Sunday, 18 July 2010

Farewell, Blogspot, Blogger, whatever you're called


You know I wrote something about making my own website? Well I gone and done it now. It was quite hilarious and frustrating, as I merrily broke things left right & center by forgetting to close my curly brackets and such.

Here it is:

You can see I imported all my JamTart history into it (even your comments, bless!). Going forward, over there is where all the action will be. And lil JamTart, which has been so good to me, shall now languish un-updated.

You can still follow me on Blogger, by putting my blog feed into your Reading List. Or you can subscribe with another RSS reader, if you prefer...

And I shall continue to check my Blogger Reading List to see what you all are up to :)

See you on the other side!


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

On teeth


Last week, I went to the dentist. I got an NHS checkup (totaling ~5 minutes - the dude basically counts that I still have teeth, does some xrays, then waves me merrily out the door) and a private "hygiene treatment" which is polite dental speak for scraping, poking, twanging and grinding mouth torture.

Anyway. Everybody hates the dentist so I don't need to continue on about how horrible it is. The visit is worthy of mentioning, however, because for the very first time that I can remember in my entire life, the dentist did not tell me I needed further work.

That's awesome.

I also really liked the hygienist -- despite the torture she inflicted on me -- because she talked about where I am not getting to properly with my brushing and recommended a good toothpaste and what else I could be doing to take care of my teeth and so on. All the added-value stuff you expect your dentist to do, only he doesn't because he's paid by the NHS, and that's why you pay extra money to get a private service like a hygiene treatment...

I am a firm believer in looking after your teeth. After all, you only get the two sets and the first set doesn't count! I also haaaate the dentist, just like you. So I haven't been as good about going as often as I should. I do, however, take really good care of my teeth at home every day. I even floss. Okay, not every day (the hygienist told me off for that) but on average, 4 times a week.

Better than not flossing, I reckon.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Setting goals and making rules


Happy Tuesday, bloggerbuddies! Today's been a thick and humid day in London, which was awful in the tube - cramped and sweaty and ugh - but otherwise quite lovely. We're in a wee bit of a heatwave, woop. I hope it sticks around and we get an actual summer this year.

This Friday I'm heading off to Munich for a long weekend, which I'm super excited for. I haven't been to Germany yet! And it'll be my first trip since Canary Islands at Christmas. Duuude. I'm jonesing for some travel.

Urm, what else. Lately I've been working on creating my own website - quite exciting, no? I'm muddling my amateur way through Wordpress and will be mashing up something hopefully halfway decent. When it's ready I'm gonna import the archives from this blog into it, and then continue on updating over there. So I don't know what might happen to thejamtart! I wonder if I can redirect it to my new site instead!

And I've been creeping along on In Finding, word by word. Phew. I've been pondering setting myself a goal around finishing the first draft. Because I've always wanted to finish the first draft this year - but, holy shit guys, it's JULY in two days and I'm only at 65,000 words! So maybe if I have a goal (say, finish the first draft by my birthday in October) then erm that might motivate me more? I could break it down to chunks of words per month.

However, part of me thinks that setting a goal like that may see me writing crap words just to meet the wordcount...!

I've had a new(ish) story idea stirring around in my mind for the last few weeks, to the point where I'd like to start jotting down some notes about it. But I'm committed to finishing In Finding first (Seriously! I am! Don't look like that, I am going to finish this story, for real!). So how about a writer rule: I can't type out anything about the new story until I've finished In Finding - but I can put down ideas in a notebook.

And here are a couple of interesting snippets about writing that I came across recently:

Making a monster: Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, talks about creating a wicked woman, the debacle of film school, and becoming an overnight success after 20 years. I'm always heartened when I hear about writers taking 20 years to get published...!!

Erin Kellison, recently published author of Shadow Bound, talks about her writing path to getting published. I especially love the way it starts: "I had zero aspirations for the manuscript to be published. Zero. My goal was this: learn to write a book while having fun."

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Breakfast today


A lovely Sunday morning: the big fat newspaper and a bowl of Greek yogurt, homemade granola, fresh blueberries & strawberries. Not shown: giant cup of coffee like woah.

I made my own granola / muesli yesterday (do you think there's an actual difference between those things, or is it just semantics?). This was a total experiment - I filled a bowl with stuff I found in the cupboard and then spread it on a baking tray and cooked it for a random amount of time (until I thought it was a bit too brown looking, basically). Rolled oats, All Bran, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, mixed chopped nuts, desiccated coconut, a squirt of honey, and some olive oil. The pecans cooked too quickly compared to the other stuff, but it's still quite tasty and crunchy and not burnt-y tasting.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

12th & 13th books of 2010


Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I briefly mentioned this book a couple of posts ago. My sister-in-law gave me it for Xmas, as she knew how much I loved The Time-Traveller's Wife. That book - TTTW - mygod, I bawled my freakin' eyes out reading it. Full on weeping so I could barely read the words. I honestly can't remember any other book that made me cry like that (admittedly I was ill & sleep-deprived at the time...)

But this book? Nope. I didn't give a crap about any of the characters. Not a thing. Was not engaged in what could happen to them. The big reveals / twists were ho-hum. The author's research showed through in great big bald chunks of info dumps about Highgate Cemetery. I loved the paranormal / speculative inclusion but - sigh - nope. Not a good book, I'm afraid.

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Okay, now we're talking! Wonderful humorous space opera sci fi goodness, in a handy dandy paperback that I chewed through like marshmallow. I love John Scalzi and I've only read 2 of his books so far. Yeah. I'm gonna find me some more.

This is a follow-up book to his first, Old Man's War, which I read at Christmas. Although -- it's not a full-on sequel featuring all the same characters. And okay, yes, I think the first book was the better one and again this seems to come down to me liking the characters in the first book better but this one is still on par.

It's been a while since I've been really excited about a sci fi book / author. I love sci fi, I say it all the time, but truth is I actually don't read much of it. What I want to read is character-driven stories, not idea-driven or science-driven. It's hard to tell where a book lies on that regard when I pick it up off the shelf. I'm not good at finding sci fi books I want to read.

I need to get off my ass and start reading some of the classics, I reckon. I need to educate myself more.

I bought a few magazines today...


Here's some random things. Pretty much entirely unrelated except I'm thinking about em all.

Beauty products like woah

Today I bought 3x Glamour magazines. It's the Benefit gift issue, so I got one of each!

  • Bad Gal kohl eyeliner pencil - lovely and smudgy and dark
  • Eye Bright eye brightner pencil - not as shimmery as I'd thought, but will be fun to experiment with
  • It Stick concealer pencil - soft and easily smoothed

Gave a couple of my workmates the spare magazines. Wahay for cheapo Benefit products -- only £6 to get all 3! -- with the added bonus of a trashy magazine to while away the evening on...

Listening to these a lot

Fall Out Boy - Sugar We're Going Down

Fall Out Boy - America's Suitehearts

Like like like this band, and sadly it looks like they are on 'indefinite hiatus' right now. Above average lyrics and the lead singer's voice rocks my socks off and honestly, I don't have a lot of bouncy peppy music in my collection so this stuff is sorely needed.

(It bugs me LIKE CRAZY that I can't reduce the size of those embedded videos to fit the width of my blog! Argh! Look at them hanging over the edge like that! Argh!)

Smashing Mazine tells it like it is

10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites by Paul Boag

Work on websites? Read this post, if you haven't seen it before. It's insightful.

I disagree with the first point though! Because marketing is not "a monologue". A website is a communication channel (on a technical platform) and belongs to marketing. Although of course you need a web marketer/manager to own it.

Think of a magazine -- it's run by an editorial team (who have the technical know-how to lay out a page) -- not the printing team.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A very important vegetable!


Sunday evening and the clouds are high and pale and rolling past. It's been muggy all day and now they've broken and dropped some rain. I love days like this. Hell, any day where it's not freezing cold and pissing rain in London

The writing has been pretty difficult the last few weeks. I don't like to write about writing when it's a struggle! It was everything past the Big & Scary scene - none of it worked. So I chopped it all out, 3000 words excised and pasted into the "Poor Little Cut Words" file. And started again. Slowly. Figuring out every scene first and then, word by word, wrestling it in.

I like it better now. I'm not sure if it's right yet, but it's good enough that I feel I can carry on writing new scenes.

So now my word count still hovers around ~61,000 words. Sigh. Such a slow process, this writing thing.

I still haven't edited Piscky's Ascent, after a couple of good reviews from OWW. And I should deliver some crits to other members there too! Eek.

~ ~

Tonight I made lasagna for the first ever time. Big field mushrooms, little aubergines, red onions, layered with pasta, bechamel sauce and spinach, topped with grated mozzarella. I make a damned fine bechamel sauce, so it was the logical next step to turn it into a lasagna. It was alright, though I wished I could've made it with pumpkin.

You know, this puzzles me. I've never been able to find a decent pumpkin in the UK. It's all butternut squash, which I find tasteless, or - at Halloween - those orange things which are more suited to carving than eating.

I miss a good bit of roast buttercup pumpkin, with its dark green skin and tasty bright orange insides.

Oh! I just googled it and it's really a squash (yeah, don't ask me what the difference is, cause I dunno) and looks like it might be a Kiwi variety because check this out: there is a NZ BUTTERCUP SQUASH COUNCIL. Seriously!

They say: "Today, Buttercup Squash is the country's fourth largest horticultural export making it a very important vegetable to the New Zealand economy."

Yep, a very important vegetable.