Monday, October 1, 2018

Fall 2018 YA Scavenger Hunt


Hi hi! Once again it's time for the YA Scavenger Hunt!!! YASH gives you a chance to check out scads of fun bonus material and enter to win like a bajillion books. If you're new to the hunt, confused about how to play, or you get stuck somewhere, check this site for instructions on how to hunt. The hunt starts at noon Pacific (so 3:00 pm Eastern) on October 2nd and runs through noon Pacific on October 7th. My post will go up the night before, as usual, so that organizers have time to verify links, but if you start hunting early, keep in mind that some of the links might be inactive.



Once again, I am proud to represent the  RED TEAM! I'm hosting Jennifer Brody!

Jennifer is promoting THE 13TH CONTINUUM.

Here’s more about the book:

Gold Medal Winner, Young Adult Fiction ― Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Independent Publisher's Moonbeam Children's Book Awards

One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the descendants of the chosen survivors take refuge in thirteen contingency shelters buried deep underground, at the bottom of the ocean, and in the far reaches of outer space. 

In the underwater 13th Continuum, sixteen-year-old Myra Jackson has heard rumors and whisperings all her life of a magical place called "The Surface” where people could breathe fresh air, feel the warmth of something called sunlight on their skin, and see things known as stars and trees and mountains. Myra has never dared to ask whether the stories are true, since the act of speaking such words aloud is an offense punishable by death. But after she discovers that the air supply aboard her underwater colony is running out, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to find this mysterious place. To get there, she must first recover the only guide to the Surface―the Beacon, an ancient device that also connects her to Captain Aero Wright, a dashing young soldier from one of the only remaining space colonies. 

With the fate of all humankind depending on them, Myra and Aero must escape the tyrannical forces that rule their colonies, journey through the black depths of the ocean and across the cold void of space, to find each other on the Surface that their ancestors once called home.


Wow, this sounds amazing! I love the ocean so much that I really want to check out this series so I can experience the black depths of the ocean with Myra and Aero.

For her bonus content, Jennifer is sharing a short story from the Continuum universe. Below the story, you'll find more info on Jennifer and a secondary contest from me, as well as a link to a multi-author Instagram contest I'm running right now where you can win eight thrilling, chilling YA novels--just in time for Halloween! Because you can never have too many giveaways, right? BTW, Jen and I have the same lucky number this hunt, the number thirteen! (13) That's the number you need for this post. And now [drum roll] here's Jen!


Jennifer: This story takes place in the Continuum Universe created in my Continuum Trilogy. The books explore what happens after the surface of the Earth is destroyed and humans are evacuated to colonies located in different environments—underwater, underground, and outer space. Hope you enjoy it!


TWELFTH
by Jennifer Brody

“Wake up … Twelve.”
That familiar voice was accompanied by light. Blinding light that grew stronger. “No … I don’t want to wake up … need sleep.”
The words left the girls lips, but they sounded jumbled, thick with sleep. And not just any sleep. Deep, cryo sleep.
The light wouldn’t ease.
The voice wouldn’t stop.
“Wake up … Twelve.”
It kept repeating in a loop. Kept prying her awake. It wasn’t human. It was only a recording. The girl realized that with a cold sweep of sadness that rushed through her chest like a torrent. Her cryocapsule hissed open.
A blast of cold air pricked her skin, accompanied by fear at her paralysis. Her fuzzy brain. Her disorientation.
It took a while for her limbs to awaken. For her small heart to pump enough blood to get her vital systems going. For the thick fog to drain from her mind.
“Wake up … Twelve.”
The voice heckled her, driving her upright.
She peered over the edge of her cryocapsule. Her eyes landed on rows and rows of other cryocapsules. Only one thing was different—their occupants were still slumbering, locked away in the deep, unnatural freeze that kept them alive.
She caught sight of her reflection in the metal side of the next capsule—mousy brown hair, hacked short for convenience, button nose speckled with a tapestry of light freckles. Watery, blue eyes—watery like their world. Nothing had changed since she went to sleep many centuries ago.
She was still a child of thirteen.
She was over 700 years old however.
Now she was alone. Her brain was still foggy from the deep sleep, but it began spitting out questions anyway.
Why was she the only one awake? Was it a malfunction? Why were her parents still asleep? And her brother Toren?
Those thoughts brought a fresh wave of fear. Her heart thudded like a hammer in her chest. She climbed from her capsule clumsily, her feet hitting concrete, and staggered over to her family’s capsules. Their eyes were frozen. They stared out but saw nothing but dark dreams.
With intense longing, she traced her finger over the clear panels, following the familiar bent of their features, the crook of her dad’s nose, the gentle slope of her mother’s chin, the rigid arch of her brother’s eyebrows. Her older brother.
Toren was her best friend, and her greatest tormentor. She loved him and hated him all at once. And she missed him like crazy, even though he teased her about her freckles and frizzy hair. Taking her under his arm and tickling her mercilessly.
“Toren …” she rasped softly.
You couldn’t tell how sick they were from their peaceful repose. How when they went into their chambers, they were only days away from the final stage of the illness.
The hemorrhaging.
The memories came back of them entering their capsules. Toren had to be helped entering his capsule. His strong body laid low with fever. So many in their colony had died already. So many bodies had been given back to the sea.
This was their only chance. To abandon the waking life and pass into frozen slumber. To wait for the dark years of exile in the depths of the sea to wash over them and abate, like a current flowing and ebbing.
They didn’t even know if it would work. They had started to build the cryocapsules once the infection couldn’t be contained. They were the last resort. Her fuzzy brain struggled to understand.
But why was she the only one awake?
The voice spoke again.
“You are the Twelfth and the Last. The time for exile has passed. Fulfill your destiny. Go out and claim it.”
She realized the recording was her mother.
Her name, she remembered it now.
“My name is … Twelve.” The words came out soft and raspy. “You named me that for a reason.”
“You are the Twelfth and the Last,” her mother repeated in a maddening loop. “Fulfill your destiny. You’re our chosen one. The only uninfected. Everything depends on you.”
That’s right. She wasn’t sick yet. Nobody knew why she didn’t fall prey to the fever like the other colonists.
“My destiny …”
Her fuzzy brain started to remember more. And that was when she knew exactly what she had to do.
“I must claim it,” she whispered back to her mother.
“Twelve claim your destiny,” her mother said. It felt like a response, but it was still the recording.
Twelve passed through the rows of capsules, each face familiar. There weren’t many of them left down here. The virus had taken so many, emerging after the water leak that flooded their colony and drowned four of the sectors.
She approached a thick window in the exterior wall—outside was a vast expanse, but it was blotted out with darkness. When she pressed her face to the portal, the exterior lights flashed on. Their beams pushed through the water, dying a few meters away from their colony. This life in the dark of the sea.
The light brought more memories back. They rushed through her. She remembered the flood and virus. She knew she had to summon help. She ran through the capsules to the door at the end of the chamber. It registered her identity.
“Twelve … access approved.”
It hissed open. She dashed through the corridors, weaving past sealed doors protecting them from the flooded sectors. Salt water is corrosive, especially with the massive pressure exerted in the trench. It had forced its way in and with it brought this plague to their world.
An ancient plague from the depths of the ocean. That’s what her father said, and Twelve knew he was right. Knew it in her heart.
Her freshly pumping heart.
“Twelve, we’re cursed,” he said before he took to his sick bed and never emerged. “The Doom cursed us.”
Her bare feet tore through the smooth corridors. She reached the right door. “Mortuary” was branded on it. She passed through it and found another capsule—only this one was a tomb. The boy inside wasn’t much older than her.
“Langston …” she whispered, feeling a tear trickle from her eye and land on the clear panel. His golden face, scarred with pox. The virus had taken him. Something glinted on his wrist. The golden armlet branded with the snake swallowing its own tail. There it was, waiting for her to claim it.
The Beacon.
The capsule opened at her touch with a hiss. Twelve reached for the Beacon. Her hand nearing, it split apart. The metal turned to liquid. Greenish light flashed over the snake, making it look angry. In one smooth motion the device wrapped itself around her wrist.
Searing pain tore through her like a bolt of lightning. She convulsed and fell to the floor. Her body shuddered, as memories poured through her. She saw everything through Langston’s eyes. She lived through him. His childhood, growing up in the chamber next door to her family. Their friendship. That blossomed into something more. Their … first kiss … mostly innocent … stolen when their parents weren’t looking. Stolen in a dark nook of the corridor.
Tears blossomed in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. Twelve felt everything again. And then the memories went back further and further … to the beginning … to the day of the Doom. She was a girl again, fleeing into a submarine with her family, packed into the hull as it dove and dove and dove.
As the world above ended.
All the pain from the unmaking of the world.
She felt it all.
When the Beacon released her from the memories, she couldn’t tell if a few minutes had passed—or an hour—or a millennium. Maybe no time had passed, or maybe all the time had passed. She was a child; she was over 700 years old.
The paradoxes made sense to her now. Everything was true, and nothing was true. Time didn’t mean the same thing anymore now that she carried all these lifetimes within her.
It’s time, Langston said. Do it.
His voice rang in her head. It sounded like he was standing right there talking to her, even though he was long dead.
“How is this possible?” she asked, amazed.
When they were kids after he became a Carrier, he’d tried to explain.
“They’re all inside me now,” he said, then frowned. “No, that’s not right. They are me now. And I am them.”
She’d rolled her eyes. “Oh, fancy Carrier, you’re just trying to confuse me.”
But a seriousness had invaded him since the Bonding, after their prior Carrier died. It was almost like she didn’t know him anymore. The silly boy who’d kissed her in the corridors—that boy was gone, replaced by this new boy.
This Carrier.
And now she was one, too. She finally understood the weight of the burden. What it felt like to carry the destiny of other people on her narrow shoulders.
She knew she had to act. She shut her eyes, concentrated, then projected her thoughts into the Beacon.
Hello … anybody out there?
Please answer me.
I’m the Twelfth and the Last.
Anybody … can you hear me?
She pushed the knowledge of all that had befallen her colony into the Beacon, more images than words.
And then she heard something.
It was Langston’s voice. There’s a signal … I can feel it.
That was when she understood that her thoughts were no longer her own. They’d never be her own again. She was divided, split into many selves, all the prior Carriers.
“A signal?” she said back. “Did someone hear me?”
Hold on, I’ll try to connect with it.
That’s when another voice struck her thoughts like an electric charge. This one was warm and confidant. And it was the sweetest sound that Twelve had ever heard.
This is Myra Jackson of the First Continuum, the new voice said. Formerly of the Thirteenth Continuum, Puerto Rico Trench, Atlantic Ocean. Newly elected President of the United Continuums. I received your signal … who are you? And … where are you?
Twelve, the girl answered. I’m Twelve.
There was a pause, long enough to make Twelve worry that she’d done something to offend this new voice.
But then Myra spoke again. The Twelfth Continuum?
Twelve … it’s my name.

And your location apparently, Myra replied with amusement. Mariana Trench. Underwater colony. Holy sea, you’ve survived! We thought you’d perished. Welcome back, Twelve.

*****


Paula: Whoa. Holy sea, indeed! That was seriously intense. I can't wait to find out what happens when these two girls meet up :)

Here's more about Jennifer:


Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of THE 13TH CONTINUUM. Her book sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into television show. Translation rights have sold in many territories, most notably Russia and China. RETURN OF THE CONTINUUMS (Book 2) and THE UNITED CONTINUUMS (Book 3) complete this epic trilogy. She is a graduate of Harvard University, a creative writing instructor at the Writing Pad, and a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation. She founded and runs BookPod, a social media group for authors. She lives and writes in LA, where she's hard at work on her next book.


BONUS GIVEAWAY!


One lucky red team winner will score a mega prize pack, including THE 13TH CONTINUUM and HIDDEN PIECES. I'm also running a secondary giveaway where one lucky reader can score paperbacks of my other three mysteries: LIARS, INC., VICARIOUS, and FEROCIOUS (INT).



To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


DOUBLE BONUS GIVEAWAY!!




This one is not YASH-affiliated, but just in case you missed it, I'm part of a group giveaway on Instagram this week with seven other mystery/thriller authors. Wanna enter to win eight more books? Click here for full details.


Are you hungry for more exclusive content, epic secondary contests, and general YASH mayhem?!? Margot Harrison is next for the Red Team!

As always, A HUGE THANK YOU to the organizers of the hunt for including me, and to all of the participants for taking the time to stop by our blogs and enter our contests. We couldn't do this without you. 




Monday, September 3, 2018

HIDDEN PIECES Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

Have you seen the official book trailer for HIDDEN PIECES?




In order to help get the word out about my latest release, I'm asking people who have read Hidden Pieces to consider posting a short review to the book-buying/review websites they frequent regularly. You can find links to several larger American sites in the sidebar by clicking on the icons on the "Available Now" widget. You can also review on international book-buying websites, as well as library sites, online community sites (Goodreads, Booklikes, YA Books Central, etc), school sites, your own blog or FB/Twitter/Tumblr/YouTube/Instagram, etc.

Because your time is valuable, I've created an early reviewer appreciation giveaway. The first 50 readers (INT) who post an honest review of 50 words or more in three different places and fill out this form will all be mailed 2 signed HIDDEN PIECES bookmarks and a magnet.


Sorry. Terrible pic. Can you tell I posted this in a hurry?


But that's not all. One random winner out of 50 entrants will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon, B&N, your local indie, or an international equivalent. If HIDDEN PIECES gets 50 Amazon reviews by October 1, I will give away a second $25 gift card, so tell your friends who read the book to enter too. Contest ends October1st.

This is not an attempt to score more positive reviews. Any rating (or no rating on sites where that's allowed) will qualify you. Good reviews, critical reviews--I won't even read them unless you're a winner and I have to verify you. Honestly, the worst review is no review at all. Please see below for more info on how I feel about reviews.

This is also not me expecting you to go out and buy my book and read it ASAP. I will do another one of these giveaways in December for people who read the book after it is more widely available in libraries.

My one request: As usual, I made several (over 150) changes to the book between the printing of ARCs and final copies, including editing two scenes to make the identity of the final culprit harder to guess. If you're reviewing the ARC, please note that in your review. Thanks :)


Curious about why I want reviews so badly? Keep reading:

I've blogged about this before (search reviews), but my thoughts have changed over the past couple of books. I don't read reviews much anymore. I will read extremely early ones just to see if people are reading my book the way I'm hoping they will, and I will read most of the ones tweeted at me because I feel like people who tweet reviews at me want me to see them and it seems like the least I can do after someone takes the time to post about my work. Occasionally, I will read other ones, but these days in any given week in addition to working and volunteering, I might be promoting a book, revising 1-2 books, and drafting/outlining 1-2 books. That's a LOT of voices in my head, so I try to minimize the reviewer voices--positive or critical--that get in there too.

But even if authors aren't reading them, reviews can impact the success of a novel in several ways. [Reposted from an earlier blog post.]

1. There's the obvious way, where if a book has a lot of positive reviews, then a prospective reader might be more willing to take a chance on it. Positive reviews have the power to influence readers who are "on the fence."

2. There's the inverse (converse?) where a negative review might prevent someone who wouldn't like the book from picking it up, which is also a good thing. Multiple people wrote negative reviews for Liars, Inc. on Goodreads because it has sex and F-bombs. Some people aren't bothered by those things at all, but I don't want to offend anyone who is and scare them off from checking out my PG-rated books like Girl Against the Universe.

3. Sometimes just the sheer numbers of reviews (say 60 on Amazon vs. 10) is enough to cause a potential buyer to click for more info. The only reason I ever clicked on Susan Ee's Angelfall is because it had a massive number of reviews, and I really enjoyed that book. Volume of reviews can influence casual browsers who might click on "People who bought [Book] also bought [Other Book]" links.

4. Most book-buying websites also have algorithms that cause the more "popular" books to come up more frequently in site "If you like [Book] you might be interested in [Other Book]" features and targeted emails, etc. This placement can be tremendously helpful in getting the word out about a new book to targeted audiences--almost like free advertising. One way a book's "popularity" is measured is by number of reviews.

5. So-so reviews can also sell books. One of the three-star reviews I've seen for GATU was extremely well-written and complimentary--the reviewer mostly felt that book was kind of long. (It is.) If a reader sees that and likes long books, that might be even more persuasive than a 5-star review. Also, everyone knows that not all 3-star reviews are the same. Some reviewers have their reader-meter set to LOVE and three stars means the book let them down. Other reviewers have a "no five star" policy since no books are perfect, and three stars might be a really good review from them.

6. Even one-star reviews can sell books. I will openly admit that when I see a book being obliterated with one-star reviews, my curiosity is piqued and my sympathy-response is activated. I am more likely to read that book. Also, some one-star reviews are more "it's not for me" than "no one should ever read this." One of my Liars, Inc. one-star reviews says this: No matter how I didn't like the plot/decisions of the characters, I will say the writing was exceptional, and the book is a fast read. I love flawed characters and fast reads. That's basically a blurbable quote from someone who "borderline-hated" the book.


So those are my reasons for wanting your reviews. Are you an author? Why do you want reviews? Are you a reader? What is it that makes you write a review for one book and not write one for the next book?

Thanks for considering writing a review for HIDDEN PIECES. Here's the link to the giveaway form again if you need it. And if you plan to read the book later this year, no worries. I'll run another reviewer appreciation giveaway in December, if not before.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Great Hidden Pieces Graphics Contest!

[9/2/18: WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AND NOTIFIED. If you didn't win, it's not because your graphic wasn't awesome. Picking winners for these contests is really hard for me because it's very subjective, and that's one reason I send every entrant signed swag. I wish I could give all of you free books, but I unfortunately can't afford it. I do appreciate the time you took to help me promote my latest release and will be featuring your graphic on my Facebook page (with credit to you, ofc) in the future :)]

It's time for another great graphics contest! Do you want to win a copy of any of my YA novels, including a gorgeous finished copy of HIDDEN PIECES? I'm looking for cool fan art or quote/image pairings to share on social media. You don't have to have read the book to enter.

These images should include the title of the book somewhere and can include quotes from the novel, suggested taglines, your own taglines, etc. You can use your own photography, draw something, make word art, create an image in Canva, modify the official cover art, etc. (Click the Books or Media tab for access to the official book cover.)

What you can't do is use someone else's copyrighted material as the base for your work. If you don't know for sure it's open source (from a personal friend, a Canva free image bank or via Wikipedia where the image info says open source, etc.) assume that it isn't. I know a lot of bloggers pull images from Pinterest and Tumblr for their blogs, but technically that might be infringing on someone's copyright.

Here are some different types of entries from previous contests :)
Drawing by Kim
Cover modification by Agustina Z.


Mixed media by Alyssa C


Modified graphic by Rebeca G, made with Canva


Probably the most amazing thing anyone
has ever made for a contest of mine, by Aila.

You can also make a bookish aesthetics post, as long as the cover or title of the book is included somewhere. (But again, ALL of your images have to be found somewhere where you *know* you're not violating anyone's copyright. I highly recommend Canva if you're not sure.) Here's one I did for THE KEY TO EVERYTHING:




I will select at least one winner and possibly two or three, depending on how many and what kind of entries I get. Sometimes there are a lot of different styles that are hard to compare, but I can see that people put effort into them. I will be judging on design, content, promotional appeal, and personal preference. It's not always just about who has mad graphics skills :)

Each winner of this contest will get a signed finished copy of Hidden Pieces if you have a U.S. address or a Book Depository or Wordery pre-order of the novel + a signed bookplate if you live outside the U.S. If you want one of my other books instead, just ask. I have no problem subbing in a different title as long as it's available. Everyone who enters, regardless of location, will receive signed HIDDEN PIECES bookmarks. All submitted designs remain copyright of their creator, but will be fawned over by me, and may be shared via my social media over the next few months.



Possible text for your graphic:
Your graphic does not need to have text (aside from the book's title and my name) if you're not using the cover image, but it can. If you've read the ARC, you can use anything that stood out to you. If you haven't read the ARC, you can check out this three-chapter sample. You can also use part of one of the quotes that are listed on Goodreads. You can make up your own tagline or phrase or use one of the ones below.
  • A small town. A big secret. A deadly game
  • No one is safe.
  • Every choice has a cost.
  • Can we ever really see the whole picture?
  • Nothing stays secret forever.
  • Sometimes there is no right choice.

Rules: 
  • You must share your graphic on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, at least once by August 26. Caption/tag the image similar to: Embry's latest mistake has put everyone she loves in horrible danger. Can she fix things before someone pays the ultimate price? #HiddenPieces by @pstokesbooks releases August 28 from @HarperTeen
  • Again, you can't use copyrighted material in your entries. Aside from the book cover, which can be freely used/adapted for purposes of this contest, any photography or imagery must be open source or belong to you.  When in doubt, don't use it.
  • Designs can be any shape or size and do not need to be high resolution.
  • You can enter up to three graphics, but each one must be shared on social media and emailed to me by August 26, 2018.

Final designs need to be emailed to me as a .JPG or .PNG for easy sharing at pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com by August 26, 2018, subject: Hidden Pieces graphics contest. 

In your email, also include your mailing address if you want bookmarks and a link or enough information so I can find your shared image on social media in case I miss your tag. INT'L peeps, don't forget your postal code if you've got one--I know some countries have them but don't use them domestically.


General questions? Put them in the comments.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hidden Pieces pre-order incentive

Are you planning to buy HIDDEN PIECES? If so, you might want to order early and take advantage of this awesome pre-order incentive!

Here's more information about the book:


"Hidden Pieces is the dark, twisted, amped up, I Know What You Did Last Summer-esque YA suspense of my dreams! Paula Stokes delivers a modern classic."
-Gretchen McNeil, author of TEN and #MurderTrending

"Tightly plotted, character-driven, and atmospheric. Hidden Pieces is packed with emotion and layered with multiple mysteries.
-Erin Jade Lange, author of Rebel Bully Geek Pariah

"A character-driven mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti.”
-School Library Journal

“Stokes offers a classic whodunit, masterfully played. Characters, even minor ones, are well developed, as are the subplots . . . All become, as the title indicates, pieces of an intricate puzzle.”
-ALA Booklist, starred review


Embry Woods has secrets. Small ones about her past. Bigger ones about her relationship with town hero Luke and her feelings for someone new. But the biggest secret she carries with her is about what happened that night at the Sea Cliff Inn. The fire. The homeless guy. Everyone thinks Embry is a hero, too, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Embry thinks she’ll have to take the secret to her grave, until she receives an anonymous note—someone else knows the truth. Next comes a series of threatening messages, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put her loved ones at risk. Someone is playing a high stakes game where no one in Embry’s life is safe. And their last move ... is murder.




U.S. readers can get a signed/personalized copy of Hidden Pieces by ordering via Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA. U.S. addresses only. Shipping charges will apply. Please note in special instructions that you would like the book signed, including telling me whether you would like personalization.

Everyone who orders a new hardcover or e-book of Hidden Pieces, from any store or website, by Aug 31st, 2018 (so yes, if you ordered last week or 6 months ago it counts), is eligible to receive 2 signed bookmarks, a signed bookplate, a magnet, and 2 stickers. Depending on how many pre-orders I get, I might include some bonus stickers :)




This incentive is international. In order to get your free goodies, you need to email your mailing address to pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com subject: HIDDEN PIECES PRE-ORDER, and include a photo, scan, or screenshot of your order confirmation or receipt. Offer ends August 31, 2018. Let me know if you want me to personalize the bookplate to a different first name than the one you use for your mailing address.

Lovely international peeps: It helps me a ton if you type out your address on multiple lines like my super-clueless self should address the envelope. Also, don't forget to include your postal code if that's something you're not used to using. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival.



BONUS: Everyone who pre-orders has a chance to win a special mystery prize pack (which may or may not come wrapped in an evidence bag and crime scene tape :D)

One lucky pre-orderer will be chosen at random to receive a prize pack of some of my favorite YA thriller novels + some mysterious bonus goodies. (International prize may vary due to shipping costs, but will still include multiple YA mystery novels.)

NOTE: If you pre-order HIDDEN PIECES and then win a copy from me in one of several giveaways I'll be running in the next month, I'll let you pick any of my other YA novels as a contest prize. That way there's no danger of anyone pre-ordering and ending up with multiple copies...though I've heard they make great gifts ;D Seriously, though. Anytime you win a contest from me, I will almost always let you substitute in another of my books unless I'm purposely trying to get rid of ARCs or extra copies.










Wanna try before you buy? Click here to read the first three chapters of HIDDEN PIECES.


Ready to purchase? Pre-order from Vintage Books, or any of the following retailers:

Order from Amazon! Order from iBooks! Order from Barnes & Noble! Order from Harper Collins! Order from Kobo! Order from The Book Depository!



Got questions? Email me or put them in the comments :)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Introducing HIDDEN PIECES + a giveaway!

Hi lovelies :) I try to do focused promotion for all of my titles from three months before release to three months after release, so I'm about two weeks behind on HIDDEN PIECES. I figured I'd get the party started with a blog post about the book and an international giveaway :D

Here's the lowdown on the story if you haven't already seen it:


"A classic whodunit, masterfully played."
-ALA Booklist, starred review

Embry Woods has secrets. Small ones about her past. Bigger ones about her relationship with town hero Luke and her feelings for someone new. But the biggest secret she carries with her is about what happened that night at the Sea Cliff Inn. The fire. The homeless guy. Everyone thinks Embry is a hero, too, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Embry thinks she’ll have to take the secret to her grave, until she receives an anonymous note—someone else knows the truth. Next comes a series of threatening messages, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put her loved ones at risk. Someone is playing a high stakes game where no one in Embry’s life is safe. And their last move ... is murder.


Readers of the ARC might want to check out my (non)review of the book on Goodreads for more information about what has changed from ARC to finished novel.


What I like best about HIDDEN PIECES:

One thing I like about all of my mysteries is that I work hard to create multiple plausible suspects and embed enough clues so that the eventual reveal feels authentic without making it easy to guess the culprit early on. I tweaked the ARC text just slightly to remove a couple of clues, so if you guessed whodunit from the ARC, know that things are a little more obscure in the final book. It's a hard balance to hit and there's no way to get it right for everyone. People read on such different levels that you can skim the reviews for any thriller title and see both "OMG I had no idea MIND = BLOWN!" and "Ugh. The killer was painfully obvious from page 5..." kind of reviews. But I did my best and I'm happy with the end result.

I also really like how developed the characters and subplots are in this book. School Library Journal called this "a character-driven mystery perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen" and at first I was like "Huh?" but the more I think about that description, the more I love it. If you keep reading below about the issues with infidelity, you might think the book focuses heavily on romance, but it doesn't. Still, romantic issues are present, as are issues with financial need, health problems, family dynamics, etc. Because honestly, most of us won't ever be embroiled in a murder or blackmail mystery, but if we are, it's not like all the rest of the stuff going on in our lives is just going to magically shut off so we can investigate a crime. Embry's main concerns are figuring out who's blackmailing her and protecting the people she loves, but she doesn't just ignore her dog, her after-school job, her worries about the future, her thoughts about her absentee father, etc.

Finally, I set this book in a fictional town called Three Rocks, which is based heavily on the real life town of Oceanside, Oregon. Oceanside is near and dear to me because it's beautiful and mysterious, but also because it happens to be where I met my agent (before she was my agent) and where I attended a writing workshop that really changed my life.

You can see these three rocks from almost anywhere in town.

Here's the road Embry is walking along at the start of the book.

I imagine the Sea Cliff Inn atop a cliff much like this one.

Mental health issues in the book:

I thought a lot about whether I needed to directly address Embry's mental health in this story. Early on there's a passage that states this:

I let Betsy tug me through the frozen grass and around to the back of the hotel. There’s a small clearing with a gardening shed off to the side. Beyond it there’s a sheer drop-off of about five hundred feet. I look out at the dark ocean for a few seconds, resisting its siren call.
I’ve thought about jumping from this cliff once or twice. The idea of the ocean swallowing me up is strangely comforting. Maybe a little too comforting.

As a mental healthcare professional, I would find that concerning, but I don't think Embry is actively suicidal or clinically depressed in this story. I used to throw around the words "I'm depressed" a lot when I was feeling down, but I try not to use that phrase anymore because I don't want to demean the struggles of people with actual clinical depression. A diagnosis of clinical depression requires symptoms that markedly affect a person's life (e.g. being unable to get out of bed, being unable to go to work, etc.), and that doesn't apply to Embry or me. 

I would describe Embry's mental state at the start of this book as "profoundly unhappy." Do I think she would benefit from talking to someone? Absolutely. Does Embry think she needs to talk to someone? Nope. She's one of the millions of people who think that because they're not actively planning to harm themselves or someone else that they don't need or deserve help. Also, because her family is low-income and her mom is already swamped with medical bills, I don't think Embry would ever ask to talk to a therapist, which is why I didn't write one into the novel. But if you're profoundly unhappy, don't be like Embry, okay? Reach out to a friend, family member, teacher, minister, doctor, etc. If you can't afford a therapist, one of these people will be able to help you find low cost/free services. You don't have to be teetering on the edge in order to benefit from talking to someone. All problems are easier to address at the mild to moderate stage. If you need a referral, try nami.org.


Okay, let's talk cheating. Yes, this book has infidelity:

One of my biggest worries for this title is that YA readers won't want to read it after they find out there is cheating in the (backstory for this) book. I have been emotionally, financially, and professionally devastated by boyfriends (and one fiance) who cheated on me and I think cheating is always wrong. However, I don't think everyone who cheats is a terrible person. If you have a black/white view of human morality, consider reflecting on what it would feel like to be at your breaking point, where you literally don't know if you can keep going. Yes, some people cheat because they're selfish, cowardly, or cruel, but other people make bad decisions in the heat of the moment because they're struggling. For me, what determines the integrity of a person isn't that they never mess up, but the manner in which they conduct themselves afterward. Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone takes responsibility and tries to make amends and actually learns from those mistakes. I pride myself on writing flawed characters who become better (but not perfect) people throughout their stories.

In HIDDEN PIECES, main character Embry Woods has abandonment issues. She's the product of an affair between a young working-class barista and a wealthy older man, and she learns early on that her father never wanted her and tried to bribe her mother into getting an abortion. When her mother refused to terminate her pregnancy, her father gave up the rights to her and moved out of town with his wife and two sons. She didn't hear from him for the first seventeen years of her life, but he's recently started sending her cards and letters, which she refuses to read.

Prior to the start of the novel (and seen in a flashback), Embry hooks up with her best friend's boyfriend, Holden. At this point, she is in an incredibly dark place--her ex-boyfriend has deployed to Afghanistan, her best friend is out of town for the summer, and her mom is in the hospital being treated for breast cancer. Embry is afraid her mom is going to die and leave her all alone. None of these things are excuses for what she does, but they are reasons. Holden admits to cheating and ends things with Julia immediately and encourages Embry to tell Julia that she's the girl he was with, but because Embry is afraid of losing both her mom and her best friend, it takes her a while to come clean. She knows that lying is wrong, even though Julia isn't upset about the breakup with Holden, and she beats herself up for being weak and a coward for the first half of the book. But eventually, while dealing with the mystery of who's blackmailing her and threatening the lives of the people she loves, Embry finds the strength to tell the truth and to accept the repercussions that come from hurting her best friend.

For me, as both reader and author, what I care about in a book with infidelity (or any act I don't want to encourage among my readers) is whether it's necessary for the storyline, how its portrayed, and how the aftermath is handled. Embry's choices not only feel true to her character, they also create a second angle for her to be blackmailed about and give additional motive to some of the book's suspects. Throughout the story, both Holden and Embry admit that what they did was wrong, and cheating is never glorified. Both characters eventually take responsibility for their actions and suffer consequences because of them.


 Golden Retriever Betsy is probably my fave character in the book ;)

Here's some background information about the writing process that I shared on Goodreads:

This story was hard for me to write because originally it was a very slick and streamlined plot-centered "OMG what if this happened??" idea, but the more I wrote, the more I realized that the driving force behind the mystery was more complex than I originally envisioned. Also, as much as I love to read a fast-paced, plot-driven thriller, when I write I feel compelled to dig deep into my characters, exploring how their histories, worldviews, social statuses, etc. affect the choices they make. So, HIDDEN PIECES isn't just a thriller about a girl with a secret who's being blackmailed by a stranger. It's also a book about friendship and family dynamics, an exploration of how socioeconomic status can weigh on almost every aspect of a person's life, and a story of self discovery. There's no doubt that Embry is flawed, but she grows and changes throughout the story. I enjoyed writing her journey. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Content Information:

I like to let people know upfront about the possible objectionable content in my books, because my mysteries tend to be a lot edgier than my contemporary novels. HIDDEN PIECES  has underage drinking (again, that isn't glorified and has consequences), sexual situations, about 20 F-bombs, and non-graphic violence. There is also mention of smoking marijuana, which is legal for people 21 or older in Oregon, but no active drug use on the page. The publisher is listing the novel for ages 12 and up, but if your school district or community is more conservative, you might want to recommend it for ages 14+.


Wanna win an ARC?

As usual, the Rafflecopter is chock-a-block with both easy, breezy entries and more labor intensive options to score more points. U.S. winner wins signed ARC. Int'l winner wins pre-order plus signed bookplate. You must be 13+ or have your parent/guardian's permission to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Never win anything? Might as well pre-order a signed, personalized copy today ;)

I'll be signing these gorgeous hardcover books with a sexy red pen. If you want to get one signed (and/or personalized to you or someone you really like), you can order via Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA. U.S. only. Shipping charges will apply. Please note in special instructions that you would like the book signed, including telling me whether you would like personalization.

I will be doing a pre-order incentive as usual, so if you pre-order, hang onto your receipt so you can score awesome signed swag later this summer :)

Check out the first three chapters of the book here.