Category Archives: PSA

Get swept up in spring flings and these free books

It’s time for spring cleaning. You know what that means. It’s time to clean up your Kindle (or iPhone or Kobo or Nook) and make room for MORE FREE ROMANCES.    Over 100 romance writers are inviting you to Spring Into Love with 100 free titles, so please check them out, and stock up for March Break. Or whatever other excuses you come up with.

You don’t even need an excuse. CLICK IT!

 

Shop smarter, not harder

plane at sunset

You may not know this about me, but I am a hard-core points collector. Not all the points—nobody’s got time for that ( I’m looking at you Shoppers Drug Mart.)  I pick my battles and then I fight to win.

My primary points system is AirMiles. I’ve made a dozen trips on my AirMiles points over the last five years. They’ve all been within North America, and most during non-peak times, but that’s six round-trip tickets I didn’t pay for. Considering how much I enjoy travelling, that’s a significant savings.

How did I do it?

I worked the system.

The first thing you need to do is get a list of sponsors and see which ones will work for you. I like Safeway and Sobey’s. Some people consider those grocery stores overpriced, which is fair. However, even if you do your primary grocery shopping elsewhere, by keeping an eye on their flyers and shopping the AirMiles sales and specials, you can still get them to add up. I also use Shell as one of my primary gas stations*. In Manitoba, LiquorMart is your only option, so if you drink at all, put it on the list. I’m a writer, so I hit Staples a few times a year for ink and paper and sundry items (like Post-its. I adore Post-its.) I’ll also check out Rexall once or twice a year and flash my card there. I used to have an AirMiles American Express card (which counted as my fifth sponsor), but it had an annual fee, so I cancelled it. Now there are fee-free Bank of Montreal AirMiles MasterCards out there. If you charge your purchases, you double up on miles.

That’s five different sponsors. Five is a significant number – visiting five sponsors and getting 1000 points in one year gets you Gold status. Gold gets you even more benefits, like free stuff, chances to earn more points, and discounts on flights.

“But I’ll never get to 1000 points!” you cry.

Here’s where working the system comes in. It takes planning, but it’s doable.

I want to fly from Winnipeg to Ottawa to attend Romancing the Capital this August. I have 1777 AirMiles. Because it’s peak season, I’ll need 2000 for the ticket. At the moment, this leaves me 223 miles short. So I got to work.

AirMiles coupons come out about four times I year. I went through my recent batch, and found some for Safeway, LiquorMart, and Staples, so I pulled them. I also had some others, but as my dad taught me, it’s not a sale unless you were going to buy it anyway.

I don’t drink much. I received 3 bottles of wine in December for hosting Christmas dinner. Before that, it had been several months before I’d purchased a bottle. However, the one wine I like is Moscato, and there was a Moscato coupon. So, since it never hurts to have a bottle of wine in the cupboard, I hit the LiquorMart and got the bottle and my 16 AirMiles.

Then I took my “Spend $100 get 50 AirMiles” and “Buy 3 2L Coke products get 10 AirMiles” coupons to Safeway. I shopped from my list, and kept an eye open for sales. I didn’t need two bottles of Centrum, but one bottle was on my list. Since vitamins keep, and since they were twenty per cent off, and since they were “Buy 2 get 20 AirMiles”, I now have one bottle in reserve. The Cokes were also on sale and on my list. By the time I was done shopping, I used both my coupons, found an in-store special on something that was already on my list, and received my base miles. 85 points to me.

Then I took my 7-cents-off-per-litre coupon from Safeway and went to Shell and filled up. More points for me at sponsor #3.

I have no need to go to Staples at the moment, but I’ll keep the coupon in my wallet until it expires in case I find myself there. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

That’s over 100 points in a single trip. If I had an AirMiles credit card, I would have charged them to that and hit four sponsors in an hour.

Granted, I could do this because I had an extra $35 to spend this week ($23 on the wine and $12 for the extra bottle of vitamins.) If I didn’t, I would have waited till the next week and hit Safeway on Tuesday because they have “20X the AirMiles” events on the first Tuesday of every month, with a minimum purchase amount of $50. That works out to one AirMile per dollar spent. The wine was a nice bonus, but it was definitely a bonus. I generally only get LiquorMart points a couple times a year anyway. I likely won’t be back before summer.

But here is where I like to think I excel. As I mentioned, my previous AirMiles American Express card had an annual fee, so I cancelled it. Now I have a TD Platinum Travel Visa Card. Note – it has a $99 annual fee (which is waived with my bank plan. And my bank plan fees are waived if I maintain the minimum required balance in my chequing account. If I didn’t get this card for free, I’d definitely consider the fee-free AirMiles MasterCard.) I charge all my AirMiles shopping because I get points on all purchases. Unlike AirMiles or Aeroplan cards, these points can be used for any travel expenses. When I book a flight on AirMiles, I charge the taxes and fees to my Platinum Travel Visa Card, then I cash in my credit card points and apply the credit to the taxes and fees and I truly fly for free.

“But I don’t travel” you may say. You can still make this work for you. And you can do it without the Travel Visa. In fact, a fee-free MasterCard will work even better for you. AirMiles can be converted to Cash miles. For the cost of my ticket (2000 AirMiles) you could have $200 worth of free gas, groceries or other goods, and still have a few AirMiles left over.

Free is good. If you are willing to invest your time, you can make free pay off.

Good luck, and may the coupons be ever in your favour.

*My other preferred gas station is Red River Co-op. Membership is free, and I got a cheque this month for more than $30 as my annual member rebate. They also have Co-op grocery stores. What to guess where I go if I’m not shopping at Safeway? Of course, I use my points credit card there too. There’s always a new way to make it work for you.

Want more free? Click here for a free downloadable romance!

Thanksgiving Book Sale at KOBO – Buy 2, Get 1 Free

leadingman

This is mainly for Canadian readers, but anyone with a Kobo, I have great news! From October 6 to October 11, Kobo is having a buy 2 get 1 free sale on various romance e-books.

Two of my books are part of this great deal – Leading Man and Drama Queen. This is a great chance to fill gaps in your collection, or to try new writers at a discount. I’m in with some great company, whether you love shifters or aliens or hot contemporaries.

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopImagine it – you, on the sofa, stuffed with turkey and pumpkin pie, winding up your Thanksgiving with a great romance to aid in your digestion. And, as always, my books are calorie- and fat-free.

 

 

Why Sharknado is awesome

Sharknado 1

July is an awesome month for sharks. I’m not talking about the horrific, real-life shark attacks that have been in the news lately. I’m talking about Hollywood sharks. Jaws’ descendents. Mother-f*cking sharks in a mother-f*cking tornado.

There is an art to making a good bad shark movie. The basic premise must be something so outrageous that your suspension of disbelief is thoroughly activated. In the case of Sharknado, don’t tell that it actually could happen and quote me documented incidents of fish and frogs being picked up in storms. First of all, you’re ruining my suspension of disbelief buzz. Second, you can’t compare a half-pound frog that lives on land to a half-ton shark that lives in water. And third, it’s not supposed to make sense. It’s a Sharknado.

Obviously, the most important thing is the shark-monster. If it was a hybrid designed by humans, the creator must be completely mad and have horrible operational security so it can easily escape into the ocean (no tanks for shark-monsters.) Also, it should be designed to be either completely indestructible; a small soft spot about a couple of square inches big so the hero can destroy it is acceptable.

Hybrid or not, the shark should be bigger, badder and have more teeth than a normal shark. It must also be able to survive for long periods out of water. (I know sharks don’t live long out of water but this is for a movie shark.)

Sharknado 2The next trick has to do with the characters. If you are thinking over the top, you aren’t thinking big enough by half. Nothing is too insane for bad shark movie hero or heroine. The situation is already beyond what normal people can handle. Only the wackiest solutions will do at this point.  And they will work too, because the good guys thought of them. Crazy plans suggested by evil people or those in authority who aren’t the hero and heroine will fail badly, causing massive property damage and loss of life. For instance:

SPOILER ALERT – in the first Sharknado, our hero, Fin (get it? Fin vs shark) dives into a falling shark’s mouth with a running chainsaw. Then he carves his way from the inside out to make his escape. AND, at the same time, he pulls out the girl the shark swallowed. THAT is a real hero, folks.

Not to mention, a proper bad shark movie should be set someplace warm, so all the characters are required to wear bikinis and swim trunks. Equal opportunity ogling is important.

Next is the body count. Your movie had better have one that reaches double digits or your audience will be very disappointed. They must include: the person in authority who denies there is a shark-monster, a randy couple doing the nasty in the water (or on the shore or on the dock), and a surfer, waterskier, or swimmer. Of course, you can do multiples of these victims. Bonus points for non-traditional shark attack victims. Do not attack kids. You can attack a pet (usually a dog) but that is iffy and may piss people off.

Sharknado 3Finally, there is the technical aspect of such special-effects masterpiece. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Or that piddly little matter of continuity. Make the action scenes as exciting as possible, and then do what you have to in order to get to the next one. For example:

SPOILER ALERT In the first one, the sharknado drops a deluge of water (and sharks) which sweeps down the side of a hill until it gets to the house. The water fills the living room and main floor, including a shark or two. The hero and his family battle the sharks as they swim for the front door. In the next shoot, they open the door and step out onto the front steps. They aren’t pushed out in a gush of water, they just walk. That is perfectly fine storytelling, people. Realism is highly overrated. (Also, again, you are watching a movie called Sharknado. How real do you expect it to be with your suspension of disbelief working overtime?)

Anyway, with this primer, I invite you to spend the next three Wednesdays with me as I live-tweet Sharknado (tonight, July 8th), Sharknado 2 (July 15) and the world debut of Sharknado 3 (July 22). I’ll be watching on SPACE Channel, but I believe Americans can get it on Sy-Fy.

Did I miss any bad shark movie rules?

The worst things about being on crutches

5. Yard Work.  To be honest, I don’t miss mowing the lawn. I’ve hired a service for that. A freaking costly service – do you remember mowing the lawn for five bucks? Those days are long gone, my friends. So, it cost me an arm and a leg (in addition to my broken foot) but the guys show up once a week and they do a good job. Unfortunately, my gardens are still untouched. The weeds will be taller than the flowers by the time I get out there. I’ve given up on a veggie garden this year. I might still be able to get my herbs box garden done.

4. Making the bed. My bedroom isn’t huge. It takes a lot of work to scoot around the bed and pull all the blankets and comforters down and tuck stuff in. Forget about changing the sheets. Fitted sheets are hard enough to deal with when you have two hands and two feet. On crutches and one foot, they are impossible to handle.

3. Laundry. This isn’t a problem if you have laundry on your main floor. Mine, however, is in the basement. Down is fine. Here is the most efficient process I’ve found: Kick basked of dirty laundry to the staircase, one step at a time. Throw  dirty clothes and the basket down the stairs (thank you, gravity). Slide crutches down the flight of stairs. Inch down, one step at a time on my bum. Assemble clothes into basket, find crutches, kick basket one step at a time into laundry room. Load washer standing on one foot. Back up stairs on my butt, backwards. Up and down stairs again to switch load to the drier. Back down on my butt to empty drier. Dump clothes in basket. Kick it one step at a time to the bottom of the stair case.  Toss crutches up the stairs. Pray they make it to the landing and don’t fall back down and crack me in the head. Put the laundry basket in my lap. Bump my butt up one stair. Haul the basket up one stair. Repeat for the entire flight of stairs. Kick laundry basket down hall to bedroom, one step and a time. Collapse from exhaustion.

That’s one load. Raise your hand if you only have one load of laundry. Exactly.

2. Grocery shopping. You can’t use a cart or a basket because then you can’t use your crutches. Your options are to impose on a friend or family member, give them a list, and write them a cheque when they return with a load of groceries (cheque, not cash, because getting to the bank is another feat) or to do it yourself. I’ve found the best way is to wear a backpack and load it up, then empty it at the checkout and refill it there. It works relatively well but you can only buy about five things. One thing, if you get a 4L of milk. Milk jugs are heavy and throw off your balance.

1. Stairs. Anything under five standard steps is okay. Long, wide stairs, like going into a public building, are pretty easy to navigate. Skinny stairs are the devil. The crutches fit but the boot is twice as wide as the step itself. It’s been 3.5 weeks and I still haven’t attempted to do a flight of regular stairs on my crutches. That’s like hopping on one foot for 14 steps in a row. I’m sure I’d end up with something else in a cast.

2 more weeks until freedom. Hopefully.

How to stretch your e-book dollars

free photo booksOkay, readers, gather around and listen. I’m going to tell you a secret you might not know about. I’m about to share some life-changing news.

You can get e-books legally – for free or under a dollar. No, I’m serious!

Below are a list of sites that send out daily, semi-weekly, or weekly emails that list e-books that are on sale. These are all legitimate sites and these emails don’t cost you a thing; authors have paid these marketing companies to be included in these lists to get the word out about their books.

You can select what genres you like to read – they aren’t just romance. So pick your reading pleasure and have notifications about free and cheap books sent directly to you. It doesn’t get any better than that.

BookBub

E-reader News Today

Shameless Book Club – Romance only

The Mid-List

Reading Deals

Read Cheaply

The Fussy Librarian

If you try a free book and like it, you can support the author by purchasing other books they’ve written at normal prices – that is what the freebie was intended to do. If you don’t like the book, you can delete it with no guilt.

Go forth and click. Just make sure you have room on your e-reader 🙂

 

Best toy ever

USB 3.0 Card Reader #PG-SD3191  Let me tell you about my sad life before I found out about the best toy ever. When I took a picture with my digital camera, I had to take the memory card to Walmart, then I had to get a CD made, then I had to load the CD into my laptop, then I had to download the images off the CD onto my hard-drive. It got even more complicated when I got my new laptop, which does not have a CD player. Then I had to add the additional steps of transferring from my old laptop to a memory stick and then loading that onto my new laptop.

I was bemoaning the fact that I had pictures I couldn’t share because of all these steps and a friend said, “You know, you could get a card reader.”

Why did nobody tell me about this sooner? I got my hands on one as soon as I could and my photos downloaded off my card like magic! No more trips to Wallyworld, no more extra costs. It is awesome. Now I need more things to photograph.

Children’s Hospital Book Market

If you live in Winnipeg and are a reader, get yourself to the St. Vital Mall before 6pm on Sunday and check out the Children’s Hospital Book Market. They have books in every genre, of every size, in every format on sale cheap. Check it out, buy lots, and support a worth cause and your reading habit.

Except JD Robb books.  I’m calling dibs on those. I bought 24 of them yesterday (paperbacks) and I’m going back to fill in the blanks in the series since the excellent volunteers there are always restocking the tables.