Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Spring 2020 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 lots of books and other fun prizes. 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 March 31 and runs through noon Pacific on April 5th.



This hunt I am proud to represent the  BLUE TEAM! I'm hosting K.M. Robinson and her book MULAN DRAGON SHIFTER.





There are no female dragon shifters in Yan Liu…except Mulan and her family. Only the enemy province has women with scales, so when they attack the Center as Mulan is dropping off her twin brother for his assignment with the army, she’s forced to play the role of a non-existent brother after she shifts and rushes into the battle to protect her real twin.

Together, they must lie to their commanding officer—Mulan’s secret boyfriend—and the entire army to protect her from their wrath should they find out and consider her an enemy, but Mulan’s special gift might be too great to keep her secret hidden for long. She may be the only one that can save the kingdom and return the black jade blossom to the emperor.

Can Mulan survive the war, navigate two men vying for her attention, and keep her scales hidden long enough to return the province’s life source to her people, or will dark, hidden forces destroy everything and cause her plans to burn hotter than her scale-melting dragon flames?


Wow, this book sounds like so much fun! I would say the ability to shift into a dragon is definitely one of the top 5 superpowers I wish I had, especially during this pandemic when we're all trapped inside. Social distancing in the sky--that sounds epic right about now.

For her bonus content, K.M is sharing an amazing piece of art for her book. Feast your eyes on THIS. K.M. made it herself. I'm in awe of her talent!



K.M.: The dragons in the background are actually her twin brother and her two love interests and it’s a reference to the special edition alternative cover printed on the hard cover book under the dust jacket which features more of the dragons that fans will be able to identify on the cover by their colors once they start reading the book!


Here's more about K.M.:

K.M. Robinson is a best selling storyteller who creates new worlds both in her writing and in her fine arts conceptual photography. She is a marketing, branding and social media strategy educator who is recognized at first sight by her very long hair. She is a creative who focuses on photography, videography, couture dress making, and writing to express the stories she needs to tell. She almost always has a camera within reach.



SECONDARY GIVEAWAY!

One lucky blue team winner will score all the blue team titles, including a copy of JADED by K.M. Robinson and your choice of any of my available YA titles (or a $10 gift card) since STRONGER THAN WORDS is available for free. But I love running secondary giveaways, so for this YASH I'm going to hook a second winner up with a $25 gift card for Amazon, B&N, Etsy, Society6, Target, Kohls, Best Buy, or Starbucks. If none of those gift cards work for you, you can also select to receive $25 USD via Paypal or your choice of any book(s) up to $25 in price from Book Depository or Wordery.




Most of the entries involve promoting STRONGER THAN WORDS. I haven't sold a book to a traditional publisher in several years, and although I'm still trying and I'll never give up, I would love it if more people read this uplifting and empowering story of overcoming adversity with the help of friends and loved ones. Bonus factors: strong women, sisterly love, adorable animals, iconic Portland settings, a love interest who is realistically flawed, and did I mention adorable animals?

You can read more about why the book is important to me on Goodreads, but I hope you check it out, especially if you loved GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE. At some point I will pull it off Swoon Reads and self-publish via Amazon, so it will not be available for free forever.

 To enter my secondary contest, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. The prompt for leaving a blog post comment is to share tips about how to handle the isolation and cabin fever that come with Social Distancing or to recommend a favorite book or TV series to help others stay busy while stuck at home.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


In case you missed it (or my coffee-deprived brain goofed up and included more than one number on accident) my secret number is 5. Good luck!

Are you ready for more exclusive content, fantabulous secondary contests, and general YASH mayhem?!? Lea Nolan is next for the blue team!

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



Monday, February 3, 2020

Stronger than Words Street Team

I'm recruiting for a small street team for my latest release, STRONGER THAN WORDS, available now on Wattpad and the Swoon Reads platform. Teamers who complete all of the required activities will receive a $10 gift card plus the opportunity to use me as a reference for college, graduate school, internships, or relevant job applications! And if Stronger than Words is selected by the Swoon Reads team for publication, all teamers will receive $100 via PayPal or another gift card.



Here's more info about the book:
Formerly homeless Mackenzie Craig has worked her way up to the number two spot in her graduating class and secured a scholarship to a great college. But then she collapses at the state debate championships. She's rushed to the hospital where her prognosis is grave--she's having a stroke.

Mackenzie wakes up unable to walk or speak normally. She works hard to return to school in time to graduate, but when she overhears a classmate insulting her little sister, she doesn't have the words to tell him off, so she punches him.

When her college finds out about the assault, they threaten to revoke her scholarship. Mackenzie must meet with them to defend her actions before the fall semester starts. But August is only three months away. Can she re-learn to communicate in time for her hearing? Or will her stroke steal away her entire future?

Stronger than Words
is a story of perseverance, hope, and human connection.




Here are the street team details:

In order to apply, first read the entire story on Swoon Reads and leave a short review in the comments for the book. Then fill out this form to officially request to be part of the team. I will accept applications until February 26 and notify accepted teamers by Feb 29. Incentives will be mailed out at the end of June to teamers who complete all of the following activities.

In order to apply you must have (or be willing to create) the following:
  • a free Swoon Reads account
  • either a Twitter or Instagram account--ideally both
  • a Goodreads account
  • At least one additional way beyond the above to review the story--could be Facebook, Wattpad, a personal blog, membership to a YA review blog like YA Books Central, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr, etc. If you don't have any of these things and still really want to participate, you can agree to write a short review on your Instagram account.
  • There is no requirement as far as number of followers you have. If you're looking to get some book promotion experience, this is a great opportunity for people just starting out. International teamers welcome.

Here are the required activities:

February:

March-April:
  • Cross-post your review from Swoon Reads to Goodreads.
  • Add your quotes from STRONGER THAN WORDS to Goodreads, or vote for them if they've already been added.
  • Vote for STRONGER THAN WORDS on 3 Goodreads lists. You can also add the book to other existing lists.
  • Create four to eight quote/image graphics using your fave quotes from the story. You can make your own backgrounds if you own the rights to the images or you get them from a free image bank like on Canva. For an easier option, you can use templates I will provide formatted for both Twitter and IG and simply add text to them. If you've never done this before, canva.com is a great way to start. If you're unclear whether an image is copyrighted, for purposes of this team you must assume it is. I don't mean for these to be time-consuming unless you want to spend extra time making your own. If you use my templates, you should be able to cut/paste quotes from Goodreads and format everything in less than an hour.
  • Once a week, during March and April, for a total of eight times, post a quote/image graphic on Twitter or Instagram with a link to the book on Swoon Reads. You can use each quote up to two times if needed. If you forget one week, you can do two the next week, but no more than twice a week. Be sure to tag me (@pstokesbooks) so I can retweet if I happened to be on social media. 
You can make up your own captions, but if you want to use something ready made, here are a couple to make your life easier ;) 
Did you know you can read STRONGER THAN WORDS, an uplifting contemporary YA novel by @pstokesbooks for free on @SwoonReads? https://www.swoonreads.com/m/stronger-than-words/
Did you enjoy @pstokesbooks GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE? Check out her latest contemporary YA novel, STRONGER THAN WORDS, for free on @SwoonReads! https://www.swoonreads.com/m/stronger-than-words/

May-June:
  • Catch up time--if you missed one or two of the March-April activities, you can do them now for full credit. Life happens to all of us and this "professor" accepts late work ;)
  • Review the story one other way--this could be YouTube, Facebook, Wattpad, personal blog, YA review website, Instagram, etc. You can cross-post your earlier review or edit it longer or shorter for the medium you choose.
  • Complete one additional promo activity of your choosing. This could be making and sharing a mood board (again Canva is great for free images), creating fan art, making and sharing a five-question discussion guide, interviewing me on your blog or social, getting three of your friends to read the story, hosting a contest in support of the book, reviewing the book on an additional site, etc. I'm totally flexible here and if you think it counts then it counts. Pick something fun!
  • Read at least 20% of one additional book (written by anyone) on Swoon Reads and leave a comment at any point during the February through June period. I don't want people to join the site just to enter a contest of mine without giving anything back to the community. I have pledged to read a book a month this year and I'm going to work hard to keep that pledge :)
  • Fill out the Street Team form (I will send to all teamers) by the end of June with links/images/whatever to show that you completed all of the activities



Here's what you'll get for being a teamer:
  • Everyone selected who completes all of the above activities by June 30, 2020 will receive a $10 gift card or a $10 book from Book Depository or Wordery. Sorry, I know it's not much, but this girl is financially struggling at the moment ;)
  • If STRONGER THAN WORDS is selected for publication by Swoon Reads, everyone on the team who completes all of the activities will receive $100 via PayPal or a $100 gift card.
  • Everyone selected who completes all of the activities is free to contact me at any point in the future to request a reference for college, graduate school, an internship, or a job that is somehow related to books and/or book promotion.

Here's the link to apply for the team. Thanks for considering supporting my latest novel. It was not a hard choice to give the book away for free. I love it, I believe it's quality work, and I think it could empower readers. However, not having a traditional publisher means there's no one with industry backing to get the word out about the book. Even if the street team is not for you, I hope you will consider checking out Stronger than Words on Swoon Reads, especially if you'd like to read more contemporaries from me someday :)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Holiday books promotion and fundraiser


Hi :) A lot of you probably know that both of my cats were sick in September and October and all combined I had to take them to six separate vet visits. It was kind of a nightmare and it was definitely an unexpected expense. Taz is participating in a clinical trial for a diabetes medication, so luckily most of his expenses were covered, but I ended up spending about $2000 on vet bills and medication for Mufasa. And now I'm in the process of setting up a food allergy trial for him, which will probably cost me another three hundred dollars.

I thought about making a GoFundMe, but ultimately decided not to because even though I am unemployed (hire me to be your editor, scheduler, ghostwriter, or author assistant!) and making only a couple thousand dollars a year from my writing, I am lucky enough to have multiple credit cards and a manageable amount of credit debt. I know there are people who use GoFundMe to ask for donations for extravagant honeymoons and other non-emergencies, but I also know there are a lot of pet owners on there faced with the gut-wrenching decision of euthanizing their beloved animals if they can't raise enough money to pay for veterinary care. I'm not one of those people, at least not yet, so I didn't want to steal any bandwidth from them by posting a competing campaign.

Instead, I decided I would try to raise some money by offering to send you and your loved ones signed books for the holidays :) I can ship books to you or directly to a recipient. Sorry, U.S. addresses only.

I buy a lot of my own books from online retailers when they're on sale or when I need to add an item to get free shipping, and I've got multiple copies of most of my titles on hand. Right now I can sign and personalize any of the following YA novels:

HIDDEN PIECES (hardcover)
THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED (hardcover or international paperback)
LIARS, INC. (hardcover or paperback)
VICAROUS (hardcover or paperback)
FEROCIOUS (hardcover or paperback)



I also have a couple copies of Spanish translations available in paperback.



Prices are $15.00 for hardcovers or $10.00 for paperbacks. That includes FREE SHIPPING via media mail. If you would like your book shipped priority mail, there is a $5.00 surcharge for one or two books or an $8.00 surcharge for three or more titles. Promotion ends December 6. Books will be mailed on Dec 3 and Dec 7.

If you would like me to sign one of my other novels, I can order copies and ship them out, but they probably won't arrive in time for Christmas or Hanukkah and the prices might be slightly higher. Email me for more details.

To order: email pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know which titles you are interested in. I will verify I have the stock and then invoice you via your choice of PayPal or Square. Sorry I cannot accept checks or take credit card info directly unless I know you personally.

If you're not interested in signed books but you love my not-so-lil furballs and just want to contribute to this fundraiser for veterinary care, you can donate via my new Ko-fi page or directly to my PayPal account, which shows up as Manuscript Critique Services because I use it primarily for the editing business. A million thank yous for your kindness :)

RELATED NOTE: If you've got writer-friends looking for professional feedback, they can check out what we offer at Manuscript Critique Services and right now bid on an Agent Submission Package over at Shooting Stars Mag. Ends Nov 29.

UNRELATED NOTE: Did you know I'm releasing a full-length YA contemporary novel for free in December? Stay tuned or sign up for the newsletter for all the deets!

Thank you for reading and/or sharing this post. Happy holidays, and may you and your own furballs (and human relatives) have a happy, healthy rest of the year :)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Mental Health Resources

Last month Fafa from Fafa's Book Corner invited me to do a guest post for Mental Health Awareness month. As you may or may not know, I used to work as a mental health nurse and I now volunteer for a crisis hotline, so I was totally down for writing something.

But the post took on a life of its own and grew in size to where I almost thought it was going to need to be multiple posts. (Why does everything I write end up twice as long as I plan for??) Long story short, we finally wrangled my words under control but by then it was too late to get the post formatted and ready to go in May. C'est la vie. I'm not too fussed about being "late" because if you ask me every month should be Mental Health Awareness month.



Click here to read my post about things you can do if you're worried that someone is considering suicide. In addition to the guest post, I decided to do a secondary post of resources here on my dusty old blog ;) They include information about suicide, but also places where you can find support for a variety of things you or someone you know might be struggling with.

Okay, here we go. Most of these are going to be American-based, but a lot of other countries should have similar hotlines and resource pages. Here's a list of worldwide suicide hotlines.

First of all, if you or someone you know is currently suicidal and in imminent danger, you should consider calling 911 (or your country's equivalent) or heading to a local emergency department. If you aren't ready or able to take one of those steps, your next best option would be to reach out to a a crisis hotline, a primary care physician, or a trusted friend/family member who can provide support and assist in locating additional resources.




SPECIALIZED HOTLINES
Here are a few phone hotlines that might be helpful to you or someone you love. Click the link to go to the website to learn more about services offered. I included the Spanish Suicide Hotline because I know it's best to speak directly to someone who is fluent in your language, but the rest of these crisis lines should have interpreter services for most languages, including support for the deaf and hard of hearing.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 1-800-273-TALK

National Spanish Suicide Hotline. 1-888-628-9454

National Disaster Distress/Coronavirus Helpline. 1-800-985-5990

National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799 SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline. 1-800-656-HOPE

1 in 6: chatline for boys and men who have been sexually assaulted (via 1in6.org)

The Trevor Project (for LGBT+). 1-866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline. US: 877-565-8860. Canada: 877-330-6366

Veteran's Crisis Line. 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)

Drug and Alcohol Helpline. 1-800-662-HELP

National Parent Helpline. 1-855-427-2736

National Eating Disorders Helpline. 1-800-931-2237

Additional hotlines and resources for marginalized groups can be found here.



SUPPORT GROUPS
There are free support groups for almost every issue you can imagine. Many of these groups hold both in-person and online meetings. I didn't realize until I started taking Addiction Counseling classes that you could go to AA meetings online. I also didn't realize there were several alternatives to AA for people who don't feel comfortable with the spiritual or twelve-step structure of AA, like cognitive behavioral based SMART Recovery or Buddhist-inspired Refuge Recovery. Whether you want to talk to other people about addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, aging, illness, career dissatisfaction, etc. I can almost guarantee there's a group for you. And if there's not a group, think about starting one. Chances are you're not the only one in your area who could benefit. Psychology Today is a great place to start looking. Click the arrow next to "therapists" and select "support groups" from the drop-down menu. The left sidebar has a huge list of options.


THERAPIST SEARCHES
How do you know if you need a therapist? If you're even thinking you might, your next step should be to visit either your primary care doctor or to make an appointment with a counselor or therapist for an assessment. One thing I cannot stress enough: you do not need to have serious, life-threatening mental illness to qualify for and benefit from therapy. Let a trained professional tell you, "I honestly think you're fine and might get more from a support group or just making an appointment if a crisis comes up." (Two therapists have told me this after a couple months of sessions. I assure you if they don't think you can further benefit from therapy they will not ask you to keep coming).

Here are a couple places you can look for counselors and therapists online. I recommend Psychology Today a lot because it's easy to search by city or zip code and you can also find out who takes what insurance or sees low-income clients via sliding scale fees, etc. You can also search for psychiatrists, support groups, and treatment centers.

Psychology Today
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Alliance on Mental Illness




SUBSTANCE USE
If you're looking for a medical provider or treatment program to help with addiction or substance use disorders, the U.S. government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration page has a great search function.


Do you have any great resources for people struggling with mental health or substance use issues? Share them in the comments and feel free to share hotline numbers and links for different countries as well.

Monday, December 31, 2018

You, a Friend, a Stranger: Part 2





I realized I haven't blogged in a while and although I absolutely do not miss churning out content on a timetable, I do miss giving stuff away :) I decided New Year's Eve seemed like the perfect time to do another round of my You, a Friend, a Stranger giveaway!

I don't have much money coming in right now so I've had to scale back the prize, but I hope it's still enough for you to want to enter. Honestly, most of the Rafflecopter activities are things I enjoy doing for free, so why not click a few boxes and enter to win yourself (and a friend, and a stranger) some awesome prizes!

I mean, come on. Where else can you enter to win money by taking a nap?

This giveaway is international. Prizes are as follows:

  • Winner gets $20 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 gets $10, paid out via an email gift card. Sorry, no cash. [Int'l winners will have a limited selection of gift cards to choose from.]
  • Winner gets $10 in credit to contribute to any GoFundMe or YouCaring campaign during the month of February. I am registered and I will give the money in your name. If winner strongly prefers to donate to a charity instead of an individual person, that's fine too :)
  • 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 Young Adult Paula Stokes books for both winner and their friend. [U.S. winner receives signed books shipped by me. INT winner receives books ordered from TBD or Wordery with signed bookplates mailed separately.]


I found this excellent flyer in Copenhagen. Take what you need.

I created this contest so you could technically do one activity every day in January, but feel free to crush them all out in a weekend marathon of kindness, empathy, and self-care if you want. And if you only want to do a couple, that works too :)

NOTE: If you have limited mobility, lack of transportation, or are otherwise unable to complete a task as described due to circumstances beyond your control, please feel free to modify that task to something similar that you can complete in your current situation. Example: If you currently can't leave your house, you can thank a stranger over the phone or online or post a message of acceptance and inclusivity on your social media. The idea is to encourage you to take care of yourself and others, and maybe do something fun or inspiring you wouldn't normally do along the way. I don't want anyone to feel excluded :)

I took this picture while I was lying on the ground in Costa Rica.
Sometimes a different perspective helps us see things in a new way.
(Other times it just makes for a really awesome photograph).

Can you cheat? I mean, yeah, most of the Rafflecopter options 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 at some point later you might 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 for 5 entry points and share your thoughts.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest ends January 31. Winner will be notified via email by Feb 3 and has until Feb 7 to respond and claim the prizes. If you have questions about any of the entries, put them in the comments so I can answer them for everyone.

ETA: I updated most of the entries on 12/31 to make them worth 3 points so that people could tweet about the contest daily but more entry points would be given for people who complete the challenges. If there's an issue with how many points you received for something, let me know.

Always remember.

Happy New Year! Best of luck in 2019, and as always, thanks for everything that you do <3