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What I Write and Why

I worry if I'm writing "right."

Jan 31 What I Write Pauline Baird Jones

One of the things we writers tend to worry about is if we’re writing the “right” kind of whatever genre we’re writing. What we mean by that question is: are we writing books readers will want to read? 

So me being me, I got to wondering if I was writing the wrong kind of everything. lol

I’m going to pull back the curtain on the author life, just a bit because I know that as a reader, I am sometimes confused by the choices authors make. This is not an insight into NY publisher books. Those authors’ choices are very much informed by working with a publisher.

I publish my own books, so my choices are mostly informed by what I want to write, though I do listen to feedback from my readers. It may not look like it, but I do. lol

As a reader, you will (hopefully) spend a few hours with one of my books.

I spend months, weeks, days—so many hours—with the characters, including my bad guys (which is pretty yucky at times), fighting to find the story inside my head, and then get the words down on paper in a coherent way. 

It’s as if over there in one corner of my mind is this perfectly constructed story. I can see it, but when I try to write it down, perfect turns into a jumble that makes me want to cry and pull out my hair.

So I have to love what I’m writing. I have to want to write it so bad I’m willing to suffer a lot. 

Thankfully I have fun, too, but by the time I’ve written, rewritten, edited, been edited, copyedited, been copyedited—I’m not as fond of the story for a while. In fact, we are often barely speaking.

And then it’s over and the book is “out there” being loved and hated by readers and reviewers, and I might spend a little time mourning and missing the people and the story.

It’s a special kind of crazy.

I began my foray into publishing by writing a crazy, somewhat over-the-top book called Pig in a Park. It eventually ended up as The Spy Who Kissed Me (mostly because people kept calling it the ‘pig in a poke’ book). It was a comic romantic suspense novel.

I followed that up with another comic romantic suspense novel called Do Wah Diddy Die.

During this time (indie publishing was not an option back then), I was also trying to find a publisher. Based on their slightly positive, mostly negative feedback, I veered into less comic fiction with my Lonesome Lawmen series.

I had some small (almost invisible success) getting published, but at the same time, my agent was encouraging me to “focus” and work on a series with long-term potential. It was during this period that the idea for my Big Uneasy series popped up on my mental horizon. Stuff happened and the agent and I parted ways and I put the series away.

I was at a personal, publishing crossroads, hovering between more comedy suspense and the darker thriller type novel. I even wrote a dark gothic during that time. Only, I slowly came to realize, that romantic suspense was getting darker than I wanted to go. I like the thrill of a story but wasn’t thrilled about the rising levels of gore. 

Again, this is me the writer. I didn’t want to spend all that time up to my neck in blood. So I wandered into writing Out of Time, a time travel to World War II, which you would think would involve a lot of blood, but didn’t.

On its face, it does look like I wandered so far off course, there was no going back, particularly when I followed Out of Time up with The Key, a space opera, action-adventure romance (that ended up launching my Project Enterprise series).

To the outsider, I’m sure it all looks random and unplanned. Okay, so it wasn’t planned. But there is a logic inside my head. As a writer, I was starting to home in on the elements that I liked to both read and write:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Humor
  • Romance 
  • Problems and perplexities for the characters to solve
  • Blush-free books that close the door on the steamy stuff

If you look at my published titles, they contain most or all of these elements, regardless of their genre. In fact, they all are “perilously fun fiction.”

Or least, they were perilously fun for me to write.

Because I also like to make my readers happy, I asked my newsletter list to vote for which they’d like me to write next, a Big Uneasy or a Project Enterprise.

The results were fifty/fifty! Lol

I was forced to conclude that I was going to make half my readers happy with any given release. And then there are the readers who want more books like The Spy Who Kissed Me and others who wanted another Out of Time (I delivered on that with Just in Time.)

I got a nice note from a reader asking about upcoming books. When I told her I was hard at work, she was lovely. She said she’d rather I took the time to write a good, well-written story. She could wait. Thank you!

Believe it or not, it’s hard for me to wait to write my books, too. I want to know “what happens next” just as much as you do. But it does take the time it takes me to write a book. And in between writing, there are all sorts of Life Happening things around here. I can’t completely live in my fiction. Lol

I guess I’m saying that I understand that you read what you read. Some of you read in specific genres. Some of you wander like I do. That’s okay. Reading is an intensely personal experience. We like what we like.

I hope that you understand that I’m just like you. I like what I like, too, as a reader and an author. And if, after looking at what I’ve written, you think I’m a little crazy? Well, I won’t argue with that. Lolol

Perilously yours,