100 Followers :)

100 Followers on Roaming Rosie April 2014

My blog reached 100 followers today, which I’m pretty excited about!

That may not be the most gigantumous number on The Internet, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Celebrating milestones are a great way to stay motivated after all.

Next goal:  reach that number of likes on my Facebook page:  Roaming Rosie Remix.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve got some bunny-shaped spice cookies in the kitchen that aren’t going to bake themselves.  :)

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Gifts for Writers and Bibliophiles

I came across some awesome jewelry that all seemed ridiculously appropriate for writers and bibliophiles of all sorts.

I find I have somewhat of a kindred spirit among librarians, teachers, and graphic designers, too, so I guess a better title might be “Jewelry for Word Lovers.”

Either way, from Alice to Ampersands, enjoy the view.  :)

Alice in Necklace from ModCloth

Alice in Necklace

Live Up to the Type Necklace from ModCloth

Live Up to the Type Necklace

Also available in silver!

Quote Couture Earrings from ModCloth

Quote Couture Earrings

Also available in silver!

This pencil bracelet is awesome. I would feel like writing all the time if I had this around my wrist:

Pencil You In Bracelet from ModCloth

Pencil You In Bracelet

And in And Bracelet from ModCloth

And in And Bracelet

Living Proofread Ring Set from ModCloth

Living Proofread Ring Set

And, again, this Helvetica necklace might be more for graphic designers than writers, but I’m all about equal pleasure for all word lovers.

Font-tastic Necklace from ModCloth

Font-tastic Necklace

Which one can you NOT live without?

My fave is the typewriter.  :)

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Taking {cheesy} Photos

Cheese!

I made this ecard because earlier today I was trying to snap a quick photo with my phone of my daughter doing something super cute.

I said her name to get her to look in my direction, but she never did.  Never took her eyes off what she was doing, BUT every time I called her name, she responded, “cheese!” and put on a fake smile.

I believe my two-year-old may have been mocking me…

Either way, it made me laugh.

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Easter Bunny Decorations

I’ve got bunnies on the mind.

I can’t help it.  Easter is nearly here and I’m still trying to decide what kind of cookies I’m going to make.  I just know I want them to be bunnies.  :)

Thus, with the bunnies already on my mind, while cruising the web I found a couple I just HAD to share.

They were way too cute not to.

Anyway, the bibliophile in me loved these decoupage bunnies:

October Hill 3 Piece Decoupage Bunny Figurine Set

And the graphic designer in me loved this colorful pillow:

Fauna Picos Organic Cotton Bunny Pillow

Okay:  I’m better now.

Got some of the bunny-ness out of my system.

For now.  :)

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How to Get FREE and Really Cheap Books and eBooks

How to get FREE and Really Cheap Books

I read a lot.

Or, I read a lot now.

I read day and night as a kid.  As a teen.  But in college my time became absorbed by textbooks and term papers.  After college I found myself lost in some sort of television black hole that lasted into my early adulthood, punctuated only occasionally by books.  And then I had kids.  With two young kids I didn’t have the time to brush my teeth, let alone read.

But I’ve always been a writer.  Which means that I’ve also always been a reader.  I just took a little (very unfortunate) hiatus for awhile.

These days my oldest has finally hit preschooler age and a few months ago my youngest finally started sleeping through the night (more often than not), so I actually have time to read books.

What I don’t have, tho, is an endless budget to spend on books.

So I’ve found ways of working around my budget.  Getting my reading high on the cheap.

Now, I prefer paper books to electronic books, but I’m including tips for both, because I do read both, I just prefer the weight and texture of paper in my hands and thus opt for that whenever I can.  So that’s where we begin…

1.  Your Local Library

This may seem like a given:  borrow books for free, right?  Well, not really.  I rarely borrow books.

I like to own mine.  (I figure it’s a fairly healthy addiction.)

Luckily for me, libraries sell books, too.

My local library actually has an entire small room dedicated to books for sale, all ranging in price from 10 cents to $2, with a few rare exceptions priced higher (I found the hardcover box set of The Millennium Trilogy at my library).

Plus, twice a year, the library has a huge book sale which includes a limited time special of fill-a-bag-for-$5.

A bag stuffed full of hard covered book for a few bucks?  Hard to beat that.

Plus, all the proceeds go to funding programs at the library that foster the love of reading in the community, like the story time I take my kids to every week.  That’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

How to get FREE and really cheap books!

2.  Chain Bookstores

Trouble occurs when I step inside a Barnes & Noble.  Seriously.  Unless I was to go in there with no cash or credit cards… but that never happens.

Anyway, I’ve learned that one of the ways to avoid disaster (and an empty bank account) is to stick to the bargain section.  They actually have a rather expansive bargain section.  And that makes me happy.  Borders used to have this, too, but they’re gone now.

But if you’re more interested in eBooks or shopping online, Barnes & Noble also offer a large selection of discounted books on their website.

Their bargain section includes categories like “books under $5″ and “up to 85% off.”  There are quite a few bestsellers under $10 and even under $5.

Other large bookstores also offer discounts like these.  I’ve also picked up a bunch of $3 books at Books a Million, who also have a bargain section on their website with books as low as $1.97.

3.  Indie Bookstores

I’m a big advocate on shopping local, so I love local, indie bookstores.

If you don’t know of any where you live, you can do an online search with  “bookstores [your zip or town].”

And although local mom-and-pop stores are the only places I’m willing to spend a little more money on something I know I can get cheaper somewhere else, these are also great places to score cheap books.

One of the reasons for this is that many small bookstores carry used books and will allow you to exchange your used books for cash or credit.

A bookstore near me also offers the generous option of giving you an extra 40% for your books if you opt for store credit instead of cash.  And since you know you’re just going to buy more books anyway…

I spend more money on books than I spend on clothes.

4.  Thrift Stores

Thrift stores always seem to have shelves of books available.

And sometimes the books available are best sellers that are still going for at or near retail price elsewhere.  Of course, you won’t pay that:  I just drove by a thrift store yesterday that had a sign out front stating, “books 50 cents.”

So, thrift stores are worth a look.  Especially because so many of them benefit charities.  That way you’re not just scoring cheap books, you’re also helping people.

You can search for thrift store locations online, or call up local churches and charities to ask if they have one.

5.  Amazon

Yes, Amazon.com sells many books at a discounted price, and yes, I buy many books there because I like to read the reviews and utilize the handy “wish list,” but the main reason I’m bringing it up is to let people know (or to remind them) that Amazon also has a very large selection of free books.

That’s right:  free.  They’re eBooks, of course, but so many people have tablets nowadays that eBooks make sense for a lot of us.

Many of the free books they offer happen to be classics whose copyrights have expired, but if you love Poe, Twain, Dickens, or Verne, you’ll want to check out their free ebooks by clicking here.

Don’t have a Kindle or a Kindle Fire?  No problem:  Amazon has a free Kindle Reading App that allows you to read the eBooks on your phone and computer, too.

And if you are an Amazon Prime member, you’ll have access to their free Lending Library which allows you to “borrow” a book for free each month.  Plus, the Lending Library offers a lot more than just Twain and Dickens:  they have over 500,000 titles, including New York Times bestsellers.

But – if you’re like me and prefer paper books – you also have the option of buying used books from Amazon.  You can find many listed for only a penny plus shipping and so come out to around $4.

I confess, I have an addiction.  If book were a drug, I would snort them.

6.  Gutenberg Project

Project Gutenberg is a website with over 45,000 free eBooks.

It gives you the option of reading them in a variety of formats, such as an HTML or Kindle version, with or without images, and in English, Portuguese, Dutch, or French.

It’s an ambitious project, founded by Michael Hart and begun in 1971.

The selections of books include (as per their site):

Light Literature; such as Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, Peter Pan, Aesop’s Fables, etc.

Heavy Literature; such as the Bible or other religious documents, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, etc.

References; such as Roget’s Thesaurus, almanacs, and a set of encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc.

In other words, there are a ton of awesome books available, but I only read books from here occasionally.  If you’re looking for some light, mind-dump type reading, you may want to consider one of my other suggestions.

7.  Free-eBooks.net

There are a few websites out there that advertise free books, but I like Free-eBooks.

The reason I recommend it is partly because there are a lot of newer and mainstream books available here but also because it’s easier to search.  I’m big on user-friendly.

There are Spanish and Portuguese options for the eBooks, and the site also offers an extensive list of free Business, Computer, Engineering and Trade magazines.

There are two types of accounts:  free and VIP.

Free membership allows you download 5 eBooks for free each month.  VIP gives you unlimited access, mobile formats, priority service, and exclusive titles.  One of the VIP options is a lifetime membership, which is a pretty awesome deal, but there’s also a month-to-month option if you wanted to try it out first.  But the free membership works if you don’t have the time right now for more than 5 books a month.

I also have to bring up their wide variety of categories, which include everything from drama to business and mystery to self-improvement, but also because I find it infinitely amusing that the Top 10 “most popular” lists often include multiple erotica titles.

The site has a ton of eBooks that were submitted by lesser known authors and, while I love this, I love even more that I can preview the books.  I don’t want to download something (even a free something) if it means I’m going to have to drag myself through a massive storm of grammatical errors.

Luckily, the blurb usually tells you all you need to know in terms of whether or not the writing style of the book is something you’ll like, and a page or two of a preview is usually enough to tell me if I want to actually invest my time in reading it.

That said, I highly recommend Free-eBooks.  Their wide range of books and authors makes them well worth a visit.

8.  Dollar Stores

I darn near forgot to include this one – shame on me!

I get a huge amount of craft supplies for my kiddos at The Dollar Tree, and I often pick up small board books or coloring and activity books for them when I’m there, too.

But they also have books for adults.  Sometimes the pickings are slim and sometimes you have to dig through the not-as-appealing books people tossed in front of the actual novels written by New York Times bestselling authors, but they’re there.

Usually.

Of course, much like large chain bookstores, these discounted books are likely to be the first in a series and the publisher is trying to hook you on buying more books.  But this isn’t always the case.

Okay, that about wraps things up, except for my nifty graphic:

8 Ways to get FREE and really cheap books

And please, please, please, if you have any suggestions to add about where you get free or cheap books, let us know in the comment section!

Happy Reading  :)

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Why I’m Looking Forward to the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Teaser Poster

First of all, let me be completely honest:  I did not like the book.

And, in reference to the Fifty Shades of Grey series, I say I did not like the “book” as opposed to the “books” because I was unable to handle any more of the story after forcing my way through the first novel.

But I AM looking forward to the movie.  I’m expecting it to be much better than the book.

Now, as a writer, I understand that I’ve just said something horrifyingly insulting about Ms. E. L. James.  As an avid reader, I am fiercely dedicated to the motto that the book is always better than the movie.  Even when the movie wins truckloads of Oscars.  But I stand firm on this.  I’d rather read The Lord of the Rings than watch the movies.  The books were better.  Period.

And it is almost always this way.  Except in a very, very few instances.  Like with Fifty Shades.  And Twilight.

I did only manage to make it through two Twilight films, but I still enjoyed the dramatics of the movies more than I enjoyed the writing style of the books.  Even though I did finish reading the entire series in a week, and with much hysterical sobbing (for which I can thank PMS), I still didn’t actually enjoy the novels.  Truthfully, when I closed the last book, I realized that I was pissed.  Deeply and heavily pissed.  There were so many problems.  To name just a few:  the anti-climatic war, the apathetic Bella whose live had no meaning without a man, and the knowledge that I’d just read over 2,000 pages about the most pansy-assed, delicate, tree-hugging, mushy vampires that have ever existed.

I was a little upset.

But not nearly as upset as when I finally sat down to read Fifty Shades of Grey.

It wasn’t just Christian Grey who was fifty shades of fucked up – it was the whole damned book.

(Or was it fifty shades of messed up?  Christian seemed a little too delicate to me to be using the f-word…)

Technically, I should clarify that I actually have a great deal of respect for E. L. James.  She’s done something terribly difficult.  She’s finished writing a novel.  That is NOT an easy task.  I should know.  And she’s not just written one, but written and published an entire series.  And any book that brings (self-professed) non-readers into the world of reading is a tremendous gift to the world.

BUT, my respect for her as a writer does not require my adoration as a reader.  So, I reiterate:  fifty shades of fucked up.

Also, I’m pretty sure the book was written with only about fifty words, just shuffled around in varying orders.  If you took out all of the flushes and blushes and lip biting, there’d be nothing left.

Except, that is, for the random insertion of complicated words that stilted what little flow the text had.  Taciturn?  Proffered?  Somnambulant???

Isn't it rather dangerous to use one's entire vocabulary in a single sentence?

Put down the thesaurus, lady.

Nobody wants to take a break from reading porn to look up definitions.

And the funny thing is, only a few chapters into the book, I kept thinking, “This is like Twilight, just without the vampires.”  And then a friend told me that James was a fan of Twilight and this was some sort of tribute or something.

Makes sense.  The resemblance is there.  Except that with Twilight I kept wondering when someone was gonna get laid (it was about vampires after all).  Fifty Shades, however, produced a completely different reaction for me.  I kept wondering:

“When is this gonna get hot?”

Funny Fifty Shades of Grey

I mean, that’s why everyone is reading these books, right?  That’s why it’s all over Facebook and Pinterest and TV and women are practically swooning at the mere mention of Christian Grey, but…

Meh.

This book was not what I considered hot.  I read sexier stories when I was a teenager.

Hell, I wrote sexier stories when I was a teenager.

And there was nothing in the description of Christian Grey that I found attractive.

He’s extremely possessive (shooting nasty looks to every guy in Anastasia’s vicinity even before they were together), he’s extremely controlling (“nah, baby, I require you to go to the gym ’cause I love you just the way you are”), and he’s dangerous.  I’m sorry, but “screw the contract” is not sexy.  That’s scary, and you don’t let a man with no self-control tie you up.

I still have yet to understand why women seem so taken with him.  Why they call him the perfect man or wish that their husbands were more like him.  (Feel free to enlighten me in the comment section – I actually want to know.)

Maybe the movie will help.  Maybe when I can see a handsome man giving a smoldering gaze to the camera maybe – just maybe – I’ll melt, too.  I am an awfully visual person, after all.

50 Shades of Grey Movie Poster

This movie poster, for example, is about a hundred times sexier to me than anything I read in the book.

All the elements in the poster come from the book, but the words that formed the descriptions in the novel just didn’t do it for me.  Not in the way that the picture does, anyway.

And the poster isn’t even all that hot.  I know they’re just posing how they’re told, but Christian still seems a little too gentle and hesitant to me… but then, that IS how I read the character in the novel.

50 Shades of Grey Goose

So maybe I’m not actually looking forward to the movie that much.

I’m certainly not going to rush out and see it in theaters.  I can easily wait until it’s available in the Redbox for a buck.

But I am looking forward to how the movie plays out.  If the acting and the soundtrack and the editing are all well done, then perhaps the idea behind the novels will blossom into something sexy and entertaining on film.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m going to find a comfy spot to curl up and read something that I know I’ll find exciting:

Fifty Shades of Bacon

Because bacon is always sexy.  :)

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Crackled and Marbled Easter Egg Decorating Tips

Easter is almost upon us!

So I wanted to post a couple of photos of some out-of-the-box egg decorating I did with my girls in the past:  Crackled Easter Eggs and Marbled Easter Eggs with Shaving Cream.

1. Crackled Easter Eggs

Crackled Easter Eggs

These looked pretty awesome.  And they’re super easy.

Here’s the process:  take some cooled hard boiled eggs and gently roll them on the counter to produce cracks all around while making sure the shell does not fall off of the egg.

Put the cracked egg in a little baggy and add a few drops of liquid food coloring.  Make sure the color covers the entire egg and let sit for a half hour.

Peel the egg and rinse it in a colander, splashing it with a bit of white vinegar to help the color set.

That’s it!

And they’re perfectly safe to eat, which is kind of fun, too.  My daughter really loved these; called them “dinosaur eggs.”

2. Marbled Easter Eggs with Shaving Cream

Marbled Easter Eggs with Shaving Cream

These are also a ton of fun for kids to make.

To create them, fill a pan with shaving cream and drop some liquid food color into the pan (I did red and blue in one pan and yellow and green in another).  Gently swirl the colors with a toothpick or skewer, then roll the eggs in the shaving cream until covered.

Let the eggs sit on a paper plate or paper towel for 15 or 20 minutes, then wipe off the shaving cream.

That’s it!

Both projects are simple but fun.  The only thing you have to watch out for is getting food coloring on your clothing, because it stains.  I suggest having your kids wear aprons.

To see the step-by-step directions and photos, visit my article:  Easy Easter Egg Decorating Ideas.

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