Once Upon a Time

I have always loved the world of stories, ever since I was a kid. In fact, I loved stories so much that I even made up my own little magazine when I was in 5th or 6th grade. Unfortunately that little venture almost got me expelled when I decided to do a little exposé about what “really” went on inside the Teacher’s Lounge! Some people really didn’t like that — but it was very fun, and in a way it was my first introduction into how much the passion you feel for a story can really come through to readers.

I wrote my first manuscript while in college — I was lucky enough to do some traveling, and that was an adventure from start to finish: I began writing while traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and ended while in the Serengeti! I was so inspired by my journey that the writing I did on that trip became my very first novel. After returning to college, I sent the manuscript off to publishers, and it got a great reception: it was rejected by THIRTY-TWO separate publishers!

I spent seven years brooding over those rejection letters. In the meantime I put aside my writing, and got a job in the financial industry, but those letters — along with my dream of being a writer — still nagged at me. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What if…!” So one night my wife and I stayed up all night talking, and together we made a decision. The next day I walked into the office and announced to everyone I was resigning to follow my dream of becoming a writer. The boardroom was stunned — one of my partners walked up to me, very seriously, and pressed a beat-up old business card into my hand. “Tom,” he said, “this is my therapist. You really need to call him.”

My business partners may have thought I was making a big mistake, but I knew that I really had to try. People have asked me, “Wasn’t it scary to change your job?”, and of course it’s always scary to change anything in life. But leaving the comfort of my job wasn’t nearly as scary to me as the idea of becoming an old man who looked back on his life and realized he never really tried to be what was deep in his heart. I didn’t want to look back on my life and realize that those thirty-two rejection letters had defeated me so early on!

Well, that was more than 20 years — and more than 30 books — ago, and I have not had one millisecond of looking back. It’s a cliché to say that “life is short”, but it’s true. I have always felt how important it is to be whatever we can be during our brief time on this earth. And I feel immensely grateful to have had another chance to try to do what I had longed for.


  1. Reply


    January 24, 2015

    I have enjoyed a number of your books and was happy to find you on facebook. Your insight to writing and encouragement have been very helpful over the past year. Last year I promised myself I would submit my first book for publishing. Well, its finished and I have been lucky enough to have a friend of the family help me with query letters and synopsis. after sending out query letters on January first I got my first request for more! For me letting others read what I write has been a huge leap of faith. My stories have always been just something I enjoy doing, something for me. But after getting encouragement from family and friends, and your post I thought why not? Thanks for your continued encouragement to everyone that dreams of being a published author.

  2. Reply

    Jinny Racine

    January 28, 2015

    Tom, how fortunate for us devoted fans that you persevered with your dream and became our favorite author! Such wisdom to follow your dreams and passion. My son worked many years at various companies while developing his passion of triathlons. In his 40s he had become so successful with his business that he resigned from a safe job to devote all his energy to his “Racine Multisports” company. When are you going to be in the Dayton -Columbus area again? Would love to see you.

    • Reply

      T. A. Barron

      February 2, 2015

      Wonderful to hear from you, Jinny. I’m so happy to hear about your son — who sounds like a truly amazing guy. He’s clearly a chip off the block of the great General Ken Curtis!

      You and your son are part of a marvelous family, full of great positive energy. I know you’re a fan of my books…but I’m an even bigger fan of your family!

      Speaking of the books, you’ll especially like the new one that comes out in March. It’s called THE WISDOM OF MERLIN. Something tells me it’s just the kind of book that you’ll enjoy.

      Warmest wishes to you as well as your son,

      Tom (alias T. A. Barron)

  3. Reply

    Deb Burdick

    January 19, 2016

    I remember you writing in your distinctive handwriting when we were kids. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. You always were so creative and enthusiastic. So glad you took the risk to leave corporate America and follow your heart and dreams.

  4. Reply

    Jean R.

    August 2, 2016

    Bookmarked this wonderful post. It needs to be shared and read by every beginning writer and everyone else too! It’s uplifting, encouraging message is universal. Thank you.

    • Reply

      T. A. Barron

      August 4, 2016

      My sincerest thanks to you, Jean — if my experience provides encouragement to even a single writer to pursue a dream, nurture a gift and share stories with the world, that makes it worthwhile!

  5. Reply

    Terry Winckler

    June 18, 2017

    Great stuff, Tom! I have been inspired by your life, your writing, and by knowing your son – the best example of a father’s life well-lived!

  6. Reply

    Tom Pyle

    August 20, 2018

    A touching tale about a remarkable passage I remember admiring from the periphery. Congratulations on a life well lived–so far and yet to be– of course by you but also through you, vicariously, by all your fans and admirers. Your epic life choice has surely repaid many more multiples than even venture capital!

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