Guest: Babette James - Clear as Day
Babette James writes contemporary and fantasy romance and loves reading nail-biting tales with a satisfying happily ever after. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys playing with new bread recipes and dabbling with paints. A teacher, she loves encouraging new readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. Her class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! She lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and three extremely spoiled cats.
Q: Welcome, Babette! Please tell us about your new release. Do you have a review you could share with us?
A: Clear As Day is my debut from The Wild Rose Press and just released on April 4. It’s a contemporary romance about two friends “with benefits” facing the fears and uncertainties of their changing relationship. I loved writing Clear As Day, it’s been a story of my heart in many ways, so seeing this story published is a dream come true. I hope you enjoy their journey to love as much as I have.
What’s a girl to do when her summer lover wants forever?
Haunted by dark memories of her parents’ volatile marriage, artist Kay Browning keeps her heart locked behind a free-spirit facade and contents herself with the comfortable affair she has every summer with easygoing photographer Nate Quinn.
The only trouble with her plan? This summer Nate’s come to Lake Mohave to claim the lover he can’t let go. He’s done with the endless traveling and settling for temporary homes and temporary loves. Kay’s always been more than just a vacation fling, and now he must convince this woman, who sees love as a course to certain heartbreak, to take that leap of faith and learn how safe love with the right man can be.
I’m delighted to share the 4 1/2 star Scorcher review Clear As Day received from RT Book Reviews in their May 2012 issue:
“Though very sensual, this is still a sweet romance. The heroine must come to terms with her unhappy family life and accept that her choices can be the right ones for a future built on love, with an outcome of peace and contentment.
Kay Browning is disappointed when she learns that none of her friends will be able to join her on their annual camping vacation. She will especially miss Nate Quinn and the sexual encounters they’ve shared for two weeks each summer for the past six years. She’s very surprised when Nate shows up and tells her the gang’s all at another campsite to surprise her. She’s shocked when Nate produces a ring and tells her he wants to make their association a permanent year-round affair. But Kay likes the fact that they are just friends with benefits. She has an unacknowledged past that has her running scared from any type of committed relationship. Can Nate convince her that the future is hers to choose?” ~Susan Mobley
Q: That's an awesome review! Congratulations! Why do you write romance?
A: I write romance because that is the kind of story I enjoy reading and I want that guarantee of a happy ending.
Q: I know what you mean. I need a happy ending. :) Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A: The book grew out of the setting. When I was young, my family took camping trips every summer to Lake Havasu or Lake Mohave and I loved those scenic desert places. Clear As Day began as a short story years back when I was in college, an exercise featuring the July desert heat and cool waters of Lake Mohave, a reservoir downstream from the Hoover Dam formed out of stretch of the Colorado River by the Davis Dam. My cover shows a glimpse of the shoreline. It’s a starkly beautiful location and lets you feel you’ve gone somewhere completely remote even though it’s accessible in only a little over an hour from Las Vegas.
Q: It sounds like a fantastic setting. How did it impact your plot or characters?
A: My hero, Nate, and his friends go backcountry camping at Lake Mohave every July to get away from it all for two weeks of friends, fun, fast boats and fishing. My heroine, Kay, specializes in desert landscape paintings and she has been taking trips to Lake Mohave nearly all her life. For Kay, the desert is familiar, safe, and provides inspiration for her art. However, Lake Mohave stirs memories, good and bad, and has her conflicted between the pain of her past and her desire to be with Nate and their friends. Their camping site is only accessible by boat, keeping everyone in the group in close quarters, privacy isn’t easy to find (a challenge for more intimate scenes!), not everyone enjoys rough camping or the heat, and several of my characters discover that getting away from it all doesn’t guarantee their troubles stay at home.
Q: Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: The title Clear As Day came from a bit of dialogue in the story by one of Kay’s friends. The story had a working title that I wasn’t completely settled with, and that phrase just struck me one day as perfect for the story. I was delighted that The Wild Rose Press let me keep the title.
Q: Interesting! Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A: Characters. I love seeing them emerge and reveal their stories. I’m a pantser, so it also can be frustrating as they send the story off on in a dozen unexpected directions. Creating characters is like making new friends and rediscovering old friends—always full of surprises.
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: Keeping the conflict between Nate and Kay from resolving too easily into happily ever after was a challenge. They were already friends and lovers and, as Nate assumed, pretty much in a committed relationship. But, as I explored Kay’s and Nate’s backstories, as well as their friends’ lives, and how this group of friends intersected and affected one another, their simple friends-with-benefits relationship proved not so simple. Despite those years of close friendship, Kay and Nate painfully discover just how much they didn’t know about each other and had assumed. They needed to learn to really talk and listen to one another, take risks, and truly trust, if their friendship was to survive and love they’d always shared have a future.
Q: I love discovering characters' hidden depths. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A: I’ve always loved writing and making up stories and I always wanted to be an author. I remember carting home armloads of books from the library, loving all the different stories and worlds and I wanted to write the stories I imagined, too. I remember playing out complex tales with my dolls and studiously writing out pieces of stories in spiral-bound notebooks and on backs of school papers.
Q: Can you share with us “the call” story?
A: What was I doing when I got the news? Well, that day last August, at a little after 5 a.m., I sat down to my computer with my cup of coffee, Pookie the cat curled up in my lap, and I opened my email. Just another ordinary Friday morning. And there it was, at top of the inbox. The email from The Wild Rose Press. Good thing I had already swallowed my mouthful of coffee. I had to read the preview twice: “Congratulations! I’m very happy to offer you a contract…” The magic words. And, yes, I cried. And everyone I was bubbling over to tell was still asleep or off-line. My husband works crazy hours, so I was trying not to wake him. Thank goodness for Twitter, and I found my friend, Kim, was in chat already, so I could share before I burst.
Q: That's so inspiring! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A: Never give up on your dreams and keep on writing. Clear As Day started life years ago as that “story under the bed you love but can’t do anything with.” There were many times I felt like giving up, but I kept on writing new stories. Then, the day came I finally knew what to do with Clear As Day and how to really write Nate and Kay’s story. Because I didn’t give up, now I can share this story I love.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: As Clear As Day expanded into novel length, I needed to explore their friends’ lives, and additionally, ask what happened next to all of them, after Kay and Nate reached their point of happily ever after. I found that the story of Kay and Nate and their friends had not ended, but had more still to tell. I’m currently hard at work to finish and submit the sequel, tentatively titled Love Burns. I love this new couple, who are two of Nate and Kay’s friends, and I have enjoyed seeing their story come to life as they work through their personal trials and find their own happily ever after together. And other friends will be joining Kay and Nate in falling in love at the river.
Thanks so much for letting me visit here today!
Come fall in love at the river.
Excerpt from Clear As Day:
With a splash, she erased the frustrating daydream. This wishful imagining fixed nothing. Her sheltered little camp would still be empty. Should she give in, pack up the camp, and hit the road north to Lake Mead instead? Just break her routine for once.
No, but it was definitely past time to get her tush out of the water and do something constructive. This lonely gnawing in her bones and brain was unacceptable. Kay pushed to her feet, facing out to the scenic lake created out of a stretch of the Colorado River and the rugged land beyond shimmering with heat.
Work, right, but it was too early in the day for the hard afternoon light she needed for the Coyote Point painting. She was too restless to read or fish and not in the mood to take the boat over to the marina, chat with George, and buy ice.
She rolled her shoulders and stretched, enjoying the hot air licking over her wet skin. As she wiggled her feet in the sand and gravel-bottomed shallows, a flurry of minnows darted past her ankles, and her silver toe ring glinted beneath the clear water. She paused, caught by the possibilities in the sparkling sun on water and the intricate, shifting reflections over gravel.
Yes! Exactly the distracting challenge she needed. Shaking the water from her ears, she pivoted toward camp.
“Kay!” That male voice was not her imagination.
“Oh, shit!” She twisted and dropped into the water, sinking neck-deep.
Mother always said, among other things, that a lady never goes skinny-dipping and must always wear a proper hat. Kay was only half skinny-dipping, but she fervently wished she’d worn something a bit more substantial than a baseball cap and the bottom half of the quintessential teeny-weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.
Shit, oh, shit, oh, shit. She so hated when Mother was right.
Okay, time to find out who’d just gotten an eyeful. The guy had called her name, so she should know him. Oh boy, if she’d flashed old George…
She wiped water from her face, sucked in a breath against her pounding heart, and peeked around.
She must be sun-dazed. Nate? With a beard? Hair curling over his ears? No way.
Just because a familiar slouchy fishing hat topped those unruly, sun-bleached blond curls and just because this guy possessed the same deep-water tan and footloose taste in clothes as Nate with his electric blue Hawaiian shirt, bright orange swim trunks, and beat-up deck shoes didn’t mean—
“Hey, babe. Now that I’ve finally caught your attention, how about a hug from my girl?” He opened his arms. “Am I coming in after you or are you coming out?” Only Nate’s voice held that mellow timbre like chocolate for her ears.
“Nate! What…” Giddy delight flushed over Kay, clearing her shock. She dashed from the water and into strong arms, a wonderful hug, and a better kiss that launched her mind into a blissed-out whirl of oh, yes and why?
The oh, yes won out until the need to breathe forced them apart.
Nate gave her a long look, his usually easy gray eyes holding a new, simmering heat.
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