My first post!

First…I’d like to thank the authors of Contemporary Romance Café for their warm welcome! I’m looking forward to being a part of such a creative and giving group!

Time for my first post!

Whenever I think of a writer I admire, the first name that pops into my mind is Hannah Howell.

Since my stories tend to be contemporary romances, I have a hard time reading that genre. I spend more time critiquing than I do simply enjoying the story. As a result, when I need a break and a chance to escape into a book, I choose historical romances—especially Regencies or anything about Scotland.

Sandy James and Hannah HowellOne day several years back, I stumbled across Highland Destiny while browsing Amazon. Figuring I’d give it a shot, I ordered it. Once it arrived, I set it aside on my far-too-large TBR pile and promptly forgot it for a few months.

I can’t really remember what made me pick it up again, but I did. After two pages, I was hooked. I devoured the story, immediately went to Amazon and ordered more in the series. Hannah’s books were like crack, and I was an addict.

But her incredible talent at storytelling is only one reason I admire her. I discovered she’s recently celebrated her twenty-fifth anniversary of publishing her first book. To have a career that has weathered so many changes in the industry speaks volumes about her creativity, her tenacity, and her ability to adapt to the shifting marketplace.

Highland DestinyHer flagship series involved the Murray family, and it begins with Highland Destiny. Her next entry—Highland Master—releases in November and will be the nineteenth in the series. And of course I’ve already pre-ordered it…

Aside from her amazing writing talent, Hannah is such a down-to-earth lady. She is active on Facebook, often befriending newbie authors and giving them encouragement. I say this with authority because she began following me when she first joined the social media site a few years back. She actually asked me to be her “friend”! Talk about a fan/writer’s dream!

We actually met for the first time when I went to RWA Nationals in Dallas. In the same way most first-timers are when they walk into the Literacy Signing event, I was in awe to see so many of the writers I enjoy and admire sitting there and greeting people as they signed their books. I immediately hurried to Hannah’s table.

In my mind, I had this vision of Nora Roberts. Not sure why, but I assumed (ah, the mistake so many of us make) that Hannah would be urban chic. When I saw her, I just stopped and gawked. Before me was the sweetest, kindest looking woman with long, brown-gray hair, thick glasses, and a warm smile.

I blinked a few times and finally got up the nerve to speak. “You’re Hannah Howell?”

She nodded.

“No, really… You’re Hannah Howell?” Then I remember the manners my mother tried to drill into me and introduced myself, adding that I was her biggest fan.

She signed two books for me and then instead of dismissing me, she pointed to my “First Sale” ribbon and asked about my book. Since there was no one else in line at the time, we talked for several minutes, and she appeared genuinely interested in my growing career.

Flash forward to the next RWA Conference, and this time, we talked several different times—at the Literacy Signing, in the hall, when I caught her sneaking a smoke. And since then, we see each other every year at RWA when we both attend. But thanks to Facebook, we “talk” all the time! She’s always the first to congratulate me on any new development and also the first to be there to pat my back before kicking my butt back into gear whenever I’m discouraged.

So…the writer I admire most is the fantabulous Hannah Howell for many reasons. I hope my career is half as successful as hers has been.


My first post! — 15 Comments

  1. Welcome to the Cafe, Sandy. We’re glad to have you here. I share your admiration of Hannah Howell–though I didn’t know anything about her other than that her books are fun to read. I’m glad to know more.

  2. Great story, Sandy! No when somebody asks me for a recommendation for a historical romance, I’ll know who to suggest. By the way, I totally agree that the contemporary Romance Café ladies are incredibly kind and friendly.

  3. Great story, Sandy–I seem to remember feeling much the same way the first time I met you at your book signing at B&N in Greenwood. I was so excited, my husband nearly had to tug in my kite string! Also felt just as much excitement the first time I met Liz Flaherty! One of the best parts about being a writer is meeting and getting to know other writers!

  4. So glad to have you onboard here at the Cafe, Sandy. Love this story about you meeting Hannah, and developing an ongoing connection with her. I’m constantly amazed by the support and encouragement I’ve received from fellow writers. Love to hear stories of others experiencing the same. BTW awesome photo of you and Hannah!

  5. Welcome to the Cafe, Sandy. We’re really happy to have you here!

    What a lovely story about meeting Hannah, one of your author favorites, and then becoming friends. I’m writing Hannah Howell’s name in my book along with several other new-to-me authors I’ve come across this month. Thanks for the recommendation!

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