Let me explain. I spent most of my life being pulled in various directions. Sure, I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted to be a pastry chef and a veterinarian and one of those people who digs trenches to fight forest fires. We're not talking about when I was nine. (Back then I wanted to be a dolphin trainer and a scantily clad magician's assistant.) We're talking about in my early twenties, long after most of my friends had decided on a career path.
|I would have rocked this outfit as a nine-year old.|
A couple of years ago I graduated from nursing school (don't ask) and suddenly I could support myself working just three 12-hour shifts per week. Suddenly I had all of this free time, and while my friends picked up extra shifts at the hospital, I finally got serious about writing. It was classic Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. After I could eat and pay bills, my brain was free to focus on non-survival-related things, and I quickly realized I didn't just want to be a writer, I needed to be one. (You should totally click that Maslow link, btw, because it is funny.)
So I signed up for the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop (which happens to be awesome and is where I met my agent) and also took an online writing class. I was writing contemporary and dystopian stuff for the class, a mix of action and romance. My instructor challenged me to develop a proposal for a historical fiction novel. She was interested in something that focused on action and romance instead of the formal language and overwhelming descriptive detail that can make historical fiction inaccessible, especially to teens.
|Worth. Every. Penny.|
I like a challenge, but I knew zilch about history. For realz, I graduated from a pretty schmancy college without a single history credit. I had no idea if I could write historical, or if I did it whether anyone would want to publish it. That proposal turned into--you guessed it!--my first novel VENOM. But at the time it was an experiment, totally different from what I'd been working on, so I decided to use a pen name. I knew I would continue writing contemporary YA (romance, mysteries, magical realism, etc.) and decided to save my real name for those.
Today, I am super-excited to annouce that my agent, Jennifer Laughran, sold my first contemporary YA novel, THE ART OF LAINEY, to HarperCollins in a two-book deal. It's the story of popular but slightly clueless Lainey Mitchell whose perfect summer comes crashing down when her boyfriend Jayson dumps her. Lainey vows to do whatever it takes to win him back, and when her friend Bianca finds a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the girls decide to go all Zhou Dynasty on Jayson and his new girlfriend, with unexpected results. It's a light, funny read about discovering the person you're meant to be with, and more importantly, discovering the person you're meant to be. Many of the settings are loosely based on real life places around St. Louis, so I'm excited about that too. I'll be writing as Paula Stokes which is (close to) my real name.
So what does this mean? Not too much right this second, except that I now have five books under contract. YAY! You can still call me Fiona, or Paula or 'hey lady' or even use my super-seekrit RN identity if you know it. I will eventually be moving this blog to a place where I can blog about all of my writing from a single URL, but I'll keep you posted on that. Mostly, I just wanted to let you know that I've got some fun, non-historical things in the works.
Oh, and also that I'll be starting a contest for one of these awesome Breathless Reads slipcases next week.
|Somehow the word 'slipcase' does not adequately convey the awesomeness of these. Also, I stole this picture from my Breathless sister Jessica Khoury's facebook because I am lazy :)|