Being practical, I knew the chances of me becoming a bestselling author and supporting myself right out of the gate were slim to none. I switched my major in college from art to journalism, figuring I could always work for a paper while I wrote the Great American Novel. During my lecture courses, I wrote poetry, rather than notes.
After college, I returned home and applied to all the local newspapers. To my utter astonishment, I got an interview at one. It was small but well respected in the community.
The guy interviewing me owned the place. We hit it off right away. Eventually, he became my husband.
I told him what I hadn’t told anyone but my creative writing teachers in college—I wanted to write novels. It wasn’t a matter of fame or fortune. It was an overwhelming need to put my thoughts on paper, to tell stories.
He didn’t laugh or deride as some might. He supported me fully, ordering every ‘how to write the next bestseller’ book he could find.
I poured over those how-to’s and faithfully did all the exercises. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to write—mainstream, genre, subgenres. The list was endless. Since I’d always loved horror with Stephen King being my fav at the time, I decided to go with that. I began slow, writing short stories filled with shock, blood, gore.
My husband sent them to all the magazines that published that sort of stuff. They each came back with rejections, many of them personal rather than a form letter. He told me that was a good thing.
I kept at it. Somehow, my horror stories kept morphing into thrillers. By then, I’d discovered Lawrence Sanders. His Love Songs and Caper are not to be missed. The man was a genius. Getting nowhere with short stories, I opted to pen my first novel, a thriller titled They Wait.
It took me over a year to write it. I was so new at the process, it took forever to get my thoughts down and to make them sound right. Once it was done, I hung onto it for another year, afraid to send it out, to get more rejections.
My husband wasn’t as reluctant. Without my knowledge, he finally sent out my manuscript. This time I received the typical form letters, except from one small publishing company in New York that did mass market paperbacks. The editor there hadn’t liked my story all that much but loved my writing style. She asked to see my next manuscript.
I didn’t know whether to dance or throw up. Another manuscript? Another year of my life? Being even more practical than I was, my husband asked, “Do you want this or not?”
I did, so I knuckled down and wrote my next thriller, The Bond. This time, it took me seven months to finish. I was getting faster, more assured. Dutifully, we sent it off to the publisher.
The editor who loved my style was no longer there. The new editor didn’t want The Bond, nor did he ask to see more.
I was back to square one.
Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic romance, and an admitted chocoholic known to down semi-sweet candy bars in grocery checkout lines. She lives with her family in Palm Springs, California where tires melt in the 120-degree summer heat and an occasional earthquake puts everyone on notice to bolt things down. When she’s not writing her steamy stories, trying to stay cool, or crawling beneath her desk during a trembler, she loves shopping, eating at her favorite Mexican restaurant and meeting other authors. Before she wrote romance, Tina was the editor of an award-winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.