Was It Valentine’s Day or Friday the 13th?

Okay, I’m really not a superstitious person and Friday the 13th is just another day for me, but I have to wonder what happened on Tuesday.

I was supposed to get up early and take my friend’s cat to the vet for an 8:25 drop-off. Bennett kept waking me up all night with nightmares. When I finally got him settled down and got into a nice deep sleep myself, Jeffrey woke me up yelling because of HIS nightmare. I got back to sleep just long enough for my alarm to wake me up out of a dead sleep at 7:00. It was just not possible for me to get up. I reset the alarm for 7:30, thinking I’d still have plenty of time, as I had originally planned on a quick workout. Let’s just say that by the time I took a quick shower, got both boys up and moving, and everyone was dressed, it was 8:20. Amy had already left to take the cat to the vet herself. I sent her a quick email apologizing because I was sure she’d be driving, and I hate to call people when they’re driving if I can help it.

Our homeschool group’s Valentine’s Day party didn’t start until 10, but I needed a couple things from the store anyway, so we set out for Kroger. One of the things I bought was apple cider vinegar. The organic kind. You know, the kind in the glass jar? Yeah, that one.

When we leave Kroger, I see that we can either head to the party location and be 30 minutes early, or we can go home for 10 minutes and head back out. I knew if we came back home, we’d end up being late for the party (not critical, but still…) so we just drove to Jump2It. Where we sat until a couple minutes after 10 waiting for someone with a key to let us in. We were all starting to wonder if we were actually going to have a party after all.

The kids head inside with friends and I opened the front passenger door to get the chips I’d bought at Kroger and guess what was sitting against the door. At least until I opened the door. Yes, the only breakable thing in the car. The glass bottle of apple cider vinegar. Which smells, even on rain-soaked pavement.

We made it through the party and went back home. I always throw my purse and Bennett’s bag in the front passenger seat. His bag is one of those black diaper bags you get from the formula company to take home from the hospital. I keep a couple of pull-ups, a change of clothes (for him), his drawing notebook, and sometimes a couple books for him in it. It’s more a “just in case” bag than a diaper bag these days. The bag had ended up against the door, so when I opened the door, the bag fell out and into the mud. At least it wasn’t my purse. I carried the bag in and wiped all the mud off, leaving the bag hanging in the shower to dry.

Around 5, I left to go pick up the cat. Bennett went with me, and about 10 times before we left, I asked him if he had to go to the bathroom. Of course he didn’t and of course I really should know better by now. Five minutes into our 10-minute drive, he tells me he has to go. At that exact moment, I was sitting at a light behind other cars and couldn’t even get to the Rite-Aid that I could see just ahead. Thirty seconds later, he tells me he’s wet his pants. Obviously, he did have to go before we left or he could have waited more than 30 seconds, but it was a moot point by then. Of course, we didn’t have our “just in case” bag because it was at home drying. I didn’t think we’d need it for a 10-minute drive.

I still had to get out of the car to get the cat. I couldn’t leave the three-year-old in the car alone, so he had to get out, in wet pants, in the cold, so we could get the cat. I told the lady I was there to pick up Martin, and gave the last name. When she handed me the cat carrier, she asked, “Are you going to be able to get him in?” Um, what? He was already in the carrier, so I had no idea what she was talking about. I guess the blank stare gave me away because she asked, “Are you going to be able to get in the house? It’s too cold to leave him outside.” My still-confused response was, “Yeah, I can get in. I live there.” Why would she think I was picking up a cat just to leave him on someone’s porch? Weird.

We head back home and the drive that took us 10 minutes one way, took 30 minutes the other direction. With a wet little boy in the back seat. We came home, got him changed, and I took apart his car seat and washed the cover and the little “piddle pad”, which did nothing at all to keep his seat dry. Guess three-year-olds have too much “piddle”.

Wednesday morning, I got up, blow-dried the seat cover and reassembled the whole mess so we could go to Callaway Gardens. Which is a whole ‘nother post.

Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop

The Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, and Read Your Future and runs February 16- 22. I’m giving away  A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 More Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit.


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Now go see what all these other great blogs are giving away.

*CLOSED* Win a Kindle Fire and Amazon Gift Card

How? Easy peasy. Head on over to winwithebooks.com or the Facebook fanpage and follow the directions on the Rafflecopter. Check back daily for 50 extra chances to win.no purchase necessary.

Here’s the Rafflecopter form if you just want to enter by tweeting and liking their Facebook page. If you want additional entries for purchasing books or posting reviews, go to winwithebooks.com to see the list of books.

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How to Get Free Books to Review, Part Deux

Back in June (was it really that long ago?) I wrote a post titled How To Get Free Books To Review On Your Blog. A friend asked me last night how I got started reviewing books. After leaving four lengthy comments on the Facebook post, I decided a new blog post might be in order.

Where to get the books

I started with publisher programs, Blogging for Books and Booksneeze. You can read more about them in the first post and on the respective websites. Both programs now have both ebooks and phsical books.

Then I started winning physical books in the Goodreads First Reads Giveaways. I joined a few Goodreads groups and saw a few authors who were looking for people to review their books. It wasn’t long before I had so many books from various sources that I no longer had time to participate in the groups and my activity on GR pretty much dropped to nothing, aside from posting my reviews. I had already discovered the best way to get review books, though. From the authors themselves.

Eventually, I decided that if I was going to get more traffic for my blog, I needed to be active on Twitter. I’ve written more about that elsewhere, but Twitter specifically led me to my biggest source of books: author communities.

The Indie Exchange sprouted from Adopt An Indie Month, and is now a full-time, active blog, website, Facebook group, and Goodreads group. I had so much fun during Adopt An Indie Month (contributing one guest post and four book reviews) that I jumped right in when Donna started The Indie Exchange. There are currently 87 books available for review through The Indie Exchange. As far as I know, all of these books are ebooks.

World Literary Cafe is another great group of authors (some of the same authors, actually; many authors are part of several communities). There are currently 19 books available for review through WLC. You’ll need to register first, then you’ll receive instructions on how to request your book. These are also ebooks.

Authors.com has been another great place to meet authors. As you can tell from the name, it’s mostly for authors, but it’s for readers, too. I’ve gotten ebooks and physical books from the authors here. It’s cheaper for an author to be able to send an email with an ebook than to pay for both the book and shipping, so I don’t have a problem with getting ebooks, but it’s something to consider when you’re working with individual authors.

I’ve also had many authors approach me through Twitter. I’ve changed my Twitter profile a couple times, but it always says something about blogging about books. Just in case all the tweets of my reviews weren’t obvious enough.

I’ve also had authors find me through my Amazon reviewer profile. I have my blog address on my profile so I’m not just floating out there in Amazon-land.

When you start posting reviews, if you’re showing up in search engines, authors, publicists, and others in the literary community will find you and you’ll start getting requests that way. And believe me, once you get started, you’ll never run out of books. Every reviewer I know has a backlog of books. We won’t talk about how long mine is.

What to do next

Don’t feel like you have to accept every book. No reviewer does. Start with genres you know you like. Pretty soon you’ll want to decide which genres you’ll review, and your personal policies on things like whether you’ll post negative reviews (many reviewers don’t), whether you’ll only accept physical books or only ebooks or both, and oodles of other things that don’t occur to you until they crop up. You can check out my Review Policy for some ideas of the types of things that will come up. Most book blogs will have a review policy posted, and every one is different, so go Googling  and check out a few before you write your own.