Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

And then there were two

Of me, that is.

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 :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Congrats to my YAmazing and MGnificent winners!!

I want to thank everybody who entered the YAmazing Race, as well as my secondary contest for a giftcard. Thank you for your cover love, for complimenting my laser-eyed iguanas (because if you're going to blog, you might as well have a little fun with it, right?), and for your interest in VENOM. It's so weird, guys. I have written three other manuscripts since I finished VENOM, so she was feeling far away, like a kid who left home and went out in the world on her own. Thank you for bringing her back to me :)

Get this graphic
The YAmazing Race winners will be announced on the Apocalypsies blog on 5/9/12, but I promised to announce today, and I am a woman of my word, so I fired up the random-generator-picker-thingie and:

 *poorly executed RockBand drumroll courtesy of moi*

1st place:  Samandlysander--you have won a $30.00 e-giftcard!

2nd place: Hwa Sun--you have won a $20.00 e-giftcard!

CONGRATZ to my winners!!!!!!! But if you didn't win, no worries. I have, like, this disease where I love to give stuff away. I would totally be one of those penniliess Lotto winners you hear about on the news if I ever won the lottery. But I wouldn't give it to con artists and greedy people. I'd give it to charities and cool people like YOU, so that's okay, right? Right??? *convinces self*

Anyway, with that in mind, another round of

the internet's most excellent virtual scavenger hunt will be starting soon. As always, the assistants and I know you have a choice with blog contests, and we thank you for choosing Fiona Paul Books. Keep reading, and keep spreading your happiness around the web. We writers, bloggers, humans, (even my pet laser-eyed iguanas) appreciate it, even if we don't always remember to say so.

Muchas gracias from me and my eyeballz of deth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Check out my YAmazing post with MGnificent iguanas!

That's right, kittens. I'm psyched to be part of the second Apocalypsie-sponsored YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes.

Go Team Laser-Eyed Iguanas!!!

I'm also insane-crazy-excited to inform you that I just turned in a first draft (in Fiona-speak, this actually means 47th draft, but who's counting?) of VENOM's follow-up, BELLADONNA, to my editrix extraordinaire over at Penguin. So if you like creepy-sexy books (and come on, who doesn't?) add it to your Goodreads because Goodreads adds make me feel special, and when I feel special I give away tons of cool stuff!!

Okay, so that had nothing to do with the YAmazing Race, I just love Book 2 so much I had to blab all about it :) All right, all right! Here's the jackety-flappity stuff that you need in order to win your MGnificent prizes, which might just include a signed ARC of VENOM.

In Renaissance Venice, secrets can be as powerful--and deadly--as poison.

Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiance--yet she longs for something more. Ever since her parents death, Cass has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman--with a bloody X carved across her heart--she's drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans, and killers. Soon she finds herself falling for Falco, an artist with a mischievous grin and a habit of getting into trouble. Will Cassandra find the murderer before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiance, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, romance, and mystery weave together in a novel that's as stunning and seductive as the city of Venice itself.

Okay, you got all that? You sure? You wanna see some more awesome pictures of laser-eyed iguanas before moving on to the next stop? Don't lie. You know you do.

Baby laser-eyed iguana power!!! Okay, I'm done with that. Thanks for stopping by the blog :)

Bonus contest: I'm not as cool as the kids who have bookmarks and stickers and awesome swaggity-swag to give away, but I'm drinking milk, and one day I hope to achieve a bookmark-like level of coolness.

In the meantime, my bonus giveaway is a US $30.00 e-giftcard to If you don't know Powells, it's time that you did, and thanks to their reasonable domestic and international shipping rates, no matter where you live--yes, even if you live in Outer Mongolia--you can still score some free goodies with this giveaway.

Edited to add: As a thank-you for all the love, a second prize US $20.00 e-giftcard to has been added. Thanks again and good luck in the YAmazing Race! :)

The winner will be picked randomly. One entry for commenting. Two entries for following the blog. One for liking my facebook. (I promise to make it suck less once I get 100 likes.) One for twitter following. Tell me what you did in your comment so I make sure to credit you all your entries. Winner will be announced on May 8th.

Need a drink? Bathroom break? Allrighty then. Next stop: McCormick Templeman.