New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
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Hamilton Beach Set n’ Forget Slow Cooker Give Away (5!)

Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Stephanie O'Dea

December 2, 5pm pacific. This contest is now over. Five winners have been randomly selected, and will be notified via email. Thank you!

updated (again!), 12/7:

The winners have been notified via email, and have all responded. Thank you very much to all who entered!

Happy Cyber Monday! I hope you had a wonderfully relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. We did, but I’m happy to send the kids back to school today. 4 days of nonstop togetherness is fantastic. It’s a gift. I treasure the time.

but today? the school can have them back.

we’ve got shopping to do.

I’m a huge fan of cyber shopping. I hate getting dressed as it is, and the idea that I can get all of our holiday shopping done without taking my slippers off is something I can whole-heartedly support.

In honor of Cyber Monday, the wonderful people at Hamilton Beach have generously agreed to supply FIVE 6-quart slow cookers to give away.


The Set n’ Forget is a 6-quart slow cooker with a rubber gasket and a locking lid. I used three on Thanksgiving— and they looked great sitting on my countertop. The cooking is even, and the rubber gasket really works to keep valuable moisture and steam in the pot, where it belongs. The locking lid keeps everything from sloshing out when you take your crock on car rides to PTA events or grandma’s house.

It retails for about $45 on Amazon, and has wonderful reviews. I sell quite a few each week through my storefront— this is a great slow cooker. I currently own three of this model, and have given many as gifts.

Would you like to win one of your very own?

To enter, simply leave a comment below, and the winners will be randomly selected and notified via email.

You may garner 3 additional entries by: tweeting about this contest (example (only an example…)):

woo-hoo, I just entered to win a FREE slow cooker from @stephanieodea and @hamiltonbeach!

or by “liking” my fan-started-and-maintained facebook page or by “liking” Hamilton Beach’s facebook page. Then leave additional comment(s) letting me know.


This contest will run from Monday, November 28th until Friday, December 2 (5pm pacific).


Good luck to all, and happy shopping!

Bling Box Jewlery Armoire Give Away (~$399 value!)

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 by Stephanie O'Dea

This contest is now over. Thank you to all who entered—we had over 500 participants! Congratulations to Kerstin, who was our big winner. Kerstin, look for an email from me! have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I was given a Deny Designs Bling Box, free of charge for this review. I have since donated the Bling Box I received to the PTA silent auction.

updated 11/15: hey! I got the pricing wrong, this is actually worth $399! holy toledo.

This is one of the nicest things I’ve ever given away— it’s beautiful. It’s a piece of functional art, and makes a phenomenal gift.

It’s a large, 16 x 22″ jewelry armoire that can either be mounted on the wall, or left free-standing on a desk or dresser. The back of the door has a mirror, and there are plastic hooks that can be arranged a number of ways to best display/house your jewelry collection: earrings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, etc.

it’s gorgeous.

What I really like about this Bling Box (I can’t type BLING without smiling; most of my bling is made from colored pasta or playdough beads…) is that the art panel on the front is magnetic— you can choose whatever design you’d like from a featured artist, or you can upload a design of your own: a family photo or cherished piece of art work.

For this give away, Deny Designs have gone WAY BEYOND the call of duty to allow the lucky winner of this beautiful jewelry armoire to choose your own artwork — it’s absolutely your choice.

that is really cool. Thank you Deny Designs.

This contest will run from today, November 15 until Monday, November 21 at 5pm pacific. A winner will be randomly selected and will be notified via email.

To enter this contest, you must CLICK HERE to fill out the online form.


BEST OF LUCK TO ALL! Thank you to Deny Designs for this giveaway!

Review of CHIME.In and Amazon Kindle Fire Giveaway

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 by Stephanie O'Dea






Head’s Up: I was compensated for this post. I was paid by BlogHer to learn the ins and outs of Chime.In, and to moderate a BlogToBooks community room at Chime.In for one week. I was not given a Kindle Fire (kind of bummed about this), but I have one to give away to you. For free.


November 14, 5pm pacific: This contest is now over. Thank you to all who entered. A (randomly selected) winner will be notified by a member of BlogHer via email, and once I’m informed who that is, I’ll let you know. have a wonderful day, and thank you for playing along at home!

I’ve been asked to share my blog-to-book story. I haven’t really written too awful much about it because it still doesn’t seem real. I can not believe that I have books, real books, with my name on them. And one of those books spent six weeks on the New York Time’s best sellers list and now because of that I can refer to myself (although it’s probably better to let others do so, because of the whole vanity thing) as a NYT best-selling author.

that’s kind of cool.

I didn’t plan on ever writing cookbooks. I wanted to be published, and I wanted Totally Together to come to life— which it did, but not until I proved myself with the cookbooks.

The cookbooks came about after I emailed the Rachael Ray Show in February, of 2008 (my slow cooking challenge year) and wrote something obnoxious like: Ack! I just made the very best creme brulee in the history of the universe in my crockpot and I am the most wonderful crockpot cook and you should have me on your show to let your audience know how I awesome I am!

and then they actually called. I was filmed at the end of March, in my home, and in-studio, and the episode aired in July. I signed a confidentiality agreement to not discuss the show until we had a set airdate, and because of this I was quite determined to fulfill my resolution. I also became quite convinced that you could do anything in a crockpot: playdough, yogurt, shrinkydinks, candles, soap, tamales, and cheesecake. But not hardboiled eggs. Don’t do those.

After the show aired, publishers began emailing. I had four offers to sort through, and I chose the best one, with help from my literary agent.

This is not normal.

The normal route is a much longer, much twistier road. With potholes. And detours.



I started writing Totally Together 10 years ago, when my oldest was still a baby. I started by doodling notes and creating charts. I wrote and rewrote my opening chapter (by hand) while pregnant with my second daughter. After talking with friends, I felt confident enough to try to get it published.

I was determined to find a literary agent all on my own, and I did. It took me 2 years.  I sent out dozens and dozens of query letters (with a self-addressed-stamped-envelope) to agents I found listed in the Writer’s Guide to Agents. I sent them out in batches of 10, and everyday received back a new reject letter. Most were form letters, many just had a NO written across my query. A few were “the good ones” with a hand-written word of encouragement here or there.

And then I stopped querying. We moved. I began working at a “real job.” I stopped daydreaming about writing books.

The day I opened an email from a real, legitimate agent asking if this book was “still available,” I felt weak in my knees and I almost puked. I signed on the dotted line, and expected to hear good news.

I didn’t. My agent sent the rejection letters in batches, about once a month, with a post-it note attached to the top reminding me to keep at it; to not get discouraged; these things take time. And boy did it. She queried on my behalf for almost two additional years before we got an offer.

a measly, piddly, offer.


I met my deadline, turned in the transcript, and waited.

and waited.

and waited.

And then the publisher terminated the contract. The economy had turned—- they didn’t see the market for this book, and bowed out. I was able to keep the money they paid me (it wasn’t a lot), but I was back to square one.

and quite discouraged.

and then the crockpot thing took off.



Now. We are here to talk about Chime.In, which is a new social media site. What I like about Chime instead of Twitter (I’m still not on Facebook. Don’t laugh.) is that you can decide what you want to be notified about—- you can opt in to threads that you are interested in and not be notified each time someone you are following makes an announcement. or Chime. whatever.

not that I don’t want to know that you had broccoli in your teeth all day, even when you went to the bank—–

but if I only want to be alerted if people are talking about gardening, or publishing, or HOW TO GET THE BABY TO SLEEP PAST 5am, I can. and I appreciate that.

Right now, I’m mostly interested in helping as many people as I can figure out how to get published (traditionally or non-traditionally) and am currently only following the BlogToBook community BlogHer set up on Chime.In. I am fascinated by all things publishing right now, and have spent many more hours than I’d like to admit reading up on marketing, querying, royalties, ebooks, and contracts.

I would LOVE you to join me in Chiming this week over at the BlogtoBook community— if you have questions, I’ll try my hardest to get you answers. It’s November, which is known for National Novel Writing Month, and/or for National Blog Writing Month. I’ve done both. (the novel never made it….but I’d like to try again….)

Thank you!!!



ALSO, as a reward for reading my super long post, I’ve got a give away for you. A BRAND SPANKING NEW KINDLE FIRE. for free.

Please leave a comment below to be entered in the contest. This contest will run from Tuesday, November 8th 9am pacific to Monday, November 14th  5pm pacific.     A winner will be randomly selected, and will be notified via email. You can garner additional entries by joining Chime.In and participating in the BlogtoBooks community.

Click here for all the rules and fineprint.


Best of luck to all! Join me over on Chime.In!