Friday, May 20, 2016

GATU Early Reviewer Appreciation Giveaway

GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE is finally out in the wild!!

Photo by Canadian blogger Amanda Stav (@bbbblogca)

I am really proud of this book. Not only is it fun and romantic, I think for readers who are dealing with anxiety or fear, it will resonate on a deeper level. Maguire has a great support network and a loving family, but things inside her head are pretty dark. My wish is that reading about Maguire slowly overcoming her issues will bring comfort and hope to people who are currently struggling. And if you're not struggling, then there's that whole fun and romantic part ;) Click here for more info about GATU and to read the first three chapters.

Aila made this and I am still in awe.

In order to help get the word out about Girl Against the Universe, I'm asking people who have read the book 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. For your convenience, here are links to AmazonB&N, and Goodreads

Because your time is valuable, I've created an early reviewer appreciation giveaway. The first 40 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 a copy of a limited edition fan art postcard created by Aila from One Way or an Author and a limited edition "Life is risk" sticker created by Ri from Hiver et Cafe. If you've already received Ri's sticker in your Uppercase box, I will send you a different cool sticker made by Silvana from The Book Voyagers. If you don't normally write reviews and 50 words feels like a lot, consider writing a "What I liked/What I didn't like" list format review.

But that's not all. One random winner out of 40 entrants will receive a $10 gift card to Amazon or an international equivalent. This giveaway is mainly geared toward getting some of the 250 people who have rated the book on Goodreads to write or cross-post honest reviews, but anyone who has read the book is welcome to enter. Contest ends June 1st.

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

I've blogged about this before (see the reviews tag), 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 friends' reviews and most of the ones tweeted at me because I feel like those probably won't crush my fragile writer soul ;) Occasionally I will read other ones, but these days I am try to do this full-time writer thing and that means in any given week I might be promoting 1-2 books, revising 1-2 books, drafting 1-2 books, and 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.

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. I would love to see those reviews on book-buying websites even though they'll lower my overall rating, because I don't want people who will dislike one of my books to buy it. GATU has neither sex nor F-bombs and I'm not willing to risk losing a potential reader forever to make one sale.

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.

Ri's sticker on the left was included in this month's Uppercase Box.
Silvana's design on the right took second place in a contest I ran in April.

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 GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE. Here's the link to the giveaway form again if you need it. And if you plan to read the book later this summer, no worries. Like I said, I'm mostly hoping to persuade people to cross-post reviews already written. I don't want anyone rush-reading to qualify for this. I'll run another reviewer appreciation giveaway when the paperback releases if not before.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Girl Against the Universe Gratitude Giveaway

Girl Against the Universe is out on the shelves and I can barely believe it :D It feels really good to have released a book that is fun and entertaining, but also has the possibility to be comforting, inspiring, and even helpful to some readers. I'm already blown away by the responses I've gotten from early readers who related to Maguire on a personal level.

Honestly, I'm proud of this story for a lot of reasons, another of which is the lovely author blurbs on the back cover.

I don't know how much you know about the process of authors blurbing books, but asking another author to read your book for blurb can be kind of an awkward experience for everyone. You have to put yourself out there to get rejected. You have to put another author--who most likely knows just how bad getting rejected feels--in a position to tell you no. Every book I say, "I'm not going to do it this time. It always ends with me feeling terrible." But then I do it anyway, because if *I* am not willing to advocate for my book, then how can I expect anyone else to do it? And there's hard data that author blurbs result in more sales.

But it's not just about the numbers. An author blurb helps a busy librarian, who might not have time to read your book, still be able to recommend it. An author blurb gives a bookseller information about your book months before it hits the shelves. When I see a book blurbed by an author I love, it definitely makes me more interested in reading it. And honestly, there is nothing more validating than having your peers read your work and like it enough that they're willing to put their names on it.

So this is a thank you post to my cover blurbers, Tamara Ireland Stone and Miranda Kenneally. (I received two other lovely blurbs that were too late for the cover, but I'll save them for another giveaway when the GATU paperback releases. Love you, Sarvenaz and Ann <333)

I approached Tamara and Miranda for blurbs because they both wrote books that I love, and I felt their readers would enjoy Girl Against the Universe.  They were both kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to read GATU, and they both believed in the story enough to personally endorse it. Tam, Miranda--thank you for supporting my latest novel :)

I'm giving one lucky reader two books--their choice of one by each of these authors. This contest is INT and I will be ordering from The Book Depository or Wordery. Here's a little more about Tamara and Miranda's latest titles, but feel free to choose from their backlists as well:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Do you already own a copy of Every Last Word? Check out Tamara's other books here.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club,
contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start

Defending Taylor releases on July 5th, but if you don't want to wait, Miranda's got scads of other books to choose from!

Share your own thoughts about author blurbs to get the comment points for the giveaway. I'm really curious to know what you think!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Great Girl Against the Universe Release Party!

If you know me, you know I usually launch my books on Twitter. It's a reduced-anxiety, high-inclusivity way to do things. But I'm trying something different this year to further reduce the stress of the actual party and make things even more inclusive. On May 15th at 7 a.m. Pacific (10 a.m. Eastern), I'll be officially starting The Great Girl Against the Universe Release Party. It will be held on my author Facebook page here:

You do not have to "like" my FB page to come to the party. However, if you do not have your privacy settings configured in a way that I can see your comments, I won't be able to answer any of your questions or choose you as a prize-winner. Even if you do "like" my page, it's still possible that your privacy settings will prevent your comments from being seen. If you want to participate, try to figure this out beforehand, because I don't use my FB personal profile page and I won't be able to tell you how to set yours during the party.

Srsly. I have no idea ;)
So why FB? Because once you get over forty people at a Twitter party, it becomes impossible for me to keep up. I just watch question after question scroll by at high speed, feeling like I can't possibly answer them all, dashing out hurried, typo-filled tweets in an attempt to stay caught up, getting completely exhausted in the span of ninety minutes, and spending the rest of the evening thinking about all the things I wish I'd said, if only I'd had five seconds to think. I find it hard to meaningfully interact with anyone. I find it hard to appreciate your contest entries. In short, Twitter release parties are not fun for me these days. 

How am I going to make this FB party fun? Well for starters, it's taking place over two days, which means you can ask me all the questions you want and I don't have to sprint to answer them. It also means you can participate without having to skip church or stay up until 3 a.m. If you're busy on Sunday, you can stop in on Monday, or vice-versa. I want as many people as possible to be able to participate.

#AwkwardFaction Come be awkward with me!

So how's it going to work? Well, in Girl Against the Universe, Maguire and her therapist develop a list of seven challenges for her to work through as she tries to get over her fear of being bad luck to people around her. I thought it would be fun to host a party with seven challenges for you, and seven prizes :) I will release one challenge every hour, starting at 7 a.m. Pacific on May 15th. Then, these challenges will remain open for people to participate in until 7 p.m. Pacific on May 16th. All of the challenges will be listed on Facebook, but some of them might require you to have a Twitter or Instagram account. I am going to mix it up so be ready for anything ;)

Uh-oh. A black cat crossed your path ;)
Wait, who brings a cat to a hockey game?

Prizes will include:
  • Girl Against the Universe mini-swag packs (bookmarks and magnets)
  • The last GATU ARC
  • Special four-book swag pack, including LAINEY pin buttons, LIARS book charm necklace, GATU bookmark charm, and VICARIOUS magnets
  • LIARS, INC. shark's tooth necklace
  • Finished copies of GATU
  • Your choice of any Paula Stokes book, including an ARC or pre-order of VICARIOUS
  • A $25 B&N gift card (alternate prize for INT winner)

What do you have to do to win? It's a secret :D You'll have to drop by the party to see for sure what the challenges will be :)

Between challenges, I'll be posting other cool stuff that you might want to check out too, like excerpts and info on upcoming books, and sign-up sheets for people to request ARCs. I'll also announce the winners of the Great GATU Graphics Contest and the winner of the pre-order grand prize.

Release Party Logistics:
  • You must be 13 or have a parent's permission to participate.
  • US and international participants are welcome.
  • Don't forget to properly configure your FB privacy settings so I can see your entries.
  • If you have questions prior to the start of the party, you can post them in the comments here.
  • If you have general questions the day of the party, there will be a GENERAL QUESTIONS post that you can comment on.
  • If you have specific questions about one of the challenges, comment on that specific post so I see it right away and know which task you're stuck on.
  • Some of the contests will have random winners, but in the event that I am choosing a winner for something, my decision is final. I will try my hardest to be accurate and fair.
  • You will have until 7 p.m. Pacific on Monday May 16th to complete as many of the challenges as you want.
  • Winners will be announced by 9 p.m Pacific on Monday May 16th, AKA GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE's official East Coast book birthday!
  • I will have a form for winners to fill out for easy prize claiming

I'm so excited to share Girl Against the Universe with the world! I really hope you stop by the release party and join me in celebrating my hopeful, heartfelt, extremely-orange new novel :D

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ten reasons to check out The Art of Lainey for $1.99!!

Order from: *HarperCollins*   *Amazon*   *Barnes & Noble*   *iTunes*   *Kobo Books*
                     *Chapters-Indigo*   **

EEEEEEP! I am so excited that The Art of Lainey is getting an e-book sale in preparation for this month's release of Girl Against the Universe. 

If you enjoyed GATU, I think you will also like LAINEY! Main character Lainey is snarkier than Maguire, but she grows and changes throughout the story--yay, character development! In a lot of ways I think LAINEY displays some of my best writing. It truly is the book of my heart and I took so much care to craft unique settings and fun characters.

Click here if you want to read the beginning. FYI, you have to drag the pages from right to left to keep reading. (I had trouble navigating the Overdrive site the first time I tried.)

Here's the basic story info, in case you're not familiar:

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with, if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

Here's what some other smart people think of the novel:

“Refreshingly honest, sweet and romantic. The love story is everything readers want—perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, but with an edge.” --Romantic Times Book Reviews

"Stokes does a good job with the sports subplots as well as the familial relationships. Lainey is a driven athlete who focuses on her passion, which is a refreshing change of pace." --School Library Journal

“A mesmerizing journey of discovery, navigating that slippery line between what one wants and what one really needs. Romance, wit, and highly relatable characters join forces to create one addictive story.” --Rachel Harris, New York Times bestselling author

Just for fun, my top ten reasons why you should read The Art of Lainey:

10. It might help you understand The Art of War (or make you want to read it, if you haven't read it yet.) Note: once you read The Art of War, you will start applying it to everything.

 9. The character of Trinity. That is my favorite name out of ALL the names, so you can bet she's made of win. Also, Trinity's cat shoes, which I own :)

 8. Sporty girls! Warning: this book might make you want to kick around a soccer ball or go for a run.

 7. Ms. Creant's House of Torture (and Pancakes.) I think that name speaks for itself.

 6. Book-boy Micah is a punk-rock baker with a tattoos and a mohawk. So basically, imagine if Peeta were actually hot. Heheheh I am so #TeamGale! :D #SorryNotSorry

 5. The strong female friendship between Lainey and Bianca.

 4. Lainey's wonderfully wacky parents who are present throughout and do parental things like talk about birth control and give their daughter a curfew.

 3. Laugh out loud moments. When you mix a preppy jock with a rocker boy and fold in a cast full of coffeeshop misfits, hilarity is bound to ensue. 

 2. Girl power. This is not the story of Lainey picking a boyfriend. This is the story of Lainey picking a Lainey. There might be two boys, but this is not a love triangle book.

 1. Character development. Yes, Lainey is flawed and yes, trying to scheme warlord-style to win back your boyfriend is probably a bad plan. But sometimes you have to do the wrong thing before you can even figure out what the right thing is.

 0. Bonus! Once you're finished reading LAINEY, you'll want to read the 100-page, Micah-flavored,prequel novella called INFINITE REPEAT and the totally free and so adorable you might spontaneously explode into glitter short story/epilogue NEW MUSIC.

Ready to invest that coffee money in hours of giggling and swoons? Score a copy of The Art of Lainey for just $1.99 from these retailers. Sorry. Deal may not be available in all countries.
Wanna spread the word with one of these pre-made tweets? Micah says he'll love you forever if you do ;)

Looking for a story of self-discovery, friendship, romance, and...torture breakfast food? LAINEY is $1.99!

Falling in love has never been so fun (or affordable!) The Art of Lainey is just $1.99 all week.

Got a thing for punk-rock bakers? You will after you read The Art of Lainey :D Get an e-copy for just $1.99!