Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2017 Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

Hi guys :) Happy belated Halloween! You might be too old to trick-or-treat, but you're never too old to head down to the local grocery or drug store to pick up some delicious candy at bargain basement prices :D



This is another Reviewer Appreciation Contest that I'm running to encourage people who have read my books to review them, and to encourage people who might have access to my newer releases but haven't read them yet to give them a try.

One winner will receive a $50 gift card to Amazon, Etsy, or Society 6, or a 50-page manuscript critique. (For more about my critique experience, check out Manuscript Critique Services.) International winner can also choose from $50 in books from The Book Depository or Wordery. You don't have to buy a book to enter. You can review an ARC, or a borrowed/library book. There are also two options to enter w/o reviewing by tweeting/retweeting about the contest and my recent cover reveal. If you choose the critique, you must turn in your pages by April 30, 2018.


Wondering why I'm running a reviewer appreciation giveaway? Here are some reasons why reviews are crucial to authors (repeated from a previous contest):

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. Sometimes I’ll read a negative review that says “This book had too much swearing and underage drinking” or “I hated that this book had a love triangle.” Readers are totally justified in not liking those things. However, those things don’t bother me, so those reviews they don’t affect whether I’ll buy a book. Other reviews says stuff like “I hated that the heroine’s pet kitten died a brutal death.” When I read that, I’m less likely to pick up a book, and that’s actually a good thing for everyone involved. Maybe it means that I don’t buy a book I was thinking of buying, but I am much more likely to buy the author’s future books if I haven’t labeled her or him in my brain as a “Violent Kitten Death Author.” 

3. 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's biggest criticism was 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.

4. 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. 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. That's basically a blurbable quote from someone who "borderline-hated" the book.

5. 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 on the site.

6. 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.

7. Reviews can provide helpful feedback to authors. I say "can provide" because a lot of authors don't read their reviews. Even for authors who do, it's often the case that if you read ten reviews, you'll find several different opinions on the same thing, none of which is more "right" than the others. But I find early reviews helpful to see if readers are interpreting the basic themes of my books in the ways I had hoped, and I know plenty of authors who have found reviews valuable from a critique standpoint.


RULES FOR ENTERING:
  1. You must have read a book in order to review it.
  2. Reviews must be at least 50 words long. Reviews that you have posted in the past also count. No need to edit or update, unless you need more words.
  3. You can copy/paste the same review to different sites for multiple entries.
  4. You must fill out the Raffecopter below, providing links/identifying info to your reviews by November 30, 2017.
  5. This giveaway focuses on my 2017 releases (2 hardcover, 2 paperback) because those are the books I really need to be promoting right now. But if you have reviewed The Art of Lainey or Liars, Inc., know that I am grateful <3
If you want to enter but you don't generally leave reviews because you're not sure what to say or not comfortable sharing your prose publicly, consider just leaving a list of things you liked and/or didn't like about the book. That adds up to 50 words pretty quickly :)


OTHER FINE PRINT STUFF:

The dangers of running a giveaway likes this include that people will plagiarize/write fake reviews to qualify or that people will think I am bribing readers for positive reviews. It's important to me that neither of these things happen. So:

1. If I think your review is fake or plagiarized (meaning that you copied someone else's review, not that you used quotes from the book--that's totally fine), I will disqualify you from consideration without notification.

2. Any honest review of 50+ words qualifies you to win the prize. 5 stars. 1 star. A Goodreads review with no rating if that's how you roll. I probably won't even see your review(s) unless you're the contest winner and I have to click over to verify you, and even then you won't hurt my feelings if you didn't like the book, I swear :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Got questions about the giveaway or about reviews? Put 'em in the comments.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fall 2017 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 confused about how to play or you get stuck somewhere, check this site for instructions on how to hunt.



This hunt I am proud to represent the GOLD TEAM I'm hosting Jillian Dodd.

Jillian is promoting her book THE PRINCE. What an awesome cover! Here’s more about the book:

An eighteen-year-old covert agent is pulled out of training before graduation by Black X, a espionage group so secret even the President of the United States doesn't know it exists.

For her first mission, she must go undercover as the long-lost daughter of a recently deceased billionaire, infiltrate high society, and protect the Prince of Montrovia from assassination.
But Prince Lorenzo is known as the Playboy Prince for a reason and his sensuality and charisma add a whole other level of complication to her mission.

She knows that her every move is being watched, but what she doesn’t know is that the Prince is just a chess piece in a bigger game that will have world-wide ramifications. And that Blackwood Academy, the place she has called home for the past six years has secrets of its own.

**********************

Jillian is sharing the Polyvore board for setting and characters from her Spy Girl series. Can I just say that these characters look at least five (5) times cooler than anyone I knew in high school? Look at the car, the yacht, the clothes. So much glamour! Where do I sign up? :)


**********************


Here's more about Jillian:

Jillian Dodd is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes fun romances with characters her readers fall in love with, from the boy next door in the That Boy trilogy to the daughter of a famous actress in The Keatyn Chronicles to a kick-ass young assassin in the Spy Girl series.





SECONDARY GIVEAWAY!

One lucky gold team winner will score a 20+ book prize pack, including a copy of THE PRINCE from Jillian and VICARIOUS and FEROCIOUS from me. But you guys know I love these secondary giveaways, so a second lucky winner will win their choice of any of my YA books shown in the sidebar or a copy of my forthcoming new adult novel THE KEY TO EVERYTHING. Read more about each of my titles on my Books page.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Note: I will be out of town from October 8 through October 18, and I may be unable to select a winner for this contest until I return. I will post the winner's name on the widget and notify via email by October 20 at the latest. Comments that come in on the 8th may not show up until I return, but rest assured your entry points will be credited before I select a winner.

DOUBLE BONUS!

I did an author chat with YA Books Central this week and here's another chance to win your choice of VICARIOUS or FEROCIOUS (INT.)


Are you hungry for more exclusive content, epic secondary contests, and general YASH mayhem?!? Eva Pohler is next for TEAM GOLD. 

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. Books and love  --Paula




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The easiest giveaway ever

UPDATE: All books have been claimed so I ended the international portion of the contest too. Congrats to my winners :) For more chances to win, check out my You, a Friend, a Stranger giveaway (INT) where you can score $100 in prizes or my latest retweet giveaway on Twitter (US.) Both of those end on 9/30, but after that I'll be participating in YASH, so come back in early October for blog hop and giveaway madness :D

*******************************

Hi peeps. So I basically sucked at staying off Twitter for September, but I did manage to stay almost completely off FB and Instagram, so there's that. And mostly Twitter pulled me in because I wanted to share info about the proposed healthcare legislation and keep up on info about people affected by the hurricanes and how to help.

Anyway, I've been planning this giveaway forever, but I got sick when I was going to post it as Free Books Friday last week so here it is as Free Books Wednesday Night ;)



Here's the deal. I released four traditionally published books so far this year if you count paperbacks, and I realized I have several ARCs and extra author copies hanging around. So I'm going to give some away. I'm too tired to set up a complex giveaway so it's going to be this simple: First, read the rules. Second, email me at pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com and specify which ARC/book you want and if no one else beats you to it, it's yours. I am going to do one book for ages 13-19 and one book for ages 20+ for each title, just because I have readers who are teens and some who are older and I want to distribute the books to both groups. So, like this:

  1. A hardcover of GATU from Book Outlet--has black mark on bottom pages, anyone can claim
  2. A paperback of GATU--age 13-19 can claim
  3. A paperback of GATU--age 20+ can claim
  4. An ARC of TIHIH (w/ missing page inserted)--age 13-19 can claim
  5. An ARC of TIHIH (w/ missing page inserted)--age 20+ can claim
  6. An ARC of Vicarious--age 13-19 can claim
  7. An ARC of Vicarious--age 20+ can claim
  8. An ARC of Ferocious--age 13-19 can claim
  9. An ARC of Ferocious--age 20+ can claim

I will cross off the book when it has been claimed, resulting in what I hope will be few people who email to request a book that's already been claimed. If you do get beat by someone else or you miss out on this contest, join my mailing list if you want to be included in the next one, because I'm going to do this again sometime this year with newsletter subscribers.


THE RULES: (Some of them are more like guidelines, but whatevs)
  • This part of the giveaway is US only because it costs more to mail any of these books than it would cost to buy them in a foreign country. International people, see below.
  • If you have won a book from me in the past 90 days, please refrain from requesting a book from this giveaway. Sharing is caring, right?
  • I am hoping (but not "requiring") people who claim these books will read and review them, so don't claim a book if you have a 100+ TBR list just because you can't resist free stuff.
  • Don't claim a book just to turn around and sell it to someone else. My projected writing income for 2018 is currently less than $3000 and will remain at that level unless I manage to sell another book, something I have been trying to do since the beginning of the year. I am not giving these away because I am a super-rich writer-person, so I am asking you nicely not to exploit this giveaway for profit. My goal is to get the books to people who really want to read them, so if you know someone that fits that criteria, especially a teen, send them this link :)
  • Books will ship media mail. I am not responsible for lost mail.
  • I'm not going to promote this on Twitter or FB until 10/1 to give priority to anyone who reads my blog (Hi Mom ;D Just kidding, my mom doesn't even read my blog), but I'll end this by 10/5 if there are still books up for grabs.
  • Be sure to tell me which book and your age category when you email. You can give me a first choice and second choice, but each person can only have one book.
  • Again reviews are appreciated but not required. Here's a post that highlights some of the reasons why reviews matter, though note that the giveaway in that post is over.


INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE:

You know I can't leave you guys out totally but I can only afford to offer you one finished copy of any of these books at the moment, so I'm making you an easy, breezy Rafflecopter. I'm not expecting more than a few entries here because I have regular international contest entrants and most of them have won a book from me in the past 90 days. Please observe the above rules, and fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good luck :)

Want more chances to win stuff? Why not enter my You, a Friend, a Stranger giveaway (INT) where you can score $100 in prizes or my latest retweet giveaway on Twitter (US.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Got questions? Put them in the comments :)

Friday, September 1, 2017

You, a Friend, a Stranger Giveaway!

Hi :) I am going to keep this short(ish) because you're all here for the giveaway, aren't you?




So here's the thing. I've had some definite writing setbacks over the past few weeks. I wouldn't say any of them were unexpected, but I don't know, things don't really hurt me less just because they didn't surprise me. It's a different kind of pain I guess, like another bag of bricks added to an already heavy load.

But despite that, I am trying to focus on the positive. I'm strong and I'm healthy, so I can carry those extra bricks. I have a new nursing job which admittedly is extremely stressful and probably not a good fit for me, but it allows me to be a positive force in the lives of mentally ill people and addicts--many of whom are often surrounded by negativity. This job also pays enough so that I can donate to hurricane relief and GoFundMes and buy books to support my writer friends (even if I have no time to read the books--I am sorry, writer friends!) These are all things I was not able to do for years when I was struggling to survive as a full-time writer, and that weighed heavy on my heart. So trade-offs, right?

I also have an amazing volunteer position with Transition Projects, a local homeless-to-housing charity here in Portland. Between work and volunteering, I spend a lot of time listening to people who are often disparaged or ignored by the public. There is something powerful and life-affirming about validating the very real struggles these people go through every day. I am constantly awed by their strength and inspired by the solidarity they show to each other. So yes, I am feeling kind of beat down, but I am also finding peace and hope in the world around me.




In the interest of finding even more peace and hope, I've decided to take a bit of a break from social media for the month of September. I'm going to concentrate instead on improving my mental and physical health, becoming a better psychiatric nurse, being more aware of the world around me so I can better help people in need, and revising a "book of my heart" that was passed on by my publisher. [Gentle reminder that unless you self-publish, the only guaranteed time you can write ANY story you want is before you get an editor and a publisher. I actually had two projects rejected by publishers in the past two weeks and both of them are over 25% written. So please, please, if you are pre-published, do not squander that magical time by being sad about not having a book deal. Book deals are great. So is the freedom to write wildly and freely about anything inside your soul without being constrained by editor preferences, profit and loss sheets, sales figures, acquisitions teams, etc.]


I'll be reading email and logging onto Twitter every couple of days to read my @ tweets because my readers matter to me and I will always have time for you <3. Other than that, my Twitter and Facebook posts are scheduled and I might pop onto Instagram if I find something magical I want to share with everyone. I wanted to leave you guys with a giveaway, so I decided to create something kind of fun that encourages other people to also go in search of peace and hope :)

Below is the You, a Friend, a Stranger giveaway. International. One winner receives $100 in prizes as follows:

  • Winner gets $25 transferred to a PayPal account or paid out via a bookstore, grocery store, department store, or gas station gift card. It's about you and what you need <3
  • Winner's friend also gets $25, paid out via any of those gift cards. Sorry, no cash. [Int'l winners will have a limited selection to choose from.]
  • Winner gets $25 in credit to contribute to any GoFundMe or YouCaring (or you can split between two campaigns) during the month of October. I am registered and I will give the money in your name.
  • Winner gets a $25 gift card to Kiva.org. If you aren't familiar with Kiva, it's a micro-lending website where you can help finance a business loan for someone on the other side of the world. Then they pay back the loan and you can re-lend. It is literally the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Because I'm an author and I have lots of free books to give away, I'll throw in a copy of any of my Paula Stokes books, either for you or your friend who gets the gift card. [I won't judge if you keep it for yourself. My books are awesome, after all ;D]

I know that's technically you, a friend, and two strangers (or two friends if you know someone with a GoFundMe) but that just didn't sound as good ;) The Rafflecopter activities are a mix of self-care and helping friends and strangers. Most of them cost absolutely no money and don't involve driving anywhere. I tried to make them as inclusive as possible so that everyone could participate in whatever they wanted. Please use common sense when completing the activities and enter at your own risk. They're not particularly dangerous things, but most of them involve more than clicking a link, so I'm erring on the side of caution.

I created this contest so you could technically do one activity every day in September, but if you want to crush them all out in a weekend marathon of kindness, empathy, and introspection, well, that works too :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Can you cheat? I mean, yeah, most of these are "on your honor" activities. But this specific contest was created to help people feel better about themselves and the world. If you cheat and win, you might not regret it now, but chances are at some point you're going to feel a little down on yourself. I don't want to do that to you, so how about you don't do that to yourself either? Have fun with this. If you have a really meaningful experience doing any of these activities, be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Happy September. Best of luck in whatever goals you are pursuing this month, and as always, thanks for everything that you do <3



Monday, August 28, 2017

Repost: Vicarious blog tour

In honor of the VICARIOUS paperback releasing tomorrow (thank you Tor Teen for giving this book a second chance in paperback to find a readership) I decided to repost the links to last year's blog tour. The tour includes reviews and "fun facts" about the characters, but it focuses primarily on my experiences writing outside of my own race and culture--why I did it and what I learned along the way.

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, work as high-tech stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

Great for fans of Inception and The Girl With the Dragon TattooVicarious is an adrenaline-fueled, high-tech thriller that will keep you guessing.

*********************************

Edited slightly. Originally published in August of 2016: I decided to kick off the VICARIOUS blog tour on my own site so that I could share some thoughts on #OwnVoices and writing outside my perspective, as well as introduce the rest of the tour.

I think the #OwnVoices movement is extremely important, and I fully believe that the literary community benefits by increasing the diversity of both authors and stories across races, cultures, sexual orientations, mental health statuses, socioeconomic classes, and more. For me it’s a no brainer that the exact same story written by someone inside of a group is going to feel more authentic than the one written by an outsider.

However, I feel like it’s rare that two authors want to tell the exact same story. If publishers are using a formal or informal quota/limit system, where buying an excellent contemporary romance with a main character from a marginalized group means they have to pass on an excellent murder mystery with a main character from the same marginalized group, or even another contemporary romance with a different plot, that’s a problem—one that needs to be addressed at the publisher level. A good story is a good story, and assuming the representation is accurate and respectful, there is no reason to limit the number of diverse books published, especially after straight, white, privileged main characters have dominated the literature for so long.

Therefore, while I believe we need more #OwnVoices books, I also think all authors should have the right to work on any story they strongly need to tell, as long as they’re willing to do the research needed and be receptive to criticism during and after the publication process. I understand that's a statement made from a position of privilege and that many authors from marginalized groups have been shut out of writing stories about their own culture or other cultures, but again that is a problem that needs to be addressed at the publisher level. Publishers should be working to elevate authors from marginalized groups and not discriminating based on author or character identities. Still, denying authors who are willing to put in the hard work to tell stories from outside their perspective in an authentic, respectful way the opportunity to do so would reduce the number of high-quality diverse books available to all.

I fully believe that the best book a person can write is the story they love and desperately want to share with the world. One of the reasons I started writing was to escape the confines and limits of my own experiences, to explore other realities and learn about other worlds. Accepting the premise that authors shouldn’t write about a country where we’ve never lived, or a culture we’re not part of, or a character with a disability we don’t personally have, would mean limiting ourselves and forcing us to censor our characters before they even get a chance to speak.

Because yeah, I don’t know how it works for other writers, but when my characters appear in my head for the first time, they usually show up with a lot of characteristics already in place. So many people asked me why I chose to write about a clueless, shallow, popular girl in The Art of Lainey. Um, that’s just who she was. It didn't occur to me to change her because I found her interesting and engaging, and I think less-than-perfect characters also deserve to have their stories told. Sure, I polished her throughout the drafting and revision process, and like most of my characters she undergoes a lot of character development, but I didn’t completely overhaul her identity. If I had, she would have no longer felt real to me. Same goes for Max in Liars, Inc. Same goes for Vicarious. From the moment Winter Kim first whispered in my ear, she was a Korean girl with a tragic past who was overcompensating for her emotional problems by building up her physical strength. If you want to know why I think she was that girl, check out my post on Ivy Book Bindings, where I go into much more detail.

Later in the blog tour I’ll also discuss my research strategies, how I attempted to balance sharing cultural information with story pacing while maintaining authenticity and respectfulness, my experiences using multiple cultural beta-readers, and finally some specific challenges I faced throughout writing and revision. Note that these posts are not meant to be “how-to” posts about writing outside one’s experiences. I don’t believe there’s one right way to do it, and I am in no way an authority on any of the strategies I used. I’m simply writing about how and why I did what I did, because several people have asked me about it.



Here’s the tour schedule: (all posts are available now)

 Introduction + tour schedule
 authorpaulastokes.com                   

Writing outside my perspective: Part 1
Why I wrote Korean main characters and what I hoped to accomplish
 ivybookbindings.blogspot.com
                         
Review + interview with Paula          
readingandsometea.wordpress.com

Writing outside my perspective: Part 2
A summary of my research strategies
hiveretcafe.blogspot.ca

Review + five facts about Winter
bookcatpin.blogspot.ca

Writing outside my perspective: Part 3
Maintaining authenticity and respect; balancing info and pacing
www.xpressoreads.com

Review + five facts about Jesse
bookiemoji.com

Writing outside my perspective: Part 4
Thoughts on using cultural beta-readers
www.thesilverwords.com

Review + five facts about Rose
cahreviews.blogspot.com

Writing outside my perspective: Part 5
Specific issues/problems I encountered while writing Vicarious

www.bookrookreviews.com


Wanna learn more about the sequel, FEROCIOUS, also available now? Click here to read the beginning.