Honorary Heartlette – Eileen Rendahl

April 6, 2008 at 8:28 am | Posted in Eileen Rendahl, Honorary Heartlette, romance, writing | 7 Comments

Riding the Romance Rollercoaster


I’ve had the opportunity twice in the past few months to stand in front of a group of people and talk about my life as a romance writer. Both talks ended up being a little tour of the highs and lows of life as an author. After giving them, the thing that really struck me was how high the highs seemed and how low the lows felt and the dizzying ride in between. It’s been a veritable rollercoaster ride.


Unfortunately, I hate rollercoasters.


I’ve never liked that terrifying feeling that I’m going to fall off the edge of the tracks. I detest the way my stomach drops as the train rushes down and I loathe having the G forces pull my cheeks back. It doesn’t thrill me. It makes me dizzy and frankly, a little nauseous.


Looking over my writing career gives me the same results.


I remember the day my agent called to tell me I had a two-book deal from Pocket Books with their new Downtown Press line with the same amount of detail that I remember the birth of my first child (have no fear, I won’t recount that to you right now although you should know it involves a car battery on a motorcycle trickle charger, a taxi cab doing about 90 miles per hour down the Eisenhower Expressway at one in the morning and has moments of great hilarity). It was a dizzying climb up an unimaginable peak with nothing but the sky before me. It was thrilling. It was exhilarating. It made me glad that I’d done those Kegel exercises because it was so scary I was afraid I was going to wet my pants.


Unfortunately, I can also describe to you what it’s like to find out that my most recent release has a print run so low that my career might be over. I can describe how the blood rushed from my head and my stomach dropped two stories. Honestly, it’s not like there were a lot of years between those two events and in between there were a lot of hairpin curves and surprises.


This business is like that. Sub-genres (and sub sub sub sub-genres) come and go. Trends peak and crash.  It’s unpredictable. It’s maddening. It’ll give you whiplash if you’re not careful.


So, I had to ask myself, why am I still doing it?


I found the answer, as we authors so often do, in the writing. Loving writing was what got me into this business in the first place. To extend the metaphor a little further, it had been my ticket to get on the ride in the first place. I decided to try something new, something different. I decided to push myself to learn something new and dare myself to put it out there. I started writing a dark, gritty romantic suspense. If you’ve read my light, flirty, funny chick lit, you can understand why this was such a big change.


It was a little scary, but it was so much fun! I was writing it for the pure pleasure of writing. I was writing it for me. I didn’t even tell my agent about it until I had three chapters and a synopsis.


She was a little surprised when I told her about it, but – bless her heart – didn’t let me know if she was dubious about it. She read it and she told me to write more.


I didn’t think my editor would like it, but we sent it to her first as a courtesy and I ended up with a new book contract with an editor that I love at a well-respected publishing house.


So here I am, chugging back up the big hill of the rollercoaster ride. My romantic suspense, UNTHINKABLE, will come out in March of 2009. Will it be my breakout book? Will I keep climbing higher and higher up the track? Or will it tank? Will I take a precipitous drop around the next corner?


I don’t know. It scares the bejeesus out of me, but I’m still doing it. I get sick to my stomach and I shake. Here’s the thing though, I could totally get off this rollercoaster. Trust me, I am well aware that there are people waiting in line dying for my spot on the ride, but I’m not going anywhere. I like the ticket too much. They’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.





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  1. Eileen,

    Thank you so much for joining us today! I was so inspired by your post — to stay committed to the writing through the ups and downs, to be prepared to ride out the bumps and twists and turns, but to also make the most out of the ride. I have heard other writers talk about having to reinvent themselves over time, but as much as it may come about as a result of market pressures they have all embraced change as a chance for personal and professional growth. It sounds like UNTHINKABLE was a new and exciting but also natural next step for you and I am so excited to hear about it. May 2009 seems so far away, but I already look forward to its release! Thanks again for sharing some insight with us on your very own writer’s journey!

  2. You’re so welcome, Jessica! Being able to keep doing new things is one of the best things about being an author. I honestly hope I’m still doing this when I’m 80.

  3. Eileen, what a great reminder of how little — and how much — we’re in control of in this business. The writing is everything!


  4. Eileen – Thank you so much for your visit and perspective. As silly as this probably sounds, it is nice to know that the frightening feelings (for thousands of different reasons) around writing are universal. Sometimes you get so trapped by my own fears, I forget that they’re not only unique, but not unique at all.

  5. Would you describe your ride…before getting an agent as that long slow ride up the first hill? Or perhaps only the long line you had to wait on before even getting on the ride?

    Sometimes that’s how I feel. Like i’m waiting [with my laptop and foldup canvas seat] on a line for the real ride to happen. But I get excited whenever the line moves… And the writing helps keep me busy. 😀 Thanks for sharing. Wishing you lots of ups.

  6. Thanks for sharing your insights, Eileen. It’s a great reminder that no matter what, we write because that’s what we enjoy.

  7. I think the fears, etc., are universal. I think sometimes we don’t like to talk about them in public for a lot of reasons. Maybe we don’t want to seem ungrateful. Maybe we don’t want people to know that everything isn’t all sunshine and roses.


    Maybe the period before I had an agent was the part where you’re getting in the ride and they’re checking the straps and I, for one, am just praying that they know what they’re doing.

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