Saturday, January 11, 2014

Babette James - Surprised by a Story

Welcome Babette and thank you for being here today. I'm always interested in how other writers come up with ideas for their stories, so I asked Babette to share with us how she got the idea for her newest release, Summertime Dream. Sounds like mental breaks are just the ticket for you, Babette. I may give it a try.

Surprised by a Story

Summertime Dream is the second novel in my River series, which began with Clear As Day. Christopher and Margie appear in Clear As Day as friends of my hero and heroine, Nate and Kay, but they were already married and happily in love, and I had no intentions of giving them their own story or writing a prequel. Best laid plans…

I was taking a little mental break from writing the next novel in this series, and was playing around with some scraps of scenes. I had in mind a very green, steamy hot July 4th day at a picnic ground in a town park. I’d been wanting to learn to write short and writing a short story around a Fourth of July picnic, something very sentimental and traditional, and completely separate from my River series sounded like a fun project.

The viewpoint of my heroine was already in the first scene, frustrated with her family and yearning for change, yet loving her small town traditions. Then my hero walked into the scene and I discovered that he was in town because he’d unexpectedly inherited a house. Beyond that I hadn’t a clue who these two would be, not even names, but her yearning for change and his unexpected house were simmering in the back of my mind as I was pondering some back story information for the new River novel. Christopher and Margie were only secondary characters and I hadn’t gone into depth with their prior lives much beyond Christopher’s long friendship with Nate, Dave, and Lloyd, and how his marriage to Margie had surprised all his friends.

As some of the backstory was gelling for the new novel, the idea hit me: these Fourth of July scenes could be perfect for a happy little short story or short novella of how Christopher and Margie first met and married the summer before the events in Clear As Day. I thought, why not put their names into the story, work with the details I knew about them from Clear As Day, and play with the idea? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Oh, my. The story took off like a firecracker and Christopher and Margie completely surprised me with their story. My sweet happy couple had shadows in their pasts and problems to resolve and had far more to tell than a short tale of their courtship. I absolutely loved writing their novel and watching the two learn what they needed in their lives as they dealt with the house, her family, the mystery of Christopher’s grandmother, and fell headlong into love.

I’ve never been happier to have been surprised by a story.


The Fourth of July is over, but for these summer lovers the fireworks have just begun.

An unexpected inheritance brings business consultant Christopher Gordon from Los Angeles to quaint Falk’s Bend. He’s carved a week from his demanding schedule to list his great-grandparents’ house for sale and explore his roots. However, disturbing family secrets and the sweet temptation of writer Margie Olsson derail his plans, challenging him to seize the elusive dream missing from his hectic life— love.

A recent brush with death shook Margie’s life, but not her dreams and she’s ready to move forward. Only, standing up to her loving, over-protective family isn’t easy. Helping Christopher explore the derelict mansion and unravel his grandmother’s mysterious past should be a harmless fun taste of independence. But when her experimental summer fling ignites into unexpected love, how can her small town dreams work with his big city life?


Margie touched his shoulder and had him turn away from the mess to focus on the view toward the river.

Here the picturesque natural beauty of the property began: the land sloped gently down past the ancient summer house and purple martin houses to the reedy pond where a duck flew in and landed with a quack, and stretched on through weedy tangles of wild blackberry and rogue saplings to the ancient apple and plum trees sagging with unripe fruit, and beyond to the river invisible in the distance, marking where the Engberg’s farm began on the far bank.

Appreciation softened his tense face.

“Beautiful, isn’t it? I fell so in love with this place when I was little and dreamed I’d live in a house like this someday.” Margie laughed. “Of course, in my dreams it was a bit less rundown.”

“I’d imagine so. Interested in buying?”

“Oh, if only I could, I would in an instant. I’m sure the property alone is worth far more than I can afford. It’s a huge piece of land. And the repairs and restoration...” Longing swelled. She sighed. Someone else would buy and live in her dream home.

Quiet fell between them for a while. Bees buzzed in the clover. Birds sang, chirped, and flitted. A hummingbird whizzed past. Two more ducks joined the first amid quiet bickering quacks. Dandelion fluff drifted by on an unfelt breeze.

A truck rattled down the lane, breaking the moment.

“Suppose we ought to head back...” Christopher turned, so close their arms brushed, but instead of retreating, he hesitated. Their eyes locked. Where dismay and frustration had filled his green eyes, want simmered. The heavy air electrified.

You need a change.

On a surge of bewildering crazy courage, she stretched up and kissed him. The brief brush of lips to lips left her shaken and her heart pounding, like she had just come up for air.

His eyes widened in his serious, craggy face.

No, oh, no. Blowing out a unsteady breath, she pressed a hand to her stomach. She’d carried her day’s adventure one impetuous step too far. Her heroines were the daring part of her. She’d never even kissed on a first date before, and this wasn’t even a date.

Before the apology fluttering in her mind could break free, he cupped her cheek and touched his mouth down on hers.

Thinking faded as feeling soared. His gentle touch sweet and fascinating, his lips warm and firm played over hers, unhurried in his caresses and enticing brushes. He laced his fingers into her hair, cradling her head in his hand. He tenderly nipped her lip and licked at her mouth, inviting her rather than taking.

She sighed, delighting in this lovely, reckless rush. Yes. Yes. Yes. Forget that they had just met. She could want again.

Gripping his shoulder, she accepted the heady invitation, and the kiss deepened into perfect.

Come fall in love at the river:

Summertime Dream is available on Amazon:

“Summertime Dream is a perfect glass of Lemonade on a hot day. Simple, elegant and beautifully written. I enjoyed each scene. Loved the chemistry between the characters and the house. Great story!” ~ Deborah Diez

Clear As Day, (★★★★½ RT Book Reviews, ★★★★★ Top Pick The Romance Reviews) is available at:

And at all other eBook retailers

About the Author:
Babette James writes sweetly scorching contemporary 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. As 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! Born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California, she’s had a life-long love of the desert and going down the shore. Babette now lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and extremely spoiled cats.

You can find Babette at:



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Please leave Babette a comment and take a look at her links. Thanks for stopping by!



  1. I love how your story unfolded! And I'm glad to know I'm not the only writer who comes up with stories outside an ongoing (meaning forward, not backward) timeline. Best wishes with your Summertime Dream release!

  2. Hi Ashantay. lol Sometimes I think I'm writing in a hop, skip, and jump fashion.

  3. Love the way your story and characters surprised you here. Sometimes mine do, but usually with the context of something already underway. All the best with Summertime Dream! Barb Bettis

  4. Hi, Barbara, thanks so much!