Five Healthy Writer Snacks & Delights

When I'm writing I often forget about the outside world and all the little things that on their own are meaningless but as a whole are pretty important to life. Things like taxes, and eye appointments, and insurances, and washing. Things like eating well, and drinking enough water, and sleeping more than five hours at a time. And, I'm not sure about you guys, but recently the eating thing has been getting to me. Either I don't eat at all, or I eat the worst foods imaginable but don't even have the satisfaction of really tasting what I'm putting in my mouth. When I'm writing I'm on auto pilot so I don't really notice what goes in. But my auto-pilot definitely has a sweet tooth. Anyway! To help me with this dilemma I've been exploring the world of healthier, easy, snacks that my auto-pilot can stand (and maybe your's can too!). Here are my top five:

1. Avocado & Seafood Salad
This is fabulous because it's fast and tastes like a big meal. I have a thing for avocados, and with the right seafood sticks from the shop you're looking at a really light meal that fills you up. In the evenings I add rice to make this a hot delicious dish. What do I do: cut an avocado in half and twist to open, scoop out the insides with a spoon, mash with fork, open seafood sticks and cut into tiny pieces, mix together, add some salad leaves (& if you're feeling spicy some lime juice).

2. Eggy Potato
It's in the evenings that my mind wanders to either no food or all the food, so eggy potato has served me well as an alternative. It has some yummy carbohydrates, but also protein and happens to taste delicious! What do I do: bake a potato, scoop out the insides and scramble with an egg, add some exciting extras like peppers or mushrooms or chilli, scoop the mixture back in the potato skins & grill... then you are done!

3. Melanzane Parmigiana
This one takes a little longer but is easy, so easy, to prepare, and really hits the hunger I often get for some kind of pasta but is much better for you!  What do I do: Get an aubergine (egg plant in the USA?) and slice it thinly lengthways, place in frying pan to brown slightly, when brown, place in baking pasta dish (if you don't have one an ovenproof pan will be fab) as you would do for a dish using lasagne pasta, slather in pasta sauce of your choice (or just with some delicious tomatoes and garlic), lightly blanket in cheese, bake & delight in the results.

4. Scrambled Eggs with a twist
My Chinese tutor taught me this one, and Shuya I am so grateful for this recipe! Thank you! Known as Xihongshi chao jidan (西红柿炒鸡蛋) this is delicious and takes under five minutes to prepare! I'm reasonably sure my version is a little different from the kind you'd get in China but dang it if it isn't delightful all the same. What do I do: Scramble some eggs in a pan, dice some tomatoes and add to the mix. Add in garlic and chives. Add some soy sauce if you like and you're done! To really cook in those juices you can add just a little water to the mix and simmer it off. You can also add noodles (or rice) if you're feeling super hungry.

5. Avocado Toast
What can I say? Once you get a taste for avocados it's hard to stop! I love Avocado toast either with some tomatoes or, occasionally, a scrambled egg. It's delicious and instead of rolling out of bed on a weekend feeling awful as I chow down a pop tart hurriedly it really sets me up for a fab day. What do I do: mash an avocado as above, make some toast, and mix em together, add peppers or whatever you fancy to make it a little interesting.

I'm feeling hungry just thinking about these delightful snacks (okay some of them are meals!). What do you eat when you're writing? Obviously these favourites are only good in moderation etc etc, and honestly I still have pop tarts sometimes because man nothing beats that intense sugar rush!

26 Things I Love About Instagram (and you will too)

A little while ago I discovered a love of Instagram that almost transcends words. I love windows into other people's lives, and books, and trying new things on my profile and seeing what it feels like. I'm miahayson on instagram so if you're there I'd love to connect! If you're not, buckle in because I'm going to let you know why its fab for writers, readers, and almost everyone.

1. It's an alternative creative outlet (idk about you but sometimes I get so wiped out but the need to be creative is ever-present, fiddling with pics is a great outlet for when the words are all a little garbled)

2. The books on there are gorgeous! You can follow book tags like #bookstagram and #bookfetish and be blown away
3. Publishers like penguinukbooks and more post just the most fabulous pics
4. You can get super creative like abookreads
5. You can let others inspire you
6. Daredevils like this guy are there making us all feel just a little queasy from those heights
7. You can post little videos too
8. There's this on guy who follows his wife around the world taking pics of her hand
9. You meet people from all over the world
10. It doesn't even matter if you don't speak the same language
11. Pictures transcend words
12. You can use them to inspire you too though
13. It helps you think about how you see the world and how others see it
14. When you feel like words more than pictures, you can post those too
15. It's also a place to discover new books and find reviews

16. You don't have to be the best photographer ever, just a hopeful and enthusiastic person
17. The pictures of books are seriously fab tho
18. Using emojis on there is super fun ✨
19.  In my experience people are super friendly on instagram
20.  I mean I cannot promise all instagrammers are, but I've yet to meet one who is mean
21.  You can use as many hashtags as you want, the sky is the limit!
22.  Meeting people ftw
23.  Like, seriously, you use a hashtag once and suddenly you're bff's with somebody across the globe
24.  It's great for finding writing prompts
25.  I just love playing with colour and pictures in general
26.  I love each and every person I follow on instagram.

There are some disadvantages admittedly! You can't post from your computer (that I know of), or schedule posts, so if those are deal breakers that's not great. I still think if you do have a phone that will post it is fab! 

I'm looking to follow more people so if you're on there let me know!

How to spruce up any manuscript: MAKE-UP EDITION

We all want to know how to get the best out of what we're writing and working on, and this week we're going to explore how to do just that using make-up as inspiration! I hope you're excited as I am! Hold on to your braces, and buckle down your shoelaces, because this is about to get real interesting peeps! Let's dust us down a novel with these five well-known* make-up tricks. Revising is like putting on make-up. You don't have to do it, and I swear your face & book look fabulous without, but sometimes a trick or too is real neat.

1. Lipstick
Some people say start with the foundation or the contours of your face book or blah blah blah but here at literary jam & toast we've never really stuck to any clear system so here's the thing, to polish up you that manuscript you really got to be thinking about how to highlight the best feature of your face book front and centre (your lips) in a way that screams "look at me I am a sassy classy and fantastic person book capable of getting up in the morning and making cereal while only spilling like maybe a third of it on the carpet.  How? Start around the edges of the lips book to really get a feel for what works, also to make them look bigger. Hone in on what suits you. This is where readers and generally helpful crit partners can come in handy! Sometimes you have to try something out before you know what suits you the best. Sometimes it's not even about what suits you, but about what suits the book and its characters. Somedays faces books can be finnicky so don't give up the first time around! This step is totes all about patience as much as it is about lipstick.

2. Clean your brushes
A lot of people think because they are using brushes on their face and their face is clean, that their brushes will be too. This is simply not the case! Remember to clean those brushes on a regular basis, and while you're at it clean out your mind. A lot of people let a face draft stew for a while after making writing it, try this out and see if it works for you. Sometimes polishing immediately after can work for people too, but often words are like brushes. They need a little time to dry on the bathroom windowsill in the summer breeze before we're ready to continue sprucing.

3. Work those lashes
Curl Actually finish your lashes draft before adding mascara really taking an axe to the words and editing down.  It's super hard to finish anything if you're constantly thinking about rewording the last thing you just wrote -- this is something I am still learning as omg I am somewhat of a perfectionist with words -- much like it is impossible to curl your lashes after adding mascara (I think)(I haven't tried this to be sure). If you're feeling bold with edits, that's great! Go crazy and feel empowered. A great tip to steady those who are feeling a little light headed at this point is to save multiple versions of rewrites and edits as you go each with their own identifier (I use the date) just in case you suddenly think you've chopped too far and are not feeling super fabulous.

4. Don't be afraid to get dramatic
Or glittery, or confused, or just a little lost. You are a pioneer into the world of make-up and eyeliner books and words. Understand that half the fun is in trying something crazy out, and finding the line between weirdly brilliant and brilliantly weird. Every step you take is one into the unknown, so work that powerful magic and get creative.

5. Find confidence in yourself
Understand that make-up is only a handy dandy tool for your face book,  and that at the core of this process is one brilliant thing. That thing is you. You are the fabulousness we are working with. Be proud of your fabulousity!

What works for you when you are trying to polish up your manuscript? Telling myself that I am fabulous over and over again in the middle of the night often gives me just enough confidence to really go to town with editing.

*well-known... by me.... would you believe it I've never gone to beauty school... I just pick these things up when I'm browsing fizzy cola sweets in the supermarket

Literary Fitness: Summer edition, five ways to be healthier using books

I like books, you like books, and summer is fast approaching which means we get to combine our love of books with exercise in a futile attempt to kind of pretend we are are grown ups capable of adult things like running on a treadmill machine without falling off the back or squatting without dying so let's do this huh? Let's make adulting fun with books. Remember, if you only do the book part of these exercises you're still exercising but if you only do the grown up healthy part then omg what are you doing words are the priority here.

1. Book bell squats
Essentially, this serves two purposes. The first is that you can feel like you are being adulty and exercising and the second is that you get to accurately and quickly understand the weight of your books thus helping you stack them in order of weight on your shelves. Gone are the days of alphabeticising things, that's so not hip. Now we order them by weight. It's fab. Here's all you need to do. Squat. As you squat swing your book down and through your legs, feel the weight of the book. Embrace the weight. Judge the weight. Nod, safe in the knowledge you are an expert at weighing books just by holding them. Set the book down. Alternatively, just flick through the book, laugh occasionally, muse, consider, cry, read a bit more and oh look we've finished the book better get another one and sit down because why are we standing rn anyway.

2. Bouncy reading
For this, you will need a) a trampoline or b) just the general bounciness you get when your favourite book arrives in the post. Grab a book, hold it tightly to your chest. Bounce. Repeat until either a) sick or b) you realise there are other books in the post you'd really like to also look at. NB: you can also write will bouncing but this is super hard pro III plus material and must only be attempted in the company of other qualified bouncy writers because your eyeballs could theoretically fall fall out or something idk.

3. Character suspension
This one is super easy, and super fun. First lie down on a matt bed or comfy couch. Okay, are we there? Good, now grab a book. Lying down, raise the book away from you at arm's length. Open the book. Now read chapters one to three without setting the book down or moving those arms. Congrats! You are now exercising your arms and your eyesight! Look at those muscles growing! Look at those eyes straining! This is A+ exercise* How do you think Captain America got all those muscles?? Hmm? Actually by science but also he probably read books.

4. Shock treatment
Okay this one is for the go getters and the busy people. This one is when you have forty seven books to read and review and not a moment to waste! Lie down in a comfortable area. Open a book, read said book, every time you find yourself not enjoying the book in the manner you thought you would sit straight up in horror/excitement/confusion. Sometimes people call these crunches or whatever but we will call these 'surprise sittings' and once your reach ten you get to take a break from reading because we're here to have fun not to die from crunching. Remember: the important part here is to pull a face of complete shock as you sit up because we are really trying to exercise those face muscles not just like whatever crunches exercise idk.

5.  Read outside
If there's one thing I know it's that being outside it's important when it comes to looking like you are a healthy person. Gone will be the pasty white hue of the winter reading sessions! Hello slight tan that you will claim comes from reading outside but which may or may not just be tea slathered on your arms because idk outside can be scary and wildlife gets all up in your face and then it becomes hard to read at all or to have butterbeer while reading so why not just stay inside. Ahhhh yes. Inside.

What book exercises do you do over summer? How do you stay healthy? Honestly, I mostly just pretend to stay healthy while sticking to a solid diet of chocolate and tea.

* it probably isn't I am not a qualified excerciser


A writing life balance is something I've been struggling with recently, and it seems the more I push to find one the harder it is to establish one. How do you balance things?  For me, writing and life seem more like avalanches rolling down the landscape of my life and gathering speed at an alarming rate but what feels most important are the following:

Trying new things
It seems silly to write it down, but it's easy to get caught up in the idea that a great schedule you've read about online will work definitely work for you too. I've found sometimes the best (that is, least wobbly) balances I've found come from trying out different things -- even things I'm super duper loath to try like getting up before 8am, writing on the go, or ditching a hobby in favour of words, or getting up before 8am (okay, real talk, I haven't tried that first and last one yet because of very important reasons including I just don't think I can do that...)

Changing often and without warning
People change all the time. We change moods, hats, and sometimes even personalities over time. It makes sense to change your routine once in a while too. I used to be a student, and super duper able to stay up until 5am writing the night away, but now I can't do that anymore. Well, okay, maybe that's not true. I mean I could stay up until 5am writing, sure, that'd be fine, but the 8am Mia would just be all kinds of mad at herself when she had to wake up again.

Accept failure
Trying new things can result in stuff not turning out the way you want, but I think the success at the end of a long road of "how to not balance your life and writing" is totes okay. More than okay. Things are going to go wrong once in a while and we just gotta deal.

Forgiving yourself
This is the biggest one for me. I'm super great at telling myself off for browsing the internet for an hour without writing one single word, or going to yoga instead of finishing that chapter, but what I've been working on recently is just forgiving myself once in a while. For me, guilt is the worst motivator when it comes to writing.

How do you balance things?