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.

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 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

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.

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.

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

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

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fall 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 October 2nd and runs through noon Pacific on October 7th. 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.

Once again, I am proud to represent the  RED TEAM! I'm hosting Jennifer Brody!

Jennifer is promoting THE 13TH CONTINUUM.

Here’s more about the book:

Gold Medal Winner, Young Adult Fiction ― Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Independent Publisher's Moonbeam Children's Book Awards

One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the descendants of the chosen survivors take refuge in thirteen contingency shelters buried deep underground, at the bottom of the ocean, and in the far reaches of outer space. 

In the underwater 13th Continuum, sixteen-year-old Myra Jackson has heard rumors and whisperings all her life of a magical place called "The Surface” where people could breathe fresh air, feel the warmth of something called sunlight on their skin, and see things known as stars and trees and mountains. Myra has never dared to ask whether the stories are true, since the act of speaking such words aloud is an offense punishable by death. But after she discovers that the air supply aboard her underwater colony is running out, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to find this mysterious place. To get there, she must first recover the only guide to the Surface―the Beacon, an ancient device that also connects her to Captain Aero Wright, a dashing young soldier from one of the only remaining space colonies. 

With the fate of all humankind depending on them, Myra and Aero must escape the tyrannical forces that rule their colonies, journey through the black depths of the ocean and across the cold void of space, to find each other on the Surface that their ancestors once called home.

Wow, this sounds amazing! I love the ocean so much that I really want to check out this series so I can experience the black depths of the ocean with Myra and Aero.

For her bonus content, Jennifer is sharing a short story from the Continuum universe. Below the story, you'll find more info on Jennifer and a secondary contest from me, as well as a link to a multi-author Instagram contest I'm running right now where you can win eight thrilling, chilling YA novels--just in time for Halloween! Because you can never have too many giveaways, right? BTW, Jen and I have the same lucky number this hunt, the number thirteen! (13) That's the number you need for this post. And now [drum roll] here's Jen!

Jennifer: This story takes place in the Continuum Universe created in my Continuum Trilogy. The books explore what happens after the surface of the Earth is destroyed and humans are evacuated to colonies located in different environments—underwater, underground, and outer space. Hope you enjoy it!

by Jennifer Brody

“Wake up … Twelve.”
That familiar voice was accompanied by light. Blinding light that grew stronger. “No … I don’t want to wake up … need sleep.”
The words left the girls lips, but they sounded jumbled, thick with sleep. And not just any sleep. Deep, cryo sleep.
The light wouldn’t ease.
The voice wouldn’t stop.
“Wake up … Twelve.”
It kept repeating in a loop. Kept prying her awake. It wasn’t human. It was only a recording. The girl realized that with a cold sweep of sadness that rushed through her chest like a torrent. Her cryocapsule hissed open.
A blast of cold air pricked her skin, accompanied by fear at her paralysis. Her fuzzy brain. Her disorientation.
It took a while for her limbs to awaken. For her small heart to pump enough blood to get her vital systems going. For the thick fog to drain from her mind.
“Wake up … Twelve.”
The voice heckled her, driving her upright.
She peered over the edge of her cryocapsule. Her eyes landed on rows and rows of other cryocapsules. Only one thing was different—their occupants were still slumbering, locked away in the deep, unnatural freeze that kept them alive.
She caught sight of her reflection in the metal side of the next capsule—mousy brown hair, hacked short for convenience, button nose speckled with a tapestry of light freckles. Watery, blue eyes—watery like their world. Nothing had changed since she went to sleep many centuries ago.
She was still a child of thirteen.
She was over 700 years old however.
Now she was alone. Her brain was still foggy from the deep sleep, but it began spitting out questions anyway.
Why was she the only one awake? Was it a malfunction? Why were her parents still asleep? And her brother Toren?
Those thoughts brought a fresh wave of fear. Her heart thudded like a hammer in her chest. She climbed from her capsule clumsily, her feet hitting concrete, and staggered over to her family’s capsules. Their eyes were frozen. They stared out but saw nothing but dark dreams.
With intense longing, she traced her finger over the clear panels, following the familiar bent of their features, the crook of her dad’s nose, the gentle slope of her mother’s chin, the rigid arch of her brother’s eyebrows. Her older brother.
Toren was her best friend, and her greatest tormentor. She loved him and hated him all at once. And she missed him like crazy, even though he teased her about her freckles and frizzy hair. Taking her under his arm and tickling her mercilessly.
“Toren …” she rasped softly.
You couldn’t tell how sick they were from their peaceful repose. How when they went into their chambers, they were only days away from the final stage of the illness.
The hemorrhaging.
The memories came back of them entering their capsules. Toren had to be helped entering his capsule. His strong body laid low with fever. So many in their colony had died already. So many bodies had been given back to the sea.
This was their only chance. To abandon the waking life and pass into frozen slumber. To wait for the dark years of exile in the depths of the sea to wash over them and abate, like a current flowing and ebbing.
They didn’t even know if it would work. They had started to build the cryocapsules once the infection couldn’t be contained. They were the last resort. Her fuzzy brain struggled to understand.
But why was she the only one awake?
The voice spoke again.
“You are the Twelfth and the Last. The time for exile has passed. Fulfill your destiny. Go out and claim it.”
She realized the recording was her mother.
Her name, she remembered it now.
“My name is … Twelve.” The words came out soft and raspy. “You named me that for a reason.”
“You are the Twelfth and the Last,” her mother repeated in a maddening loop. “Fulfill your destiny. You’re our chosen one. The only uninfected. Everything depends on you.”
That’s right. She wasn’t sick yet. Nobody knew why she didn’t fall prey to the fever like the other colonists.
“My destiny …”
Her fuzzy brain started to remember more. And that was when she knew exactly what she had to do.
“I must claim it,” she whispered back to her mother.
“Twelve claim your destiny,” her mother said. It felt like a response, but it was still the recording.
Twelve passed through the rows of capsules, each face familiar. There weren’t many of them left down here. The virus had taken so many, emerging after the water leak that flooded their colony and drowned four of the sectors.
She approached a thick window in the exterior wall—outside was a vast expanse, but it was blotted out with darkness. When she pressed her face to the portal, the exterior lights flashed on. Their beams pushed through the water, dying a few meters away from their colony. This life in the dark of the sea.
The light brought more memories back. They rushed through her. She remembered the flood and virus. She knew she had to summon help. She ran through the capsules to the door at the end of the chamber. It registered her identity.
“Twelve … access approved.”
It hissed open. She dashed through the corridors, weaving past sealed doors protecting them from the flooded sectors. Salt water is corrosive, especially with the massive pressure exerted in the trench. It had forced its way in and with it brought this plague to their world.
An ancient plague from the depths of the ocean. That’s what her father said, and Twelve knew he was right. Knew it in her heart.
Her freshly pumping heart.
“Twelve, we’re cursed,” he said before he took to his sick bed and never emerged. “The Doom cursed us.”
Her bare feet tore through the smooth corridors. She reached the right door. “Mortuary” was branded on it. She passed through it and found another capsule—only this one was a tomb. The boy inside wasn’t much older than her.
“Langston …” she whispered, feeling a tear trickle from her eye and land on the clear panel. His golden face, scarred with pox. The virus had taken him. Something glinted on his wrist. The golden armlet branded with the snake swallowing its own tail. There it was, waiting for her to claim it.
The Beacon.
The capsule opened at her touch with a hiss. Twelve reached for the Beacon. Her hand nearing, it split apart. The metal turned to liquid. Greenish light flashed over the snake, making it look angry. In one smooth motion the device wrapped itself around her wrist.
Searing pain tore through her like a bolt of lightning. She convulsed and fell to the floor. Her body shuddered, as memories poured through her. She saw everything through Langston’s eyes. She lived through him. His childhood, growing up in the chamber next door to her family. Their friendship. That blossomed into something more. Their … first kiss … mostly innocent … stolen when their parents weren’t looking. Stolen in a dark nook of the corridor.
Tears blossomed in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. Twelve felt everything again. And then the memories went back further and further … to the beginning … to the day of the Doom. She was a girl again, fleeing into a submarine with her family, packed into the hull as it dove and dove and dove.
As the world above ended.
All the pain from the unmaking of the world.
She felt it all.
When the Beacon released her from the memories, she couldn’t tell if a few minutes had passed—or an hour—or a millennium. Maybe no time had passed, or maybe all the time had passed. She was a child; she was over 700 years old.
The paradoxes made sense to her now. Everything was true, and nothing was true. Time didn’t mean the same thing anymore now that she carried all these lifetimes within her.
It’s time, Langston said. Do it.
His voice rang in her head. It sounded like he was standing right there talking to her, even though he was long dead.
“How is this possible?” she asked, amazed.
When they were kids after he became a Carrier, he’d tried to explain.
“They’re all inside me now,” he said, then frowned. “No, that’s not right. They are me now. And I am them.”
She’d rolled her eyes. “Oh, fancy Carrier, you’re just trying to confuse me.”
But a seriousness had invaded him since the Bonding, after their prior Carrier died. It was almost like she didn’t know him anymore. The silly boy who’d kissed her in the corridors—that boy was gone, replaced by this new boy.
This Carrier.
And now she was one, too. She finally understood the weight of the burden. What it felt like to carry the destiny of other people on her narrow shoulders.
She knew she had to act. She shut her eyes, concentrated, then projected her thoughts into the Beacon.
Hello … anybody out there?
Please answer me.
I’m the Twelfth and the Last.
Anybody … can you hear me?
She pushed the knowledge of all that had befallen her colony into the Beacon, more images than words.
And then she heard something.
It was Langston’s voice. There’s a signal … I can feel it.
That was when she understood that her thoughts were no longer her own. They’d never be her own again. She was divided, split into many selves, all the prior Carriers.
“A signal?” she said back. “Did someone hear me?”
Hold on, I’ll try to connect with it.
That’s when another voice struck her thoughts like an electric charge. This one was warm and confidant. And it was the sweetest sound that Twelve had ever heard.
This is Myra Jackson of the First Continuum, the new voice said. Formerly of the Thirteenth Continuum, Puerto Rico Trench, Atlantic Ocean. Newly elected President of the United Continuums. I received your signal … who are you? And … where are you?
Twelve, the girl answered. I’m Twelve.
There was a pause, long enough to make Twelve worry that she’d done something to offend this new voice.
But then Myra spoke again. The Twelfth Continuum?
Twelve … it’s my name.

And your location apparently, Myra replied with amusement. Mariana Trench. Underwater colony. Holy sea, you’ve survived! We thought you’d perished. Welcome back, Twelve.


Paula: Whoa. Holy sea, indeed! That was seriously intense. I can't wait to find out what happens when these two girls meet up :)

Here's more about Jennifer:

Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of THE 13TH CONTINUUM. Her book sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into television show. Translation rights have sold in many territories, most notably Russia and China. RETURN OF THE CONTINUUMS (Book 2) and THE UNITED CONTINUUMS (Book 3) complete this epic trilogy. She is a graduate of Harvard University, a creative writing instructor at the Writing Pad, and a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation. She founded and runs BookPod, a social media group for authors. She lives and writes in LA, where she's hard at work on her next book.


One lucky red team winner will score a mega prize pack, including THE 13TH CONTINUUM and HIDDEN PIECES. I'm also running a secondary giveaway where one lucky reader can score paperbacks of my other three mysteries: LIARS, INC., VICARIOUS, and FEROCIOUS (INT).

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This one is not YASH-affiliated, but just in case you missed it, I'm part of a group giveaway on Instagram this week with seven other mystery/thriller authors. Wanna enter to win eight more books? Click here for full details.

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

Monday, September 3, 2018

HIDDEN PIECES Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

Have you seen the official book trailer for HIDDEN PIECES?

In order to help get the word out about my latest release, I'm asking people who have read Hidden Pieces to consider posting a short review to the book-buying/review websites they frequent regularly. You can find links to several larger American sites in the sidebar by clicking on the icons on the "Available Now" widget. You can also review on international book-buying websites, as well as library sites, online community sites (Goodreads, Booklikes, YA Books Central, etc), school sites, your own blog or FB/Twitter/Tumblr/YouTube/Instagram, etc.

Because your time is valuable, I've created an early reviewer appreciation giveaway. The first 50 readers (INT) who post an honest review of 50 words or more in three different places and fill out this form will all be mailed 2 signed HIDDEN PIECES bookmarks and a magnet.

Sorry. Terrible pic. Can you tell I posted this in a hurry?

But that's not all. One random winner out of 50 entrants will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon, B&N, your local indie, or an international equivalent. If HIDDEN PIECES gets 50 Amazon reviews by October 1, I will give away a second $25 gift card, so tell your friends who read the book to enter too. Contest ends October1st.

This is not an attempt to score more positive reviews. Any rating (or no rating on sites where that's allowed) will qualify you. Good reviews, critical reviews--I won't even read them unless you're a winner and I have to verify you. Honestly, the worst review is no review at all. Please see below for more info on how I feel about reviews.

This is also not me expecting you to go out and buy my book and read it ASAP. I will do another one of these giveaways in December for people who read the book after it is more widely available in libraries.

My one request: As usual, I made several (over 150) changes to the book between the printing of ARCs and final copies, including editing two scenes to make the identity of the final culprit harder to guess. If you're reviewing the ARC, please note that in your review. Thanks :)

Curious about why I want reviews so badly? Keep reading:

I've blogged about this before (search reviews), but my thoughts have changed over the past couple of books. I don't read reviews much anymore. I will read extremely early ones just to see if people are reading my book the way I'm hoping they will, and I will read most of the ones tweeted at me because I feel like people who tweet reviews at me want me to see them and it seems like the least I can do after someone takes the time to post about my work. Occasionally, I will read other ones, but these days in any given week in addition to working and volunteering, I might be promoting a book, revising 1-2 books, and drafting/outlining 1-2 books. That's a LOT of voices in my head, so I try to minimize the reviewer voices--positive or critical--that get in there too.

But even if authors aren't reading them, reviews can impact the success of a novel in several ways. [Reposted from an earlier blog post.]

1. There's the obvious way, where if a book has a lot of positive reviews, then a prospective reader might be more willing to take a chance on it. Positive reviews have the power to influence readers who are "on the fence."

2. There's the inverse (converse?) where a negative review might prevent someone who wouldn't like the book from picking it up, which is also a good thing. Multiple people wrote negative reviews for Liars, Inc. on Goodreads because it has sex and F-bombs. Some people aren't bothered by those things at all, but I don't want to offend anyone who is and scare them off from checking out my PG-rated books like Girl Against the Universe.

3. Sometimes just the sheer numbers of reviews (say 60 on Amazon vs. 10) is enough to cause a potential buyer to click for more info. The only reason I ever clicked on Susan Ee's Angelfall is because it had a massive number of reviews, and I really enjoyed that book. Volume of reviews can influence casual browsers who might click on "People who bought [Book] also bought [Other Book]" links.

4. Most book-buying websites also have algorithms that cause the more "popular" books to come up more frequently in site "If you like [Book] you might be interested in [Other Book]" features and targeted emails, etc. This placement can be tremendously helpful in getting the word out about a new book to targeted audiences--almost like free advertising. One way a book's "popularity" is measured is by number of reviews.

5. So-so reviews can also sell books. One of the three-star reviews I've seen for GATU was extremely well-written and complimentary--the reviewer mostly felt that book was kind of long. (It is.) If a reader sees that and likes long books, that might be even more persuasive than a 5-star review. Also, everyone knows that not all 3-star reviews are the same. Some reviewers have their reader-meter set to LOVE and three stars means the book let them down. Other reviewers have a "no five star" policy since no books are perfect, and three stars might be a really good review from them.

6. Even one-star reviews can sell books. I will openly admit that when I see a book being obliterated with one-star reviews, my curiosity is piqued and my sympathy-response is activated. I am more likely to read that book. Also, some one-star reviews are more "it's not for me" than "no one should ever read this." One of my Liars, Inc. one-star reviews says this: No matter how I didn't like the plot/decisions of the characters, I will say the writing was exceptional, and the book is a fast read. I love flawed characters and fast reads. That's basically a blurbable quote from someone who "borderline-hated" the book.

So those are my reasons for wanting your reviews. Are you an author? Why do you want reviews? Are you a reader? What is it that makes you write a review for one book and not write one for the next book?

Thanks for considering writing a review for HIDDEN PIECES. Here's the link to the giveaway form again if you need it. And if you plan to read the book later this year, no worries. I'll run another reviewer appreciation giveaway in December, if not before.