Research takes time. Wednesday I had some extra time thanks to a sensationalized snow storm here in the Northeast. I paged through the blogs of several authors with whom I am acquainted. I found a treasure trove of websites offering free books. They all ask for the same thing in return - a review on your blog. It is a promotional campaign for new releases which I am ecstatic to join.

Booksneeze asks that bloggers "post a review of 200 words or more on your blog and a consumer website". You may only request one book at a time from their list of available books. Once you have posted on the required review, you may request another book.

The Tyndale Media Center Blog Network also offers free books to reviewers. They have a list of available products as well as a Reviewers Guidelines page.

Pump Up Your Book is another publicity company that offers a list of books for free for review.

Check out some of the other links on the side bar on this page and the book review page here on my site. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting more reviews of the books I'm receiving for free. I might even be inclined to part with a few depending on how many comments each review receives.

Part III of Mail Ordered Once - Twice Blessed is now published on The Cypress Times. I really enjoyed writing this story. When I am finished with my current books, I would like to spend some time turning this into a full novel. I found that the publisher Heartsong Presents publishes shorter works (45,000 - 50,000). It wouldn't take too much time to turn this story into that length. It's almost 10,000 words now.

I also have another devotional "His Watchful Eye" on Granola Bar Devotionals. I pray it is a blessing to you!

I really appreciate the comments and encouragement. Thanks for stopping by!

Years ago, I heard the Irish Tenors sing "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears." It moved me to tears. It also made me wonder what life was like for young Annie Moore, the first person to sign in at Ellis Island when it opened on January 1, 1892. According to what I can find, she brought her two little brothers with her from Ireland to meet their parents in New York City. I wonder why she was the first to sign in. How did she get to be first in line? Was she chosen? Was it just the order the line came in from the ship? My imagination took over. I wrote a short story which I may later turn into a full novel. I took some liberties and created a story around her. It is published on The Cypress Times under Mail Ordered Once - Twice Blessed. This links to Part I, but if you click on my name it will take you to the list of my other works. There you can find Part II. Tomorrow I will post Part III.

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions or comments. You may leave them here on my blog or on the story. Thanks for reading!
That's an awful title first thing in the morning. Especially since I cut back on my caffeine intake! Oh wait, I wasn't talking about me being up and running. The links to my publications are up and running. There. That's better. Happy in Any State is on Granola Bar Devotionals. All the Right Ingredients is under Life Matters on The Cypress Times. If you haven't read any of my other articles on The Cypress Times, click on my name under About the Author. It lists some of my other articles.

When you do read them, please take a moment to leave a comment. It helps them (and me) know that someone is reading what's published. Also, please wave to me when you stop by here. My blog had over 160 hits one day this week but no comments. Who's stalking me? It's like the phone ringing but no one is there when you pick up. Eerie.
My mother taught us that when you visit someone, take a small thank you gift if at all possible. In today's society, I believe that politeness has fallen by the wayside. I know I recently went to someone's home for dinner and didn't take anything. I felt guilty about it the whole time. In fact, I am going to send something to them today to just say "thank you" for all the time and effort it took to prepare for the visit.

When you visit a blog, do you leave a comment? I am forming that habit and it is opening the door to friendships and learning experiences. It is a brand new way to make connections. Try it! You'll like it!

   I posted two new articles, one at Granola Bar Devotionals and an article on The Cypress Times under Life Matters. Neither one are published yet, so I'll come back and post the links when they're live.

   I had to share a wacky moment. Saturday two of my sisters and I went out to lunch with my eight year old niece. The place was packed so one sister went in to put our names on the list and came back out. Other groups were standing around so it was a bit crowded. An older woman and her friend walked by and smiled at me. They also entered to put their names on the list and came back out. She walks past me again. This time she says, "I put your name on the list so you didn't have to go in and come back out. When they call 'Susan for one' that's you." (Are you laughing hysterically yet? I'm laughing so hard right now, I can hardly focus to type!) I was so floored, I could barely stammer that I was with a group. I don't even remember if I thanked her for her thoughtfulness. I was just too stunned for words (and believe me, that takes a lot!).

My youngest sister just closes her eyes in disbelief. No matter where I go or what I'm doing, some stranger stops to tell me their life story. For years she's given me a difficult time about it. At first she blamed me, as if I started the conversations. But the more often it happened while she was around, the more she saw I have nothing to do with it. I've joked that I could probably get a suspect to confess just by walking in the room. 

Question: Do people talk with you for no reason? Are you the one talking to strangers who stare at you as if you've lost your mind?

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win
What a week! And it's not over yet!  I am still hearing back from agents I queried last week. Nothing more than the typical "thank you for thinking of us, but we're not interested" replies. That's the nature of the business. File it away and move on!

I hired an editor this week for the first 15 pages of The Road to Nowhere. If any of my students from past years ever wished someone would take a red pen to my papers, your wish has been granted. Let's just say "ouch" and leave it at that! I was fully prepared for the slashing, so it wasn't too bad. That's what I expected to happen. It took me a few days to process each of the comments. Some of them I understood immediately. Wrong word choice, Needs stronger verb. Some of them took quite a bit of analyzing. Twice she said that a pair of sentences didn't make sense to her. They made sense to me because I wrote them. It wasn't until I started trying to rewrite them that I saw the problem. Lightbulb moment! I'm still working through them and trying to apply the same corrections to more of my work.

I haven't had a chance to submit articles yet this week. I will be doing that this evening and tomorrow. I'll post the links here but you can also go to any of the sites and look me up. If you do, please leave a comment on the article. It helps them know someone is reading the articles.

Also this weekend I will be fine tuning several contest entries. Many of them are due March 15 or 30. It's going to be a busy weekend!

I started writing for a new website called Granola Bar Devotional. It's a site for small nuggets of wisdom from God geared toward women. I posted the link in the sidebar on this page. My short devotional God's Navigational System is now posted on their site.  I will also be in print in the May 2 issue of Sanctified Together.

I am amazed at what God is doing with my writing. This morning, I received another invitation to write for another magazine site online. So far, none of these are paying jobs, but I am ecstatic at the publishing opportunities. If you read any of my posts here or on another site, please leave a comment. It helps them (and me!) know that I am read.

Thank you for all the encouragement!

Here's a rather interesting question. What name do you associate with a "bad guy"? When you're reading a book, does the character's name give you a hint as to whether he's the villain or not?

Is there a name that lets you know he's the hero?

I just realized that my villain's name is way to close to the phonetics in my hero's name. One of them has to change. I like my hero's name, but I'm open to suggestions. Leave your choices as a comment on this article. If I choose the name you suggest, I will be sure to list you as a source for my book.

Thanks for your help!

   I am so excited to announce that I have articles on The Cypress Times again! I have also set up my author's biography on the site. I have a devotional entitled A Navigational System and Some Goats and a Christian fiction short story A Dying Dream.  If you view them, would you consider leaving a comment? It helps them to know that I have readers.