Friday, January 30, 2009

IMHO welcomes romantic adventure novelist Trish Albright!

IMHO is pleased to welcome romantic adventure novelist Trish Albright to the Romance Roundup Gift Basket party! This two-time Golden Heart finalist’s debut novel, Siren’s Song, is a cross between The Princess Bride meets Pirates of the Caribbean, taking place in England and on the high seas during the 1790s. Publisher's Weekly’s Beyond Her Book Blog called it a “delightful, romantic, swashbuckling escapade.” Romantic Times Magazine awarded it four stars. Romance Reviews Today says there is “never a dull moment in this action-filled novel.”

Trish’s background as a Walt Disney Imagineer informs her high-seas romantic adventures. Her projects have taken her all over the world from Hong Kong to Paris. She’ll put Siren’s Song in the romance gift basket to whet your appetite for her next novel, Siren’s Secret, which will hit store shelves in May 2009. (By the way, you have to check out the “very” dramatic reading of Siren’s Song’s first chapter by Yale trained former drama student Trevor Anthony. It’s a hoot!)

IMHO: Welcome to IMHO, Trish, and please tell our readers what romance means to you.

TrA: What does romance mean to me? At 2 AM on Friday—now Saturday—late on my delivery to TJ, what romance means to me is that I have to stay up a few hours longer (not in bed). But I love TJ, so I’m willing to sacrifice. And what can I say—she romanced me. Unfortunately, with work, galleys, and being the slacker blogger, I see that the really good answers are taken. So I’m stuck with just the truth. (As I know it…which at this moment may not be all that clear, but feel free to debate.)

Romance is sweet, fun, flirty, exciting, all the things you can imagine. But, at the end of the day (or morning for some), it’s nothing without love. Romance can be a taste of the possibility of love. A taste that keeps us hoping and doing things we probably shouldn’t do, because at our core, we are hopeful creatures. Romance can create the initial bonds of love. It can even create a safe, happy bubble for love to grow. But romance is nothing without love. (I’m reminding myself of Paul’s Gospel on love and he did it better, so I’ll stop that mantra.)

We want romance, because we want love, don’t we? Because love is the promise of transformation, that somehow our lives will be better, we will be better, the world will be better if only there is love. I think the world suffers from many of us who have lost the will to love truly, and instead have settled only for romance, (after romance after romance…) because to love requires we challenge ourselves in a unique way to be better than society requires or expects us to be. And if you overcome that barrier the reward is we are set apart to struggle and wait until we meet another like-minded creature. And that’s torture. It’s not surprising that people opt for just romance…after romance…(I know. It’s hard to believe I write funny.)

On the upside…If you still believe in love, when none seems possible. When the future is a dark tunnel and you’re not sure if that’s the light at the end or a train coming at you—hang in there (or dive and lay flat if appropriate). Love is real. It does transform. And you will have it. And then all the loneliness, uncertainty, and/or pain you withstood will be wiped clean, becoming a vague and distant memory, difficult to even imagine.

At this point, you should make note, that you WILL be annoying to EVERYONE around you for at least two years. (But that’s worth it too!)

IMHO: I believe in love, too, Trish, so I won't harrass you for making me get up at 6 AM on a Saturday to put up your post. But...I'll remember...LOL! Remember, too, folks, to leave a comment for Trish and at least one other author to have a chance at winning the BIG BASKET OF LOOOVE to be awarded the day after Valentine’s Day (to give everyone a chance to get their comments in). For details, go to my website’s contest page.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Kerrelyn Sparks!

IMHO: It is IMHO’s great pleasure to welcome Kerrelyn Sparks to the Romance Roundup Gift Basket party as we get closer to Valentine’s Day and the gift basket giveaway.

Kerrelyn’s first paranormal romance, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, zoomed out of the bat cave so fast it became Borders bestselling debut romance of 2005. Each book in the Love at Stake series has become a USAToday bestseller. The fourth book, The Undead Next Door, the one Kerrelyn will be putting in our gift basket, landed on the New York Times bestseller list. All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire hit the New York Times bestseller list at number 12, the USAToday list at 41, and the Borders bestselling romance list at number 2! Books six and seven of the Love at Stake series will release this spring--Secret Life of a Vampire on March 31 and Forbidden Nights with a Vampire on April 28.

When she's not busy living the vida vampire, Kerrelyn resides in the Greater Houston area with her husband, children, and a house full of garlic. So far, there are no vampires in her family. Werewolves are another matter entirely.

Today, Kerrelyn shows what romance means to her by telling us why she writes romance in the first place. Welcome, Kerrelyn!

KS: Thanks for inviting me to talk about what romance means to me, TJ!

Romance celebrates life and the possibility for us all to experience happy endings. I believe it is this unfailing hope that makes the Romance genre so popular. Romance fiction sells more than any other fiction category. Our forefathers said it best when they declared we all have to right to the pursuit of happiness. It’s a universal need and one that Romance addresses in a positive fashion.

That’s the generic response, but to delve deeper—
1. I write Romance because I love to read it. I grew up on it. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the years. I have traveled to many different places and time periods. I have learned about history and different customs and fashions. My imagination was fed by it and encouraged to blossom.

2. I write Romance because I love to write. I need to write. If I don’t write for a few days, I can become a real grouch. This can be verified by my family. At least now, I’m paid to spend much of my time in another world. Before, I was flaky for free. This can also be verified by my family.

3. I love honorable characters. If a book or a movie doesn’t provide me with a character I can respect, admire and cheer for, forget it!! Romances, in general, give us honorable characters we can love, characters with enough integrity to face their challenges and courage to fight the odds. In turn, they inspire us to respect ourselves and never give up. For dreams do come true. I know that every time I see my name on a book cover.

4. I love strong heroines--women who take an active role in their own destiny, not content to leave their happiness in the control of anyone else. Today’s Romances show heroines on an equal footing with the hero, heroines in charge of their life, making their own choices. These are women I would be proud to introduce my daughter to.

5. I love the process of falling in love. What other human experience compares to the exhilaration and exasperation of finding your true mate? Whom we choose to marry is one of our most important decisions, and we all want a happy ending. Some complain that because of the happy ending, Romances are all alike! But the end product is not the point. It’s the journey that is so intriguing. It’s the process that starts with a secretive glance and hesitant first touch, the tiny steps that lead to total trust, intimacy, and the sacred commitment to grow old together—this is the journey that Romance celebrates.

Why do you love Romance?

IMHO: Thanks, Kerrelyn, for reinforcing the reasons romance is my favorite type of read. How about the rest of you? Be sure to share with Kerrelyn why you love romance, because remember, by commenting on at least two guest bloggers’ posts, you’ll be eligible to win the BIG BASKET OF LOOOOVE containing ten different autographed books, including Kerrelyn’s book The Undead Next Door. To read excerpts of her books, watch book trailers, play vampire games, or join the forum, visit Kerrelyn at

And be sure to come back next Saturday, January 31, to meet our next guest blogger, Golden Heart nominee and Dorchester debut author Trish Albright, author of Siren’s Song, a sea-faring romantic adventure. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just a reminder of our Valentine's Contest lineup

Just wanted to give everyone a reminder of who is yet to come on the Romance Roundup Gift Basket contest. Still in the chute are these wonderful authors:

Jan 28 Kerrelyn Sparks, NYT Bestselling author of light paranormal romance (THE UNDEAD NEXT DOOR)

Jan 31 Trish Albright, Golden Heart nominee and award-winning debut author of romantic adventures (SIREN'S SONG)

Feb 4 Christie Craig, award-winning author of light romantic suspense (DIVORCED, DESPERATE, AND DELICIOUS)

Feb 7 Lynne Marshall, award-winning author of Mills & Boon medical romance (PREGNANT NURSE, NEW-FOUND FAMILY)

Feb 11 Lynda Hilburn, author of paranormal fiction and Benjamin Franklin award-nominated author for Best New Voice in Fiction (THE VAMPIRE SHRINK)

Feb 14 Sophie Jordan/Sharie Kohler, USA Today Bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance (SURRENDER TO ME by Sophie Jordan and KISS OF A DARK MOON by Sharie Kohler)

For details on how to win, go to my contest page at
Good luck!
The Legacy (April 2008) When secrets destroy, can love live on?
The Promise (May 2009) In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

IMHO welcomes Brenda Scott Royce!

IMHO: I'm more than pleased to welcome Brenda Scott Royce to the Romance Roundup Gift Basket party (or as I'm sub-dubbing it, "The BIG BASKET OF LOOOOVE"). How many other authors' work has Janet Evanovich called "as delicious as a jelly doughnut"? Well, I have no idea, really, but I'd bet Brenda's is the only one.

This award-winning author of Monkey Love and Monkey Star has not only had her work compared to yummy pastries, but had it read on-air by Regis Philbin. Monkey Love was featured in OK!, Elle, Quick & Simple, and Entertainment Weekly magazines. Monkey Star won the Book Buyers Best Award for 2008. And why is that, you ask? Because she's funny, and she writes that way, too. She'll be putting one of her Monkey books in the basket (she's decided to surprise IMHO and the winner as to which one), so maybe you'll be the lucky winner.

Welcome, Brenda!

BSR: Thanks, TJ, for inviting me to discuss what romance means to me!

Romance is about having fun. Oh sure, the big flowery stuff is fabulous from time to time, and the day-to-day niceties (like my husband bringing me my favorite Starbucks beverage out of the blue) cause my heart to skip a happy beat. But for me, laughter is the glue that bonds a relationship.

A shared sense of humor is one of the elements of a lasting marriage. When other things fade, people want someone they can laugh with. I know I do.

Love itself can be pretty darn funny. Is there any one reading this who hasn’t done something crazy in the name of love? I have, many times. One of mine involves a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a rented gorilla costume.

Let me explain. My husband is more of a traditional romantic. Our first Valentine’s Day together, I came home to find my apartment transformed into the coziest little love nest you could imagine. He’d thought of everything—chilled champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, long-stemmed roses, scented candles, soft music … the list goes on. All this after he’d duped me into thinking he was sick and wouldn’t be able to come over for Valentine’s Day. So when I trudged up the stairs after a late class, turned the key in my door and saw him standing there—did I mention, in a tux?—he took my breath away.

The next year, he turned the tables on me, saying it was my turn to make our Valentine’s plans. I knew I couldn’t possibly top what he’d done. Moreover, going the traditional route made me feel like I was following a checklist: flowers, check; wine, check; Hallmark card, check; boring, check…

So I scrapped all that. Well, not all of it. I planted a Valentine’s message in his car and left a box of chocolates on his desk. Then I picked up a bottle of wine, a dozen roses, and a rented gorilla costume and drove to the campus of the college where he teaches.

I didn’t just pick “gorilla” out of the blue. My college degree is in primatology, and I used to work as a chimpanzee caretaker at an animal sanctuary. And at the time I was writing my first novel—in which a monkey figured prominently. So surprising my soon-to-be husband while wearing an ape suit wasn’t a completely oddball idea.

I could go into detail here about the challenges of sneaking onto a college campus in a gorilla suit without causing a scene, trying to see through the eye slits and not pass out from the heat inside the hairy costume, attracting a growing trail of curious students. I could tell you how sweaty my hands got inside the gorilla mitts and that the bottle of wine ultimately ended up slipping from my grasp and crashing on the sidewalk. Twenty feet from my sweetie’s classroom, I panicked, wondering if crashing his class in a wine-soaked gorilla costume could have an adverse affect on his continued employment. He wasn’t yet tenured, after all.

But the horse, so to speak, was out of the barn. I sprinted the last few yards and barreled into his Intro to Philosophy class, panting and gasping for breath. I had planned to sing a love song, but only managed to choke out a few words before falling to one knee and presenting him with a dozen roses.

He was dumbstruck. His students were clapping and laughing. The room quickly filled with students and professors who’d spilled out of other classrooms to see what was up. Everyone was asking, “Who’s the monkey?” But my husband later said he’d recognized me instantly even though all he could see were my eyes. He swept me into his arms and kissed me on my fake lips. And he dismissed his students for the rest of the period so we could go monkey around.

That was almost seven years ago and my husband still tells the story with a twinkle in his eye. In fact, when I told him I was writing today about what romance means to me, he told me to write about the gorilla suit. I scoffed at his suggestion, saying I planned to craft some creatively flowery prose about romance and the magical moments it inspires—fleeting glances, coy winks, fingertips lightly dancing across bare skin … that kind of thing.

I said all that with a straight face. He just looked at me and burst out laughing.

I was indignant for about a half second. Then I laughed, too.

Now that’s romance.

IMHO: What a wonderful story, Brenda. Funny and romantic. How about you folks? Have you ever done anything crazy (in a good way) in the name of love? Remember, to have a chance at the Big Basket of LOOOOVE, you'll need to comment on at least two authors' posts.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Excited about a TOP PICK review and a TOP author joining my contest!

Great news today! Night Owl Romance has given my second historical romance, THE PROMISE, a Top Pick review! 4.5 hearts, and they called it "passionate, enchanting, and moving." That just tears me right up. . . sniff. . . . You'll have to wait for the whole review, as it will be posted in April. You'll have to wait for the book, too, as the release date for THE PROMISE is May 2009.

To celebrate my good fortune, another wonderful author has joined the Romance Roundup Gift Basket contest. Brenda Scott Royce of Monkey Love and Monkey Star fame will blog at IMHO on Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 about what romance means to her. If you haven't read Brenda, whose hilarious work Janet Evanovich has called "delicious as a jelly doughnut," you're in for a real treat. Stop in and comment and get a chance to win Brenda's book and a whole mess o' others all piled up in the gift basket.

See you there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Colleen Thompson!

IMHO: As previously announced, over the next four weeks until Valentine’s Day, I’ll have guest hosts writing on the theme of “What Romance Means to Me.” Each author will put one of her books in our Romance Roundup Gift Basket, and at the end of the contest period, one lucky person will win all TEN autographed books. Comment on at least two author’s posts during the period, and you could be the winner! How is that for a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift? For details, go to my contest page.

Let’s kick off our first post. We'll be starting with Colleen Thompson today, as Susan Squires' post has been unexpectedly delayed. From the historical novels that began her writing journey (written as Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton) to the riveting romantic suspense that has become her trademark, Colleen Thompson writes stories that show us that sometimes, love can kill.

In 2004, Colleen Thompson's first romantic thriller, Fatal Error, launched Dorchester Publishing's new line of fast-paced, steamy romantic suspense. The book was nominated for the RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense and won the Texas Gold for Best Mainstream Fiction. Colleen has over fourteen books to her credit, with number fifteen, BENEATH BONE LAKE, due out in June 2009. Now residing in the Houston area with her husband and son, Colleen works with children in addition to her writing and speaking. She also happens to be my terrific critique partner. Colleen will put a signed copy of her romantic thriller THE SALT MAIDEN into the Romance Roundup Gift Basket.

Welcome, Colleen, and tell us what romance means to you.

Colleen Thompson on Romance

CT: Thanks, TJ!

After the initial courtship, romance -- at least in my case -- is not so much about the grand gesture as it is the little, day-to-day things. When my husband brings me tea and the newspaper in bed on Sunday morning, when he comes home from a 10-hour work day and cooks a meal because he knows I'm tired (or, lately, because my left arm is broken and it’s a real pain to handle food), or comes with me on a research trip for my latest book, I know I'm being romanced. When he listens with interest as I talk about my day or describe some problem I'm having, or when he cleans up some disaster the dogs have dragged inside the house, I definitely feel moved to help make his life easier as well and to do special things to make him feel valued.

But from time to time, the grand gesture is still appreciated. It's lovely to find out he still remembers to show up with flowers or take me out to a nice dinner and a show, and he's just as pleased when I arrange surprises, special moments to punctuate the long span of our shared lives, to underscore the fact that neither one of us takes it for granted. That we realize our time on this plane and in this place is limited, as is everyone's, and that makes it all the more precious.

Married romance isn’t often commemorated in art, books, or movies; most people find it too humdrum to be of interest. Which is exactly why we need to celebrate it in our real lives, as I did when I wrote the poem below for my husband years ago.

I’m normally very private about my poetry, but I’ll share this one on one condition: that some of you share with me your favorite romantic gesture, either one you’ve given or received.


I learned of distant suns once,
most of whom are paired.
I wonder,
do they circle warily,
always careful to avoid intrusions
into each other's prominence,
or, like us,
do they orbit in content companionship?

No flares between us any longer,
no supernovas yet,
no cosmic cataclysms
foreseen on the horizon.

Just a long, bright double orbit --
for this stretch of forever --
to wonder at,
to marvel
that this solar system's bachelor sun
has never known the like.
- Colleen Thompson

IMHO: What a lovely poem, Colleen. Your hubby is very lucky to have you, as are you to have him. Thanks for stopping by. So, folks, are you prepared to share your favorite romantic gesture with Colleen?


Contest update

Due to circumstances beyond our control, there has been a delay in getting Susan Squires' post up. Please stay tuned and we'll get that up as soon as we can.

We'll still be giving away Susan's book, ONE WITH THE DARKNESS, in the gift basket, and romantic suspense author Colleen Thompson will be here on Saturday, Jan 24. Ooo...something to look forward to! :-)

[UPDATE 2/7/09: Susan Squires was in fact unable to participate in our contest this time around due to circumstances beyond her control. We'll see if we can't hook up with her somewhere later down the line. Susan's book, ONE WITH THE DARKNESS, will not in fact be in our basket, but Brenda Scott Royce's book, MONKEY LOVE, will take its place instead. Thanks, Brenda!]

TJ Bennett (friend me!)
The Legacy (available now) When secrets destroy, can love live on?
The Promise (May 2009) In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Want to win TEN free autographed books? A new contest: What Romance Means to Me!

Feel free to pass this announcement on to reader groups, booksellers, librarians, and anyone else who loves free autographed books.

Join my new contest, What Romance Means to Me!

Ready for a fabulous Valentine's Day giveaway? Well, hang on, because beginning January 21, 2009, you'll have a chance to win a marvelous "Romance Roundup Gift Basket" of autographed books. We'll be celebrating "What Romance Means to Me" with some wonderful authors you know and wonderful authors you should know all blogging at IMHO through Valentine's Day. After all, who knows more about romance than romance writers, right? And each one will put a signed book in the basket for one lucky person to win!

There will be something in the basket to suit every taste. I'll even throw in an autographed copy of my debut historical romance, THE LEGACY. That's ten free books from some of romance's finest.

Here's the lineup of authors and the books they'll be giving away:
Jan 21 Colleen Thompson, RITA nominated author of romantic suspense (THE SALT MAIDEN)

Jan 24 Brenda Scott Royce, humorist, children's television writer, and winner of the Book Buyers Best Award for Single Title Contemporary (MONKEY LOVE)

Jan 28 Kerrelyn Sparks, NYT Bestselling author of light paranormal romance (THE UNDEAD NEXT DOOR)

Jan 31 Trish Albright, Golden Heart nominee and award-winning debut author of romantic adventures (SIREN'S SONG)

Feb 4 Christie Craig, award-winning author of light romantic suspense (DIVORCED, DESPERATE, AND DELICIOUS)

Feb 7 Lynne Marshall, award-winning author of Mills & Boon medical romance (PREGNANT NURSE, NEW-FOUND FAMILY)

Feb 11 Lynda Hilburn, author of paranormal fiction and Benjamin Franklin award-nominated author for Best New Voice in Fiction (THE VAMPIRE SHRINK)

Feb 14 Sophie Jordan/Sharie Kohler, USA Today Bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance (SURRENDER TO ME by Sophie Jordan and KISS OF A DARK MOON by Sharie Kohler)

For details on how to win, go to my contest page at
Good luck!
The Legacy (April 2008) When secrets destroy, can love live on?
The Promise (May 2009) In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love....

Friday, January 09, 2009

New Myspace page

Just wanted to let everyone know I have a new MySpace page and I'm blogging over there as well. The posts there will be shorter and (hopefully) more frequent. Come visit and stay a spell.

In the meantime I'm making some special plans for this blog for later this week. I'll announce it over on my Myspace page and here once I get all the particulars nailed down.

See ya soon,