What They Mean To Me...

As I had mentioned in last week's post about tonight's Facebook Party (join us from 7:30 - 10:30 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/events/1769646836591549/), each of the guest authors has some significance to me. For the past week and a half, I've been posting on my author page about each of the guests, but I thought I'd pull it all together here. (Note, the posts got shorter as time went on and release day got closer--thank you, Real Life. So don't go reading anything into that, LOL.) In order of appearance at the party, here's the lineup:

7:30 p.m.: Marina Adair Marina is up first because she's one of the first authors I read when I began reading romance, and she pulled me right in.

I, like many others out there, had a skewed view of what a romance novel was. So when I came upon Kissing Under the Mistletoe, the first in Marina's St. Helena Vineyard series, I was utterly delighted and surprised by the amazing heroine, the great cast of characters, and the humor throughout the book. (O.k., yes, Gabe, too. :) ) I devoured each book in the series, albeit slowing down after the first three as I didn't want it to end. Kissing Under the Mistletoe was one of the books that changed my entire outlook about the genre (and, with my first book published today, my actual life).

And then I met Marina in person at the 2015 RWA conference, and she was/is as incredible in person as I had wanted her to be. Not only did she provide encouragement to an as-yet-unsigned author each time she saw me--and remembered me!--during the conference, she has been an incredible support to me since then despite her own hectic schedule. It was an incredible honor that she read my book and gave me a wonderful comment that I've heralded far and wide, and an even more incredible honor that she enthusiastically agreed to be a guest author at my release day Facebook party.

7:50 p.m.: Lisa Marie Perry The next step along the journey to publication was writing something that was actually publishable. (Um, because the first manuscript, at 360K words, was decidedly not.) And, since this was the beginning of Calling It, you are likely well aware that Nate Hawkins, the hero of the book, is a baseball player. Thus a sports romance was born.

Lisa is the author of The Blue Dynasty series, which follows the Las Vegas Slayers football team. One More Night With You, the fifth and last book in the series, was just recommended as a "must-read romance" by USA Today. She has several other novels coming out soon, all of which you can read about on her website. I first (virtually) met Lisa as a member of the incredibly supportive ‪#‎TeamSarah‬, i.e., the group of authors represented by the awesome Sarah E. Younger (Nancy Yost Literary Agency).

8:10 p.m.: Nicole Michaels Guest Author #3 (and CALLING IT Facebook Party co-host) is another ‪#‎TeamSarah‬ member, Nicole Michaels. Nicole is also a fellow contemporary romance writer and the author of the amazing Hearts and Crafts series. (Her latest, Draw Me Close, is getting some rave reviews. Among other things, it was chosen by Amazon as one of the Best Romance Books of the Month in March.)

Nicole, herself is also awesome--without her generosity and support, I truly don't think the Facebook Party would be happening. And that would be so very sad (because it, too, is going to be awesome.)

8:30 p.m.: Adriana Anders I met Adriana at the NJ RWA Conference in 2014--the NJ RWA conference, incidentally, where I pitched to four people, one of whom would become my agent, and one of whom would become my publisher (Carina Press). But neither of those things would have happened if Adriana hadn't been with me when the slot for my agent-to-be became available and, as I sat on the fence (thinking, "I'm not ready! I'm not ready!"), Adriana gave me a push right off ("Are you kidding, girl? Of course you're ready!"). And the rest is history.

Adriana's debut, the first book in her Soucebooks Casablanca series, Blank Canvas, will be out in January 2017.

8:50 p.m.: Jennifer Hallock The next (Facebook Party Guest Author) batter up is Jennifer Hallock. Jennifer is a fellow member of the New England Chapter of the RWA and the author of Under the Sugar Sun and Hotel Oriente, both set in the Phillippines in the early 20th century. Although I am a proud member of the NJ chapter (and that was the first chapter I belonged to), it very quickly became clear that I needed some local peeps. At one of my first ever meetings of the chapter, I had the chance to hang out afterwards with Jennifer and a few others and it was like coming home. I truly could not have been blessed with a more welcoming and supportive crowd, with Jennifer at the helm. (Of course, I seem to find myself saying that with just about every post, but it's true. The romance author community is, I think, one of the best professional communities that there is.)

9:10 p.m.: Melissa Cutler Like Marina Adair and Shannon Stacey, Melissa was one of the authors that pulled me into the genre when I first started reading romance. Her Catcher Creek series is one of my favorites of all time, and I can still vividly recall some of the scenes from those books (which, given that I tend to read at least one book every few days, is saying something). So it felt like fate when I was trolling around the Interwebs and trying to figure out exactly how to go about hosting a Facebook Party that I found a post she'd written detailing that very thing. Having also met her at RWA, I thought I'd take a chance and ask if she'd take part in my release day party--and here we are.

Melissa's latest, One Hot Summer, just came out this week.

9:30 p.m.: Joanna Shupe I met Joanna at one of my first conferences and she has been another amazingly helpful and supportive fellow author (answering questions as basic as, "Um, is there a standard number of lines I'm supposed to have between where I say 'Chapter X' and the first line of the chapter?").

Her debut series, Wicked Deceptions, earned some rave reviews and her second series The Knickerbocker Club, is heading along the same path. (Magnate, the first in the series [available 4/26] has been given starred reviews by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly *and* has been named an RT Book Reviews Top Pick.)

9:50 p.m.: Sheryl Lister Another member of ‪#‎TeamSarah‬, I met Sheryl in person at last year's RWA conference in NYC. As with so many of my fellow authors, she was so incredibly welcoming of me into the group that it felt like I'd come home. (And her love of Canva is catching!) Sheryl writes contemporary and inspirational romance, as well as romantic suspense. Her latest, Tender Kisses, came out in March.

10:10 p.m.: Shannon Stacey And the last, but most definitely not least, is Shannon Stacey. As with Marina Adair and Melissa Cutler, Shannon's books were among the first I read when I started reading romance--and among those that sucked me right in. The extended Kowalski family and their [you name it] of DOOM feels like a part of my own family.

But it's not just the reading of her books, it's also that Shannon has been yet another amazingly supportive author along the way. From her encouraging words after I pitched my book at NJ RWA's Agent/Editor sessions, to her support along the way, it is an incredible honor to be joining her as one of Carina Press's authors.

Shannon has several books out this year, the latest of which is Fully Ignited, the third in the Boston Fire series.

Designated Hitter: Anna Harrington Anna is, yes, another member of ‪#‎TeamSarah‬ (also awesome). I met her at RWA's 2015 conference in NYC, at a reception for NYLA's authors. We headed out for a "quick bite" of pizza and, four hours (and a couple of slices PLUS one conversation about Buffy the Vampire Slayer) later, couldn't deny that we were kindred spirits. And, since that time, she has encouraged, commiserated, supported, and been one of my biggest cheerleaders--i.e., pretty much everything one could hope for in a fellow author and friend.

Anna was recently named All About Romance's Best Debuting Author in 2015.