Monday, December 28, 2009

And the winner of the Christmas-theme tote is...

JANE L!! (Please note there was more than one Jane commenting on the site this month; this is JANE L.)

JANE L, you are the winner of December's tote filled with autographed books from all of this month's guest, a copy of my historical romance THE LEGACY, and the $20 gift certificate from! JANE L., you must contact me at my e-mail tjb @ tjbennett DOT com in order to claim your prize by December 31, 2009 (that's a shorter deadline, so don't delay) or I will have to give the prize to another eligible winner.

Well, this has been a great run, folks. We've had some amazing guests on this year--authors I have admired and enjoyed getting to know as much as you have, and had special events such as our summer RITA Extravaganza whereby nearly 50 RITA nominees gave away their books on my blog and told us why they were happy to be nominated for this prestigious award. We also gave away a big basket of looove and found out what our guest authors were thankful for this year.

I hope in the near future to bring you other special events here at IMHO, but the weekly Wednesday guest blogs are going on indefinite hiatus. I'll still introduce you to great authors you should know on an occasional basis, so be sure to bookmark this site, become a follower of the blog, and/or sign up for my newsletter if you want to be in the know and get a chance to win free books and other prizes. And this summer, I plan to travel to the RWA national conference (God willing and the creek don't rise) so you'll get to be a part of the action there. I know I'll meet plenty of wonderful authors and get great books that I can pass along to you as random freebies, hint hint.

In the meantime, I'm going to be focusing on a few other areas of my life that are demanding attention now, and I hope to be able to get back to the regular guest author posts soon. Feel free to browse the archives beginning with Jan 2009 to discover new authors you should know, and check back here periodically to see what's happening.

For now, I'll say, "So Long, Farewell"....

TJ Bennett

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Carrie Lofty!

IMHO would like to welcome our final guest for 2009 (and for the duration, as the guest author segments are taking an indefinite break for a while; but no worries--we'll be back with the occasional special event). Carrie Lofty has visited with us before, and we're delighted to have her back again to close out the year.

Born in California and raised in the Midwest, Carrie found the love of her life in England. Since earning her Master’s in history, she’s been devoted to raising her family and writing romance. Her January release, Scoundrel’s Kiss, featuring a Spanish warrior monk and the troubled woman he’s sworn to protect, is the sequel to her Robin Hood-themed debut, What a Scoundrel Wants. Kathe Robin of Romantic Times says, "Lofty writes adventure romance like a born bard of old." With Ann Aguirre, she also co-writes apocalyptic romance under the name Ellen Connor.

Carrie will put a copy of Scoundrel's Kiss in the Christmas tote for our lucky winner to take home. In the sequel to WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, Meg of Keyworth's troubled sister Ada travels to the Kingdom of Castile. Here's the story synopsis:
When it comes to temptation...

Turning his back on his old life as a rogue, Gavriel de Marqueda has joined a monastic order in Spain and taken a vow of chastity. Before he becomes a monk, he must pass one final test: help a woman who has lost her way. But when he lays eyes on Ada of Keyworth, he is tempted beyond measure by her sultry beauty and dangerous curves...

Rules are meant to be broken...

Far from her home in England, Ada has been battling inner demons for more than a year. When she discovers that her only friend has abandoned her, she has no choice but to grudgingly accept Gavriel's help. But Ada is not fooled. Though Gavriel wears the robes of a monk, Ada sees that he is a virile man who looks at her with a hunger that matches her own--one that begs to be satisfied again and again....

IMHO: Welcome back, Carrie. Tell our readers: What is something you want for Christmas this year?

CL: Well, TJ, all I want for Christmas is…a few days of relaxation and health with my family. Last year was great but not without problems. As we do every other year, we went to England to spend time with my husband's family. We visited Windsor Castle, enjoyed a great family reunion, and took our daughters' to their first panto performance--mine too!

But in the days leading up to The Big Day, my younger daughter needed to go to the emergency room because of dehydration. A bad cold had taken a turn for the worse. At least another dozen families were there in the emergency pediatrics ward, too. I was in pretty sad company: sick kids, anxious parents, harried doctors, and Christmas videos playing on the waiting room television.

Our daughter recovered in time to open her presents with some degree of energy, but it put me in mind of all those other families we'd waited with. That was just one hospital. Around the world, there must be millions of people who spend part of the season in hospitals—the sick or wounded, their loved ones, and their medical professionals. I admire their strength and dedication beyond words. I would be a wreck.

Thus this year, I want a quiet season of health and smiles. My family lives in Northern Indiana and it's "their year," so we'll head that way for at least a few days during the holiday season. I want to watch all of my favorite films: It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Scrooged. My mom always makes us grilled ham and Swiss on rye after the initial glazed ham dinner, which I anticipate almost as much as opening presents. I'm going to take over the responsibility of baking the decorated sugar cookies that used to give me such a thrill as a child. So beautiful and colorful! And my brother and his family will probably bring over Rock Band. I have a love-hate thing for karaoke…

All of this will be so much more wonderful if we're healthy! I have the "happy" part of "healthy and happy" down pat. It's been a good year for me. I love my family, I have a wonderful array of the most supportive friends, and I've been fortunate enough to make a go of this business. No matter what you celebrate during this festive time of year, I wish the same health and happiness to all of you.

IMHO: You know, Carrie, I can get behind that "healthy Christmas" thing this year. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we'll all be there in a couple of days, right? In the meantime, IMHO readers, tell Carrie what your Christmas wish is this year. Not for something material, but something intangible. Peace in the Middle East? Peace in the kids' room? A far away family member to come home for Christmas? What would it be?

Leave a comment for Carrie for a chance to win signed books by Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley, Christie Craig, Carrie Lofty, TJ Bennett, and a $20 gift certificate from Don't forget--to be eligible to win, you must comment on at least one other guest author's post this month as well (the more, the merrier). On December 28, 2009, I'll pick the winner of my Christmas-themed tote. For contest rules, go here.

Good luck!


Friday, December 18, 2009

A little holiday humor!

Hey, folks. Some hilarious holiday humor videos are being posted over on Twitter, and I thought I'd share a couple with you here.

"Can't Wrap This" - with apologies to MC Hammer, no doubt.

And if that wasn't enough, here's the very creative "Silent Singing Monks" with a rather unique approach to performing the "Hallelujah Chorus."

Hope you are having fun with this holiday season, and Merry Christmas to all!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Christie Craig!

Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. (Don't worry. She'll explain that picture in a minute.)

A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone.

Published by Silhouette in the 90s, Christie broke back into fiction in 2006 in a big way, making four book sales in one day. Her seventh humorous single title romance novel, Divorced, Desperate and Deceived (from Dorchester), will hit the stands in June 2010.

Her non-fiction book, co-authored by Faye Hughes, released September 2008, is The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel, and their second non-fiction book, a humorous self-help relationship book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel is scheduled to be released December 2010. Craig’s latest writing adventure is the sale of a young adult paranormal romance series, Bone Creek Camp, that will be published by St. Martin's Press in the near future.

While Christie has learned to laugh at life, it hasn't always been a bed of banana peels. Fellow author Teri Thackston interviewed Christie about her incredible journey from being a dyslexic high school dropout to becoming a prolific and successful author here.

IMHO: Christie, welcome back to IMHO! Wonderful having you here again. This time, though, instead of talking about Valentines and romance, you're talking Christmas. Tell us what you want most out of the season this time of year.

CC: Ah, Christmas. The most beautiful time of the year. The time of giving and of warm hearts. Or as I often refer to it, this is the second time this year that I will end up with my hand up a turkey’s butt. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a Scrooge. I love Christmas.

I love the smells of Christmas—the fresh pine makes my eyes swell and my nose run like a leaky faucet. I’m all into the Christmas music, too. I mean, who doesn’t feel the spirit of the season after getting the song, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," stuck in your head because it’s been played over and over?

The Christmas food—seriously, knowing you’ll gain ten pounds over the next few weeks is so exciting. I adore going to my husband’s Christmas party and meeting all the weird folks he’s complained about all year. And knowing that the other wives are looking at my hubby the same way I’m looking at theirs.

I love the Christmas movies, snuggling on the sofa with a glass of red wine, and watching the ghosts terrorize the stingy ol’ fart. Oh, and I really love walking two miles to get into the mall, in the cold, while it’s raining. And once you finally get there, I adore feeling the real Christmas spirit. There is just something special about seeing two moms wearing red and green sweaters having a fist fight over the last Tickle Me Elmo.

But seriously, I really, really do love Christmas. Why, when I’ve done nothing but complain? Well, I love Christmas because it’s about family. It’s about traditions. I know I’ve whined about those traditions, and while I honestly don’t like cleaning out the innards of a turkey, I love sitting around that dinner table watching everyone enjoy the food I worked so hard to prepare.

I don’t like having to fight the crowds at the mall, but I love watching my family’s eyes light up when they open the gifts—and it’s not the gift’s price tag, it’s the sentimental value of knowing I picked it out just for them. That just maybe I got into a fist fight to get the last one.

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t have to carry around tissues for a week in December to keep my running nose in control. It wouldn’t be Christmas if there wasn’t the music and movies that I’ve seen and heard so many times. It wouldn’t be December if I didn’t have too many baby spinach quiches or those tiny barbequed wieners forced upon me.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t hear the merry laughter of children hoping their mom wins the fist fight so they’ll get the Tickle me Elmo.

Christmas and all the traditions aren’t perfect. They can drive us crazy if we let them, but I suggest you do what I do. Take a deep, pine-scented breath and through allergy-stricken eyes, view the craziness of this holiday with humor. Laugh. Laugh loud and laugh often. And more importantly, remember that the real meaning of this crazy hectic time is about love. It’s about family. Enjoy it and embrace those in your life. Merry Christmas!

IMHO: Thanks, Christie.  Why don't you tell our IMHO readers which book you are putting into the Christmas tote today?

CC: A signed copy of Divorced, Desperate and Deceived, which I guarantee will help you laugh your way through the holiday stress—so make sure you leave a comment.

IMHO: Good choice! Publishers Weekly says of Divorced, Desperate and Deceived, "The action only stops long enough for steamy passion in this fast-paced conclusion to Craig’s contemporary romance trilogy (after 2008’s Divorced, Desperate and Dating)...Craig keeps the sexual tension as high as the suspense..."

Leave a comment for Christie for a chance to win DDD as well as signed books by Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley, Christie Craig, Carrie Lofty, TJ Bennett, and a $20 gift certificate from We all know we love this time of year...but secretly there are a few things we probably think we could live without. Let Christie know what your least-favorite part of the holidays is (bah-humbug!). Don't forget--to be eligible to win, leave a comment for at least one other guest author this month as well (the more, the merrier).



Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Why my blood pressure was 149/84 today...

1. Had my day planned. Knew I'd be busy, but I figured if I got ready by 9:45am, I could make my doctor's appointment (surgeon's follow up) at 11am easily, then head over to pick up Twin #1 from school for his appointment (physical therapy) at 1:15pm. No worries.

2. At 9:40am, I suddenly realized I had neglected to do any promotion for today's guest host on my blog. Ack! I hastily made the rounds, posting on all the loops, but because I'd shut down my computer last night instead of going stand-by, had to look up the log-ins for the five different reader forums I post in as well. Clock ticking: 10:10am by the time I get done. No problem. I can still get ready and be out by 10:45am, just enough time to get there about 5 mins late. That's okay--doctors nefariously run late, right?

3. As I'm about to walk out the door, 10:46am, I receive a call from Twin #2 at school, who claims to be having "severe stomach pains," and can I come get him? No, I can't. Not right now, because I'm late for my appointment and it is too late to cancel. The ensuing discussion leaves me with only 15 mintues to make a 20 min trip. I can still do this. I think.

4. Just as I'm nearing the intersection where I must turn to go to my doctor's office, my cell phone rings. It is the nurse at Twin #2's school. Drat, I think, maybe he's barfed all over someone. As the nurse repeats to me the EXACT SAME STORY Twin #2 told me five minutes ago, and asks if I can come get him, and I tell her the EXACT SAME STORY I told him, no I can't, I miss my turn. Must go all the way around the block to get back. I quickly call the doctor's office--gonna be 10 mins late. Except, because I hit EVERY FREAKING RED LIGHT IN AMERICA, I'm actually 15 mins late, but they take me anyway.

5. 12:15pm--I call Twin #2's school and am told he is still feeling bad--but not so bad he decided to skip lunch--and he's back in the nurse's office. So, even though I have to go through the drive-thru for Twin #1's lunch because I ran out of time to make him anything, I don't have to buy Twin #2 anything. This is good. I get in the long line at J in the B, and have just enough time to get over to the school to pick up BOTH my kids at 12:45pm.

BUT...on the way to Twin #1's PT, I decide to make a quick pitstop at CVS Pharmacy because I am convinced Twin #2 just has gas (which I told the school nurse, but whatever). "Stay in the car. I'm setting the alarm. Don't open the doors. This will only take a minute!" I race inside, pick up some Gas-X and go to the counter to buy it. I give the saleslady my CVS bucks coupon for a discount. She says, "I need your card number." I don't have it, so I give her my phone number. "You're not in my system." "Of course I am--how did I get the CVS coupon mailed to my home as a card-carrying member of the CVS coupon club if I'm not in your system?" She insists I'm not, I insist I am, and a Mexican Standoff ensues--until I hear my car alarm go off outside and realize one of the boys has gotten out of the car. It's Twin #2, of course, and he says over the blaring alarm after running inside, "I gotta go to the bathroom!" I hit the alarm key button, pay the lady full price, and race out to check on Twin #1 while Twin #2 races to the bathroom. Then I race to the bathroom to hurry Twin #2 along since we still have to make the PT appointment at 1:15pm.

6. We hop into the car while I shovel Gas-X into Twin #2. We get to the PT appointment right on time, and Twin #1 goes in while I wait with Twin #2 in the waiting room. Miraculously, after 30 mins (a time period in which I cannot call Twin #2's doctor to make an appointment because they are at lunch), he begins to feel better. It was, after all, just gas.

7. Despite having eaten lunch, after Twin #1's PT, Twin #2 wants a hamburger. And since Twin #2 is having one, Twin #1 wants another cheeseburger. Back to J in the B. Back to school at 2:20pm to drop both kids off for the rest of the school day.

8. 2:30pm Head to the music shop where my kids have music lessons to pay tuition fees for the month. Have long, intense discussion with music tutor about whether the kids are ready to play in a quartet in public next week. I think they're not ready--the quartet, not my kids--she says they are. She's insulted that I doubt her, but we agree if we can squeeze in another practice, I and the kids will feel better about the fact that the fourth member in the quartet sounds like she's playing with her feet, not her hands.

9. 3:00pm, off to the drug store to pick up my multiple prescriptions for my various advancing middle-agedness.

10. 4:25pm Sitting and waiting for Twin #1 to come home so I can whisk him off to the haircutter's while Twin #2 stays late for tutoring in math, which he is barely passing, at school. Twin #1 looks like a homeless person with a nappy head and I've been trying to drag him to the hair cutter for three weeks now. I will no longer give him a choice. I'm to go pick up Twin #2 by 5pm if I can get Twin #1 in and out of the hair cutter's by then. Twin #1 was supposed to have been home 5 mins ago, so naturally, he's late. I drop Twin #1 off, race to school to get Twin #2, race back and overtip the haircutter for watching my kid while I was gone.

11: 9:15pm I won't even tell you how the rest of the evening went, but it involves--among other things--banning the kids from all social media until they finish the homework they swore they didn't have. Twin #1 is still working on his as bedtime ticks past.

So, now you know why my blood pressure was 149/84 (high) today. Is it just me, or does anyone else have days like this on a regular basis (which is what I do)?



IMHO welcomes Jennifer Ashley!

Jennifer Ashley is the award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels and novellas, writing as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James, and several others. She writes, among other things, pararnormal and historical romance, and probably has more pen names than Jayne Ann Krentz. To see them all, and find out what else she writes, check out her bio.

In her spare time (what spare time?), Jennifer likes to hike, play guitar, read, and spend time with her husband and insane cats. More about Jennifer's books can be found on her websites: and

Jennifer's newest release is an anthology, A CHRISTMAS BALL, which last week's guest, contributing author Emily Bryan, has already placed in our Christmas-themed tote bag. So, Jennifer will put two of her backlist in the tote for our lucky winner: THE DRAGON MASTER, by Allyson James (Book 3 in the DRAGON series), and a hardback edition of THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE (Book 1 in the HIGHLAND PLEASURE series), by Jennifer Ashley.

I highly recommend LORD IAN for its unusual dark hero. Jennifer is the only one I know who can make a hero who apparently has Asperger's Syndrome sexy, as well as intriguing, edgy, and truly heroic. Booklist says LORD IAN is "a deliciously dark and delectably sexy story of love and romantic redemption that will captivate readers with its complex characters and suspenseful plot."

Her next release, PRIDE MATES, will be in stores February 2010.

IMHO: Welcome to IMHO, Jennifer. We're talking about our theme, "All I Want for Christmas is...", so fill in the blank for us, would you?

JA: Sure, TJ. All I want for Christmas is: The warm, colorful traditions that make up a Southwest desert Christmas.

For most people, Christmas means snow and ice, evergreens, fires on the hearth, and a cozy Christmas dinner in the warm dining room, while the world grows white outside.

What I have is cactus, palm trees, cook-outs, and snow once a decade, if that (and then it doesn’t stick).

And I love it. Christmas to me means luminarias (paper sacks with lit candles inside), tamales on Christmas Eve, stringing lights on the cactus and palm trees, going hiking on Christmas Day, Christmas dinner on the patio. Because the weather is usually clear and calm, it’s perfect for lighting displays, and people around here really go for it.

Some of the best traditions of a Southwest Christmas involve, of course, food! I sometimes make tamales myself (savory ones with meat and chiles), though Mexican eateries provide yummy ones to order.

Another favorite of mine are anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico called biscochitos. I include the recipe below. (Warning: They are addicting!)

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds (less anise is more—you can overdo it)
2 eggs
1/4 cup brandy (optional)

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Beat sugar and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add anise and beat in eggs. Add brandy (optional) and beat. In a separate bowl, combine or sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add flour mixture and combine until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.

Chill dough for one hour. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking OR roll hot baked cookies in the bowl of cinnamon sugar.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
So while we do decorate Christmas trees and sing “Let it Snow” (why, I don’t know—it ain’t gonna snow), we also toss back our eggnog by the pool and enjoy red and green tortilla chips in toasty hot salsa.

And me personally? Well, I’m mostly writing books! I squeeze in Christmas cheer between chapters!

IMHO: Yummy post, Jennifer. Now I'm hungry. Think I'll go try out that cookie recipe! In the meantime, IMHO readers, why don't you share with Jennifer the answer to this question:

What unusual Christmas traditions do you and yours celebrate?

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win this month's Christmas-themed tote containing signed books by Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley, Christie Craig, Carrie Lofty, TJ Bennett, and a $20 gift certificate from Remember, the more authors' posts you comment on this month, the better your chances of winning. See my contest rules here.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Snow in Houston!

A nice (and very unusual) Christmas surprise...snow in Houston. Thereby begging the question:  Is Hell officially frozen over now?

The view from my deck:


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Emily Bryan!

Well, December and the holidays are upon us, and it's time for this month's themed giveaway, "All I Want for Christmas is...".  Don't you just love this time of year?

My first guest this month is Emily Bryan, award-winning author of light-hearted historical romances. Emily learned much of what she knows about writing from singing. A classically trained soprano, she gleaned the elements of storytelling while performing operatic roles. She describes her light-hearted stories as "Gilbert & Sullivan . . . with sex!" Emily’s books have been translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Spanish. She and her husband have lived in nine different states, but she now makes her home in the heart of New England.

Emily will put a signed copy of her anthology with Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson, A CHRISTMAS BALL, in the Christmas-themed tote bag full of books and goodies for one lucky person to win. Library Journal says "My Lady Below Stairs"  (Emily's novella) is "worthy of Shakespeare!" A CHRISTMAS BALL has spent 8 weeks on the top 100 romance sellers list on Bookscan. Emily invites anyone wanting to buy a signed copy at 10% off to follow this link.

IMHO: Emily, welcome back to IMHO. It's great having you here again. Now, you've approached this month's theme from your heroine's perspective. Can you share with us why?

EB: Thanks so much for having me here today, TJ. As the Christmas season approaches, I always try to keep in mind that the simple things are what really matter. A child’s smile, the look on my DH’s face when I take fresh cookies from the oven, or time spent with the family doing nothing in particular except enjoying each other. It’s a season of giving without thought of receiving, of love without deserving it, and of grace.

In A CHRISTMAS BALL, my scullery-maid heroine Jane needs to realize that love can’t be earned. It’s given freely or it’s not love.

In the short excerpt below, Jane is masquerading as her well-born half sister at Lord Hartwell’s Christmas Ball, where she is supposed to accept a proposal from a viscount. Ian, the well-muscled head groom who wants her, decides to crash the party to try to stop her.

**Excerpt from "My Lady Below Stairs" from A CHRISTMAS BALL**

“Ian, what do you think you’re doing here?”

“For a bright girl, Janie, ye’re a bit daft this evening. I’m looking at you, of course.” Ian’s hot gaze traveled down her form and back to meet her eyes again. “Ye’re well worth looking at, lassie, all flushed and rosy. Ye should wear red all the time.”

“Never mind that.” She stepped closer to him so no one would overhear them. A solid whiff of sandalwood emanated from his fine clothes, along with his own masculine scent. “How did you get that suit?”

“Same way ye got what ye’re wearing.” He folded his arms across his broad chest and leaned toward her to whisper. “I borrowed it.”

“That much I figured.” She whispered back, so she had to move even closer. Or was he drawing her in? “From whom?”

“Weel, it was more trouble than I expected. I counted on being able to waylay one of these dandies hereabouts. These fancy gents are on the puny side and I didn’t see any whose clothes I thought I could fit into for the longest time,” he said, clearly enjoying stringing out the tale. “Then I remembered that Lord Hartwell is a goodly-sized fellow—“

“Oh, Ian!” Jane’s stomach turned a back-flip. “Tell me you did not steal from the marquess.”

“Borrow,” he corrected. “Borrow from the marquess.”

“Borrow, then you stupid, big Scot.” Jane suppressed the desire to pound his chest beneath the messily tied cravat. “Why would you do such a thing?”

The musicians started a yearning tune in three-quarter time. Ian’s eyes darkened as he looked at her.

“Maybe I wanted to dance with ye, love.”

His husky voice sent a shiver over her. Very slowly, he slid a hand along the side of her waist, the silk of her gown rustling, almost purring, beneath his touch. Ian took her hand and the fight sizzled out of her.

“Waltz with me, Jane.”

IMHO: What a fun post, Emily! Thanks. I know as a fellow historical romance author, getting the details of your story's time period right is very important. What happens to what you can't use?

EB: Well, I had to do a good bit of research of Regency Christmases for this story and just for fun, I’ve posted 6 bonus CHRISTMAS BALL pages on my website . You can find them by clicking on the fancy Christmas balls on my main pages.

IMHO: Okay, IMHO readers. Tell Emily, if you could have anything for Christmas, (no limits whatsoever, on money, time, or distance) what would it be? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win this month's Christmas-themed tote containing signed books by Emily, Jennifer Ashley, Christie Craig, Carrie Lofty, TJ Bennett, and a $20 gift certificate from


Monday, November 30, 2009

And the winner of the "Giving Thanks" tote bag is...

Carolsnotebook! Congratulations, carolsnotebook, you are the winner of the "Giving Thanks" tote bag filled with signed books from this month's guest hosts Sherry Thomas, Tracy Madison, Jessica Trapp, and Anthea Lawson; an autographed copy of my historical romance, THE PROMISE; and a $20 gift card from Barnes and Noble. You have until December 7, 2009, to claim your prize by sending me an e-mail at tjb @ tjbennett DOT com, or I'll have to select another eligible winner.

With December's arrival, I have my final giveaway contest of the year beginning this Wednesday, December 2, 2009. For December, we'll have some returning guests (Emily Bryan, Christie Craig, and Carrie Lofty), and one new guest (Jennifer Ashley) visiting with us.

You'll enjoy reading about December's theme as these authors put their spin on "All I Want for Christmas is...". And, of course, there are always goodies to be had, too. I'll be giving away a Christmas-themed tote bag to one lucky winner on December 28, 2009. The winner will receive signed books by the authors, an autographed copy of my historical romance, THE LEGACY, and a $20 gift certificate from

So be sure to stop by every Wednesday in December and visit with "Authors You Should Know" for a chance to win the tote.

This is another great lineup! Feel free to pass this announcement on to reader groups, booksellers, librarians, and anyone else who loves free autographed books.

December's Lineup:

December 2, 2009: Emily Bryan, author of light-hearted historical romance.
December 9, 2009: Jennifer Ashley, USA Today bestselling author of paranormal and historical romance.
December 16, 2009: Christie Craig, Photojournalist, speaker, and author of humorous romantic suspense.
December 23, 2009: Carrie Lofty, author of unusual historical romance.

It will be a wonderful month at IMHO, so be sure to join us! Contest rules will be up on my website soon.

Good luck!

TJ Bennett
THE LEGACY (AAR Desert Isle Keeper and "Buried Treasure 2008")
When secrets destroy, can love live on?
THE PROMISE (RT 4 stars! Eye on Romance TOP PICK!)
In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And the winner of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag is ...

Linda Henderson! Congratulations, Linda Henderson, you are the winner of our special Thanksgiving Day giveaway. You have until December 3 to claim your prize by sending an e-mail to me at tjb @ tjbennett DOT com.

What, you might ask, do you win in this awesome bag? Autographed copies of the books featured below (subject to changes pending receipt of books from the authors): You can click on the cover of each book to learn more. I hope you enjoyed the authors' wonderful words of thankfulness.

Remember, everyone else, if you didn't win this tote bag, you're still playing for the second tote bag prize of the month, our "Giving Thanks" tote filled with signed books from this month's guest hosts, an autographed copy of my historical romance, THE PROMISE, and a $20 gift card from Barnes & Noble. You have until November 29 to comment on our authors' posts and then I will award the prize on November 30.

I'd like to add my words of thankfulness now, too. I am thankful foremost for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who keeps me walking every day when I'd rather lie face down on the ground, howling like a baby. I'm thankful for my sons, who are brilliant and handsome, and my husband, who is the same. I'm thankful for my siblings and for my parents, who taught their kids how to love before they passed on.

I'm thankful for all my friends in and out of the writing community, and for my mentors who have shared their wisdom with me in the publishing industry. I'm thankful for my critique groups, past and present: the Four F's and the Midwives, who are the sharpest, most intelligent, and most fun gals to be around a writer could hope for.

 And I'm thankful for you, my readers: first to the IMHO crowd, who keeps coming back each week and is willing to try new authors just because I said so; and then to those of you who have read my novels and told a friend they were worth the read.

THANK YOU ALL!!! Now, back to the turkey...

TJ Bennett

THE LEGACY (AAR Desert Isle Keeper and "Buried Treasure 2008")
When secrets destroy, can love live on?
THE PROMISE (RT 4 stars! Eye on Romance TOP PICK!)
In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Anthea Lawson!

Anthea Lawson is the pseudonym for a husband-wife team who writes spicy Victorian romance. Romantic Times Book Reviews said of their debut novel, PASSIONATE, in which James Huntington leads artist Lily Strathmore and her eccentric, lovable family in search of a fabled bloom, "an offbeat adventure romance…readers will enjoy the wordplay and intriguing characters as they search for a mysterious plant." PASSIONATE was nominated for a Best First Book RITA in 2009.

Their newest book, ALL HE DESIRES, is being called "luscious," "sweeping," and "a powerful love story."  In DESIRES, a self-exiled physician meets the only woman who can bring him from darkness into the light. Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “This husband-and-wife team’s second novel sweeps from the shores of Crete to the streets of London… readers will enjoy the characters and the beautiful descriptions in this nice tale.” Coffeetime Romance says, "[The reviewer] find this to be a wonderful example of historical romance. Ms. Lawson tells a powerful love story and draws the reader in within the first chapter. This tale comes with a high recommendation from this reviewer.”

Musicians as well as writers, the two have recorded many CDs, including several with their Celtic band Fiddlehead (follow the link to hear a sample). They invite you to find them on FaceBook (Anthea Lawson), follow them on Twitter (AntheaLawson) and visit their website for all their latest news!

IMHO: Welcome, Anthea and Lawson. Thank you both for being here today. What is it you are thankful for this year?

AL: Thank you, TJ, for having us here at IMHO. We hope that everyone has a marvelous Thanksgiving, with plenty of time for reading!

There are many layers of thankfulness. We are thankful for health and family, for a sun break on a cloudy November day, for the often unrecognized bounty that surrounds each and every one of us. There are also things we are specifically thankful for as authors – the fact that our books are published, that we are part of a team writing together, that our debut novel was nominated for a best first book RITA. But there’s one thing we are absolutely, humbly grateful for, above all.

Our readers.

Like the one who sent us e-mail at 4am because she had stayed up all night to finish the book and couldn’t wait to tell us how moved by it she had been. The one who stopped at page 117 to write us a quick note because she was enjoying the story so much. The ones who take the time to write and post reviews that are beautiful pieces of writing in their own right.

Authors get their books out there, and then they hope. They hope that the stories move and delight readers. They hope that others will be as swept away as they were by the hero and heroine’s journey, feel the emotions, and bring the characters to life through the magic of the imagination. Getting published isn't the goal, it’s just a step toward the real goal – reaching readers’ hearts.

So, for everyone who has ever loved a book, gotten swept away to another world and let the story transport you – you are the reason we write.

Thank you.

IMHO: Wonderfully said, and a lovely way to wind up the month.

Okay, IMHO readers, let's make this one an easy one. Who does the cooking in your house for Thanksgiving? You? Your spouse? Your mother-in-law? Honey Baked Ham? And what is the favorite all-time dish that person(s) makes?

Leave a comment until November 29, 2009, for Anthea Lawson and at least one other guest host this month for a chance to win the "Giving Thanks" tote bag full of love on November 30, 2009. The winner will receive signed books by all of this month's guest authors: Sherry Thomas, Tracy Madison, Jessica Trapp, and Anthea Lawson; an autographed copy of my historical romance, THE PROMISE; and a $20 gift card from Barnes and Noble. Rules for the contest can be found at my website's contest page.

Remember, Thanksgiving Day I'll announce the winner of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote. It's turning out to be a fantabulous tote bag of love, with signed books from (as of this writing) previous 2009 guests Colleen Thompson, Kim Lenox, Lisa Marie Wilkinson, Trish Albright, Karen Young, and Kim Frost, as well as signed books from authors Michelle Dunaway and Kylie Brant (contents of the tote subject to change). All comments received on any post by November 25 are eligible to win.
Whatever bag our winners receive, they'll have plenty to give thanks for, that's fer shur. Good luck!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And once again...thankful thankfulness!

As mentioned in last week's post, we finish up today with messages of thankfulness from some of IMHO's 2009 guest hosts, culminating in the awarding of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag prize on November 26, 2009, Thanksgiving Day. Here are more wonderful messages from the authors. Be sure to comment by November 25 for a chance to win. I'll announce the final contents of the tote and the winner of the tote on November 26.
Kim Lenox
The men and women who have served in the past, and who are currently serving in the US Armed Forces, at home and abroad. Especially for my "little" brother the Major, who will be spending his Thanksgiving at Camp Victory, Bagdad.

Kim Lenox
Shadow Guards #2: So Still the Night
May 2009, Signet Eclipse

Lynda Hilburn
I'm thankful that I live in a gorgeous place (Colorado). I'm thankful that I get to work in all the different areas I love (psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, intuitive arts). I'm thankful I get to sing professionally because it's so much fun. I'm thankful for my wonderful son and my two furry grandchildren. I'm thankful I sold two novels and that my writing future looks bright.
Lynda Hilburn
Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance: "Blood Song"
March 2009, Running Press

Jean Brashear 
I am daily grateful for my life--my family, my friends, my readers, the joy of doing something I love as a career--but this year, I'm especially grateful that the love of my life has survived a bout with cancer with a very hopeful prognosis. My special thanks to the medical professionals who played a part and to all those whose prayers did, I am positive, surround us with love and healing light.

Jean Brashear
The Man She Once Knew
Harlequin Superromance
October 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful is as thankful does...

As mentioned in a previous post, we continue today with messages of thankfulness from some of IMHO's 2009 guest hosts, culminating in the awarding of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag prize on November 26, 2009, Thanksgiving Day. Here are more wonderful messages from the authors. Be sure to comment by November 25 for a chance to win.
Kathryn Albright

I am so very thankful to have my three boys with me for the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time in six years! Two of my sons have spent it with "Uncle Sam" of late and this is the first time they will both be out of the armed forces and home for the holidays. I plan to make all their favorite dishes. Can't wait to get a "never-ending" hug from my youngest--those are the best hugs and I've really missed them.

Kathryn Albright
Texas Wedding for their Baby's Sake ~ Sept. 2009
Harlequin Historicals
Catherine Kean

Thanksgiving reminds me how lucky I am to have a loving, supportive family and a wonderful network of friends. I’m also extremely grateful for my readers, especially those who decided to try out a newer author and bought my books. Being able to spend my days with my characters, bringing their adventures of love to life, is a privilege and I say “thank you” to everyone who has helped me on my writing journey.

Catherine Kean
A Knight's Temptation ~ April 2009
Medallion Press

I'm thankful for family, friends and good health, of course, but beyond that, I'm thankful that I took the advice of a friend two years ago who said, "Karen, you should be writing Christian fiction." Even though I have a large body of work written earlier, I'm happier and more fulfilled as a writer than I have ever been. I feel blessed.

Karen Young Stone
MISSING: MAX, May 2010
Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And the thanks go on...and the thanks go on...on & on & on & on & on. Laa-da-da-da dee...

(Sorry for the Sonny & Cher homage, folks). As mentioned in Monday's post, we continue today with messages of thankfulness from some of IMHO's 2009 guest hosts, culminating in the awarding of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag prize on November 26, 2009, Thanksgiving Day. Here are more wonderful messages from the authors. Be sure to comment by November 25 for a chance to win.

I'm very thankful for the gift of my good health this year, especially since some of my dear friends haven't been so fortunate. I'm also blessed with amazing and loyal fans. It constantly surprises me that I have connected with so many wonderful people through my writing. The emails and letters I get lift my spirits and inspire me.

Gerry Bartlett
I am thankful to be cancer-free now and my prayers go out for all who are struggling with this disease.
Emily Bryan
A CHRISTMAS BALL, September 2009

I'm thankful to be able to write
even when I look a sight!
And for my happy, working hands
that bring fun to my awesome fans;
for being goofy, and dancing weird
just being thankful makes me cheered!

Trish Albright
SIREN'S SONG, July 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Even more Thank-y Thankfulness!

As mentioned in Monday's post, we continue today with messages of thankfulness from some of IMHO's 2009 guest hosts, culminating in the awarding of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag prize on November 26, 2009, Thanksgiving Day. Here are more wonderful messages from the authors. Be sure to comment by November 25 for a chance to win.
Linda Warren

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for my loving family, supportive friends and loyal readers who keep me going, who keep me writing. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda Warren 
Deanna Raybourn 

Besides the usual blessings that almost weigh me down with their fabulousness--family, friends, readers, etc--I am thankful that I discovered the transformative power of gratitude in my daily life. I am learning how to find something to be grateful for in every situation, no matter how deeply disguised it might be. There is always some good thing to be found, some bright little ribbon of sacredness that I can wind around my finger as a reminder that things are never as bleak as they first seem. I fail at this a lot, of course, and I'm awed by how much I have left to learn, but I'm immensely appreciative that I have the chance because each moment in life--each time I hold someone's hand or write a book or sweep the kitchen or clean up after the dog or kiss my child--that moment is a gift. Thankfulness isn't just for Thanksgiving anymore!

Deanna Raybourn
SILENT ON THE MOOR –  March 2009

Teri Thackston

After a difficult couple of years, I'm grateful that my family is whole and healthy, and that we are each able to pursue our dreams. God is good to us, and I'm thankful for His touch upon our lives.

Teri Thackston
FINAL WORDS – Available Now
DEADLY CLIMB – Available Now

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Jessica Trapp!

Jessica Trapp writes romances striking for their sensuality and strong conflicts between her heroes and heroines. She has placed in numerous fiction writing contests including winning the coveted K.I.S.S. award from Romantic Times Magazine. She believes a dynamic romance is one where two opposing characters are transformed into two people who share love and passion. Her writings have been described as a “bold unabashed voice” and “beautifully evocative.”

Jessica has a particularly  zesty approach to life, engaging in belly-dancing for exercise and running a "100 words a day" writing group that encourages participants to make progress toward their writing goals, even if it is at a snail's pace, because eventually, the snail gets to where it is going. Whenever I've met Jes, she's always been smiling and exuberant, so the fact that the story she plans to share today was so somber intrigued me. Still, somber or no, she tells it from her uniquely "glass-is-half-full" perspective.

Interestingly enough, Jessica has a BS degree in pharmacy. Maybe that's why she writes romance (just kidding, Jes!). She lives in Houston, Texas with a husband and son who are as passionate about books as she is. When she's not reading or writing, she dances, putters in the garden, plays chess, and drinks copious amounts of hot tea.

Jessica will put her third medieval romance, The Pleasures of Sin, (available now from Zebra Books) into the "Giving Thanks" tote bag for our lucky winner.

IMHO: Jessica, you have a harrowing story to tell of what happened to you over the past couple of months that makes you particularly thankful this year. Could you share that with my IMHO readers?

JT: I'm happy to, TJ. Here's how it started:

A hemorrhaging 10 cm tumor on my liver and the consequential two-week stay in ICU brought a whole new level to the idea of "giving thanks" for me this year. Generally speaking, I tend--like most people I know--to give at least lip service to the idea of being grateful... but... well... one thing I became quickly aware of is how much I take for granted--little things, like walking, eating, standing up unassisted. Suddenly the ebb and flow of daily life became more than I could handle alone, more than I could handle at all. I was hooked up to this beeping monitor and that beeping monitor--wires everywhere--made the most simple of chores an ordeal.

But... staying in the hospital became a time of reflection and introspection--all the little nuisances and problems I'd been worried or concerned about just days before disappeared in a heartbeat of time. There, in a beige room surrounded by a sea of pink plastic trays and cups and the scent of antiseptic, harsh soap and alcohol, I was given a forced step off the treadmill of life.

And... as I was lying there going through tests and surgery, I realized--through it all--how very, very blessed I am. My husband, mom, dad, son, friends, medical professionals, nurses, doctors and more all surrounded me with both practical and emotional care. I was absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring of love.

The first day that I was allowed to walk, I made my way through the labyrinth of hallways so that I could go outside and breathe some fresh air. Fresh air.... now that's something we take for granted! I wanted to touch a tree and walk barefoot in the grass. I love my garden with its oaks and crape myrtles and hibiscus and I missed it terribly. And, yet, how many times had I complained about the weeds or not even glanced at it, much less taken the time to sit and meditate.

Honestly, there is nothing like being disallowed from things to really make you appreciate the small stuff--the scent of earl grey tea, the taste of apples, watching your child act in a school play, being able to cook a meal for your family. But, then I noticed that even in the midst of all of it, there were so many things to be grateful for in the moment--my family who stayed with me, nurses who cared enough to learn the skills to do their job, friends who wrote and dropped by to comfort me, and, of course, my publisher who gave me an extension on finishing my revisions.

"Giving thanks," I think, surely isn't just some big event to be done once a year on Thanksgiving--but an ongoing process... an attitude that we can carry with us through every moment in time no matter what is going on around us. With every breath, we can choose to notice what is right, what is working, what brings us joy and comfort and love. We don’t have to wait for some “special event” (and certainly not some life altering hospital stay!) to deeply partake in giving thanks. Wherever we find ourselves, right in this very moment, there are things we can take time to notice—people to love, food to eat, life to live. So many blessings to count.

Now I’m home and I have made a habit of sitting daily in my garden—no more rushing by it. I get tired, but being strong enough to shop and prepare a meal for my family is a joy. I’m still struggling with the book, but what a pleasure to be able to carry the laptop to meet friends at Starbucks. I’m grateful to be able to walk, to move, to stretch.

Through this I learned: life can change in a blink… don’t take it for granted.

IMHO: Thank you so much for sharing that, Jessica. There is nothing like a brush with our own mortality to remind us how precious life is. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it, folks?

So, IMHO readers, have you or someone you love ever had a "life-changing" experience that made you put your own life into perspective or made you look at things differently? Share your stories with Jessica by leaving a comment here for a chance to win one of two Thanksgiving-themed totes. Remember, the more authors you leave comments for, the better your chances of winning. And remember also to come back next Wednesday as we host our final guest author(s) for November, husband-and-wife writing team Anthea Lawson.

Take care,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More thankful authors giving thankfulness. Say thank-y!

As mentioned in yesterday's post, we continue today with messages of thankfulness from some of IMHO's 2009 guest hosts, culminating in the awarding of the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag prize on November 26, 2009, Thanksgiving Day. Here are more wonderful messages from the authors. Be sure to comment by November 25 for a chance to win.

Ann Macela

I'm grateful for my husband Paul, without whom I'd never have started writing. His support has been invaluable, plus, he introduces himself as my "research assistant!" I'm grateful for my friends, my real friends, my true friends, as we help each other get through both success and adversity. I'm totally grateful for my extended family, who buy my books and tell others about them and with whom we have so much fun!

Ann Macela
WILD MAGIC, Medallion Press, October 2009
UNEXPECTED MAGIC, Medallion Press, September 2010

Gemma Halliday

I’m very thankful that even in tough economic times, people still believe in happily ever after. And still want to read about it. :)

Gemma Halliday
MAYHEM IN HIGH HEELS - Dorchester, available now
SCANDAL SHEET,  Making It, November 2009


Colleen Thompson
This year, I'm especially thankful for the supportive family and friends who have allowed me the freedom to devote a large portion of my attention to my writing. I'm grateful to my agent and the editors who have helped me grow not only as a professional but as a person, to my brilliant, fascinating colleagues, and to all the wonderful readers who make it possible to live my dream.

Colleen Thompson
BEANEATH BONE LAKE, Love Spell, June 2009
TOUCH OF EVIL, Love Spell, March 2010

Deeanne Gist

I’m thankful that God is who He says He is, that He accomplishes the impossible and that His mercies are never ending. (I just completed my deadline, can you tell?) Hugs to all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Deeanne Gist
A BRIDE IN THE BARGAIN, Bethany House, June 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank-y! Thank-y! A second chance at a tote bag o' books

As mentioned in my newsletter, on Thanksgiving Day, I'll be giving away a second tote bag of Random Freebies which I'm calling "Thank-y! Thank-y!" (because I can) to a lucky winner at IMHO (this is seperate from our "Giving Thanks" tote featuring signed books by this month's guest hosts). This tote will contain Random Freebie autographed books, a few donated, some purchased by me for giveaways.

In anticipation of this event, leading up to Thanksgiving Day I will post "thankful" notes from previous guest hosts at IMHO in which they share what they are giving thanks for this year. All commentors on any post during the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote bag contest period are eligible to win the "Thank-y! Thank-y!" tote (see restrictions that apply on my contest page).

To have a chance to win, visit IMHO during the contest period and leave a comment on at least two different posts. The more posts you leave comments on, the more you increase your chances of winning. The contest for this tote ends November 25, 2009. On November 26, 2009, I will announce the winning entry drawn at random from all eligible participants for the “Thank-y! Thank-y!” tote bag. The winner will have until December 3, 2009, to claim his or her prize.

I will announce the contents of the tote bag as I get them in hand (a few are still promised, but haven't arrived yet), but rest assured you'll see some from my past guests this year. Let's kick off the contest with a few of those "thankful" posts now!



I am thankful for my family's health, happiness, and (relative) sanity. I am thankful for my loving husband of twelve years, who supports my writing ambitions both emotionally and financially. And I'm thankful to work and create within an artistic community that gives me such affirmation, purpose and joy. Love and gratitude to all!

Carrie Lofty
WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, Zebra Debut, Available Now

Vicki Hinze

This Thanksgiving I'm especially grateful for my sight, for my supportive hubby, kids and grands, good friends, loyal readers, and life. I'm also grateful for the little things. The everyday miracles and celebrations of things important to me but insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It's all just such a blessing.

Vicki Hinze

KILL ZONE: July 2009, Medallion Press
FORGET ME NOT March 2010, Random House-Multnomah

Madeline Hunter

I'm thankful for a year of health for my immediate family, and for the chance to have a special time with my sisters and brother.

Madeline Hunter
RAVISHING IN RED, February 2010 Jove Books

I am grateful for:

1-Family and friends
3-Readers willing to take a chance on an author they've never read before

Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Fire at Midnight, Medallion Press, Available Now
Stolen Promise, Medallion Press, March 2010

Friday, November 13, 2009

Historical Novel Cover Contest

Hey, just popping in to let you know The Season Blog is having a historical romance novel cover contest that ends November 15. I'd love your vote for THE PROMISE, if you are so inclined, but even if you aren't, stop over and check out the covers and vote for your favorites. There are some lovely ones there.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Blog Talk Radio debut

While you folks were enjoying Tracy Madison's company yesterday (please be sure to leave her a comment to increase your chances of winning one of our two Thanksgiving themed totes, by the way), I was over at Blog Talk Radio enjoying some lively discussions with other authors about how we can benefit from social media.

The slate also included horror filmmaker/author Gregory Lamberson (Slime City), comedy author Kathy Carmichael (Hot Flash) (sitting in for the temporarily derailed Vicki Hinze--get better soon, Vicki!), and motivational speaker and personal trainer Staci Boyer (Motiv8n' U).

I learned a thing or two about it myself (like, I'm gonna hafta get a Facebook page) and was very impressed by the calibre of knowledge everyone had.
If you're an author thinking about how to use social media (like Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, MySpace, et al) to promote your books, you really should check it out. Here's the link: when you get there, look for the Medallion Press podcast dated 11/11/09. You can play it there, or download it to iTunes and take it with you! Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Tracy Madison!

Paranormal romance with a delightful touch is Tracy Madison’s signature style, and it’s no surprise since she grew up far more interested in the world of the make believe than the real world right outside her door. Almost from the moment she learned to read, she says, she discovered the magic of books. With Nancy Drew, C.S. Lewis, or J.R.R. Tolkien as her guide, she traveled to different worlds, solved mysteries, and had breathtaking, spine tingling adventures. Then, as a teenager, she picked up one of her mother’s romances, and fell in love all over again.

Getting completely lost in a story is still one of Tracy’s favorite things to do, but she’s also active in her local Romance Writers of America chapter, plays a variety of computer games, and is seriously addicted to reality television.

Today, Tracy lives in Northwestern Ohio with her husband, four children, and several anthropomorphized critters. She warns that her house is often hectic, noisy, and filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments. Many of these incidents fire up her imagination to create the interesting, realistic, and intrinsically funny characters that live in her stories.

Romantic Times Book Reviews says "[Madison] has a breezy, intimate style that's fun to read.” Tracy's debut novel was A TASTE OF MAGIC, in which "a young, divorced bakery owner discovers she's inherited her gypsy ancestress's fabulous magical powers, but learns that when seeking true love with a hunky new neighbor, a person has to be careful what she cooks up." Fresh Fiction called it "a masterpiece."

Tracy will put her sophomore novel, A STROKE OF MAGIC, into the “Giving Thanks” tote for our lucky winner. RT says A STROKE OF MAGIC is “… an uplifting and delightful story about finding love and trusting your heart." In STROKE, Alice must deal with a sexy new boss, a baby on the way, a crazy family, and a gypsy curse. Only a soul-deep bond with the right man can save her and her child. As if being single wasn't pressure enough!

IMHO: Great to have you here today, Tracy. Tell our readers: what are you thankful for this year?

TM: Well, first of all, let me give a huge thanks to TJ Bennett for having me here today! Then, let me say I’m thankful that my next release, A BREATH OF MAGIC, will be out in May 2010. Now, on to today’s topic.

So, when I first began thinking about this post, I’ll admit I came up blank. Oh, not that I don’t have plenty of things to be thankful for, because I do. I have an amazing family, incredible friends, and within these two groups of people, an unbelievably tight support system for which I am ever grateful. But come on—of course I’m thankful for my friends and family! Aren’t we all?

And while my family and friends deserve a post filled with glowing words, I wanted to write about something different. Something unique. And, therefore, hopefully something that TJ’s other guests wouldn’t write about. So I thought. And thought. And thought some more. I came up with a few ideas, but none of them really spoke to me. For the curious, here they are:

• George Clooney. I don’t think any explanation is required.
• Coffee. Oh, how I love my fresh-brewed coffee. Strong and hot, please.
• Sims 3. Because in Sims 3 I can work only one day a week and make oodles of cash. Oh, and pregnancy only lasts a few days, and even better, the kids grow up FAST. And with top gardening, fishing, and cooking skills, I can stay young forever. That’s right. Forever.
• Ordering out. Not only will people bring food to my door, but now I can order almost anything I want on the internet. I don’t even have to pick up the phone.
• The TV show How I Met Your Mother. Barney Stinson is awesome, and makes me laugh. A lot. Kind of a snorting laugh, but who cares?
• Working from home. Because my work clothes? They’re pajamas and sweats and long, baggy sweatshirts.
• Being a writer. Telling my stories and seeing them on the shelves is even more awesome than Barney Stinson.
• The fact I haven’t gotten my hand stuck in the garbage disposal for over a year. Um, again, self-explanatory. (For a full explanation, you can read about this experience here.)

So while I am quite thankful for all of the above, none of them really fired up my imagination for a thanks-worthy post. I was becoming quite flummoxed (isn’t that a great word? I love that word. Well, I like “quirky” too. Hm. Quirky vs. Flummoxed?) over the problem. But then I realized that I didn’t need one solitary topic, because at this time in my life, I am thankful for…well, everything that makes up my life. And yes, that includes my family and friends and every item, person, and/or thing represented on the above list.

In conclusion, my life—while not perfect—is pretty dang good, and I wake up every morning feeling thankful for all that I have. Besides which, by focusing on the positives, the things that aren’t so great right now don’t hold such impact. Which, on some days, is what keeps me from eating my weight in chocolate. (Oh yeah, I’m also thankful for chocolate…)

You tell me. What are YOU thankful for this year?

IMHO: You heard the woman. Yes, you may have already responded to this question before, and if you did, I’m sure you can think of something else you are thankful for this year. Right? Let Tracy know what it is for a chance to win one of two Thanksgiving-themed totes. Remember, the more authors you leave comments for, the better your chances of winning.

And by the way, since today is Veteran's Day, I want to add a grateful thank you to all the veterans who served our country, and all those military men and women serving today. Thank you all!

Comment away!