Monday, March 13, 2023

Official Cover Reveal + Contest + Read HELLFINDER for Free

The awesome and incredible HELLFINDER cover leaked several months ago and I was going to do an official reveal on Halloween, but I got busy at work. Then I was gonna do it on New Years Day, but I got busy with life, and now here we are--less than 6 months from release. And finally I have time to set up a Rafflecopter and a newsletter. Let's goooooo!

The tl;dr is that this post contains the cover, info about the book, a link where you can pre-order a gorgeous finished copy, a link where you can access an e-ARC free via NetGalley, and a Rafflecopter where you can win $20.

So first, here's the stunning cover, created by C.B. Royal:

A teen girl with medium-length brown hair stands in the middle of an ice cave, looking out at at an orange and red volcano. The title text reads: HELLFINDER

I love this cover for several reasons. First, I love the overall vibe and animated feel. I think the story could make a great animated feature or graphic novel. Second, the colors. THE COLORS. I love how bright and eye-catching they are, and how they work with the story. I can definitely see how the artist incorporated in pictures of volcanoes and ice caverns I sent her. And I love that title font, even though matching it for self-designed swag is probably going to be impossible. It's malevolent, but not in an over-the-top way.

So what's the book about?

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.

Hellfinder releases August 29, 2023.

More about HELLFINDER:

1. It's action-packed and fun! I started this book in late 2015 and finished the submission draft in early 2017, and I think it was easier for me back then to write wild and whimsical stories that aren't weighted down by grief I feel about the current state of the world. This book was inspired partly by classic adventure movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Romancing the Stone, and National Treasure.

2. There's an awkward and endearing PG romance. I didn't plan for a romance the same way I didn't plan these characters. Rory and Gunnar just showed up in my brain and started bickering and then bantering, and it felt right to see how their feelings developed. There's no Instalove here, but I think doing a road trip that almost kills you several times has a natural bonding effect--they're kind of like soldiers who survive combat together, but with more kissing.

3. It's grounded in reality but has supernatural elements. I'd call this urban fantasy but it takes place in tiny towns and wilderness. Rural fantasy? Is that a thing? :) I always wanted to write a story with otherworldly creatures, but I came up in the YA world right at the time every editor was buried in sexy vampires and werewolves, so my agent was always like "Ahahaha, absolutely not." But eventually it felt like it was time for another round of all-things-paranormal so I wrote it anyway. And if you like books by Kami Garcia, Cassandra Clare and Kiersten White, or shows like Lucifer, Supernatural, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, then Hellfinder should be for you.

4. ICELAND! If you know me or follow me online at all you know I LOVE Iceland. I would move there tomorrow if they'd let me--honestly, even without a job. I'd figure something out. Iceland feels like another planet to me, a kinder, more compassionate one, albeit with a rockier and less-forgiving topography. If you enjoy the idea of standing beneath majestic waterfalls, hiking on glaciers, dogsledding, swimming in geothermal pools, and/or crawling through ice caves and lava tubes, this book will deliver the sensory goods. Seriously, if you've read this far and don't want to check out the book, then you should skip it, but consider a trip to Iceland someday if it's within your means. It really is a magical life-changing kind of place.

Interested in pre-ordering? 

I will be setting up a pre-order giveaway after I get some stickers and bookplates made, but you can pre-order now and still qualify for that. Just follow me on social or subscribe to my mailing list so you won't miss the announcement. You can find this title in the usual places, but if you want to support an all-female run small business, pre-order direct from Regal House/Fitzroy.

How do I read for free?

HELLFINDER is on NetGalley right now, available to everyone with an account! Writing for a small publisher means there's not always money available for promo like NetGalley, so I paid my own money to get the book listed because I think word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to promote artistic work. I want lots of people to be able to read the novel, especially those without a lot of money to spend on physical copies and folks who live in countries where they might not be able to find HELLFINDER at a bookstore or library. If you're a new reviewer who gets rejected by the bigger publishers, rest assured HELLFINDER is available to everyone. If you have trouble accessing it, email me at pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know. I'll do my best to get you sorted.

A mood board collage featuring images of a young guy in a knit hat with long blonde hair, a smiling teen girl in outerwear surrounded by snow, a mysterious-looking older woman with a gray braid, a gray church with a tall steeple, brilliant green Northern Lights, a man with flaming wings, an ice cave, and a team of sled dogs. The HELLFINDER cover, featuring a girl looking at a fiery volcano, is in the center.

Last but not least, the contest:

I wanna do whatever I can to get the word out about the book and e-galley, so I cooked up a little Rafflecopter with that in mind. Winner gets a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Etsy, or another retailer/restaurant of your choice. International folks are welcome, but I may have to limit the gift card selections. If nothing else I will order you a book from The Book Depository or PayPal you $20 USD. Contest ends March 31st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Announcing HELLFINDER, plus a GIVEAWAY

Hello all. It has been so long since I posted on this site that Blogger has revamped their interface and it took me a few tries to figure out how to write a post :) I hope you are doing well, or as well as can be given the adversity most of us have faced the past year and a half.

This post is to introduce you to my next YA novel, HELLFINDER! It's an action/adventure story that takes place over the span of a few days and is set primarily in the wilds of Iceland. It's a little bit Ally Carter's Embassy Row series, a little bit Shadowhunters, and a whole lot me. I had so much fun reliving all of my trips to Iceland while writing this novel. I hope you enjoy it too. It's scheduled to release in summer of 2023, via Regal House/Fitzroy Books.

It's me, in a volcano!

I'm going to share the working cover copy (which is too long and will be trimmed back or changed) and a mood board. And then, of course, a giveaway! This giveaway is going to be for everyone, but next month I'm going to do another one for newsletter subscribers with a lot of the same entry prompts. So if you want a second chance to win a $20 gift card (or $20 to your PayPal) head over to the Newsletter tab and sign up. I include editing tips, book recs, and an exclusive contest in every letter :)

Okay, here's the working cover copy:

Seventeen-year-old Rory Quinn and her grandmother, Ingrid, spend their free time searching for hidden treasure and missing heirlooms. When Ingrid takes a job in Iceland, things quickly go from dangerous to deadly.

They’re searching for an enchanted stone that will allegedly lead whoever possesses it to the nearest doorway to Hell. The client’s grandson, Einar, took the heirloom at the request of his favorite rock band, Black as Death. 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.

Rory doesn’t believe in Hell and she’s not sure why Gram took this case—they’re treasure hunters, not bounty hunters. But Gram believes she and Rory can find Einar and recover the stone with help from the client’s other grandson, Gunnar, who happens to be Einar’s twin.

An isolated black sand desert, a snowy glacier, and a labyrinth of ice caves and volcanic tunnels stand in their way. And then they’ll have to face down Einar and Black as Death to retrieve the stone, ideally 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.

And here's the first mood board. I forgot how fun these were to make!

Are you intrigued? I joke that even people who don't enjoy the story will love the setting, because how could you not? Visiting Iceland almost feels like being on another planet in some places, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Here's the contest! Remember, if you want a second chance to enter, subscribe to the newsletter and watch your Inbox next month. Happy almost-July! Stay cool, or warm, depending on where you are.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fall 2020 YA Scavenger Hunt


I'm humbled and honored to participate in the final YA Scavenger Hunt! I participated in my first YASH back in 2013 and it has been a wild ride. I've really enjoyed hosting bonus content, designing secondary giveaways, and being part of the internet's most epic blog hop for YA books.

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 3pm Eastern) on Sept 29 and runs through noon Pacific on October 4. If you start hunting early, it's possible not all of the links will work.

NOTE: There are multiple numbers in this post because Jessica's book description contains numbers and so do the above paragraphs. The secret number is NOT 2013, 3, 29, or 4. You will know it when you find it :)

Once again, I am proud to represent the  BLUE TEAM! I'm thrilled to host fellow Portland-area author Jessica Brody, who is featuring a book she wrote with Joanne Rendell. SKY WITHOUT STARS is the first book in the System Divine series. Is this cover magnificent or what? Score yourself a copy here. The second book in the series, BETWEEN BURNING WORLDS, is also available for purchase.

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny…

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

For her bonus content, Jessica is sharing these incredible character cards, which were created by fellow author Jessica Khoury at Lizard Ink Maps.

I literally gasped when I saw these. I still can't decide who is my favorite, but I wish I could trade cheekbones with any of these characters. I also wish there were five (5) more of these, or perhaps a dozen! The artwork is très magnifique! (Yes, the secret number for this post is 5, but keep reading for a chance to win a gift card or some cold hard ca$h!)

Here's more about Jessica:

Jessica Brody is the author of more than 20 novels for teens, tweens, and adults including The Geography of Lost Things, The Chaos of Standing Still, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Better You Than Me, the Unremembered trilogy, and the System Divine trilogy which is a sci-fi reimagining of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, co-written with Joanne Rendell. She’s also the author of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (the #1 bestselling plotting guide for novelists) and several books based on popular Disney franchises like Descendants and LEGO Disney Princess. Jessica’s books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and several have been optioned for film and television. She lives with her husband and three dogs near Portland, OR

Visit her online at Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @JessicaBrody.


For my secondary giveaway, I'm going to hook a second winner up with a $20 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 $20 USD via Paypal or your choice of any book(s) up to $20 in price from Book Depository or Wordery.

Some of the entries involve promoting STELLAR. This is one of my favorite things that I have ever written. Stella and Betsy's friendship was pure joy to explore--the dialogue basically wrote itself--and the internet romance was inspired by real events from my past life as a girl gamer. I was planning to post this novel on the SwoonReads platform today, but they're currently closed to submissions, so I hope to find a publisher for this novel or release it myself by early 2021. Sorry about the last minute change! If you read the first 10 chapters and really don't want to wait to read the rest, send me an email and I'll try to set you up with a digital ARC.

 To enter my secondary contest, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

In case you missed it, my secret number is 5. Good luck!

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

As always, A HUGE THANK YOU to the organizers of the hunt. Thank you so much for your time and effort throughout the years. It's been a blast and I feel honored to have been included. #YASHForever :)

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:


  • 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, 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?
Did you enjoy @pstokesbooks GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE? Check out her latest contemporary YA novel, STRONGER THAN WORDS, for free on @SwoonReads!

  • 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 :)