooks in the U.K.) and if you haven’t ever seen that show, give it a try. It is SO good. Not funny, mind you, but just really great spy drama where anything can happen to any character. No one is safe. It’s fantastic stuff.

Oh, I must be in such a good mood tonight, even though I’m out of Coke Zero. How could I let that happen? Diet Pepsi is not even in the same league as the Zero (I say as I take a sip, confirming).

I just finished reading I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Really good. Maybe one of the best books I’ve read this year. It was a Printz Honor book in 2006. If you are sensitive to such things, please note that there is a certain amount of questionable language in the book. It didn’t bother me, but then again, I’m not sensitive.

I spent the day on Sunday at the Philadelphia Eagles Carnival with my two boys. We had a great time. Got to meet Sav Rocca, who was a big name in Australian Football and now is trying to win a spot on the Eagles as a punter. Met quite a few other guys as well, played a bunch of games, won some prizes and toured the Eagles locker room. All in all a great day out. It’s one of our end-of-summer traditions. We’ve gone to the carnival the last seven years or so. It has changed quite a bit since those first few years, however. There are just too many people attending now for it to be as casual and friendly as it was before. They sold out 10,000 tickets to this year’s event. Oh well, price of success, I guess. Both boys won a little stick of what we thought was Chapstick and when we got in the car to leave I told the younger (Bud) he could put some on. Problem was, the little stick wasn’t Chapstick at all but was a stick of the black stuff that athletes put under their eyes. Eye Black, they call it, but on Bud it was Lip Black. Picture a little Goth 4 year-old. I’m just glad I didn’t let him put it on while we were still inside.

blank page

August 16, 2007

It’s been so long since I’ve posted an update that this morning I just clicked on the “New Post” button without anything in mind to write about. Let’s see where this takes us, shall we? Good. Buckle up.

I love my local library and I’m really looking forward to the opening of a brand-new branch which will be about the same distance from my house but in the opposite direction of the one I’ve been going to. I’ll still go to the old one, but I’m hoping that the new branch will have a better selection of YA and Middle-grade stuff for me to read. They have these inter-library loans, so I can get anything I want by going to the same branch that I’ve been going to (I like the people, and they know me) and asking for them to grab what I want from the other locations. Evil plot, I know.

I’ve purchased a few books that are not available in my whole library system (mostly new releases) and now I’m torn between keeping them for my personal library and donating them and making them available to the whole county. I’m leaning toward donation, as I think it will help those authors expand their audience and I like the idea of being part of that, but you know that will result in me buying those books all over again so I have personal copies also. Maybe that would be a good use of my first royalty payment. See how I just assume there will be a first royalty payment? Positive thinking, yo.

Speaking of writing books (we were, weren’t we?), Scrivener has lived up to my expectations. I’ll be buying a license. It is so cool to have the whole thing right there and so organized. I just wish I knew how to pronounce “Scrivener”. Does it have a long I sound or a short I sound? The first E makes it seem like the I is long, but the guy who named it is British and sometimes they throw in extra vowels. I think there may be an abundance of vowels in the UK and they just want to get rid of them. I don’t know about you, but when I speak with someone and they tell me all about how great something is and then they pronounce the name of the thing WRONG, it makes me question everything they said about it. How can you love something so much and not know how to say its name? Are you a nut? Well, maybe I’m a nut, because I love Scrivener and I don’t know how to say its name. Heck, I haven’t even paid for it yet. I hope that after I pay for it, they will send out the top-secret email with a pronunciation guide, but rarely do these types of things actually happen.

I was cleaning out the pictures from my cell phone and found one of a hideously decorated life-sized donkey that was sitting in the back room of a pizza place we went to during the Beach Torture Event. The pic isn’t worth posting, but trust me when I say that the thing looked like it was designed by an angry, blind mental patient. I don’t know how they can expect people to eat and enjoy their pizza while sitting in the same room with that thing. Then again, this pizza restaurant is located right on the boardwalk and it’s likely that most everyone who eats there is already in shock, wondering where all their money went. Most likely, their money went toward the 75 games of Skeeball they had to play in order to win their kid a plastic whistle. Skeeball, by the way, was probably also designed by an angry, blind mental patient.

whew. I told you to buckle up, didn’t I?

I have a five-dollar coupon for Borders and so I’m planning on going there and using it soon. I hate for those things to go to waste and they know it. I’m looking for Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle, Rules by Cynthia Lord and maybe Queen of Cool, by Cecil Castellucci which has just been released in paperback, so why not? These are all titles that are not available in our library. Yet. Wait until I get finished reading them and/or receive my first royalty check.

My own middle grade novel, which is tentatively titled Middle Grade Novel in an obvious nod to Daniel Pinkwater’s Young Adult Novel and also my own lack of imagination in titling, is coming together. It is amazing how the more work I do on it, the more work there is to do. Even worse, the more work I do on this first book, the more ideas I have for a second. I really need to focus on the first one, however, since actually finishing a book is a goal so many “writers” don’t achieve. I will. Maybe it will be great, and maybe no one will ever see it. Either way, it will be complete.

and the second book will be sooo cool!

Maybe one of them will get me an agent. And hopefully, that agent is not an angry, blind mental patient who is out to get me because of my blog.

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.