Sunday, August 30, 2009

Winner of the "This Kiss, This Kiss" Tote Bag!

And the winner of August's "This Kiss, This Kiss" sparkly tote bag featuring autographed books by Kimberly Frost, Karen Young, Linda Warren, Jean Brashear, and yours truly, TJ Bennett, as well as a vintage-style purse, is....


Erin, you have until September 4, 2009, to send me an e-mail either through my website or to tjb @ tjbennett . com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Otherwise, I'll have to choose another winner. Congratulations!

Folks, this has been another great contest, and if you didn't win, be sure to come back all next month for our September contest. We'll be visiting with five authors in September, so that's more stuff stuffed in our tote bag. The authors will be discussing September's theme, "Back to School: Interesting Things I Learned from Writing/Reading Romance." Here is the lineup:

September 2: Gerry Bartlett, best-selling author of the Real Vampires paranormal romance series.

September 9: Annette McCleave, debut author of dark paranormal romance.

September 16: Ann Macela , multi-published, award-winning Medallion Press author of the Magic series.

September 23:Heather MacAllister, USA Today bestselling author of contemporary series romance and three-time RITA® nominee.

September 30: Vicki Hinze, multi-published, best-selling, award-winning author of just about every genre of romance in existence (and one or two she invented herself!).

I'll also throw in a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble, and a hilarious "Mixed-up Romance Novel" Magnetic Poetry Kit so you can learn to write your very own romance novel the easy way: randomly! Here's an example of a snip-it I just created from the kit:

"Overwhelmed with passion/his loincloth barely concealed/his turgid pleasure rod."

Hey, ya gotta start somewhere, right? Have a blast with this one, because I can guarantee you it isn't that easy (and, really, my stuff is way better than that).

Anyway, it will be another wonderful month at IMHO, so be sure to join us beginning Wednesday, September 2, 2009!

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....

Friday, August 28, 2009

A picture of the "This Kiss, This Kiss" Tote!

Today is the last day to get your comments in to win our August prize, autographed books from my guest authors Kimberly Frost, Karen Young, Linda Warren, and Jean Brashear, a vintage-style handbag featuring our theme, and my outside-the-box historical romance THE PROMISE, all stuffed into a fun, sparkly Indian-style tote.

And speaking of said tote, I can finally put the picture up on the blog!
Lovely, isn't it? Be sure to read each post and leave your comments (the more the merrier) for this month's guests for a chance to win. Contest rules are on my contest page. Come back for the announcement of the winner on August 30. And stay tuned for details about IMHO's September lineup as well. I'll have not four, but five fabulous guest hosts in September, so you'll get an extra book (actually, two extras--one of our lovely authors is going to be extra generous).

Gonna have to buy a bigger tote...


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Odds and ends and Nalini Singh

Okay, everyone! Just want to mention a few odds and ends. The contest period for this month ends August 28, so be sure to check out all of this month's guest posts and leave your comments for our authors if you would like a chance to win their autographed books as well as a copy of THE PROMISE (my historical romance) and a vintage-style purse featuring our "This Kiss, This Kiss" theme, as well as a lovely, sparkly tote to carry your books around. I'll announce the winner on August 30, 2009, drawn at random from all eligible participants. The winner will have until September 4, 2009, to claim his or her prize by sending me an e-mail through my website or at tjb @ tjbennett . com (delete the spaces).

On another note, just a heads up that someone is (perhaps) masquerading as author Nalini Singh on Amazon Kindle (or has the amazing coincidence of having the exact same name). That person is selling a book called THE GIRL PLAYER, and the Nalini Singh, 2009 RITA nominee and author of the Psy/Changling series, has disavowed any relationship to that book. Make sure you're getting the genuine article by going to Nalini's website to check out her book list first.

*shaking head* The things authors have to put up with. IMHO, this, alternate reality Nalini, is not the way to make your mark in the publishing world. If this is your real name and you were unaware that there was another author already using it, you might consider using a middle initial so as not to confuse the buying public and to distinguish yourself from the NYT bestselling author who has worked very hard to establish her reputation in the publishing world. There are no free rides, my dear; no free rides.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Jean Brashear!

Award-winning Harelequin romance author Jean Brashear knows a lot about taking crazy chances. A lifelong avid reader, at the age of forty-five with no experience and no training, she decided to see if she could write a book. It was a wild leap that turned her whole life upside down, but she would tell you that though she's never been more terrified, she's never felt more exhilarated or more alive.

She sold her first book two years after she began writing. Now a three-time RITA finalist and Romantic Times Career Achievement Award winner, she has been a finalist for or won numerous other awards including several Romantic Times BOOKReviews Magazine Top Picks and Reviewers Choice Awards, the National Readers Choice Award, Holt Medallion, and others, and has been a Waldenbooks Bestseller. She's an ardent proponent of not putting off your dreams until that elusive “someday”—take that leap now.

Jean writes “powerful stories straight from the heart,” and is not only known for her heartfelt romances about reunited lovers, but she is also a contributing author to Harlequin’s NASCAR series, having published two standalone books and a short story for a Harlequin NASCAR novella. Her next release, however, is a Harlequin Super Romance, The Man She Once Knew, coming in October 2009:

David Langley was the golden boy of Oak Hollow, the one everyone looked up to--then Callie Hunter came to town, Goth-wannabe teen in full rebellion, bringing trouble right along with her. David stood by her in her darkest hour, never realizing that the price would be his star-bright future.

Fifteen years after the tragedy that parted them, Callie has returned to town to bury her great-aunt. Her path crosses David's, but the hard, angry man she encounters is nothing like the boy she loved. Their fortunes are reversed-Callie is now an ambitious prosecutor, and David is a convict barely released from prison after serving fifteen years for murder, newly charged with assault. Will Callie take his side as he once did for her and risk the career she painstakingly built from the rubble of her life? And even if she tries, how will she deal with a man who refuses to have anything to do with her, ready to go to prison again rather than help her uncover the one thing that could clear him?

Jean, an avid volunteer, uses some of her boundless energy to serve others, and has a strong belief in giving back, sewing adaptive clothing for disabled soldiers and quilts for children in crisis, along with mentoring at-risk high school students. Her roots in Texas run deep, back five generations to the time before Texas independence. She is married and lives in Georgetown, Texas, just outside the capital of Austin.

Jean’s contribution to our “This Kiss” tote will be her Super Romance Everlasting book, The Way Home.

IMHO: Welcome, Jean, and give us your take on this month’s theme, “This Kiss, This Kiss.”

JB: Certainly, TJ, and let me do that by sharing this scene from one of my favorite books:

"Scarlett, you need kissing badly. That's what's wrong with you... You should be kissed and by someone who knows how."

"And I suppose you think you are the proper person?" she asked.

"Oh, yes, if I cared to take the trouble," he said carelessly. "They say I kiss very well...take heart. Some day, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient."

--Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, 1936

I like hot sex (in books and real life both!) and I know I'm flirting with fogey-hood to say this, but there was once a special magic not just in waiting for sex but waiting for that first kiss, wasn't there? The dance and counterpoint of flirting and longing, of imagining just how it would be when IT finally happened...the sighing over sideways glances and eyes full of longing...

Instant gratification has become such a part of us, hasn't it? Are we better for it?

So much skin, so much sex on the page, the screen...oh, boy, now I really am sounding bona fide fogeyish! But I feel sorry for kids who don't get that delicious anticipation, who are bombarded by sex on TV and movies, in ads and music and practically in the ozone way before they even feel those longings themselves.

There's something to be said for having to wonder and imagine and quiver in anticipation of...That Someday Kiss...That Teasing, Smoldering Rhett...

(What on earth did Scarlett see in Ashley, anyway, I ask?)

But even as I'm discussing delayed gratification, I must confess that however long I live, I swear I will grind my teeth over the ending of that movie! I wanted my happy ending! (Yet isn't that why we remember it, because we were left wanting more?)

IMHO: Absolutely, Jean. A very tooth-grinding-worthy ending, LOL! Still, always leave them wanting more, I say. We’ll never forget it, either, will we?

That brings up a good point: IMHO readers, were there any stories you’ve read with great kisses that left you wanting more…or at least, wanting to know more about what happened to the characters after the story moved on? I can think of Deanna Raybourn’s Julia Grey Mystery series, where Lady Grey and Nicholas Brisbane shared a couple of fiery hot kisses and an unconsummated passion in the first book (and second) that made me have to buy the next book in the series just to see where it all led.

What about you? Be sure to tell Jean all about it for a chance to win autographed books from guest authors Kimberly Frost, Karen Young, Linda Warren, and Jean Brashear, a vintage-style handbag featuring our theme, and my outside-the-box historical romance THE PROMISE, all stuffed into a fun, sparkly Indian-style tote. Remember to leave your comments for at least two authors this month to be eligible to win. The more posts commented on, the better your chances of winning. And do check out my contest rules page for all the details.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Final; and a guest host reminder!

Hi, everyone! I can finally reveal that I finaled in the Utah RWA chapter's Heart of the West contest with my work-in-progress, Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale. I'm working feverishly on finishing the book, yes I am. Loving every minute of it, too, when I'm not removing my eyeballs with a spoon and tearing my hair out in hanks. But, hey, that's the writing life for ya.

Here's the list of finalists.

Also, remember to come back tomorrow, Wednesday, for our last guest host of the month, Jean Brashear. Jean, a three-time RITA nominee, Super Romance author, and contributor to Harlequin's NASCAR series, will take our theme, "This Kiss, This Kiss," around the block for a spin. (Get it? Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

See you tomorrow!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Unread

I’m being interviewed today at 10am at The Good, The Bad, and The Unread. It’s a cute interview and asked a lot of questions I had never been asked before.

I hope you’ll stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win one of two copies of my outside-the-box historical romance, THE PROMISE, of which TGTBTU rated “A-“ and said, “The Promise is on the same level as The Legacy, and that means you should run out and pick this one up as well.”

TJ Bennett

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Linda Warren!

We're back with our next guest, award winning, multi-published category romance author Linda Warren!

At eighteen Linda Warren was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but she hasn’t let that stop her from accomplishing her dream of writing for Harlequin. In January her twenty-fifth book, a Harlequin Super Romance, will be released. She also writes for Harlequin American and Super Everlasting.

RITA® nominated and a Waldenbook’s Series Bestseller, Linda has won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award, The Golden Quill, The Texas Gold, The Aspen Gold, The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, More Than Magic Award, The Bookseller’s Best Award and The Bookbuyer’s Best Award. Her books have been published in nine languages.

Drawing upon her years of growing up on a farm/ranch in Smetana, Texas, Linda writes about sexy cowboys, feisty heroines, and broken families with an emotional punch, all set against the backdrop of Texas. She now lives in College Station, Texas, not far from her birth, with her husband, Billy, and spends her days doing what she loves—creating unforgettable love stories.

This summer Linda kicks off her Harlequin SuperRomance series, The Belles of Texas. Every belle needs her beau... Three sisters determined to save a rundown ranch. The first book, Caitlyn's Prize, will be Linda’s contribution to the “This Kiss, This Kiss” tote bag. Madison's Children will follow in October '09, and Skylar's Outlaw will be an early 2010 book.

IMHO: So, Linda, what’s your take on our theme for the month?

LW: Ah, this kiss, this kiss…

As I thought about this blog, it brought back memories of that first kiss, that special kiss and the kiss that made me go “ah,” and how important they were. It’s all about “the kiss.” It’s a sign of affection for another person and it affects our lives daily. As an author I’m sure my experiences has been relived in my books (unconsciously, of course).

When I was about twelve, I sat behind a boy named Joey in homeroom. I loved his curly blond hair and his bright blue eyes. I thought he was gorgeous. My first crush. At the end of the school year, Joey and I sat together for lunch at the park on a field trip. Dreamy. As we got up to throw away our trash, he suddenly kissed me. I was shocked and in a panic. I was afraid someone had seen and then the teacher would tell my parents. It might not have been so bad, but he kissed me like my dog did: wet and sloppy. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Geez, a girl needs a little warning. School ended and Joey with the gorgeous eyes and hair moved away. Just as well. Suddenly Joey wasn’t that attractive anymore. It’s all about the kiss.

Then came high school and a whole new realm of kissing. I went steady a couple of times, but nothing was ever serious. Kissing was always the test. Will he be the one? I wanted to be kissed like Donna Reed in the phone scene in It’s a Wonderful Life (watch it every Christmas. I’ve seen lots of other memorable kisses in movies and on TV but that one always sticks with me). Jimmy Stewart plants one on her and they seem to melt into each other. Ah. I thought if I ever found a guy who could kiss like that, I’d marry him.

When I was seventeen, I found him. He and his buddies were home from the National Guard and they crashed the wedding of a friend. There was beer, they’d heard, and they wanted beer and girls. They were getting ready to deploy to Cuba and were looking for a good time. He was older, different, and wow, did he catch my attention. He had dark, dark eyes, midnight eyes. Here’s how I described those eyes in Caitlyn’s Prize, July ‘09 (dark-eyed heroes show up in my books a lot).

His hair was dark brown, his eyes darker. She'd once called them "midnight magic." Their color rivaled the darkest night, and magic was what she'd felt when he'd looked at her.

Remember it vividly.

He asked me out and, yes, I found my Jimmy Stewart kisser. And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s all about the kiss.

This summer I started a trilogy, The Belles of Texas, for Harlequin Super Romance. Here’s a first kiss excerpt (between the hero and heroine after being apart for many years) from Caitlyn’s Prize, July ’09.

Without thinking clearly, Cait slid a hand around his neck, caressed his roughened skin and pulled his face toward hers. She touched his lips gently, almost reverently. It took a split second for remembered emotions to explode.

He took over the kiss, cupping her face with both hands, and time floated away, as did the years, as they found comfort in a kiss that bound them together. Tongues and lips knew the drill. Memories like this weren't forgotten, just buried beneath the pain.

He tasted of bourbon, and the heady sensation was making her drunk all over again.

Or was it just Judd?

Yes, it’s definitely all about the kiss and the way it makes us feel. I’d love to hear what you think or some of your memories.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane.

IMHO: Linda, I love, love, love that kissing scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. And your kissing scene from Caitlyn’s Prize is wonderful, too!

Okay, IMHO readers, tell Linda about the best kiss you ever received. Let’s have a little fun with this one: If you had to compare your best kiss to a food or drink, what would it be? Mine would have to be dark chocolate spiked with Irish Bailey Cream…yum…


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes, dadburnit, I'm on Twitter now...

Good grief, it's finally happened. I've joined a second social networking site. I did it out of self-preservation, really. I was having my friends and RWA chapter mates RT (that's re-tweet) stuff for me, and I realized that was silly, so I cowgirl'd up and joined the Twitter generation myself. Check the sidebar below if you would like to follow me.

Not that I mind, but somewhere inside me the term "follow me" makes it feel kind of, I don't know, stalker-ish.

I'll try not to overwhelm the Tweeting world with too many tweets. I will keep y'all abreast of the happenings at IMHO, though. As if you thought I wouldn't...


Friday, August 14, 2009

DARK ANGEL: A GOTHIC FAIRY TALE finals in The Rebecca!

Just a quick note to let you know that my current work-in-progress, Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale, has finaled in the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) Rebecca contest! The contest was open to both published and unpublished authors. Since the book is a little different from what I've done in the past (so, what else is new, right?), I decided to test it out a bit on the contest circuit. Well, in all honesty, I am a former contest diva and I was having withdrawal symptoms, so...

Ahhhh....I feel satisfied now....

Here's a link to a list of all the finalists. Congratulations to all of them!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Karen Young

Karen Young, with more than 10 million books in print, is the USA Today-bestselling author of 35 novels. She is known as a spellbinding storyteller who writes with sensitivity about issues facing contemporary women. She has been nominated three times for the Romance Writers of America RITA and won in 1993 for The Silence of Midnight.

Karen's career in writing fiction for women has run the gamut from traditional romance to mystery thrillers. After numerous long distance moves necessitated by her husband's career, she decided to try writing a book out of sheer desperation. When a major publisher bought that book, she knew she had found a career! Or, rather, it had found her.

But her world changed when her husband died ten years ago. One of the most joyous changes, she believes, was that she was drawn back to her childhood faith, which led her to explore the possibility of writing inspirational fiction. It is her belief that good inspirational fiction is not about simply adding a religious component to a book—it is so much more. “My stories always include the tension between right and wrong, but in many novels, the elements of spirituality and faith are mostly absent as characters face life’s inevitable pitfalls,” she says. Karen believes that showing her characters’ faith journey, in addition to the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of their lives, enhances and adds meaningful depth to her novels.

Her first book of inspirational fiction is a legal crime thriller, Blood Bayou, and it will be her contribution to the “This Kiss” tote bag. In this story of redemption and forgiveness set in a small town in Louisiana Bayou Country, bitterly divorced couple Jack and Camille are reunited in the search for the truth when Jack’s sister is murdered, allegedly by a prisoner recently exonerated and freed through the Truth Project, an advocacy group which Camille runs whose goal is to get wrongful convictions overturned. Camille is convinced her client is innocent, but will her search to find the real killer make her a target? And will she finally be able to forgive a reformed Jack, whose alcoholism drove her away in the first place?

Publisher’s Weekly calls Blood Bayou “well-crafted inspirational fiction,” while NYT bestselling author Debbie Macomber says, “This is a page-turner that will long linger in my mind.” NYT bestselling author Susan Wiggs says, “Karen Young is a writer of rare emotional power and conviction, exploring the darkest corners of the human heart and finding redemption there. This is storytelling at its finest, the kind that stays with you long after the last page is turned."

IMHO: Karen, welcome! You're going to tell us about the theme of "This Kiss, This Kiss" from the perspective of a couple with a lot of history, right?

KY: That's right, TJ. I think I’ll write a few words about the impact of the first kiss in one of the tried and true romance novel themes: the “lovers reunited” plot. I could have chosen the “marriage of convenience” plot or the “beauty and the beast” plot, or the “Cinderella plot,” but didn’t. (I think there are seven basic plots, but don’t ask me to name the others). Anyway, the first kiss in each of these would be different since the basic conflict upon which the story is based are different. So, since I’m partial to the “lovers reunited” plot, let’s talk a little about it. (There will not be a quiz.)

In the story are two people whose relationship is on the rocks and it makes for really sizzling sexual tension as they make their way back to happily ever after. Therefore, the first kiss, once they are thrown together again, is truly significant. It’s particularly compelling when one of them is resisting the reconciliation, which means he/she is going to fight the attraction to the bitter end.

But these are people who’ve kissed many times, been intimate in all ways, shared joy and sadness, rage and rapture. So why is their first kiss after their long separation important? And what makes it so?

First, let’s consider the reader. Romance novels bring to life the reader’s fantasies. It’s all about fantasy and satisfying that fantasy. A really good kiss is simply a plot device to generate an emotional response in the reader. The writer has laid the groundwork for the moment, built up the tension with conflict and frequent contact between the hero and heroine. And finally the big moment is reached.

That kiss! That kiss!

Perfect. Or it should be…depending on the writer.

So let’s consider the writer. I’ve probably read a couple thousand romance novels. Some authors are incredibly talented—gifted even—in creating sexual tension along with conflict between the h/h [hero and heroine], which are the essential ingredients for That Kiss. It’s the writer’s responsibility to find the words to transport the reader to fantasyland. It is the intensity of the emotion that makes the difference between a nice exchange of sexual energy between two people and a dynamite moment that leaves them—and the reader—breathless.

But about those lovers reunited. There’s just something about two people who’ve once loved and been torn asunder. In real life, it’s sad, tragic even. But in the fantasyland of the romance novel, it’s poignant and appealing. And when they kiss again after having loved and lost, we sigh with delight.

Need I say, it’s not every author who can do this? Of the hundreds of authors I’ve read, only a few really have the gift…and they shall remain nameless. They make the bestseller lists with every book. I hope they never quit writing.

IMHO: Thanks, Karen! I hope the same of you. Now, IMHO readers, can you remember a kiss from a story you love that made you sigh with delight? Tell Karen about it (it can be from either a movie or a book you've read, or even a photograph you've seen) for a chance to win our "This Kiss, This Kiss" tote filled with a vintage-style handbag, a copy of my historical romance THE PROMISE, and autographed copies of books from each of the guests that will visit this month. Remember to leave comments for at least two of August's guests to be eligible to win. Start commenting now!


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Kimberly Frost

Welcome back to IMHO, everyone! I’ve had a nice little break over the last couple of weeks, but it’s time to get back to our monthly themed contests and spotlighting authors you should know.

We’re kicking off the month of August by celebrating our theme, “This Kiss, This Kiss.” Each guest author this month is putting her own spin on that theme. As you know, all of our guests will put a signed copy of one of their releases in our tote bag for one lucky winner to take home. Included in that bag will be a copy of my critically acclaimed latest release, The Promise, an outside-the-box historical romance set in Northern Italy featuring a mercenary and the Spanish beauty whose love proves deadly to the men who fall for her. Also included as one of our goodies is a vintage-style handbag featuring our kissing theme (I’ll get a picture up on the blog soon). Plus, the tote bag for carrying your booty (I’m talking about the books, of course) is a funky, Indian-style glittery thang that will make you smile every time you see it.

So, let’s not waste any more time!

Our first guest, Kimberly Frost, claims she was unaware of copyright laws as a child and regularly pilfered famous characters for her stories. Taking fan fiction to new extremes, she once turned Han Solo into an NFL quarterback who married a supermodel. Would-be Witch, her debut fantasy novel that combines humor, romance, and mystery, was released in February 2009. The second book in the Southern Witch series, Barely Bewitched , will hit the shelves September 1st, 2009. (Don'cha just love those covers?) And Kimberly has recently announced she’s accepted an offer for a third book in the Southern Witch series, tentatively titled Halfway Hexed! Unfortunately, neither Han Solo nor any supermodels appear in the series, but she hopes the characters she created from scratch will entertain readers anyway. Kimberly will put a copy of her debut novel, Would-Be Witch, in the tote bag for us this month.

IMHO: Welcome, Kimberly! So, you’ve decided to illustrate our theme by sharing your heroine’s first kiss with us, right?

KF: That’s right, TJ. I’ve heard it said that a story is like an iceberg. What appears in the novel is the tip, but the author knows everything below the surface, too.

Over time, Tammy Jo Trask (from my Southern Witch series) has confided plenty that hasn’t appeared in the published books. Here’s a taste…

* * *

I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend until I turned fourteen. Momma had made that real clear. But when the cutest boy in class shares your apple slices at lunch and declares that if he had any secrets, you’d be the only one he told them to, you might be inclined to bend a rule by a year or two…or even seven.

Zach Sutton loved heights, dirt bikes, and football. I thought the dimple in his left cheek when he smiled was so adorable I wanted to put it under my pillow at night.

When he said I should be his girlfriend, I told him that I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend yet.

“But if you could have one? Would it be me or someone else?”

I blushed ten shades of pink and nodded. “You.”

“Well,” he said with a shrug. “That’s done, and we’ll keep it a secret.” Then, he added, “We won’t kiss ‘til we’re both eight.”

The day before my birthday, Zach said I should sleep in my clothes so I’d be ready to sneak out when he knocked on my window at midnight. Since I’d never stayed up past eleven, it was already an adventure.

The night was hot and smelled like honeysuckle. I sat on the handlebars of his bike as he pedaled us down empty roads to Corsic Creek, where he’d stashed a present under the bridge.

“George says on your girl’s birthday you give her flowers,” Zach said, referring to his older brother who seemed to know an awful lot about an awful lot. Of course, George was twelve, so there you go.

“But you’ve got a lot of flowers around your house already, so here.” Zach held the box out.

I unwrapped it and, inside, found a pink-and-black helmet. Not the kind for a bicycle. The cool kind with a visor, for riding on motorcycles.

“I’ve got that bigger dirt bike now. There’re some good trails to Old Town. If you want, I’ll take you with me when I go.”

I nodded, my smile as wide as it could get.

“You know, George said that when you give your girl a present, she’ll give you a kiss.” His denim blue eyes searched my face. “And we’re both eight now.”

My heart fluttered like bird’s wings. Then I put my fingertips on Zach’s jaw, so I wouldn’t lose my place when I closed my eyes.

His lips were soft, and they tasted like Root Beer. Pressing mine against them was as good as letting Hershey’s chocolate melt on my tongue. I stepped back, taking a slow breath.

“Did you like it?” I whispered.

Zach smiled. “George says there’s nothing better than football. Guess he ain’t always right.”

That was when I decided that if Zach Sutton asked me to marry him, I’d say yes.

* * *
IMHO: Kimberly, I think if he’d asked me to marry him when I was eight, I might have said yes, too! (Don’t tell my hubby I said that!) Thanks for that wonderful glimpse into Tammy Jo’s first kiss.

Okay, IMHO readers, for a chance to win a copy of Would-Be Witch and all the other wonderful books in this month’s tote bag, plus the vintage-style handbag, leave a comment and tell Kimberly about your first kiss. (You can check out my contest rules here.)


Monday, August 03, 2009

Whine Fest

I normally don't do this on my blog, but I need to whine, and rather than dumping on my family and close personal friends, what better way to unburden myself than to veritable strangers?

So here goes. Have you ever had those times in your life that were sort of a helix of stress, tension, frustration, emotion, and chaos? That time when it is the worst possible moment for things to go wrong, and of course, that is exactly when they do? Or, when you absolutely must focus on Thing 1 to the exclusion of all else, and then Thing 2 catches on fire on your desk and must be attended to at once?

I'm having one of those months. Yes, it's a month-long suck-fest for me right now, and I'm hoping the end is in sight. Life is generally good, but this week...not so good, already.

Luckily, my pessimism has defined limits and I usually kick myself in the tail and snap out of it before I climb up on the rooftop with my BB gun, but still...

Sigh. Okay, whine-fest over...Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Think happy thoughts! Shiny, happy thoughts!

What do YOU do when you can't get out from under and the light at the end of the tunnel might possibly be the Southbound Amtrak?


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kiss me, you fool!

We're back with a blast for August at IMHO with a brand new contest!

In honor of the fact that August 25, 2009, is Kiss and Make Up Day, this month’s theme is, “This Kiss, This Kiss.” For August, my host authors will be discussing the kiss, because who knows more about the romantic kiss than romance authors, I ask you? And since I loved the totes from last month so much, we’ll have a fun, sparkly tote bag filled with autographed books from our guests, as well as a copy of my own historical romance, The Promise!

But wait, there’s more…the one lucky winner of this month's contest will also receive a vintage-style handbag, and everything will be bundled up in a fun, sparkly Indian-style tote bag for carrying around the winner’s books.

As usual, our guests will be visiting IMHO every Wednesday beginning August 5 and continuing throughout the month. They will place their autographed books in the tote bag for one lucky person to win. So if you didn't win one of the RITA® totes from my July contest, be sure to visit often and comment for a chance to be the one lucky winner of my "This Kiss, This Kiss" themed tote bag.

Here's the lineup of authors:

August 5: Kimberly Frost, author of the delightful romantic comedy Southern Witch series.

August 12: Karen Young, USA Today bestselling author of 35 romances ranging from traditional to mystery (and former RITA® winner), now the author of her first inspirational romance.

August 19: Linda Warren, award-winning, bestselling author of Harlequin romances and a 2009 RITA® nominee.

August 26: Jean Brashear, multi-published SuperRomance author, 2009 RITA® nominee, and currently author of several books in Harlequin’s NASCAR® series.

It’s another wonderful month at IMHO, so be sure to join us!

So, once again, let's let Ms. Hill sing us out...


Faith Hill - This Kiss

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Winner of Random Freebies! And August's guests

Sorry for the late posting, folks. Running a little behind. The lucky winner of Your Roots Are Showing and Perfecting Kate is Martha Lawson!

Martha Lawson, please send me an e-mail at tjb @ tjbennett . com (delete the spaces) with your address (U.S. and Canada only) so I can get your winning books out to you. Sadly, since you didn't guess my trivia question (and yes, it was Claude Rains from Casablanca who said it), you don't pick up the copy of THE PROMISE this time. Maybe a future win, eh? Or maybe, you know, you could

Just wanted to give a sneak preview for August's delights. I'll get my newsletter out this week (hopefully; my schedule is so busy right now, I think I met myself coming in the door this morning), but I wanted you to know the wonderful guests we've got on board for August. We'll have visits from Kimberly Frost (August 5), Karen Young (August 12), 2009 RITA nominee Linda Warren (August 19), and 2009 RITA nominee Jean Brashear (August 26), all discussing August's theme: "This Kiss, This Kiss."

Can't wait! And, you know, ever since I came up with this theme (in honor of August 25th being Kiss and Make Up Day; uh-huh it is) this song has been stuck in my head, so why not torture you with it, too? It's so jaunty....


Faith Hill - This Kiss