Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Summer 2018 New Adult Scavenger Hunt




Hey :) I'm participating in the New Adult Scavenger Hunt again! NewASH gives you a chance to check out exclusive bonus material and enter to win some awesome prizes! Click through all twelve posts, collect the lucky numbers you'll find somewhere in each post, add them up, and you can enter to win a six-book prize pack--one book from each author on my team. You can enter a second time to win all the books featured on the purple team. But play fast: this contest ends July 1, 2018 at noon Eastern. If you need more help or you get stuck somewhere, check this site for more instructions on how to hunt.




This hunt I am proud to represent the RED TEAM I'm hosting Katrina Marie.

Katrina is promoting the book WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE, part of her Taking Chances series!

A month after breaking up with her high school sweetheart, Jake, Tonya discovers she’s pregnant. Pregnant and alone. But does she have to be alone? Should she tell Jake? The decision is out of her hands when he spots her at the mall and insists they get back together.

As Tonya struggles to adjust to working, attending classes at the local college, and pushing off Jake’s insistence they be together, she’s paired with Reaf. He’s the good looking guy from her art class who she’d never thought would give her the time of day. Until now.

Can Tonya find love, herself, and a mother amongst the confusing emotions swirling through her brain and heart? Or will the drama surrounding her life destroy her chances at a happily ever after?


For her exclusive content, Katrina is sharing the original prologue for Welcome to Your Life.


**********************
There’s nothing like sitting around a bonfire in the beginnings of summer.  It’s already hot as Hades, and this whole shindig is ridiculous.  I know it’s supposed to be our last big party since we graduated a few hours ago, but I’m pretty much over it.  It’s the same people and same place.  Doesn’t anyone get tired of seeing each other all the damn time?   
I’m in shorts and a tank top standing as far away from the monstrosity as I can, and I’m still sweating.  Jake and his buddies didn’t plan this well at all.  We should be at a pool somewhere, or hell, even the lake.  Everyone thought it was a great idea since the star athlete suggested it.  I told him otherwise, and he acted as if I never even opened my mouth.   
Jake is standing with a few of his friends and I’m heading toward him.  I’m don’t feel like being here anymore.  I’d much rather be at home curled up in bed and reading a book. 
“I’m ready to go,” I tell Jake when I reach him.  He completely ignores, as usual when we are at these parties.  Don’t get me wrong he’s a nice guy, but when he starts drinking he goes into asshole mode.   
I tap him on the arm, “I said I’m ready to go, Jake.” 
He whirls around on me.  And I can already tell by that glazed look in his eyes that he’s going to be a jerk.  
“Well, I’m not.  Go hang out with Cami, or something.” He glares at me, daring me to argue with him.  
Cami is hooking up with some guy.  It’s hot, and I’m tired of standing around.” I know I should keep my mouth closed but I don’t like being told what to do.   
“Too damn bad, Tonya.  I’m not leaving, so chill the fuck out.”   
And this statement right here pisses me off more than anything.  I don’t understand why he thinks he can treat me like shit when he starts drinking.  Is it some kind of man code or something?  I know some of the other guys don’t act like this, but the sad fact is, most of them do.   
I stare Jake down, and unleash. “Who the hell do you think you are? We’ve been dating for a long time, but that does not mean you can talk to me like I’m worthless.  I’m leaving, and I don’t care if I have to walk all the way home.,” I shout. “As far as I’m concerned, we are done. I’m tired of this shit, and can’t take it anymore.” 
I notice everything has gone eerily quiet, and I glance around.  Just fucking great.  We’ve attracted a crowd.  That was not my intention, but I can’t deal with this anymore.  It’s the same thing every weekend, and I’m just tired of it.  I love Jake, but not enough for this.  Besides, we are going to different schools in the fall.  I seriously doubt the long distance thing would work anyway.  Better to end it now, even if it is in front of the whole senior class.  
I start walking to the driveway, and come to a halt when I hear him yelling behind me.  
“That’s okay bitch, keep walking.  Now I don’t have to deal with your moody ass anymore.” He’s laughing as he says all this. 
I want to beat the hell out of him so bad.  But I don’t really want to cause any more of a scene.  I already know that I’ll be the talk of the town tomorrow, and I don’t want to give them anything else to add to their gossip.  I flip Jake the finger and continue on my merry way.  
I should probably call my parents to come pick me up, but I’m a little buzzed and don’t want to get a lecture.  Walking is probably the dumbest idea I’ve had today.  Well… besides telling Jake off in front of everyone.  That ranks right up there at the top.  I’m slowly making my way down the road when a car pulls up beside me.  
“Do you need a lift?” A guy asks.   
“No thanks,” I say.   
“Are you sure?”  
I look in the car, and at the driver.  He looks familiar.  I’m pretty sure he went to our school, but I can’t place his name, or whom he hung out with.  I know this is probably a really bad idea, but I nod, open the door, and slide into the passenger seat.   
This dude looks completely sober.  I know that I’ve seen him around, and I don’t get any bad vibes off him, but I still keep my hand on the door handle just in case I need to jump out. Dramatic maybe, but I’ve seen those movies where girls getting in cars with strangers end up in a ditch somewhere.   
“Rough night?” He asks.  
“Yeah,” I reply.  “I’m not really in the mood to talk, but can you drop me off at my house?  I’d really appreciate it.” 
He nods and we continue on in silence after I give him my address.  It doesn’t take long since we live in a pretty small town, and soon we are pulling into my parent’s driveway.   
I open the door, and hesitate. “Thanks for the ride.” 
“No problem.  Glad I could make sure you got home safe.” He says.   
When I get out I turn around and mystery guy gives me a quick wave.  I wish I had asked him his name.  Now I feel like a total bitch.  But I’m also relieved to finally be home.  I let myself in, slip off my shoes, and collapse on the couch.  After that big showdown I don’t even have the energy to go to my bed.   
I check my phone, but there aren’t any messages.  I text Cami letting her know that I’m home and that I’ll text her in the morning.  I’m sure she’ll have questions after she finds out that I dumped Jake in front of everyone at the party.  
I set my phone on the coffee table, grab the blanket that’s thrown over the couch, and try my best to fall asleep.  
**********************

Oooh, I am sensing some major drama about to go down! If you want to read the rest of WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE right now, you can buy it here. You can also check it out on Goodreads here.

The lucky number you need from my post is: 13. Good luck :)


Here's more about Katrina:

Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, and fur baby. She is a lover of all things geeky and Gryffindor for life. When she’s not writing you can find her at her children’s sporting events, or curled up reading a book.




SECONDARY GIVEAWAY!

One lucky red team winner will score a six-book prize pack, including a copy of WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE from Katrina and THE KEY TO EVERYTHING from me. But I love secondary giveaways, so a second lucky winner will win a copy of my forthcoming blackmail mystery HIDDEN PIECES. It's a YA book being published by HarperTeen, but the main characters are all high school seniors and it contains overlapping mysteries and complex themes that (I hope) make it a book adults will enjoy too. If you like small towns, big secrets, and stories that keep you guessing, enter below.

U.S. winner wins signed ARC (delivery in July). Int'l winner wins pre-order of finished book (delivery in September) + signed bookplate.



Are you hungry for more exclusive content, epic secondary contests, and general NewASH mayhem?!  Pat Esden is next for the red team. She's hosting some updated mood boards I made for the different settings in The Key to Everything.

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






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.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Free shipping for signed copies of my books!

Photo credit: Vintage Books

Hi peeps. I just wanted to let you know that if you've been wanting a signed copy of any of my recent books, Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA has you covered. [Use the direct links below.] And I totally understand that paying full price for a book is expensive, but those extra few dollars (or one or two dollars in the case of a paperback) go toward extremely important expenses, like better wages for workers, adequate staffing, and sponsoring author events. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the occasional full-price hardcover, consider buying from an independent bookstore now and then. It really is a great way to support the literary community, including bookstore cats!


The true manager and assistant manager of Vintage Books

I'm going to sweeten the pot for anyone who orders two or more of my signed books from Vintage Books before May 31, 2018. While supplies last, I will reimburse you for the media mail U.S. shipping costs. This is a promotion I am running on my own, so you'll need to pay Vintage Books for the shipping and then email me a copy/screen cap/picture of your receipt and I will reimburse you via PayPal, Square, or by sending a check if you prefer. This is not a money-making opportunity for me. In fact, if all of my signed books sold in the next month, I would pay out about $80 in shipping and make less than $8 in royalties. (Currently, only LIARS, INC. has sold enough copies to earn royalties.) Even if we count unpaid royalty credit, I would still "make" less than half of what I am willing to pay out.


Books. Are. Awesome.

So why am I doing this then? First, because I want my loyal readers to be able to get signed copies of my books. I know the cover price of a hardcover is cost-prohibitive to many, so I figure if someone is willing to pay extra for a signed copy, why not help out with the shipping fees while the books are readily available? Second, I want to do my part to help the literary community and to support the bookstores who have supported me. Paying for shipping these books means I might have to go without somewhere else, but I am more than happy to skip a few coffees or buy a couple less books a year (thank you, libraries!) so that a store employee can make a fair wage and author events can continue to be a thing. And third, as an author it obviously helps me professionally each time someone buys one of my books. Succeeding isn't just about making a lot of cash. It's about growing business relationships and cultivating a readership. I never had a signed book as a kid, and if paying for shipping means I can help put a signed book into the hands of someone who will really appreciate it, well, that's a win-win situation, and those are too far and few between these days :)


THE LINKS:

Ready for some signed books? Order via these direct links:



Are you an international reader or a U.S. reader who can't afford indie prices? I may not be able to sign your book, but if you own a finished copy of any of my titles and are willing to review that title in two places online (can be bookseller websites, library websites, book blogs, your Instagram, etc.), email me a picture of the book and links to two reviews and I will mail you a signed bookplate for that book. Reviews can be positive, negative, or neutral, but must be at least three sentences long. Offer good while supplies last.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Spring 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 April 3rd and runs through noon Pacific on April 8th. 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.



This hunt I am proud to represent the  RED TEAM! I'm hosting HeatherMcKenzie!

Heather is promoting NOCTURNE, book 2 of the Nightmusic trilogy. Holy crap! How beautiful is that cover? :)

Here’s more about the book:

I am hunted.
A pawn in a vicious game.
The only way I can protect the ones I love...
...is to disappear.

Finally free of her father, Kaya has the one thing that keeps her heart beating—Luke.

Blissfully content in his arms, everything seems perfect…until their world is shattered by a deadly invasion. When an old ally comes to the rescue, Kaya wants none of it. She is devastated to learn the identity of her attacker, and that she must do something truly heartbreaking if she wants to save the ones she loves. Sacrificing everything and sinking into bottomless sorrow, Kaya finds solace in an unlikely friend—one who shows her a different kind of love, and helps her discover an inner strength she never thought possible.


For her bonus content, Heather is sharing original music from her album 'Decoy.' If you’ve read her book SERENADE, you can picture Kaya and Luke slow dancing while you listen to the song ‘All I Need.’ The song ‘Anything Like This’ is about being grateful for the love you’ve found, marvelling how it has survived all the obstacles thrown before it – which is fitting for book two, NOCTURNE.

You can listen to more of Heather’s original music on her website, or on YouTube where you will also find live performance footage of her and her band covering cool tunes from artists such as Led Zeppelin and Lorde.









Here's more about Heather:

Heather McKenzie is the Canadian author of The Nightmusic Trilogy. Also a professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she told stories through music for years before falling in love with novel writing. Heather pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction.




SECONDARY GIVEAWAY!

One lucky red team winner will score a mega prize pack, including SERENADE (Book one of the Nightmusic Trilogy) from Heather and a copy of my eleventh novel (yes, 11 is the secret number for my post), HIDDEN PIECES.  But you guys know I love these secondary giveaways, so for this YASH I'm going to hook you up with a $25 gift card for Etsy, Society6, B&N, Best Buy, or Target. If none of those gift cards work for you, you can also select your choice of any book up to $25 in price from Book Depository or Wordery. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Are you hungry for more exclusive content, epic secondary contests, and general YASH mayhem?!? Julie Reece 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.