Creative Romance Month – Alternative Dinner Venues

vday1-300x225It’s Creative Romance Month, and this month I’m blogging about creative ways to show you care. Going out for a candlelight dinner for two is always romantic, but what about shaking things up a bit? Go for something off-the-beaten path. Here are five alternatives to the candlelight dinner for two.

 

1. Cuddle up for a night-time picnic. We’ve all had picnic lunches at the park, or by the lake, but what about at night? Put together a simple picnic basket, with vdd-couple-under-the-starscheeses, fruit, a crusty bread, wine or champagne, and of course chocolate. Toss down a blanket at your favorite park, or better yet, in your own backyard. If it’s chilly, cuddle up and listen to the night sounds and gaze at the stars.

 

2. Enjoy a beach bonfire built for two. After a romantic dinner out, have desert on thebonfires beach next to a roaring fire. S’mores are perfect.

3. If you’re lucky enough to live on the water and have a boat, take the boat out and drop anchor. Dine on your favorite portable foods like fried chicken, potato salad, and chocolate cake. If you don’t have a boat, a dock will do just fine.

Rooftop-dinner-NYC-768x10244. Up on the roof. If you live in a city high-rise, dine on the roof, with the lights of the city spread out around you, and the sounds of traffic far below.

5. Take in an outdoor concert. Many concerts in the park allow patrons to bring food, so pack a cooler and a blanket and maybe do a little dancing beneath the stars.

Have you found some romantic alternative dinner venues? Do tell.

Creative Romance Month

CreativeRomanceMonth_185Valentine’s Day isn’t the only occasion to show you care this month. The entire month of February is dedicated to romance. How cool is that! Creative Romance Month reminds us to appreciate the little things about our significant others, and to get creative to show how much they mean to us.

Romance authors are always looking for creative ways for the hero and heroine to show how much they care for each other, and it’s often the little things that count. For instance, actively listening to your significant other is a perfect way to show you care. So are simple gestures. If you’re making yourself a cup of coffee, ask your significant other if he’d like one too. Don’t wait for special occasions – stash a greeting card in a drawer or under a pillow for him to find, just because.

In Rescuing Lacey, Lacey shows her attentiveness to Luke’s interests when she gives him a beautiful watercolor set. In return, Luke shows he’s paying attention to their conversations when he gives her a very meaningful Christmas gift. Click here to read a brief excerpt from that scene.

Sometimes showing your love means giving, what looks like to outsiders, to be a very unromantic gift, but the gift means the world to the recipient. A friend once gave his wife a humidifier. Most people laughed it off, but to his wife, who’d been suffering with asthma related to the dry climate where they lived, it was the best gift she’d ever received.

But showing how much you care doesn’t always have to involve gifts. During Thanksgiving dinner, in The Promise of Change, Alex notices Sarah is cold, and without prompting, rises from the table to get her a sweater. It’s all about attentiveness and genuine concern.

This month I’ll be blogging about creative ways to show your love and put a little romance back in your relationship. So stay tuned. And I’d love to hear your ideas for showing your significant other that you care.

 

A Visit from Author Babette James

Happy The-Day-After-Christmas! Was Santa good to you? More importantly, have you recovered from the Christmas dinner hangover?

Today, I’ve got author Babette James as my guest. Welcome, Babette! Why don’t you tell us a little something about yourself.

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 that ever since. 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 two extremely spoiled cat.

What other kind of cat is there? :) Tell us about your latest book.

Summertime Dream is my new spicy contemporary romance novel from The Wild Rose Press, which is releasing in Kindle and print tomorrow, Friday, December 27th, on Amazon. This is the second novel in my River series, which began with Clear as Day. I had enjoyed writing Christopher and Margie as friends of my hero and heroine in Clear as Day, but they were already married and happily in love and I was busy working on the sequel to Clear as Day, where again they were only minor characters. I never intended to give them their own story or write a prequel. Best laid plans… I made the mistake of asking my characters how they met. 

Christopher and Margie’s story is a perfect example of how following the characters’ ideas definitely can provide some surprises. They proved to have far more to share than a simple scene of how they met the summer before the events in Clear as Day. My sweet happy couple had shadows in their pasts and problems to resolve before they reached their happily ever after. I absolutely loved writing their novel and watching the two learn what they needed in their lives as they dealt with the house, Margie’s family, the mystery of Christopher’s grandmother, and fell headlong into love.

Characters do have a way of telling you what’s next. Why do you write?

Because I love telling stories and exploring my characters’ lives and worlds. I can’t not write.

Have you always dreamed of writing?

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. My mom always encouraged me to write and follow my dream of publication. She always believed I could do it, even when I had doubts.

What drew you to write contemporary romance?

I love romance for the happy ending and the twists and turns and traumas it takes to get there. I fully admit to being a sucker for “and they all lived happily ever after.” I originally was focused on writing fantasy and paranormal novels, but it was while writing my novel Clear as Day, which began its life as a short story I loved too much to give up on, that I found a love of writing contemporary romance. I’ve been inspired to continue in the genre by the group of friends and story world that developed in Clear as Day.

When you’re working on a manuscript, what motivates you? What frustrates you?

I enjoy the surprises of storytelling. I love seeing a story grow out of a little idea, how plots twist and turn, expand and shift, and how the characters grow and reveal their lives and find their happily ever after. I love writing the first draft. The first draft is all happiness, seeing that word count grow, finding favorite passages, fun lines.  The most angst is definitely in the editing stages. All that lovely word count, those brilliant passages (lol), and fun lines now must be corrected, gutted, rearranged, whittled down, tightened up, fluffed, and polished. It seems endless and it’s easy to lose sight of progress when focused at the word and sentence level.

What are you working on now?

I’m nearly finished with my next novel in this series, Love Burns, so fingers crossed for that one to be submitted soon. This story takes off right from where Clear as Day ends. I love this couple’s chemistry, and while it’s been a challenge to complete, I’ve enjoyed seeing their story come to life as they work through their personal trials and find their own happily ever after together. I have other stories started for couples from the circle of friends in my River series. I also have a fantasy series that’s simmering on the back burner while I focus on these contemporary stories. Thank goodness for coffee!

It’s great that you have other stories in the series, because readers love a series. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

My favorite tip is “Just write.” Pour that story out and let your characters talk. Also, most importantly, never give up on your dreams.

What do you like to read?

I read most genres of romance: fantasy, contemporary, western, paranormal, historical. I also like mysteries and, occasionally, women’s fiction—if it’s upbeat. What catches me is a story rich in description and emotional depth, and a full story world. Most importantly, no matter the genre, I want that satisfaction of a happy ending.

If you could, what deceased author would you most like to meet, and why?

There are two authors among several I would have liked to have met: Mary Stewart and J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of them were favorites to read when I was young and their stories definitely inspired the direction of my writing throughout my life.

I loved Mary Stewart as well. Describe your perfect Sunday.

Since this post is the day after Christmas, a perfect winter Sunday would be: a late breakfast out with my husband after church, then spending time in with my friends in our writing chat and making wordcount for the day (effortlessly, of course ;) ), and then curling up with a good book, a soft blanket, and a glass of wine, and watching snow make lace out of the tree branches.

Thanks for visiting with me here today. What is your favorite part of a perfect winter day?

Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Babette

And now read more about Babette’s latest books.

Blurb:

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?

Excerpt:

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 an 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.

Summertime Dream will be available tomorrow, Friday, December 27, 2013, on Amazon.com in Kindle and print.

“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

Blurb:

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.

Clear As Day, (4.5 Stars, RT Book Reviews and 5 Stars, Top Pick, The Romance Reviews) is available now in eBook and print at:

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | 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:

Website: http://babettejames.com/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ltvyP

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BabetteJames

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/babette.james

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BabetteJamesAuthor

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B007KDJWV8

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/babettejames

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/babettejames/