Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free! Free! Free!

Today’s blog topic is about free stuff. So…I have something free to give away. An Advance Reader’s Copy for my next book, How To Knit A Wild Bikini. Knowing knitting is not at all necessary to enjoy this beachside contemporary romance. But if you have a LYS (little yarn shop) where you might like to pass this around after you’ve read it, that would be a bonus. To have a chance, e-mail me at and say you read about it on our blog. I’ll pick a winner and announce it here next week.

Doesn’t everybody like free stuff? Whether it’s a sample of a cracker at Costco or an emory board that says “Read My Book” at a conference, I’ll always stop to pick up what’s being offered. I also love getting mail. Not bills and such, of course, but unexpected mail that looks like a present or a treat. For a while I was on subscription list for Bare Escentuals and every few weeks they sent me a package of make-up. Fun! But I don’t wear as much make-up, apparently, as some people do, so it was piling up in my bathroom drawer. I cancelled, but I miss those fun packages. Even though I knew I’d be paying for the stuff via a charge on my credit card, every shipment came with a little extra something—a new brush or a new product that I didn’t expect. Loved it.

Well, I have something new that fills my love for free goods, mail, and romance too! As of this month I’m the romance reviewer for BookPage, a publication that goes to libraries and bookstores. You can also see it on the web at The publication reviews all kinds of books and I’ve really enjoyed perusing the different types within its pages—fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, children’s, self-help, etc. I’ve been picking it up at my library and reading it while on my treadmill.

So, yeah, that means I get free books in the mail. Oh, the joy. They come from BookPage in these big, bursting-at-the-seams boxes and I’m like a kid at Christmas. Though I get many books, there’s only room for me to review four each month in my column, and do I agonize which to focus on—so many good reads come to me. I have to mix up the subgenres and the publishers too, so I’m saturating myself in what’s being published in romance/women’s fiction/chick lit. Yeah, I get some of all three. And what’s the best part of this new gig of mine? The BookPage reviews are upbeat and positive. That means I’m talking about books I really enjoyed—the downside is I could talk about them all day.

So, hope you’ll look for my reviews either at the site or by picking up the (yes, it’s free!) publication. And though I only get to write about four each month, I’ll try to drop a few titles now and then of books that I didn’t have the space to highlight but that I think you might enjoy. (Deadly Deceptions by Linda Lael Miller.)

What’s your favorite free thing? I just asked Surfer Guy and he reminded me of the Mercedes he got off Craig’s List last fall. But it doesn’t have to be big. My See’s Candies store always gives away a free candy when you go in and I love them for it.


Playground Monitor said...

I stop to take samples too. We have a senior expo here each year at the civic center and I come home with bags of free pens, note pads, plastic cups, band-aid holders, nightlights, key rings, emery boards, you name it. Last year I even got a nice clipboard from a pharmaceutical company. Of course, I need another pen like I need a hole in the head. But I can't resist a nice, shiny new pen.

Today I'm picking up a free Little Tykes desk from someone who posted it on Freecycle. I'm hoping I can find a spot in the garage to store it so the grandbaby can use it when she visits. Freecycle operates on Yahoo groups and is just for giving away things. I had some wooden shelves I'd replaced with glass ones. I posted them on Freecycle and the next day someone took them off my hands. Great program to help keep stuff out of the landfill.

I used to be a book reviewer too and an envelope with a book in it always brightened my day. I'll be emailing you about the book. And I happen to have a friend whose daughter owns a yarn shop. :-)


Christie Ridgway said...

Free pens! Yes. And love, love, love notepads, Marilyn.

Surfer Guy has looked around FreeCycle, I think. We probably should freecycle a few things ourselves. We've had good luck just putting them out in our yard with a "Free" sign because we live on a corner.

Little Tykes desk! Grandbaby will love it.

Betina Krahn said...

Christie, congrats on your reviewing gig! Does that mean we need to start saving for our bribes now? lol.

As to free stuff. . . my sister's nuts about the cosmetic companies' free "gifts" and is always sharing or dragging me to the cosmetics counter to get one. Of course you have to buy something first, so I don't really think of them as "free."

I'm a big fan of drive-up windows in banks that give suckers to kids and doggie bones to canines in cars. I also like the free coffee our favorite breakfast place, "First Watch" offers for everyone waiting for a table. There again, maybe not entirely "free."

Oh, and I got a free box of Girl Scout cookies from a GS family at church last week! It seems the sugar-free ones don't sell as well. :) My good luck!

I'm also a real fan of free pens. I always collect a few at RWA National and at RT when I go. I love the inventive shapes, sizes, and different writing feel of them.

And I'm shamefully fond of those "samples" they give in supermarkets these days. Makes me feel all kinds of happy to get a tasty bite while I'm shopping!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Christie. Cool on the review thingy. And I'm with Betina - do you accept bribes??

I LOVE free calenders - but I think Deb did a whole blog about them:o)
I think my fav is the free books we all get when we attend the RWA conference. Those give aways have introduces me to many new authors that I now buy!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Christie - fun that you get to do these reviews. Congrats.

I'm like your sister. Love the "free" cosmetic stuff, but I only do it if I need to buy something anyway, so that makes it really free!

Oh, free food samples in grocery stores. If you plan it right, you can get lunch while you shop!

lois greiman said...

I had no idea Christie. A reviewer in our midst. Exciting. What kind of chocolate do you prefer? :)

Bakery samples. Our local grocery gives away free bakery goodies. Is it wrong to pull up a chair in front of the macaroons?

Kathleen Eagle said...

Free books! Free pens! Free-with-purchase cosmetics! Buy-one-get-one-free anything! I'm such a sucker for free stuff. My penchant for using coupons fed right into the heroine of MYSTIC HORSEMAN. (I've been called "Coupon Kathy" by someone very close to me.) I get at least as much of a rush from saving as I do spending.

Lately when I'm headed out for groceries, Clyde says, "You're going to Cub, right?" He never cared before I got him hooked on the gas coupons. He came home today crowing about getting gas for $2.76 a gallon. He's actually willing to go inside to pay and hand over coupons!

There's something about men and the price of a gallon of gas. I remember Daddy saying that if gas got up to $.50 a gallon he would quit driving.

Michele Hauf said...

I love anything free. My favorite fix lately is ordering stuff from ZUM, they do organic and natural soaps and lotions and detergents. They always send free soap and body rub samples with orders. Sometimes I think I order just to get those little samples. Hee.

I like free money. I'm looking forward to the 'economic stimulus' check headed my way, though I realize that's far from 'free', it'll feel like it when I'm spending it. :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Bakery samples! My grocery store used to give out cookies to little kids who rode in the carts. I don't think they do it anymore, though.

And who buys pens anymore? I have them from the credit union, etc. Love them.

Christie Ridgway said...

Wait, wait! Gas coupons? I have not heard of this. And I don't do coupons of any kind. I need to start, I think, because I love to save. I just can't seem to get into the habit.

At my grocery store, though, they have one of those "clubs" that if you key in your member number you get lots of good savings. Still, coupons...must start doing this.

Playground Monitor said...

If you plan it right, you can get lunch while you shop!

I am SO glad I'm not the only one who does this. I've also been known to make 2-3 rounds of the food court at the mall and fill up on their samples. A drink from the water fountain and voila! Lunch!

I used to do coupons but I buy so many store brands that it's not worth the effort. I do cut the diaper coupons out and send them to my DIL.

Anyone else a Dollar Tree junkie? It's not free stuff but it's all just a dollar! I got Snickers and KitKat bars there for the DH for Easter. And really nice greeting cards for 50 cents.

Christie Ridgway said...

Is Dollar Tree like the 99 Cents Store? It's amazing what they sell for that. I have some nice notepads that work great for grocery lists that I bought the last time I was there.

Also some good little tools for Surfer Guy at Christmas to put in his stocking. And yeah, the candy!

Oh, I shouldn't have mentioned candy. I bought the boys Reese's peanut butter eggs and, um, they're in my office, and I could just reach over! No! Mustn't do that.

PJ said...

Oh, I love free stuff. I came home from Celebrate Romance a few weeks ago with free pens, note pads, books, bookmarks, calendars...all kinds of fun stuff.

I've gotten rid of some stuff through Freecycle. It's a great site and left me feeling really good after the young family picked up their items. They were thrilled with what they took home and it was obvious they were just getting started and didn't have the $ to buy many things.

The cash reward on my MasterCard is one of my favorite freebies. A cash rewards check for $115 came in the mail today. (rubbing my hands in glee!)

PJ said...

Christie, I'll be looking for your reviews. That's terrific!

PJ said...

Oh, and I love your books Christie, but I'll refrain from sending you an email. Since I won Michelle's fab 12-pack yesterday (doing the happy dance!) I'd rather give someone else the chance to win today.

Great blog!

Christie Ridgway said...

PJ: That's exactly how I feel when I get a package from BookPage--like happy dancing!

Jane said...

When I go to the bank, I always pick up a free pen. I also love shopping at Costco because of all the food samplers they have. Am I the only one taking extra sugar and sweetners from Starbucks?

flchen1 said...

Hi, Christie,

Free stuff is always fun! Samples are delightful (the kids almost don't mind shopping then), and I've given and gotten some terrific stuff on Freecycle. But nothing beats a free book in my world :)

Oh, actually, possibly an unsolicited hug and and "I love you" from the kids :)

Christie Ridgway said...

Jane: I love those Costco snacks. And they work on me...if I like something, I definitely buy. My husband got into the eggplant parmigiana that way (I admit, not my fave, but he loves it).

Flchen1: Unsolicited hugs and "I love you" from the kids...better than free, those are priceless! Mine are not at the unsolicited hug age, though. I miss that!

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- I've been gone all day so I'm late chiming in! I can totally see you doing the book review thing. You'll make an excellent reviewer.

Christie Ridgway said...

Debra: The best thing about this review gig is that I feel as if I'm highlighting great books...this makes me very happy. I'm such a romance girl, though I get to read some women's fiction and chick lit as well, which I also like.

Keri Ford said...

Congrats on the reviewer job...*add Christie to spend dial for when I sell*...what fun that's going to be and packages are always great.

I LOVE me some free stuff and cheap stuff. I was in a department store and came across a pair pants on for a dollar. Regular $30. I held them up to my waist and decided they were close enough. I couldn't stop myself!

I love getting pens, notepads, and candy from conferences.I'm a sucker for those: buy six books for only 99 cents each and get two free with only having to buy two or four additional books in the coming year.

Not so big on taking food from strangers who looked to have missed their bath for oh, the past week? Now when I was kid, different story.

blackroze37 said... has really good samples

i love the goodies from authors, cause you cant buy those at anywheres