Thursday, February 2, 2017

Metaltown and Necessary Trouble #PressBack Giveaway

Happy February! May this month bring you more joy and less freezing cold than January (or sweltering heat if you're in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Last year I was lucky enough to be sent on multiple events with the amazing Kristen Simmons. If you ever get a chance to meet her or hear her speak, I highly recommend it--she is passionate, informed, and entertaining. I learned a lot just from appearing alongside her (and Kristen, if you see this, thank you again for being the kind of patient, calming influence who lessened my public speaking anxiety just by being you.)




Kristen was nice enough to provide a signed copy of METALTOWN for me to give away. In case you're not familiar with the book, here's more info:

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.



This book was such an interesting mash-up of different genres to me. It's a dystopian story set in a completely fictional world, but at the same time it has the feel of a historical novel and addresses many present-day issues such as class struggle, environmental destruction, genetically modified organisms, and endless war. It's both plot-driven and character driven, with intricate yet easy to visualize worldbuilding. Parts of it made me laugh, parts made me cry, and all of it made me think. I suspect it's a book that will stay with me for quite a while.

Metaltown has been described as Newsies meets Les Miserables, and one of the major plot points involves the young factory workers banding together to organize a "press" which is basically a worker strike. Lead by Colin, the children and teens of Metaltown band together to #PressBack for better working conditions.


Blogger at The Eater of Books, @alyssa_susanna, presses back for the environment!

But pressing back isn't always about work. Over the past few months there's been a huge resurgence in political protesting and demonstrating around the world, particularly in the U.S. where I live. But a lot of activists leading the charges today have actually been fighting for better working and living conditions for the past decade or more. That's why I've decided to also give away a copy of Sarah Jaffe's NECESSARY TROUBLE. Here's more about that book:

Necessary Trouble is the definitive book on the movements that are poised
to permanently remake American politics. We are witnessing a moment of unprecedented political turmoil and social activism. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the growth of the Tea Party, a twenty-first-century black freedom struggle with BlackLivesMatter, Occupy Wall Street, and the grassroots networks supporting presidential candidates in defiance of the traditional party elites.

Sarah Jaffe leads readers into the heart of these movements, explaining what has made ordinary Americans become activists. As Jaffe argues, the financial crisis in 2008 was the spark, the moment that crystallized that something was wrong. For years, Jaffe crisscrossed the country, asking people what they were angry about, and what they were doing to take power back. From the successful fight for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and New York to the halting of Shell’s Arctic drilling program, Americans are discovering the effectiveness of making good, necessary trouble. Regardless of political alignment, they are boldly challenging who wields power in this country.


Necessary Trouble is a great book for young activists, people interested in learning more about recent movements, or even for people who just want to better understand the motivation and strategies behind today's current movements. If you've ever wondered what the Tea Party was actually about, whether Occupy Wall Street resulted in any long-term positive changes, or why protestors block highways during demonstrations, then you want to read this book. If you're not used to non-fiction, you might find the sheer volume of information presented overwhelming, but the book is broken up into chapters that focus on different movements, so you can read it in smaller chunks if that helps you absorb it all.

Because these are both books about standing up for what you believe in, I've created a Rafflecopter that will give you entry points for doing just that. I realize many of you are already actively engaged in pressing back, but that others might be a little overwhelmed by the world right now, unable to participate in demonstrations for a variety of reasons, and/or unsure if their individual efforts will make a difference. Never doubt your own power, even if you're not old enough to vote. Right now a group of young people aged 9 to 20 are suing the federal government over climate change. The people of Alaska persuaded their Republican senator to change her mind and oppose one of Trump's cabinet picks by calling and showing up in huge numbers. [Side note: Showing up in person, calling  or emailing are more helpful than tweeting @ politicians. Calls and emails are generally counted and logged. At this point I don't think tweets are officially monitored to the same degree, but please correct me if I'm wrong.] On a local level, citizens of Seattle have persuaded their city counsel to have an official vote on removing all of the city's assets from Wells Fargo due to the bank's heavy investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline. In short, if you can find the time to support the causes you believe in, your voice will be heard by someone. You might not always win, but you'll never win if you don't try.




This giveaway is U.S. only due to mailing costs, but I hope everyone reading this post will check out both of these fabulous books if they are able. Rafflecopter rules are in the terms and conditions. If you've already contacted your local or state representatives in 2017, you can use your previous actions for entry points. Contest ends Feb 28, 2017. As always, if you've got questions, put 'em in the comments :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
ETA: If you want to qualify for even more giveaways, join my mailing list! It's published six to twelve times a year and almost always includes exclusive giveaways just for subscribers. Later this month I'll be sending out a newsletter with two international giveaways--one for an ARC of This is How it Happened and one for a finished copy of one of my favorite books of 2016!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway


Hi guys! Happy December :)

I've talked a lot about why reviews are important. For example here and here. I even wrote specifically about negative reviews here. Tl;dr is that reviews matter for a lot of reasons, but one of the most crucial is they function as free publicity and help sell books. I realize it takes time and effort to leave reviews, which is why I try to do a couple of these contests each year to thank the people who are willing to go that extra step.

For this international giveaway, the winner will have a choice of a $25 B&N gift card, or a signed copy of any of the books you see in this post. (For Ferocious and TIHIH, you'll receive a signed ARC.) You can earn points for reviewing any of my last four novels--Vicarious, Girl Against the Universe, Liars Inc., and The Art of Lainey. You can also earn points just by tweeting or by leaving a comment about how to encourage readers to write reviews.

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 qualifies you to win. 5 stars. 1 star. A GR review with no rating if that's how you roll. I probably won't even read your reviews unless you're the contest winner.



RULES FOR ENTERING:

1. You must have read a book in order to review it.
2. Your review must be at least 50 words long. (Reviews that you have already posted also count. No need to edit or update, unless you need more words.)
3. Reviews can be written in any language.
4. You can copy/paste the same review to different sites for multiple entries.
5. You must fill out the Raffecopter below.



IDEAS FOR WRITING REVIEWS: 

I know some readers aren't comfortable writing reviews, which is why I kept the length requirement short and included other options to enter the contest. But if you want more entry points, here are some things you could incorporate into reviews that might be more fun for you than just writing them in "book report" formula.

1. Pretend you are an author writing an official blurb for the book jacket. What would you say to the world about this book if you had to condense all your thoughts into one or two sentences?

2. Make your review two lists--the things you liked the best and the things you liked the least about the story.

3. Make your review a mini "editor letter" by commenting separately on the prose, voice, setting, plot, and characters.

4. Pretend you are the book's publicist and it's your job to come up with good comparison titles. End your review by saying "Fans of [these books] and [these movies] will enjoy [book] because [reasons.]"

5. Choose your favorite quotes from the book. Tell how each
affected you and how it connects to the overall story.

Do you have other ideas for "reluctant reviewers"? Share them in the comments :) The Rafflecopter comment question is about how authors can encourage readers to leave more reviews. It's generally unethical to pay reviewers (exceptions being things like Kirkus Indie, etc.), so authors and publishers frequently trade free books in exchange for reviews. That sometimes works well at the publisher level, but the expense of sending books is often too much for individual authors and doesn't always pan out in the form of reviews. I would love to hear any suggestions you guys have on how to score more honest reviews, especially on book-buying websites.

Thanks and happy holidays :) See you in January when I'll be giving away a signed copy of Kristen Simmons's Metaltown!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Questions about the giveaway? Put 'em in the comments :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Discussion guide for VICARIOUS

Hi guys! I've updated my discussion guide page to include non-spoilery questions for Vicarious. These are great for anyone reading the book for a book club or online read-along.

I know I haven't been online too much, but I'll be back on Twitter and FB regularly in January or February. In the meantime, be sure to stop back by the blog because later this month I'll be running another Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway where you can score entry points for reviewing any of my books online. Then, in January, I'll be doing a giveaway for a signed copy of Kristen Simmons's Metaltown. Plus there will be exclusive holiday giveaways for my awesome newsletter subscribers. Join the mailing list here.


VICARIOUS DISCUSSION GUIDE, written by Paula Stokes

Pre-reading questions:

1. Vicarious takes place in a world where futuristic technology makes it possible for people to record their sensory experiences and share them with others. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go shark diving or bungee jumping, but you’re too scared or you can’t afford it. Maybe you want to snowboard but you don’t have time to take lessons. With Vicarious Sensory Experiences (ViSEs), people can experience not just the first-person visual of what these activities are like, but also the sounds, smells, and tactile sensations. It’s like Virtual Reality on steroids.

Name one or two things you might like to experience via a ViSE recording. It doesn’t need to be an adventure sport. It could be something like walk along the Great Wall of China or go on a date with a celebrity.

2. Name one or two things you’ve done in the past that you might want to share with friends or strangers by making a ViSE. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or overly glamorous. Maybe you went sledding over Winter Break or saw one of your favorite bands perform live.

3. Who is the person you are closest to in the whole world? Why did you pick that person?

4. Do you think it’s okay to lie to people “for their own good?” Does it depend on the circumstances? Discuss why you feel the way you do.

5. What is your definition of family?



Questions while reading:


6. Winter exercises, perhaps obsessively, to calm her nerves. Is there anything that you do in order to calm yourself before a big test or a potentially scary task?

7. The author intended for the book’s setting to be an alternate present day, but a lot of readers assume the book takes place in the future. Can you find two examples that make the book feel futuristic? What about two examples that make the book feel like it’s taking place in the present?

8. Describe the phenomenon of overlay. Why does it affect some people more than others?

9. At one point Winter plays a ViSE of Rose winning a large amount of money in a casino and muses that her sister might have been making recordings that function like high-tech commercials. Do you think that would work? That is, do you think having a positive virtual experience would make people more likely to try to replicate the experience in real life? Why or why not?

10. What does Winter think is happening in the bathroom at Zoo before she and Jesse enter? What is actually happening? Why do you think Winter had preconceived notions about what goes on at Zoo?

11. There are definite privacy concerns when it comes to recording ViSEs, especially some of the ones that Rose records. Given that ViSEs are essentially recorded personal memories, do you think it should be okay to sell them or share them without the consent of other people who are part of the recording? Why or why not?

12. Do you see Winter as a strong character, weak character, or somewhere in between? Why do you feel the way you do?

13. Do you see Jesse as a strong character, weak character, or somewhere in between? Why do you feel the way you do?

14. Which characters in the book were the easiest for you to relate to? Which did you find to be the most likable? Explain why you feel the way you do.

15. How would you describe Jesse’s feelings for Winter? Gideon’s feelings? Sebastian’s feelings? Give examples from the text to back up your answers.



Post-reading questions:

16. Almost all of the characters in Vicarious seem suspicious at one point or another in the book. Did you figure out who killed Rose before the answer was revealed? Discuss who your major suspects were and at which point in the novel you started to put the pieces together.

17. Who does Winter trust at the beginning of the book? Who does she trust at the end of the book? What things happened throughout the story that caused her to switch her allegiances?

18. Would you like a job recording ViSEs? Why or why not?

19. The author has mentioned that this book was inspired by her love of gritty, high-tech movies, including Inception and The Matrix. In The Matrix, main character Neo is offered a choice of two pills—the blue pill that will put him back into the false reality of the matrix, or the red pill that will allow him to see the world as it really is. He chooses the red pill, but is horrified by the truth. Winter isn’t given a choice, but like Neo she experiences a series of revelations and is also horrified by the truth. If you were her, would you want to know everything that she discovers in the last several chapters of the novel? Or would you prefer to be protected from the truth? Are there any scenarios in real life you can think of where you would definitely want to “take the blue pill” and be protected from reality? Explain your answer.

20. What do you think is going to happen in the second (and final) book of the Vicarious series? What questions do you have at the end of Book #1 that you still need to be answered?


ICYMI, check out the official Vicarious trailer:


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Third Party Voting: Did it Matter and Why People Do It

Hi :) I don't generally share my political views on the internet because I think it's best when people do their own research and come to their own conclusions. This is also why you don't see me jumping into the fray much on controversial issues. I often have strong feelings, which I discuss with people offline, but I try not to say anything online unless I'm certain of the facts. I worry sort of obsessively about spreading disinformation or propagating false narratives, and usually by the time we know all the facts about something, people have moved on to talking about something else.

There were a lot of false narratives spread by major media outlets on election night, one of which is that "If HRC had gotten all of Jill Stein's votes and half of Johnson's she would have won." That's not true. As far as I can tell, it was never true at any point during the vote counting. Media personas who spread this falsehood gave HRC half of Johnson's votes but conveniently didn't give the other half to Trump. When you give the other half to Trump, those votes cancel each other out and become mathematically irrelevant. Then when you look at the total number of Stein votes, it's not enough for HRC to win. (These figures are from 11/20.)


                             Trump             Clinton                Difference             Stein
Florida               4,605,515           4,485,745               119,770                64,019
Michigan            2,279,221           2,267,798                 11,423                50,690
Pennsylvania     2,912,941           2,844,705                 68,236                48,912
Wisconsin          1,409,467           1,382,210                 27,257                30,980


It's enough for HRC to win Michigan, and just barely Wisconsin (needing 88% of Stein's votes), but that's all. I've heard people say it might be close enough to trigger a recount in Pennsylvania, but that's before you allocate the 20,000 votes for Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party (theocratic paleoconservatives) to Trump. [Please let me know if my math is wrong or there's something I'm leaving out and I will update this post. My intent is to clarify, not mislead.] And if you seriously believe that more than 50% of the Libertarian (no social services, very small government) voters would have voted Democrat (lots of social services, big government), consider this post about third party voters from Jill Stein herself, where she explains her beliefs about third parties and cites exit polls that indicate 55% of Libertarian voters and 61% of Green Party voters would have stayed home/opted not to vote rather than choose Trump or HRC.

I understand that voter suppression played a role and that some people suspect there was election fraud, and I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of either of those issues. But even if the numbers in this chart were different, given that in every election a significant percentage of registered Democrats vote Republican and a huge number of Dems don't vote at all, there's no logical reason to blame third party voters (who are often Independents), other than the fact that they're convenient scapegoats. But do you know what else they are? They're people who might have taken the time to vote for your preferred down ballot candidates, even if they didn't share your choice for president. They're also the voters most likely to return to the fold if the Democrats put forth a strong progressive candidate in 2020.

So if you truly believe that swing state third party voters had a major role in putting Trump in office, my recommendation would be to stop bashing them, or else we might be right back here in four years. Because when it comes to influencing voter behavior, shaming and coercion don't work. If you don't believe me, review the psychological theory of reactance, which states essentially that when someone or something threatens our idea of free will, we adjust our behavior in a way that works to reestablish it.

You know you want to.


But why would people throw away their votes in such an important election?

Well, I suspect for most, it wasn't throwing away their votes. There's been a lot of talk of "wasted protest votes" but when I think of a protest vote, I think of the 88,000 Michiganers who voted down ballot but skipped over the choice for president. I think of people who wrote in Sweet Meteor of Death or Cthulhu for president. Those people literally selected "None of the Above." Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying you should shame or blame those people either. We need their votes for 2020 too. But I think their motivations were different from those of third party voters. I asked a few people I know who voted for Stein or Johnson why they went third party. Here's what I found out:


Third party voters invested their votes for 2020:
"Growing up, I thought the Republicans were the party of the rich and the Democrats were the party of the common people, but this year both parties seemed to serve the same master. We need a third party for the 99% I voted for Jill Stein because I wanted to increase the chance that the Green Party could get campaign funding for next time."
This hasn't been mentioned much in the media, but the #1 reason people voted for Green or Libertarian candidates was to try to get them federal funding and auto-ballot access for 2020. If a third party received 5% of the popular vote, that party would have been automatically eligible for millions of dollars in federal funding. They also wouldn't have had to petition each state individually to get their names onto the ballot--something that burns through a lot of limited resources each cycle.

Simply put, these voters invested their votes, hoping to be able to build a viable third party for 2020. Considering that more than 60% of people said they think we need a viable third party, this feels like the furthest thing from a "protest vote." It was a strategic choice that didn't pan out, but given that Stein was polling 2-3% and Johnson was polling 4-6% in polls that focused mainly on older respondents with landlines, there was no reason to think this goal would be impossible to achieve.


Third party voters wanted to send a message/decrease the chances of a mandate:
"I don't like Trump at all, but as a Bernie supporter I just didn't feel like the democrat platform was progressive enough. And after the whole "public and private" policy debacle, I didn't even trust Hilary to stick to any of the things she promised Bernie."
One of the reasons third parties exist is to keep the main parties "honest." Did you notice how as the race progressed, Clinton veered more toward Republican ideals and started courting neocon endorsements while Trump began stealing lines from Sanders? That's a thing that happens as candidates try to draw in undecided voters, many of whom are presumably moderates.

When the Democrats look back and see that although the Green Party percentage of the vote was still very small, it was three times what it was in 2012, what they should do is recognize that they failed some of their progressive base. Ballots don't have a comment section and voting is the most powerful way to send a message to a political party that says "Hey. Not good enough." Also, if HRC had won, but ended up without a mandate, it might have made it harder for her to go to war or implement policies that the majority of people did not want.

If you saw my chart numbers and thought "Yeah, but I'd feel better if HRC had won Michigan and Wisconsin because it would have been really close and with her winning the popular vote it would have been like she lost on a technicality," that's the whole point of what I'm talking about here. A lot of people are desperate for change. If HRC wins huge or loses in some way that it looks like a technicality, then the Democratic Party will change nothing.

And before you judge people for sending messages and demanding change instead of fighting Trump, ask yourself if you have a home, a job, health insurance, and a fallback source (spouse/parent/savings account/401K/etc.) of financial support. Many people don't have those things. Many people have spent the last eight years struggling. Asking them to support a candidate who they felt would be a less-effective version of Obama is asking them to struggle for eight more years without even voicing their opposition.


Third party voters voted based on their principles:
"Donald Trump is offensive and unqualified but Hillary Clinton has made choices that killed thousands of innocent people and she wants to go back to the Middle East and do it some more. Both of these candidates also support the death penalty and don't seem worried about climate change at all. They stand for everything that I don't. I voted Jill and I don't regret it."
These people took a lot of crap online for allegedly acting morally superior or something, but I related to this woman's reasoning because I am also anti-war, anti-death penalty, and anti-fracking. But when I think about how my principles figure into voting, it has nothing to do with being able to pat myself on the back later. It's not like people who voted based on their principles are going to shrug it off if we go to war and the bodies start piling up, like "Don't blame me. I voted for Jill!" No, it's more a matter of reducing the chances of a mandate, as mentioned before, and not giving tacit consent for your government to engage in activities you find morally unacceptable.


Third party voters voted for their preferred platform:
"It's weird so many people are asking why I voted for Gary Johnson. I did it because I wanted him to be president. Isn't that the whole point of voting? I figured anything was possible this year and I like what Johnson stands for--the whole less govt interference thing. I'm sick of rich politicians telling us we have to buy expensive health insurance and putting people in jail for smoking weed."
Sometimes it's just that simple. I mean, I think they still teach in school that voting is to select who you want to be the leader, right? And the major reason third party candidates can't win is because no one votes for them because people think they can't win because no one votes for them... If Stein and Johnson had been given media coverage, if they'd been allowed in the debates, I think this could have been a whole different race.


Full disclosure: I voted for the Green Party.  I have the good fortune of living in Oregon, one of the bluest states in the nation, so I was able to vote Green with no real fear of affecting the final outcome. I do not regret this vote. I do not view it as a wasted vote, because like the Green voters I quoted above, I was hoping to help a more progressive party gain federal funding for 2020. If the Democrats do not veer back to the left and once again become the party of the 99%, I will continue supporting the efforts of more progressive third parties.

Trump was not an option for me because, well, he's Trump. Nothing in this post should be interpreted to mean that I support Trump. I didn't before the election and I don't now. I do not condone his actions or his words. I hate that his election has emboldened racists and neo-nazis. I condemn any and all acts of racism and bigotry, as does every third party voter I know.

With respect to Clinton, I was disappointed by the various scandals and outraged by the DNC's unfair treatment of Bernie Sanders in the primary, but the biggest reasons I didn't vote for HRC were her disastrous foreign policy record and her eagerness to establish a no-fly-zone in Syria, a move which would, in her words, "kill a lot of Syrians."


A couple people felt I was misinformed about that, so in the interest of info sharing, here's a 30 second video of a high-ranking U.S. general on C-SPAN saying that implementing a no-fly-zone would be declaring war on Syria and Russia, here's an article from Salon quoting HRC as saying a no-fly-zone would "kill a lot of Syrians" and here's an article from Vox explaining why that is. Here's another article discussing why establishing a "safe zone" would also be highly problematic and require 30,000 or more U.S. troops to maintain it.

When I researched HRC's foreign policy history, from voting to go to war in Iraq, to pushing for more intervention in Afghanistan, to advocating regime change in Libya, to facilitating a coup in Honduras and later advocating deportation of child refugees who fled the new violent government, etc., what I found was someone who is very pro-war and pro regime change, but doesn't seem to learn from her mistakes. Syria, if it happens (and it still might) will probably be Iraq 2.0. I don't claim to be a foreign policy expert and I'm sure a lot of people disagree with my assessment, which is fine, but I take voting seriously and I put a lot of thought into my decision.

I was never in the armed forces, but back in my twenties I was engaged to a soldier who deployed to Iraq. I count several military members and veterans among my family and friends. Our enlisted military is full of brave people who sign up to protect America from enemies foreign and domestic. That shouldn't include fighting in other countries' civil wars for profit or political gain. It shouldn't include forcing democracy on countries that don't want it or aren't ready for it.

I was unable to verify the source of this meme, but I have no reason to
believe it's fake. If you have any info about it, please email and let me know.

Our leaders will tell you that when we intervene, we do it for "humanitarian reasons" and it's true that our brave military heroes have saved a lot of lives. But a glance back through history's genocides and massacres reveals that our government picks and chooses who it is that we help. A glance back through some of our military interventions shows that we've spent trillions of dollars killing people, destroying infrastructure, and bombing whole cities to rubble. Sure we depose the occasional tyrant or capture/kill the occasional terrorist, but more often than not we leave behind an unlivable country and a fragmented society ripe for a new dictator or terrorist group to move in. Trump was wrong to say that Obama founded ISIS, but it's undeniable that America's actions around the world have bred more terrorism and created circumstances ideal for radical groups to thrive.

I realize war may be an abstract concept if it hasn't touched you personally, and that the media often shields us from the knowledge of what are tax dollars are doing overseas. I know some people can rationalize "collateral damage" in exchange for political power or economic gain. I can't. The "lesser evil" argument falls away for me when we start talking about thousands of people dying. (Again, I am not saying Trump is better. I am saying both choices were unacceptable to me.) A couple of people cut me out of their lives because they said my vote means I don't care about marginalized groups, and all I can say is that the people we kill in our wars are marginalized too, and it will be easier for us to fight to protect the rights of people here in the U.S. I have put myself in harm's way to defend the rights of others and I would do so again. I'm sure many of you feel the same way.

Trump could very well be worse when it comes to war, but according to someone who has listened to a lot of his speeches, Trump professes to be anti-war, except for fighting ISIS.
"Much to my surprise, the young Yemeni American shopkeeper at my local convenience store in Brooklyn supported Trump. Why? Because, instead of hearing in Trump’s rhetoric a threat to round up Muslims, he heard a promise to stop supplying Saudi Arabia with bombs to drop on Yemen. “Over a thousand school kids killed by those bombs! Just little kids!"” -Christian Parenti, Listening to Trump
Of course I have little confidence in what Trump says, especially when he's surrounding himself with warmonger types, but when the choices are definite war and probable war, that's when (for me, anyway) it was time to look for better options. We third party voters understand if you're angry, but society needs dissenting opinions. Without them, you get things like Bay of Pigs. Also, we are angry too. We're angry that the DNC conspired against Bernie Sanders. We're angry that the Clinton campaign and major media tried to help Trump in the primaries because they felt he'd be easy to beat. We're angry that more people didn't choose peace. I think anger can be a positive, motivational force, but keep in mind that if we want to win in 2020, the Democrats, liberals, progressives, and whatever else leftists are calling themselves will have to find their way back to common ground. I'm open to that. Are you?

This is TV coverage during the primaries, not the general election. I wonder
why the media worked so hard to put the blame on third party voters. Could
it be partially because they don't want you to blame them?


Also, and this is not to downplay the horror of the recent surge of hate crimes, or of probable worse things to come, but it's important to realize that a lot of what people fear about Trump was already happening long before the election. I campaigned fervently for Obama and I truly believe he had our country's best interests at heart when he was elected, but at some point he got sucked into the cesspool of politics or something and stopped being our "hope and change" president. Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president. He has detainment camps full of immigrants living in terrible conditions. The FBI is already profiling and spying on Muslims. On the war front, Obama has bombed seven countries this year. He's ordered ten times as many drone strikes as George W Bush. In addition to innocent foreign casualties, these drone strikes kill Americans, both on accident and on purpose. He's currently letting the #NoDAPL water protectors be attacked with tear gas and water cannons. Oh, and the U.S. spent the last year helping Saudi Arabia commit war crimes against Yemen, including providing the bombs from the above quote that killed lots of kids :/

So yes, we should be worried about Trump, for sure. We should resist the terrible things he stands for. But we also shouldn't give the current administration a pass. Be informed. Be angry. Be active. Be vocal. Be brave. Protect each other. And please know that I accept you and support you regardless of how you voted/you would have voted/your family voted. Political beliefs come from a variety of places--parents, teachers, friends, churches, communities, and more. They are influenced by past experiences and current situations. We can learn from each other if we're willing to listen. If you've walked away from friends or disowned family over this election, I hope you spend some time thinking about who they really are over the holidays or the next few months. Do they want the same things you want? Are they willing to fight against ignorance and hatred? If so, maybe you're on the same side in everything that really matters. We can help each other if we're willing to unite against common enemies. It is our actions that define who we are. It is our actions that can save us <3


*Comments disabled because the people who shared their thoughts with me have been blamed unfairly and I won't subject them to more hate. I'm totally open to discussing my thoughts with anyone, so hit the contact tab for my email address if you want to talk. I probably won't be on Twitter much for the next couple of months because I'm hard at work on books #11 and (hopefully) #12 :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

VICARIOUS: Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

Hi guys :D In case you missed it, I revealed the cover for FEROCIOUS as part of the YA Scavenger Hunt. I love love love love it, maybe even more than the cover for VICARIOUS. I honestly can't decide. Check it out in extra-large size:


We're not releasing the official description for the book yet, because it will be hard to do so without spoiling any of the twists in Vicarious, but I'm going to give away a signed ARC to one lucky reader (INT) who has read and reviewed Vicarious online.

Wondering why I'm running a reviewer appreciation giveaway? Here are some reasons why reviews are important to authors:

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 “This book was really slow-paced and took 250 pages to get to the inciting incident” or “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 slow-paced or “Violent Kitten Killer 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 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.

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 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.

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.

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'sAngelfall 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.


RULES FOR ENTERING:

1. You must have read Vicarious in order to enter.
2. Your review must be at least 50 words long. (Reviews that you have already posted 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.
5. There are more points for Amz/B&N than GR/your blog because right now those are the places where more reviews will really benefit the book, and also because I'm hoping this giveaway might encourage people who reviewed on their blog/GR to cross-post those reviews to Amz/B&N.

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 leaving a list of things you liked and/or didn't like about the book. That adds up to 50 words pretty quickly :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 qualifies you to win the ARC. 5 stars. 1 star. A GR review with no rating if that's how you roll. I probably won't even read your review unless you're the contest winner. And if you didn't like the book and would prefer a $10 gift card to Amazon or Book Depository instead of an ARC, that's fine too.

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