My early rejections often made me question my sanity in pursuing a writing career. Too often, I felt as though I was repeating the pattern from my childhood when I lost numerous pageants and dance competitions.
However, I kept writing, couldn’t stop. It’s hard to describe the compulsion to anyone who isn’t an author. It’s as though you’re killing yourself bit by bit if you quit.
After a few years of form letters from small presses and large publishers refusing to read anything without an agent’s submission, my husband and I decided to go that route. It took another year, but I finally snagged a NY agent from one of the largest and most prestigious agencies. This lady LOVED my writing. Couldn’t gush enough about it. Although I was grateful, I held my breath not knowing what to expect.
What I learned was: you can have the best agent and book in the world; however, if it’s a bad time in publishing or if luck isn’t on your side (and a lot of this is luck), you’re pretty much screwed.
A few of the editors at the large NY houses liked my thrillers. Some were ready to move forward. Then, the economy tanked (again). Publishing houses were consolidated. Some went out of business. Editors lost their jobs.
My agent and I parted ways. I began that dance anew. Again, I found representation at a NY agency. After many tries, they couldn’t sell my work.
I felt as though I was in a badly written Twilight Zone where I was doomed to come close to success only to have it snatched away.
During this time, my husband and I moved to California and started a small business. I worked for a while at a well-known Hollywood production company in story development. My work was shown on CBS-TV. A measure of success, but not the published novels I still longed to write.
At night and on the weekends, I continued to pen my thrillers. I told myself editors couldn’t keep being fired forever. Publishing houses couldn’t possibly keep consolidating. There had to be an end to this relentless cycle.
It came in a way I had never imagined.
My husband developed a mild case of high blood pressure. It didn’t worry me at first. I thought we’d just cut out the crappy fast food and relax a bit more. His doctor put him on a very mild dose of medication that worked beautifully. Even so, this same doctor decided a year later to switch medications. I asked why. He told me the new one would work even better. What he didn’t tell us was about the side effects, one of which was the risk of congestive heart failure in previously healthy individuals.
Within three months, my husband developed CHF. Six months after that, he had a massive heart attack and died in my arms. Because we owned a small business, we didn’t have health insurance. Within less than a year, I’d lost him, our business and our house. I was in massive debt due to the experimental therapy we’d tried to make him well again.
This time, I didn’t see a way out.
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.