reading spurs imagination
© Sergey Nivens / Dollar Photo Club Used with permission.

I blogged about where we buy books last Wednesday, and it launched some interesting conversations, both on the post, and in some discussion lists where I mentioned it.

We all concluded that we were “crazy book ladies,” based on our TBR’s (to-be-read) piles, both physical and digital.

I don’t remember the exact moment I became a crazed reader. In my memory, I’m struggling with Dick and Jane running and then suddenly I’m devouring books. I joke about the fact that almost the only time I got in trouble in school was for sneak reading behind my text books. I also used to read under the bed covers.

In the end, I wasn’t nearly as sneaky as I thought I was. lol

But I did manage to read a lot of books.

When I look back at my adventures in reading, I know that for me, small town girl that I was, the library and bookstores were my gateway to magical places.

Words were magic.

Words are magic. Or they can be if you put them together in the right order. It’s finding that magic, or perhaps wanting to find that magical formula, that adds “writer” to a reader’s resume.

Now back in the olden days, anyone who wanted to write had some obstacles to overcome, even beyond learning the craft. It was all pens, pencils, and clunky old typewriters that you had to pound to make key strokes happen. Seriously, you had to pound them. With little stubby fingers.

My progress from passionate reader to tentative writer was helped by my taking a typing class in high school, then the invention (creation?) of electric typewriters. I did not immediately embrace the personal computer. I got one (back in DOS days), let it go for a word processor, then went back to the computer with a PC.

The computer removed a lot of the friction in getting stories from head to page, but it doesn’t really explain how I moved from reading stories (so much easier!) to writing them down (time consuming plus even with current tech).

And none of it explains why I write what I write. I mull this probably more than I should, mostly because people wonder why a nice girl like me writes, well, my books. (One of those people is my mom.)

When I look at the list of my books, when I study the genres of my stories, I wonder that, too. Why do I wander from romantic suspense, to comedy suspense, to science fiction romance, time travel action adventure romance, gothic, to steampunk science fiction romance, to fantasy sci-fi detective story, to mystery scifi, back to mystery suspense, with a Christmas alien first contact novella just for “fun.”

I don’t know.

If you look at that list, you’ll find some points of contact:

  1. Romance
  2. Comedy (most of my books have elements of humor except my lone gothic)
  3. Suspense and/or action adventure
  4. Aliens/science fiction (which surprised everyone but my high school science teacher who believed I wrote fiction in his class, too.)
  5. Mystery/detective

Which is how I ended up with my brand of “Perilously Fun Fiction.” There is always some element of peril and the fun comes with the humor in the story, and how much I had writing the story. (I enjoy hosing my characters WAY too much.)

My business would be easier to manage if I didn’t wander all over the place (because readers tend not to wander genres nearly as much as I do) or if I didn’t write at all. If I just went back to reading my kindle would be thrilled. It thinks it’s past time I dived back into my TBR. (Yes, I talk to my kindle. What of it?)

The why of what goes into my stories, the mix of characters and elements, well, that’s mysterious even to me. There is something kind of crazy that happens inside my head when I start a story. The first time I finished a whole novel, I thought I’d “got” it. I had mastered How To Write a Novel. [insert triumphant flourish here]

Then I tried to dive into novel #2. Ouch.

Seventeen novels later, I know you don’t “get” it. You don’t “know.” Each story is unique, at least for me, and how it arrives on the page is also unique. I’m not as in control of it as you’d think. When I start a book, I inch up to the edge of a precipice, peer over, pull up the plot sled (sometimes with characters at the helm, sometimes hanging onto the rear) and climb dubiously on, then suddenly I’m careening down, bouncing off things, upside down, right side up, free falling…with a look of delighted terror on my face.

With that image in mind, open one of my books and start reading. You might at least understand where some of it comes from. Lol

I will also add, that all that fictional mayhem keeps me on a nice, even keel in my real life. It keeps me “nice.” lolol

So if you’ve ever wondered “where I get my ideas?” or “what were you thinking?” then this is sort of it. I know as a wordsmith I should be able to find the right words to explain my process, but yeah, no.

So, have you ever found a favorite author, been zooming through their books, and then run into one that made you think, “where did this come from?”

Does this post help with that? Or make you want to pull your hair out? (Get in line on that one.) Please do share!

I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value).  Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.

Perilously yours,


P.S. If you want to pull back the truly weird curtain in my brain, then check out Specters in the Storm. I wrote this for a boxed set that went off sale in January, releasing it into the “wild.”

copyright by Pauline Baird Jones. All rights reserved.
copyright by Pauline Baird Jones. All rights reserved.



From Reader To Writer: A Weird Journey
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7 thoughts on “From Reader To Writer: A Weird Journey

  • March 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    interesting post

  • March 7, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Love it, especially how each book is different and there’s no one process to writing them! I tend to be process-oriented in creative projects, and loosening my expectations of what I “should” do is very useful to me.
    I had plenty of access to pens and pencils as a kid and tweens, but my hands cramped too quickly to write for long! In my teens we got a computer with a word processor and that made life so much easier. I took a break from writing for a decade or so, and now I have access to better organization tools to keep track of what I’ve done than the scattered papers in folders approach I used once upon a time.

    • March 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Yeah, that was an “aha” moment for me, realizing they were all different (like kids, no one size fits all – haha). You’re lucky you had the word processor in your youth. I look at all the young people writing and publishing these days, some in high school! And I think it has a lot to do with it being easier. I was exhausted after pounding out one page when I was little. haha

  • March 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Loved this blog. Your journey sounds much like mine. Loving to write different things and not get sucked down into writing one thing within a genre. 🙂

  • March 7, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I, also, have always loved to read. Bed time when I was in high school was 10 pm during the school year; about 6:30 to wake up. I’d invariably read under the covers with a flashlight until 2 am. I guess being young and resilient counted, because I still got very good grades. I enjoy your books, so it’s great to read about your creative process. Your blogs are entertaining and informative! Thank you!

    • March 7, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Aw, thanks, Jannie. 🙂 I often feel like a crazy person, but I think I hide it well (in real life, not so much in my fiction haha). Oh yeah, the two a.m. read. You can only do that when you are young. I never used to fall asleep over a book, but now it can happen. lol So glad you enjoy my particular kind of crazy! 🙂

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