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Dear Me a thousand years ago (give or take a few seconds),

When I first heard about the Write Path, I knew I wanted to write this blog post (and I give permission for it to be used in the eBook compilation) and I’m excited that this also my 400th blog post (see the party below before you leave cuz there are prizes!).

I knew I wanted to be an author a long time before I started to seek publication. Okay, I probably didn’t know when I was a baby, but I see I looked worried, so maybe I did.

baby photo of pauline
I’m gonna be what??

So, if I could actually write to Past me, here is what I’d say:

Am I glad you didn’t know what was ahead? Maybe a little. Becoming a published author is a lot like getting married. Or becoming a mother. Or getting old…

  • You don’t know much.
  • You don’t know what you don’t know.
  • And you don’t believe the people who do know.
  • It’s both harder and more wonderful than you expected
photo of pauline in junior high
To infinity and beyond me!

Past Me, I know you probably wouldn’t have tried this if you hadn’t stumbled onto Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. You found it in the local library, one of only two writing books on the shelves way back then. I forget the title of the second book (thankfully) because it was awful and negative and particularly dismissive of women authors. Brande’s book was an invitation to explore and try. It gave you the courage to begin. When it re-released, you bought a copy. Even now I only have to look at the cover and feel my spirits lift. So good find, me of then.

Fast forward through many painful starts and crappy writing (wow, don’t you wish you had that remote and could fast forward?), through some playwriting that was both fun and still helpful, pause for my first and second sale with actual money exchanging hands (yay!), to the early 90’s when:

  • The first Gulf War
  • The television show Scarecrow and Mrs. King
  • My Muse
  • The Internet
photo of pauline as hippie
I’m really rocking it. Can you tell I’ve entered the self conscious zone, i.e. high school?

…intersected with your life and got mixed up inside your head. The result was your first completed novel (Pig in a Park, eventually retitled The Spy Who Kissed Me) and your first exposure to actual published authors. Past Me, you weren’t always grateful, but Present Me is grateful for each and every one of them who offered advice. I wish you’d listened to them (see believe the people who do know). It took some whacks upside the head (i.e. rejection letters) before you did begin to believe them. I can still remember your shock and your awe (see first Gulf War – grin) when you began to really understand what you’d gotten yourself into.

Would it have changed that much if you’d believed? Probably not. But you might not have picked that first agent because she had on this awesome denim dress on when you met her. Though it was a great dress. And what happened wasn’t her fault. Or yours.

Advice You Should Have Listened to:

  • Don’t pick an agent because they will take you. Or because of what they are wearing. In other words:
  • Don’t be desperate. You don’t make good decisions when you’re desperate.
  • Even a good agent might not be right for you. Or she might work for someone who is a nightmare. Or you’re just the wrong fit. It happens.
  • Yes, you are running a business, even when you think you’re not.
photo of pauline in spy coat
I apparently decide to become a spy. Or a romantic suspense author….

Advice I’m Glad You Didn’t Listen to:

  • Everyone who told you “you can’t do that because…”

This is a business ruled by “that’s how it’s always been done…” Past Me, I’m glad you weren’t. That you did it your way, even when it was swimming against the current. For a really long time.

Some things I’m glad you did:

  • Went digital with Pig in a Park when everyone you knew told you that first books never get published and you should shove it in a box under the bed…
  • Didn’t put any of your books in a box under the bed. Past Me, you finished them all. 🙂
  • Went with Five Star to get into hardcover, even though the break up was messy  (you learned a lot and only got singed from that adventure in publishing…)
  • Went with Hard Shell and L&L Dreamspell
  • Extra glad you went Indie last year

If I could change one thing, Past Me, I wish you’d gone indie (self published) at least a year sooner than you did. Having access to actual sales figures has been one of the most liberating and useful things an author can have (besides getting paid every month). For the first time in my thousand year (give or take a few minutes) journey, I can see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not throwing things against the wall and not ever seeing if they stuck. I’m able to plan ahead and adjust my writing schedule to what’s actually happening with my sales.

author pauline baird jones
Green-as-grass author…

Past Me, the one thing I have never, ever regretted is becoming a writer. I love every novel I’ve written and I am so grateful for the people who have helped me along the way—people who didn’t hold it against me when I didn’t believe them, btw.

author photo of Pauline
My first “official” author photo, taken by the hubs.

And I’m grateful to the real readers who have stuck with me, too. Their reviews and encouragement—or just simply buying my books—has helped me keep going when the Muse was tired and my Life Happened. (And thank you to my awesome family and friends who didn’t have me committed…)

I’ve found that non-writers look at writing and either think “I could do that,” or they think “I could never do that.” Explaining what I do to either of them is a lot like explaining parenting or marriage or fill-in-the-blank-with-a-hard/wonderful-thing that you do. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting paid for doing something I love, but I would write—I did write—for free for a long time. And I kept writing for “piffilous” pay (thank you Dr. Suess!). I’m glad Past Me hung in there. It got better.

a photo of Perilous p
Perilous P of the now…

Oh, and Future Me, don’t ever forget that you’ll need to love storytelling if you’re going to keep doing this. But if you can save yourself, you probably should. It’s a mad-bad-insane-wonderful-addictive business to be in. I know, you couldn’t then, can’t now, so Future Me, welcome to crazy. Again. 🙂

Perilously yours,
Pauline

Here’s a custom tweet for you about the Write Path and the party. 🙂 :

“Dear Me a 1000 yrs ago or My Write Path and a Blog Party!  http://wp.me/p2wY7X-HX #perilousp #giveaway #books”

And now for the party! I’m celebrating my 400th blog post and getting ready to publish project #20 at the end of the month. And I’m celebrating firsts, because without firsts there wouldn’t be seconds and so on.

So, for everyone who visits and comments the rest of the monthon any blog post— you will be entered into a drawing for — drum roll please — one of FIVE digital (epub or mobi) copies of The Spy Who Kissed Me, my FIRST novel and FIVE AnaBanana gift baskets ($25 value), which is FIRST in awesome and you’ll for sure to want SECONDS.

AnaBanana logo

I’ll announce the winners in my May 30th blog post! And thank you for stopping by to celebrate some milestones with me!

“. . . . a remarkable new talent . . RT Book Reviews

The Spy Who Kissed Me was the first digital-only book to be nominated for an RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award. It also won a Dorothy Parker Award.

The Spy Who Kissed Me cover art
My first book!

Comment to win or buy it now from your favorite online book seller.

Available in digital and audio!

Dear Me A Thousand Years Ago

42 thoughts on “Dear Me A Thousand Years Ago

  • May 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm
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    I love the pictures you included with your letter. 🙂

    All of your bullet points are great. It’s true that (as writers) we are running a business. At first we don’t think we are, and we also have no clue all that we have to do to be a writer.

    Congratulations on your 400th post!!!! 😀

    • May 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm
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      Oh, thank you, Chrys. It’s always “fun” to out your awkward years. LOL Yeah, it took me a long time to realize I ran a business. Then longer to get over the depression for how bad it was. LOL I LOVE being an author now! Freedom! (grin)

      Thanks for coming by!

  • May 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm
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    I am so late to your party but you knew I would stop by and say “well done, Pauline.” This particular post is so full of practical advice. Each offering, past, present, and future, is gold, and I thank you for them. I may or may not publish something book length some day–it was once “the dream”–like you, I write because I write and cannot imagine life not writing. Thank you for all that you offer us in your books and in your blog posts. All of it is much appreciated. So glad we first connected on Twitter; it was my lucky day.
    Karen
    KM Huber recently posted…Befriending Demons Begins with NamingMy Profile

    • May 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm
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      That is so sweet of you, KM! I’m so glad you found it helpful! I can’t imagine a life of not writing either. Plan to do until I drool down myself! Thank you for coming over. 🙂 I’m so glad we “met” too!

  • May 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm
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    I love your four bullet points about what you didn’t know about writing! They are spot-on, and hilarious. I absolutely didn’t listen to people who did know, and I had no idea what I was doing. LOL

    • May 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm
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      LOL and thank you! It took me a while to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. (grin) I very much enjoyed your post, too. Ah, that writing path, treacherous and regularly pelted by falling asteroids…Thank you for stopping by!

  • May 23, 2014 at 7:19 pm
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    Congratulations on all of your success, Pauline! 🙂 And thank you so much for participating!

    • May 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm
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      Thanks so much! It was such a fun hop and I was so excited to be a part of it. 🙂

  • May 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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    Congratulations Pauline….on the book and blog.

    I met you at an RWA book signing (ages ago) and got “Pig in a Park…” It was on a disk…a floppy, I think. Since then we’ve met at various RWA/MRS events. You’ve inspired me to keep writing many times…especially when I gave up on the dream of a traditional publishing career. Now I’m heading toward Indy publishing. Many, many THANKS!

    BTW…loved the Lonesome Lawmen Series. Looking forward to more adventures in Na’lins.

    All the best with your new release…
    Linda Hill – the purple one!
    “a room without books is like a soul with NO hope…”

    • May 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm
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      Linda!!!! Welcome to the blog and to indie-ness!!! The water is great! Dive in!!! Thank you so much for your kind words! I was just paying it forward from all the people who helped me along the way. Please stay in touch! I feel like I “lost” a lot of people in this journey (mostly because I had to drop out of sight for this or that life crisis! O.O). So great typing to you again! 🙂

  • May 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm
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    I’m late to the party, but wish you huge congratulations, Pauline. What an accomplishment! I’m talking about 20 books. 🙂 And 400 blog posts. :))

    I love this post. It’s witty, wonder-full and wise. The perfect 400th post.

    • May 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm
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      Thank you so much, Lynette! You’re not late at all! It’s running until the 31st! Hotel CA rocks!

  • May 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm
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    You’ve been on quite a journey! It’s awesome you got your first book published. That’s a rare feat. And good advice about not going with the first agent that shows an interest. I think many make that mistake.

    Congrats on 400 posts!

    • May 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm
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      Thank you so much for stopping by and the congrats! I think the hard part is knowing when to believe people and when not to believe them. LOL:-)

    • May 21, 2014 at 9:23 pm
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      Yeah, I even knew it but that dress was really awesome. LOL Thank you, Nick! 🙂

    • May 23, 2014 at 11:38 am
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      Nick, I tried to comment on your post, but for some reason couldn’t make that happen. Thanks so much for stopping by. Very much enjoyed your post, too. 🙂

  • May 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm
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    Congratulations on 400 posts, Pauline! That’s astounding, and what an awesome post. I love the advice and insight you shared with your prior self and with us. Love all the photos! I wish you and your future self all the blessing of a healthy, happy, and wealthy writer! Cheers!
    Lynn Kelley recently posted…Bathroom Bling For The Mother Who Has Everything!My Profile

    • May 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm
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      Thank you so much, Lynn! I was a pretty geeky youngster, but I’m really glad I grew up to be an author. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  • May 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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    Wahoo! Such great advice. Congrats on your 400th post. That’s amazing awesomesauce. I know I’ve written at least twice that many, but probably half of those are spread across the blogosphere on other people’s sites, and the other half are waiting in my archives for the moment I will actually break them out. (Which will probably never come.) I especially loved what you said about going Indie and wishing you’d done it sooner. This industry is changing so much. It’s great to have the power back in the hands of the creators.
    Crystal Collier recently posted…Giveaway and How I Found the Write PathMy Profile

    • May 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm
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      Thank you so much, Crystal! Yeah, if I started throwing in guest posts, well, I think I won’t try to count them. Lol. Yes, things are changing so fast it makes me dizzy! You wrote great post too! Will comment when not on phone!

  • May 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm
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    Desperate! Ouch, does that ever bring back not-so-long-ago memories. Fortunately it didn’t bite too hard and I escaped smarter. Sometimes it’s hard to hold back and breathe, but I’ve found it’s better to do so.

    Thanks for the giveaway chance and a great letter.

    • May 21, 2014 at 8:12 am
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      Yeah, I’ve been desperate, too. But we learned from it and yes, emerged smarter on the other side. And yes, breathing is good, while we hold back and think. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂

  • May 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm
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    Wow Pauline, this post is full of awesome in so many ways I can’t even tell you. Congratulations on the insight, the fortitude, and being not only a great author but a classy person. Here’s to another 400 posts and many more books to come!

    • May 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm
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      Aw, thank you so much, Denise! It’s been a wild and crazy ride, that is for sure. So glad you stopped by! 🙂

    • May 20, 2014 at 7:52 am
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      Thank you so much! There might be 20 more books in me, I am not sure. But 400 blog posts? We’ll see. LOL

  • May 19, 2014 at 4:06 pm
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    Wow! Congratulations on achieving 400 posts, Pauline.
    You look so sweet in your ‘first real author pic’. With not a weapon in sight and no velvet, I can hardly credit that it’s really you (but who else has a ‘hubs’ who is such a good photographer)

    • May 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm
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      I think my hubs is sometimes surprised as well! LOL He did make me look pretty good. Though as the time I was sure I didn’t. Oh my, it does seem so long ago! Thank you for stopping by!

  • May 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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    Love the hippie and spy lady looks! And, of course, advice NOT listened to is sometimes a wise option!

    • May 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm
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      It is sometimes hard to figure out what you should listen to and what you should ignore. It took me a while to trust myself to know that. LOL Thank you! I laugh over both of them. It really does feel like a thousand years ago. LOL

  • May 19, 2014 at 1:38 pm
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    Congratulations! I am so glad your self decided to be a writer, your readers have all benefited from it. I love all your books, but you know my favorite is Out of Time

    • May 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm
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      Aw, thank you Shirley! I love that book, too. Mulling doing a follow-up novella to sort of finish it off. If I do will work on it later this year. 🙂

  • May 19, 2014 at 7:37 am
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    WoooHooo! Congratulations on the 400th post, Pauline! I love this post. I’m going to try to listen to your advice to your past self. Love this post! (It’s worth repeating.)
    Diana Beebe recently posted…Tweaking Time to End RegretsMy Profile

    • May 19, 2014 at 7:41 am
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      Aw, thank you, Diana! It’s a fun hop to be a part of and I thought it was a perfect one to celebrate #400 with. I think it’s the first time I woke up excited for Monday. LOL And thank you for your support of the blog. 🙂

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