I’m thrilled to have here today fellow The Wild Rose Press author Babette James as she shares a bit about her wonderful book Clear As Day….
Wow, it just seems like we just did this but it was me in the hot seat… So, tell us a little about yourself. When did you start writing, how long and what do you write?
I’ve always loved writing and making up stories, beginning back when I used to act out epic fantasy tales with my dolls. (My Barbies had swords and knew how to use them.) I even have a degree in Literature, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I wrote my first full rough draft of romance novel and began gathering up my nerve to pursue publication. I fell in love with writing romance and have focused on contemporary and fantasy romance ever since. I enjoy reading romance and I want that guarantee of a happy ending. I’m also a teacher, and I enjoy encouraging young readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. My class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! When not writing, teaching or reading, I dabble with bread baking and painting, and try to keep up on weeding the garden beds. I live in New Jersey with my wonderfully patient husband and our three extremely spoiled cats.
LOL… Loved that your Barbies loved swordplay…
What can you tell us about Clear As Day that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt? Was it an easy write? How long did it take you to write it?
Clear As Day is my debut from The Wild Rose Press and it’s a sweetly scorching 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 bloom and come to life as a full-length published novel and being able to hold my book in my hands has been a dream come true. It’s been receiving some wonderful reviews, including 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews and 5 Stars Top Pick at The Romance Reviews.
Clear As Day started life years ago as that little “story under the bed you love but can’t do anything with.” I had originally written it as a short story back when I was in college, as an exercise featuring the desert setting of Lake Mohave, which is a stretch of the Colorado River below the Hoover Dam, and the little story was born that would eventually grow into Clear As Day. I grew up in Southern California and I’ve always had a love of the deserts of the Southwest, particularly the areas of Lake Havasu and Lake Mohave, and even took a college class on desert biology. I loved the juxtaposition of the stark, hot landscape with the cool waters and wanted to play with that particular setting. I’m delighted with my cover and how it shares some of the area’s unique beauty.
I never found a place for it in its short story form. Too sexy, not sexy enough. Too long, not long enough. I’d take it out every now and ponder what to do with it, only to file it back away. There were many times I felt like giving up, but I kept on writing new stories and improving my craft.
In January of 2010, I took the story out once more, thinking to expand it into a small novella for a publisher’s call. That did not work out, but taking that step pushed me forward to really write Nate and Kay’s story, and the once short story bloomed into a sweet and sexy novel and even germinated several ideas for sequels. I enjoyed exploring how Kay was the one resistant to commitment and how sweet and certain Nate was in his love for her. It was a delight to see their love story evolve. I adore Nate, his loyalty and his humor, and had so much fun writing him. I love Kay and all her caution and uptight habits she uses to hide her vulnerability and that she’s never chosen the expected routes in her life but made her own. And the fun part is I don’t have to say goodbye to them just yet. I’m currently working hard to finish and submit the next story featuring a couple from Nate and Kay’s circle of friends, tentatively titled Love Burns. I love this couple, and I’ve enjoyed seeing their story come to life as they work through their personal trials and find their own happily ever after together.
That is some story… Congrats on the fantastic reviews… This book is on my TBR pile. I think a lot of writers, me included, have stories that we can’t let go. For me, it was my first contemporary Western, Heartstrings (formally titled “The Long Road Home”). I rewrote that story so many times it’s not funny, but it paid off just as it did for you. It was picked up by Lyrical Press and comes out next May.
Are you a pantser or plotter? What can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I’m definitely a pantser. The only plot goal I have in the beginning is that my hero and heroine will reach their happily ever after at the end. I start with a scene and a character and the story grows like Topsy in every direction until I discover how it all works out. I do create an outline as I go deeper into the story to keep track of scenes and start to build the synopsis, but the story comes first and outline second. I’m often as surprised as my characters are along the way. Plotting would be much more efficient, I’m sure, but I’ve given into the fact my mind doesn’t work that way and now I enjoy the unexpected on the journey to The End.
I love writing the first draft, I enjoy the surprises of storytelling. The first draft is all happiness, seeing that word count grow, finding favorite passages, fun lines. I enjoy seeing a story grow out of a little idea, plots twist and turn, expand and shift, how one story can spawn into a series, and how the characters grow and reveal their lives and find their happily ever after. I love seeing characters emerge and reveal their stories. Creating characters is like making new friends and rediscovering old friends—always full of surprises.
I try to write and/or edit every day. I like to write very early in the morning before work and at night. I usually write while in an online chat with my critique group and other writing friends. We’ll often do timed challenges to work on writing or editing and share snips of our work.
It sounds like this is a process that works for you. I know I’m a panser, too, and the one time I tried plotting, the story that I wrote had very little in common with the massive forty pages of plotting I had done.
If you could be any fictional character—including your own, who would you choose and why?
Hmm, this question is harder than it first seemed. Too many choices, lol. I’ll simplify by choosing my heroine, Kay. She loves her careers as painter and teacher and she has the freedom to travel, explore, and devote guilt–free time to her art
Sounds like a great choice to me.
What is your favorite TV show or movie?
My favorite current television show is Once Upon a Time. My favorite movie would be The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I love Once Upon a Time… And The Lord of the Rings…I’m very much looking forward to the Hobbit.
Okay, since I write both vamps and cowboys, I want to know, which is sexier: Vampires or Cowboys?
I’ll have to go with cowboys. I’ve loved cowboy heroes longer than vampire heroes thanks to reading Louis L’Amour stories back when I was young.
Louis L’Amour had some awesome heroes; I won’t argue there.
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.
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.
Clear As Day can be found at:
Come fall in love at the river.