Tina Wheeler is a retired teacher and award-winning author who published ten books before fulfilling her dream of writing for Love Inspired Suspense. Although she grew up in a desert, her favorite place to plot a new story is on a balcony overlooking the ocean. She enjoys spending time with her large extended family, brainstorming with writing friends, discovering new restaurants, and traveling with her husband. You can join her newsletter at authortinawheeler.com.
Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!
Tina Wheeler: I was born and raised in Arizona, where I enjoy watching movies with my romantic husband, the Irish Charmer, and playing dress-up or dolls with my adorable granddaughter. I come from a brave military and law enforcement family, but I shudder at the thought of rattlesnakes, tarantulas, Gila monsters and germy housework. That is why I write about couples in danger from the safety of my recliner, although I am proud to say I once held tight to the reins of a spooked bucking horse in the middle of a dust devil and lived to tell the story.
H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?
TW: I always had a feeling that something was missing from my life. Twenty years ago, I was thumbing through a career guidebook with my daughter and found the address for a romance authors’ organization. I decided to give writing a try, and that feeling to pursue a new path went away. I believe God had been guiding me. I write and read romances because the hero and heroine may run from armed men, jump off a cliff into the Amazon River, and hitch a ride on top of a speeding train, but we are guaranteed they will prevail and fall in love by the final page.
H: What were the big steps in your journey to becoming a published author?
TW: First, I became a sponge soaking up everything I could learn from speakers, books, articles, podcasts, conferences, critique partners, contest feedback, Harlequin’s website, and later, their Write for Harlequin Facebook page. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Success came in baby steps with contest finals and wins, requests for my work, and publishing with smaller presses. I chose to self-publish for six years and fully develop my voice.
During the pandemic, I knew I was ready to commit to reaching my goal of publishing with Love Inspired Suspense. They (Steeple Hill) had requested a full manuscript from me before the release of their line’s very first book. Looking back, I know I wasn’t ready then. I am now. Through an online conference, I scheduled pitch sessions with editor Dina Davis and literary agent Tamela Hancock Murray, which led to representation and a publishing contract.
H: What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
TW: An author once told me every writer she knew, who didn’t quit, landed a publishing contract. Don’t give up. Read tons of Harlequin books to find the series that fits your writing style. The new releases will show what the editors are buying. Also, check out everything Harlequin has for writers on their website, especially the guidelines and books recommended on the Editor Wishlists.
H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?
TW: I was meeting with critique partners at a local restaurant that day. After first arriving, I cried while confiding my concerns over a loved one’s medical issues. We were about to leave two hours later when I received “The Call” from my agent. My critique partners quietly applauded in the background. The tears returned, only this time because I was filled with joy. I then called my husband, daughter, and mother to share the good news. I haven’t decided when or how to celebrate yet. I might need the book in my hand to convince myself this is real.
Now let’s hear from Tina’s editor, Dina Davis:
“When I met with Tina at a pitch session for a virtual conference, the high-danger concept of her story, combined with great hooks, immediately grabbed my attention. I was excited to start reading once I received the proposal, and Tina’s voice and edge-of-the-seat suspense sucked me right in. I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on her first Love Inspired Suspense book!”Dina Davis, Associate Editor, Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense