In those first dark months without my husband, I simply tried to survive. Getting a job. Paying bills. Sobbing at night. Not thinking of the future.
About six months after my husband passed, I had a conversation with my newest agent. He noted that all of my thrillers had moving love stories in them and suggested I try romance.
Changing genres wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I was barely keeping it together. At first, getting back to writing was a chore, and then somehow it became therapeutic. I researched the current romance market, noting the genre’s requirements—the emotional build, HEA or HFN. My husband and I had traveled a lot. One of the places we went was Oregon. I loved its lush beauty. I started to plot a story I called Lady Love about a sheep rancher and a homeless poet who needs a job. The more I wrote, the funnier the story became. My first romantic comedy. I finished it in record time and sent it off to my agent.
He received it on a Friday and submitted it that same day. On Monday of the following week, an editor at Kensington called him, wanting to purchase it. When I spoke with her later in the week, she asked me if I had any more manuscripts. I sold two more that day.
I couldn’t stop smiling or crying, wondering what my husband would have said if he’d been there physically to witness our success. I owed so much to him, mostly his unfailing belief in my talent.
I did quite a few romantic comedies for Kensington, along with some historicals. I then moved on to racier plots with their Brava line. By then, I was getting into the swing of things, discovering my footing, knowing what I wanted to write.
Next, I moved into erotic romance. For the uninitiated, erotic romance is not erotica. Erotica deals with a woman’s (or man’s) sexual journey. That is what’s important. Not the love or the romance. Erotic romance, on the other hand, is no different from sweet romance except that the sex scenes are more explicit. There’s still an HEA and tons of passion.
My erotic novels have won numerous accolades from Book of the Year to a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. I’ve been a finalist and placed in many RWA (Romance Writers of America) competitions.
The judges, my fans and reviewers have often said that the emotional build within my stories is what impressed them the most. The erotic nature of the plot was secondary to the romance. Many of them have said I made them smile, sigh, cry and they wished the book could have gone on forever.
“Don’t hold back,” my TA had said.
“Do you want this or not?” my husband had asked.
I can’t recall a time when I didn’t pursue it, even unknowingly. For those of you just starting out, trust me, publishing isn’t for the faint of heart. For every overnight success like what happened with the Twilight series, there are those of us who toil for years, sometimes decades before seeing any results.
We don’t write because we want to. We write because we have to. It’s as much a part of our DNA as our hair and eye color. Without it, we wouldn’t be who we are.
I’ve now embarked on a number of series in both contemporary erotic romance and paranormal. I haven’t decided my next step after that. You’ll have to stay tuned. ☺
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.