Saturday, September 2, 2023



Alt text: It's a globe with a big red question mark on it. You're pretty sure someone lacking in graphic design skills made it using Microsoft Paint.

THE BOOK HAS BEEN FOUND! CONGRATULATIONS TO MONICA! Thank you to everyone who played :)

It was in an alcove on the 6th floor of the Maiden Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan, a place I have never been but which seems very cool!

Okay so I'm a huge nerd for travel and geography and the TV show The Amazing Race. So way back when my first ever novel released (the work-for-hire title Venom, published in 2012), I did a "virtual treasure hunt" where I released clues to the imaginary location of Venom somewhere in the world. I assume this is how Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? worked, but full disclosure I have never seen that show or played that game, so if you're expecting something just like that, you might be disappointed.

It was a lot of fun and I learned that my readers were way smarter than I thought when they repeatedly "found" my hidden copies using only one or two clues. (Wherever you are, super-smart Kathy from Canada, I hope you are happy and thriving!) 

So, this hunt is harder and structured differently. You will not be able to win using only a couple of clues. (Not even you, Kathy!) You're going to need the early clues and the later clues. But you can't just wait until all the clues are posted if you want to win, because the early clues are going to take time to figure out too. Maybe not much time, but sometimes a win is just about being a few seconds faster than someone else. And just to be clear, you don't have to have read Hellfinder to play and having read the book will not give you any kind of advantage. (Though feel free to imagine yourself jetting around the globe with your badass grandmother and a hot Icelandic boy if you'd like).

On the fence about whether you want to participate? I have not done a lot of promotion for this, so it's possible you may be one of only a few people playing, or even the only person! I'll leave the contest open until 11:59 Pacific time on Sept 2, so if you want to play but have other stuff to do, feel free to check back later and see if the book has been found.

Okay, enough blathering. Here are the rules:

  • You must be 13 or older or have a guardian's permission to embark on this virtual treasure hunt.
  • The treasure: I am (pretend) hiding a fancy hardcover copy of Hellfinder somewhere on the planet. It is in a very mysterious and (hopefully) hard to guess place.
  • In order to win the prize, you have to guess the location of the book I have hidden by using the clues I will provide. New clues will be provided every 10-30 minutes from 12PM Pacific onward. I will provide up to 8 clues if needed. I will add the new clues to this post, but may also put them on IG, Twitter, or FB, depending how spammy I'm feeling. This post is the only place where you'll be able to see them all at once.
  • Guessing the location of the hidden copy of Hellfinder is going to require 4 pieces of information: country, city, structure/park/area, and then specific hiding place. You can provide these in any order and it's okay if you spell something wrong as long as you're close enough so I know what you mean. Guesses must be in English because I am a sad American who only speaks one language.
  • In order to guess, I'm going to have you email me at pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com, subject line WITWIH. This is so that there's no uncertainty about who was first (as opposed to people are guessing on multiple social media platforms), and also so if you're 75% right but just a little off, you don't give that information to other people who maybe haven't been hunting as hard as you.
  • Every hunter gets a max of 3 guesses total throughout the whole contest, so don't waste them.
  • If you email a guess or message me on social with partial information like "Is it in Reyjakvik?" I am not going to reply. Your guess needs to be emailed and contain 4 pieces of information. For all emails with 4 pieces of info I will reply to tell you either that you've won, that you're right but someone else beat you to the book, or that you're not right. So no hints, sorry. Also no, it is not in Reykjavik.
  • Please feel free to email if you have logistical questions or you just wanna say hi :) NOTE: I will not be available from 2:45PM to 4:15PM because I have a meeting, but I suspect if anyone is playing that someone will have found the book by then. If not, I will review guesses and update this post by or before 4:30PM Pacific time.
  • If no one has found the book by 4:30PM Pacific time, you can keep guessing but I'm gonna stop staring at the screen and go for a run. I'll check in every couple of hours to review guesses and address any questions that might arise. I will leave the contest open until 11:59PM Pacific time today September 2nd. 
  • If no one has located the book by 11:59PM Pacific time on 9/2/23, I am going to reveal the answer and keep the book and use it for a future contest.
  • US winner wins signed hardcover of Hellfinder or $20 gift card. International winner wins $20 gift card. (This is because it would cost me like $60 to send a hardcover overseas and I only paid $17 for my copy of the book). Gift card selection may be limited. I will try to accommodate, but I need for it to be a site I feel comfortable sharing credit card info, so if we can't agree on a gift card I will PayPal you $20 US for your prize.
  • DISCLAIMER: I am the only judge of this contest and I triple-checked all my clues and ran them by a friend, but I did rely heavily on online research to set this up and it's possible your searching might lead you to a different answer than I intended. It's possible you might think the clues should've been in a different order or that something in the rules wasn't clear. I worked hard on this and I will edit this post and do what I can to make things right if someone points out an error, but ultimately I'm human, I'm doing my best, and this is just a fun game on the internet. I make the final decision on who wins. I am Law :)

Reminder: If you have logistical questions email me, because I have no idea how comments for Blogger even work anymore!


CLUE #1:
You’re starting this hunt in Iceland, where Rory and her grandmother have most of their adventures in my YA supernatural adventure novel Hellfinder. But I’ve hidden the book in another country. In fact, you’ll have to fly over 5000 kilometers from Keflavik airport to your destination country. I hope you packed snacks! 

CLUE #2:
The book Hellfinder begins in Paris, with Rory and her gram baking Christmas cookies in a posh apartment overlooking the Seine. But you’re not going to Paris. You're traveling to one of several cities (and I do mean several!) that some people have referred to as a “Paris of the East.”

CLUE #3:
Perhaps, like me, you were surprised to find out how many different cities have been called “Paris of the East” at one point or another. I found more than 20! But only one is the location of the hardcover Hellfinder. If you take the number of letters in this country’s name and divide that by the number of letters in the name of the capital city (American English spelling for both), the answer is 2.5.

CLUE #4:
Hopefully you’ve made your way to the right country, but now you need some local money. Paper money. A tenner would be helpful.

CLUE #5:

E B      R E E A P P R D      O T      B C M I L      R S T I A S

If you're using a screen reader and this one is hard to interpret, it is meant to be 5 short strings of letters...that mean something.

CLUE #6:
You're looking for a place that might not be the best for dancing, but the legends around it inspired the country’s first ballet!

CLUE #7:
You’re so close now, but your competitors are closing in and this place has several floors. And to go farther, you have to answer a riddle. Oh no, stay calm. You got this.

In Hellfinder, Rory and her grandmother travel to Iceland where they stay briefly with Henning, a childhood friend of Gram’s. Henning has been known to collect the occasional odd pet. He only had one cat and one falcon when Rory visited, but he told her his close friend, Isleifur, keeps several animals. All of Isleifur’s animals except for 3 are cats. All of his animals except for 4 are falcons. And all of his animals except for 5 are horses. How many animals does Isleifur have total?

Now, take the total number of animals Isleifur owns, and subtract that number from the total number of seasons of the TV show Supernatural. And then take your answer and subtract the number of letters in the first name of the main character in the first book I wrote as Paula Stokes. And then add the number of books in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series. And that number is your final answer. Have I ever told you Curse Workers is one of my favorite series of all time? I should re-read that.


Hellfinder is hidden in an alcove on the [final answer] floor of this building. Hurry and find it!

Remember, in order to officially guess, you have to email me your guess, subject WITWIH? Country, city, name of structure, alcove on [answer] floor

Also reminder that today is the last day to get a signed bookplate, bookmark, and stickers in my Hellfinder pre-order incentive, and that hardcovers can only be ordered direct from the publisher. (Sorry, Regal House press is also not able to ship internationally).

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Hello hunters! Welcome to the Hellfinder Scavenger Hunt where your job is to find or borrow or steal (just kidding, don't steal) as many of the 20 items listed below as you can. Why THESE particular items? Because they all feature in the story in one way or another.

Reminder, this hunt goes for 12 hours and if there is a tie for the highest number of items, I will award multiple prizes, so there's no need not to read all of the (admittedly tedious) rules below. Apologies for the long rules—I did this in the past and it was kind of chaotic so I am trying to keep it very organized and clear.

Grand prize for the Scavenger Hunt will be a signed paperback of Hellfinder and your choice of 2 other signed Paula Stokes books, for a total of 3 books! And if you've already pre-ordered Hellfinder, I'll throw in a 3rd signed Paula Stokes book and a signed bookplate instead of the Hellfinder paperback if you want. Availability depends on my current supply of books, but I definitely have brand new copies of Hidden Pieces, Liars Inc, Vicarious, and Ferocious, as well as some used copies of Girl Against the Universe if you prefer a swoony contemp. Sorry, this one is US only because I can't afford to send books overseas anymore.

  • The contest goes from 12:10PM Pacific to 11:59PM Pacific on 8/29/23
  • This contest is US entrants only. You must be 13 or have a guardian’s permission to participate.
  • There are 20 total items to look for in the hunt, and I am asking you to put up to 5 items in each picture, for a total of up to 20 items and 4 pictures.
  • No picture should have more than 5 items.
  • The only way you will post fewer than 4 images is if you have zero items from one of the sets.
  • Please put all items on floor and photograph them from above so I can identify them clearly.
  • Please photograph all items on the same background—carpet or floor. See my examples below.
  • You cannot use AI or digital editing to generate any of your pictures.
  • The items must all by physical items. You cannot print out images for any of them, including the map, Northern Lights, and volcano items.
  • There’s very little wiggle room—you can’t use chocolate chips for the chocolate bar, a cupcake for the cookie, a sweatshirt for a sweater, etc. If you have questions you can post a comment or email me and I'll try to respond within 2 hours, but the answer is probably no.
  • I am the final judge of what counts and what doesn’t. It’s possible I will make a decision you disagree with. It is possible I will make a bad decision, as I am human and prone to errors. My decisions are final word. Please remember this is just a fun contest and even if you didn’t win, you also didn’t lose anything, right?
  • You must post your images on social media with the caption listed below to enter.
  • I honestly don’t think the prize of 3 of my books really warrants cheating, but people do surprise me, so if you are the winner but I think you may have used AI or editing or took someone else’s picture, etc., I reserve the right to ask you to provide extra images to verify your entry.

Please post your 4 pictures before 11:59PM Pacific time on 8/29/23 on FB, IG, or Twitter (sorry i will never call it X) with this caption:
I entered the #Hellfinder release day scavenger hunt. I found [number of items you found] out of 20 items. Hellfinder is a YA adventure novel by @pstokesbooks that takes place in Iceland.

Okay, now for the items!

  1. A cookie
  2. A mysterious-looking rock that is at least 5cm by 5cm
  3. A sweater
  4. Tea (loose, bag, or in the cup okay)
  5. A backpack


  1. A map (of anywhere)
  2. A salt shaker
  3. A rock band T-shirt
  4. A full-sized or bigger chocolate bar. Must be rectangular (Sorry. No Reeses, M&Ms, etc).
  5. Something with the Northern Lights pictured on it (post card, magnet, coffee cup, hat, shirt, travel guide, etc. Must be a physical item and not a drawing or copy/printout)

  1. A journal (smaller notebook or composition book okay)
  2. A book featuring devils or demons
  3. Ski goggles (sunglasses do not count)
  4. A helmet
  5. A metal chain (okay if it has a charm on it)

  1. A first aid kit
  2. A cut out paper snowflake, like you probably made in grade school. Since this is the only item in the hunt you can make yourself, I’m going to be a stickler and say it has to have 6 points like a proper snowflake. Again, you can't print out an image. You gotta get crafty if you want this point.
  3. A slingshot
  4. Something with a volcano pictured on it
  5. A pair of crampons (I will accept the more suburban variety like Yak-traks).

Here are my example images. Try not to have other items in your pictures, but cats are gonna cat, so no points off for a photobomb :) And here's my caption:

I entered the #Hellfinder release day scavenger hunt. I found 15 out of 20 items. Hellfinder is a YA adventure novel by @pstokesbooks that takes place in Iceland.

Did you participate in the hunt? I hope you had fun and did not trash your living space the way I did trying to set up these pictures in 10 minutes after oversleeping. Now go drink that tea and eat that cookie. You've earned it :)

Friday, August 25, 2023

HELLFINDER release week contests

 HELLFINDER releases on Aug 29th. If you want a hardcover, you'll need to order directly from the publisher, Regal House Press. I have not even seen the hardcover copies yet, but I ordered one for myself, one for my mom, and one to give away. I'll post a pic when I can.

Speaking of giveways!


All week, from Monday Aug 28 through Sunday Sept 3, if you find a copy of Hellfinder in the wild at a local bookstore or library, take a picture or video, post it on your social media, caption it "I found #Hellfinder at [name of store or library]", and tag me (@pstokesbooks on IG, Twitter, or FB), you'll win a prize. What kind of prize? It's a secret! :)

From 12PM Pacific to 11:59PM Pacific on Aug 29th. One day only. Come back to my blog on Aug 29th for the Official Hellfinder Release Day Scavenger Hunt (starting at noon because I want to be awake and functional to answer questions that arise). I'll be providing a list of 20 items you have to try and find, as well as giving you directions for how to arrange them in images and share them so you can officially enter the contest. This is not timed. If there is a tie for the highest number of items, I will award multiple prizes.

Grand prize for the Scavenger Hunt will be a signed paperback of Hellfinder and your choice of 2 other signed Paula Stokes books, for a total of 3 books! And if you've already pre-ordered Hellfinder, I'll throw in a 3rd signed Paula Stokes book and a signed bookplate instead of the Hellfinder paperback if you want. Availability depends on my current supply of books, but I definitely have brand new copies of Hidden Pieces, Liars Inc, Vicarious, and Ferocious, as well as some used copies of Girl Against the Universe if you prefer a swoony contemp. Sorry, this one is US only because I can't afford to send books overseas anymore.


Saturday September 2nd, starting at 12PM Pacific. I am (pretend) hiding a fancy hardcover copy of Hellfinder somewhere on the planet. It will be in a very mysterious and (hopefully) hard to guess place.

Starting at noon on 9/2, I will release clues to the location of the book on social media and/or this website. First person to guess the location wins. Guessing the location involves naming the country, city, area/park/building, and specific hiding place. So for example, to win you can't just says "Hallgrimskirkja!" You have to say "Iceland, Reykjavik, Hallgrimskirkja, in the elevator that goes to the roof." 

Don't worry if you have questions, All will be explained. Just know that it's a fun time and you should play, and that I'm going to try to make it harder so people can't use AI or Google to figure out the location in 5 minutes like may have happened in the past, ha :) US winner wins signed hardcover of Hellfinder or $20 gift card. International winner wins $20 gift card.

Do you want to score HELLFINDER pre-order swag but aren't ready to order yet? I will extend the pre-order incentive through the end of release week. Order any time by September 3rd and score a signed bookplate, bookmark, and stickers! US or INT.  See here for more details.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

HELLFINDER pre-order incentive

Are you thinking of pre-ordering HELLFINDER? 

Pre-orders help publishers gauge interest for titles and can also generate early buzz for books. Currently my editor is considering a second book from me--this one a girl power contemp with a vibe kind of like if Girl Against the Universe and The Art of Lainey had a baby. If you like the sound of that and you're planning to buy Hellfinder, ordering early is an easy way to show support for future titles by me.

In exchange for your support, I've got some fun swag and bonus contests available only to readers who pre-order.

First, I'll send anyone who orders Hellfinder on or before Sept 2, 2023 a bookmark, 2 stickers, and personalized signed bookplate.

Second, for every 10 pre-orders, I'll give away a 10-page writing critique. Critiques are transferable to a friend or family member, but they can't be sold and the pages to critique must be emailed to me at by Dec 31st 2023.

Third, for every 25 pre-orders, I'll give away a $25 gift card to Etsy, where the winner could use the credit to buy themselves an authentic gift that was Made in Iceland! (But also it's your prize and you can do whatever you want with it.)

Regal House is also the only place where you can order a Special Edition Hardcover! I would show you a picture but I don't have any hardcovers yet. I know this gorgeous cover is going to look fantastic in HC, though :)

How to claim your swag and enter for the other prizes:

1. Take a picture of or screenshot your pre-order receipt.
2. Email that image to subject Hellfinder pre-order by Sept 3.
3. In your email, let me know what name you want me to write on the bookplate or if you just want it generically signed.
4. If you are not interested in entering for the 10-page critique because you don't know any writers, let me know that too and if I end up randomly selecting you I'll pick again.
5. Winners will be notified by Sept 9.
6. Giftcards and swag will be mailed out on or before Sept 16.
7. If you win a writing critique, I need your pages by the end of the year and you can expect turn-around on them in a month or less.

International pre-orders and entrants welcome. I'm not sure where (if?) you can get a physical book without paying a ton of shipping now that Book Depository is gone, but hopefully you can find an ebook if you are interested.

Email me if you have any questions.

Saturday, July 1, 2023


I'm recruiting for a small street team for my August release, HELLFINDER, available to read now on NetGalley. Teamers who complete all of the required activities will receive a $20 gift card, signed Hellfinder swag, and the opportunity to use me as a reference for college, graduate school, internships, or relevant job applications! 

Here's more info about the book:

Winter Break turns deadly when Rory Quinn and her treasure-hunter grandmother travel to Iceland in search of an enchanted artifact. Their mission is to recover a blood-smeared stone that legend says will lead whoever possesses it to the nearest doorway to Hell. The client' s grandson, Einar, took the stone at the request of his favorite heavy metal band. As part of a publicity stunt, the band plans to open the closest doorway, rumored to exist deep inside one of Iceland' s many volcanoes, in just three days.
Along with Einar' s twin brother, Gunnar, Rory and Gram will need to navigate glaciers, ice caves, and volcanic tunnels in search of the missing artifact. But can the three of them recover the stone before the band unleashes anything evil into the Icelandic wilderness? As the team grows closer to Einar, Rory is growing closer to Gunnar, too. But she can tell he' s keeping secrets from her. Big ones, that when revealed, will cause her to question almost everything she' s ever believed.

Here are the street team details:

In order to apply, first read the entire book on NetGalley and leave a short review. Then email me at, subject street team, if you're interested in participating. 

In your email include the following:
  • Your name
  • The social media you use to share thoughts about books
  • Why you want to be part of the HELLFINDER street team
  • One thing you'd enjoy doing to promote the book

In order to apply you must have (or be willing to create) the following:
  • NetGalley and Goodreads accounts
  • At least one of the following: Bluesky, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or some other social media app or website where you share info about books
  • At least one additional way beyond the above to review the story--could be Amazon, Barnes & Noble, LibraryThing, Reedsy, Bookish, a local library website, a personal blog, etc.
  • 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:

  • Post on your social media about the book's release on August 29.
  • Share the author's (forthcoming) post about the HELLFINDER pre-oreder incentive.
  • Post a review of at least 4 sentences on Goodreads.
  • Review the book on Amazon, B&N, or some other bookish website.
  • Vote for HELLFINDER on 2 Goodreads lists. You can also add the book to other existing lists.
  • Add 2 short, non-spoilery quotes from HELLFINDER to Goodreads, or if your favorites have already been added, vote for your 2 favorite quotes.
  • Create 4 quote/image graphics using your fave quotes from the story, using backgrounds provided by the author if desired. 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. If you're unclear whether an image is copyrighted, for purposes of this team please assume that it is.
  • Post 2 quote/image graphics over 2 separate weeks during September. Be sure to tag me (@pstokesbooks) so I can retweet if I happened to be on social media. 
  • Post 2 quote/image graphics over 2 separate weeks during October. Be sure to tag me (@pstokesbooks) so I can retweet if I happened to be on social media.
  • Post about the author's Halloween giveaway.
  • 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, interviewing me on your blog or social, reading a short passage from the book on social media, doing a tie-in post about Icelandic culture/geography, 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 and reach out to me if you're struggling because I may need someone to cohost an online activity or help out with something behind the scenes.
  • Fill out the Street Team form (I will send to all teamers) by the end of November with links/images/whatever to show that you completed all of the activities.

Something to consider: I realize that marketing professionals who work for big publishers are routinely required to promote books they don't like and possibly haven't even read. I personally feel like that would be a difficult and demoralizing job, and that I might feel less love for books if I had to pretend to like them on a regular basis. With that in mind, I am going to request that you not apply for the HELLFINDER street team if you don't enjoy the story. You don't have to love it, but if it's a 1-star or 2-star read for you, you probably don't want to put yourself through fake-promoting it for a $20 gift card. This is just a suggestion and author request--not a requirement. All applications for the street team will be considered.

Applications (emails) due by the end of day on August 13th. Applicants will be notified by August 15th. I will accept up to 5 people for this street team. If I get more than 5 applications, I will give priority to street teamers I have worked with in the past and people who are on my mailing list. Join the list here. Incentives will be mailed out to street team members who complete all of the required activities by the end of November.

Questions? Put them in the comments or email me at