Finding my Own Guiding Light
January 6, 2023 | By: Tina Sloan | 334
I starred as nurse Lilian Raines on the soap opera the Guiding Light for nearly three decades. That is a long time to hold one job. Typically, when you hold a job for such a long time at one company, you advance up the corporate ladder. After twenty-six years, one would expect you might even be CEO. But working on a soap opera was basically the opposite of that. As the years ticked by, I felt like I was becoming less and less important.
I started my soap opera experience as the sexy young nurse who enjoyed her share of attention. As I got older, my role became smaller as my costumes got larger. This was rather humiliating. I was faced with a choice, do I let my pride take over and leave in a huff or do I stay with the job I loved so much, put my ego to the side, and enjoy every day of work I could. I stayed. Not only was staying the right decision for me but many people who have heard me give talks across the country have told me that my decision to “stay in the room” helped them stay in their various uncomfortable situations.
Starring on a soap opera was always incredibly exciting. Long ago, soap operas were live which made for a lot of excitement. We had to think on our feet. More than acting, it required improvisational skills when things would inevitably go wrong. From dead characters mistakenly jumping to life and technical issues getting in the way of lines, I had to think on my feet at any given moment.
When my tenure at Guiding Light ended, I acted in different movies and television shows and I always wondered what my next guiding light would be. Should I continue to play the grandmother parts and take roles as they came or was there another calling for me?
That is when I discovered my absolute passion for writing. It brought together all of my creativity of acting and improvisation skills, my love of romance, drama, and thrills, and allowed me to be in control of my characters, and my fate.
I cannot believe the pleasure and fulfillment that I get from writing. I started by writing a nonfiction book Changing Shoes about "staying in the game" as you go through life. Changing Shoes added levity to the time of life when one can feel overlooked, clearly based on my experience. I wanted to show women how to stay forever frisky in all areas of life while laughing and admitting my foibles along the way. That book was met with great enthusiasm and became a live show that I wrote and performed across the U.S. and in London.
Then I conceived Cleopatra Gallier in my first romance/thrilled Chasing Cleopatra. Oh, how I love my 40-ish, strong, beautiful, no nonsense heroine. Cleopatra appears to lead a charmed life in Honolulu's paradise. She is impossibly beautiful, clever, wealthy and...trained to kill. When she enters into a love affair with the much younger, irresistibly handsome rogue, Jake Regan, she finds herself colliding with an intricate terrorist plot. Her secret past, like Hawaii's smoldering volcano, is ready to erupt. In the four days leading up to Christmas, two stunning betrayals and a terrorist attack threaten to reduce her and the island she loves to ashes. As Cleopatra's deadly skills are put to the test, she must first untangle the devastating secrets of her past.
Cleopatra will never age out and be diminished. In fact, after my first book, fans were begging for more (thank goodness) and I wrote Chasing Othello to answer their call. In the second in the series, the story unfolds in the deserts of Dubai and the beaches and gardens of Honolulu's paradise. Amidst CIA agents and a family that could explode if Cleopatra's deepest secret comes out, Cleo and a new enemy face each other.
I have always loved the quotation “The real sin is not dying, but living an unused life.” I try to fully live my life every day. From climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to starting an entirely new career headed into my 80s, I am living every moment with as much enthusiasm and vigor as possible. Although there are weeks and even months when I just sleep and have lunch with friends and go out to movies and do nothing. This is such fun, too.
Becoming a romance/thriller novelist has given me a new life through creating all of these new characters and plot lines. I love being able to take those great soap opera-ish moments of “no, she didn’t just do that!” or the wonderful cases of hidden identities revealed and surprise readers with every twist and turn. Most of all, I love writing stories about women aging and becoming an even better version of themselves. I have found my guiding light, not once but twice. I feel very blessed and grateful for that.