Wednesday, December 09, 2009

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.



Jane L said...

Jennifer, I Loved A Christmas Ball, I am a huge fan of Emily's and really enjoyed your story also!! I could so get into a warm weather Christmas, Expecially today when the windchill is -30 below in Minnesota! EEKS!

One of our fun family Christmas traditions is, we have an advent calender with a little mouse and we put a dollar in there everyday. My kids would literally fall out of bed to beat their siblings to get the dollar! now that they are grown and gone we still put the dollars in there and one of them always stops in and takes all the money and calls their siblings and teases them.

Then on Christmas day there is $20 dollars for the lucky winner!
It is fun, they still act like little kids! LOL!

Colleen Thompson said...

Enjoyed reading your traditions, Jen! Congrats on receiving at least two (that I saw) RT Reviewer's Choice nominations. Yea, you! And you know I loved Lord Ian! Will have to check out A Christmas Ball too.

jcp said...

I can't wait for your July 2010 release!

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer, love your books. I just finished reading The Christmas Ball, great book! We spend Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve with a huge meal and opening gifts and on Christmas day we got to my MIL house.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hello, ladies! No need to enter me for anything. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, TJ. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

JoanneR said...

Your warm weather Christmas sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great recipe. Am definitely going to give them a try.

Margay Leah Justice said...

We don't have any unusual holiday traditions in my family, just the usual get-togethers at various houses with loved ones. It probably sounds boring, but we usually open presents early, go to visit the paternal grandparents for awhile, collect my mother and go to my sister's for food and a lot of laughter. It gets pretty wild when we're all together!


robynl said...

a tradition that Mom and us girls started years ago to give the women a chance to relax after the hectic dinner preparations:

we buy a small gift or do a craft for each of the ladies in our family and after the meal/dishes/ gift exchange we go into a separte room and have a 'ladies gift exchange'. It is interesting what some come up with. This year I am giving a knitted dish cloth with a glass cutting board to each lady.


mrsshukra said...

We don't really do anything unusual at Christmas! Just get together with the same group of friends for dinner on the 25th.

One of the best historical romances I read this year was Jennifer Ashley's TMoLIM! Thanks!


Judy said...

I really enjoyed your post and reading about your traditions. We really don't do anything out of the ordinary with family. A few of my lady friends and my daughter and daughter-in-law, we go have a luncheon about a week before Christmas and exchange tree ornaments.

Thanks for the recipes!!
Merry Christmas to all!

misskallie2000 said...

Jennifer, I Enjoyed reading your traditions and I plan to bake the "Biscochitos" and add them to my Christmas Baking.
Children grown & we don't have a real tradition. Just always call each other early Christmas day with wishes. Would love to win your books. Have been avid reader for over 50 yrs.

misskallie at yahoo dot com

The Scarf Princess said...

Our odd traditions are...On Christmas Eve we always have chili, pizza, and cinnamon rolls.

And then on Christmas Day we have the annual box of crap (cheapie gifts gotten from everywhere and wrapped up) from which the person picks. There's no trading though, whatever crappy gift you get is yours to keep.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Jane said...

It's not an unusual tradition, but we like to open presents at midnight instead of Christmas morning.

Anonymous said...

Our traditions are pretty usual, but one of my favs is being "the kiss fairy." We have this jar with a silly picture of reindeer kissing and every Christmas I fill it with Hershey's Kisses and put it on the mantel and then see how long it takes for my husband to notice it's there. ;-) -- willaful

TJ Bennett said...

Just wanted to let everyone know that Jennifer had to travel unexpectedly today, so she may still be searching for WI-FI service. Hopefully, she'll be able to drop in and comment. If not, we're still grateful for her post!

Next Wednesday, we'll have the inimitable Christie Craig dropping by for a hallooo, so be sure to stop in then.


Debby said...

I love redipes. thanks for the new one and for the nice post

cheryl c said...

Our Christmases are pretty traditional. The only "funny" thing that we do is eat at a Chinese buffet every Christmas Eve because it is the only restaurant open.

Dawn M. said...

We don't really do anything unusual now, but when I was a kid we did. My parent got tired of the wild frenzy when opening presents so they decided to slow things down a bit. We each got to open a gift but then we had to wait 30 minutes to open the next one. That way they had time to get it out of the box, put it together or put batteries in it and we had time to play with it. It was actually kind of nice as we got older.

Now, we just go around the room and each person takes a turn opening a gift. That way we all get to see what it is and ohh and ahhh. :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks everyone for the great comments! Sorry I couldn't answer yesterday, but it was crazy! :-)

I love hearing about all these things people do (especially the jar of kisses, LOL!). I think regardless of what traditions we have, getting together with family and friends is the best part. Just hanging out (eating and) talking (and laughing our heads off) is what makes holidays the best.

Thanks for all the comments!!

I'm looking forward to chili, cornbread and biscochitos with my family on Xmas Eve. (And presents; I love presents!) :-)

throuthehaze said...

oh yum! Those cookies sound so good. I don't celebrate any unusual Christmas traditions :)

Linda Henderson said...

One unusual thing that happens in my family for Christmas is the passing of the CD my SIL received 3 years ago for Christmas from his aunt. My oldest daughter was laughing about the CD so the next Christmas they gave it to her. It has went back and forth on Christmas, fathers day, halloween and just about every holiday you can buy a gift for. They gave it to me last year for Christmas so when I was sending some movies over to her house that she wanted to borrow I stuck it in the bottom of the sack. So now she has to figure out how to give it to the oldest for Christmas this year. Since she will be expecting it you really have to be devious about it.

librarypat said...

You write a truly wonderful variety of books. I have A CHRISTMAS BALL and several of your other books. THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is on the top of my To Buy List.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Anonymous said...

It probably isn't unusual, but it was for me in the beginning. My NY Italian DH and his family open pressies at midnight on Christmas eve instead of waiting until Christmas morning. Then Christmas day...OMG! The food! There is even a pasta eyes popped out of my head the first year!

Anonymous said...

nothing strange just at home watching bowol games lol


Kara said...

We are another family that opens their presents on Christmas Eve at midnight. Makes for a relaxing Christmas morning and a huge breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments and thanks for sharing the recipe

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy!
I don't think we really have any "unusual" traditions. My favorite of our traditions is the Jesse tree - reading a scripture passage every night.

Kaye said...

Not much unusual for us either. When the kids lived at home, we always opened gifts Christmas eve so we could sleep late in the morning. Of course, we always had to have some of the home made fudge with our breakfast. Yum!

Christmas in the warm weather is definitely different. Enjoy the holidays and your recipe sounds great.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your recipe...sounds yummy.


skyla11377 said...

Immortals Series Under Sounds Awesome. I Definitely Have To Put That On My To Read List.


SiNn said...

o0o a yummy recipe to try!

Ive enever had the pleasure of reading any of ur workbut sounds awesome deff be checking it out

SiNn said...

forgot to answer we celebrate the few days after with our own holiday called we only care about us also known as lazy family day

we believe in celebrating eachother not just the day me and my fiance do this thing where we write down all the things we disliked or did that we didnt like durring this holiday crazyness two seprate peices one for us to burn and vow to do better and one to keep to lookback on what wed like to change

CherylS22 said...

We really don't celebrate any unusual Christmas traditions. The tradition I enjoy the most is making the raviolis for Christmas dinner with all my cousins around Thanksgiving time!

Happy Holidays!