Hi, thanks for stopping by the blog to see what I'm up to. I've been working on and off for a couple of months on a Christmas story. It's been great during our Melbourne lock down to have a sweet story to retreat to in a setting close to my heart.
If you'd like to read about how it all started and take a peak into my creative process read on.
It all began when I decided to participate in a Melbourne Romance Writers Guild online writing challenge. The first consideration was, what can I realistically commit to? I hadn’t written any new words for a long time because I’d been reworking a book I wrote earlier. To fire up my creative spark, I needed the excitement of a fresh story. Also, I craved writing something unlike anything I had ever done before.
What would give me joy? What would be a pleasure to immerse myself in? Christmas in July came to mind. I love Christmas shops, the ones that are stuffed full with happiness decor. Elves and Santas, fairies and angels, nativity scenes and forest animals, I love them all. Anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love Christmas decorating. I have posts about it on my blog under the Christmas category.
It wasn’t long after I started imagining a cute Christmas shop that Samantha Bell, the shop’s owner, made her appearance behind a counter tucked into a corner. She turned and looked at a staircase that led to a mezzanine area full of boxes crammed to the ancient oak beams. Then she looked out the shop’s front glass door. The street outside was in an English village that was paved in brick and lined with Tudor style shops. I had my heroine and the setting and the beginnings of a Christmas novel.
Samantha Bell has been struggling to keep up Jingle Bells, her father’s Christmas shop, since he passed away five years ago. I wondered, in author style, what is the worst thing that could happen to her? I imagined her arriving at the shop one morning, coffee in hand, ready to open up and start her day. It’s the first of October and the official start to her Christmas season. New stock will start arriving today, and the town’s people will be calling in to see the new displays she’s setting up.
But someone has put a piece of paper on the front door with a big red X on it. On closer inspection, the fine print declares that her building has been condemned. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Jingle Bells. Her life, as she’d always known it, would be finished too. How would she provide for herself without the shop?
Samantha heads straight to the council offices to sort out what must be a terrible mistake. It’s here she meets Nicholas Grant, the super organized and efficient manager of the building department. He excels in administering the department codes. Following the guidelines suits him perfectly. Oh, and he doesn’t do birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas. He spends those days with his model railway, which he’s very proud of.
But there’s something about blond curls and red cheeks and tears in blue eyes that make Nicholas look a little closer into Miss Bell’s situation. It seems a fire report has been the cause, strange that it hadn’t been flagged until now. Then he remembers how her father, always came to the orphanage, where Nicholas lived for six years, dressed up as Santa Clause to give presents to the orphans. Miss Bell had accompanied him, dressed as an elf. She was all grown up now at five feet tall, but she still has blue eyes, bouncing blond curls, and red cheeks.
Before Nicholas knows it he’s up to his armpits in helping Miss Bell to unravel the council’s building codes that apply to her shop. With his help she starts to see that she needs to step up and take responsibility for all that comes with owning a business and he helps her to discover her full creative potential.
What he doesn't know is that Miss Bell is going to be the catalyst for him to face something dark from his past. Something that is keeping joy from his life. It's Samantha's purpose in life to spread joy where ever she can so she's not going to give up easiliy when Nicholas begins to push her away.
I'm working on having it ready for release around this time next year, but if anything changes or when the release is due, I plan on including that kind of information in my newsletter that I'll have up and running soon so if you'd like to be on the list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll make sure you get an update.
Part of this blog are an extract from my Romancing the Genres post this September. It has been updated with the latest on how the novel is progressing and I added the photos.
Until next time, happy reading.
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Doing the things that give me energy is essential to my creative process but there's an added bonus, that is huge.
After a lifetime of doing what my head said was right, I'm still learning to listen to the subtle messages from my heart. I've been feeling blocked in my writing and have been meditating on what thought patterns are behind it. While at the same time, I wanted to feel productive, so I turned to doing something that has worked for me in the past.
Working with my hands fires up my creativity. I started making this collage from scrap-booking paper and supplies. I made a good start but the final picture didn't come together in one afternoon. I had to let it sit with me and add extra bits and pieces over time. It was the 'Go Your Way' sign that gelled what my subconscious was trying to tell me.
In my meditations, a recurring theme kept cropping up around worthiness. If anyone had asked me if I felt worthy I'd have said yes, but with a quiet mind during meditation, some big doubts came forward from my subconscious. The solution would take time to emerge, I needed to process the difficult feelings, working on my collage helped me sit with them.
I had an idea that I wanted this collage to reflect my true self, as a way of valuing who I am. I began with adding elements that speak about my favorite things. Predominantly, I wanted something tangible to help me take ownership of what I like about being me. Something I could look at that would remind me of my passions at times of distraction or self doubt.
Roses are my favorite flower. These white roses came in a huge sheet which I fussy cut into odd sections. I love the shabby chic style, pale blue background paper with more subtle roses. The scrapbook script paper refers to my love of writing. This sparkly chandelier has been in my stash for ages and I finally had a reason to use it. There are no less than three chandeliers in our house, even the bathrooms have mini chandeliers, if I count them all that makes five.
The lace I used was also the inspiration for Sam's and my wedding, being traditional and elegant. I've always been enraptured with lace. I love the way the formality of the lace is contrasted with the scrappy paper and how that says so much about my eclectic tastes. I decorate with the odd luxury item and home made sitting side by side. The once gold frame was a cheap thrift store find that I painted white with chalk paint.
I arranged all the mix and match elements and hot glued them down. Next came the dark blue/grey paper butterflys. I always loved them for the promise that one day I'd grow wings. I really feel I'm there, my life is sorted. I've found a loving life partner and established a home for us. Regarding my writing, I have and self published two books and two short stories. These Butterflys now remind me to look for the light. That's what butterflys do, they look for rays of light to dance in.
The little sign, 'Go Your Own Way' summed up both what I needed to acknowledge, and what this work had been leading me to. Going my own way is the how I resolve being worthy. It doesn't matter if I'm good enough, or if I deserve success. I only need to live authentically to be getting it right,and that seems to make the question of being worthy or not irrelevant. Of course I'm worthy of being myself. It's embracing all that is me that makes me feel whole.
I'm very happy to say that I have started working on a new story. The characters are currently making themselves known to me. It exciting to be at the beginning of a new journey but I also have a finished book that needs significant rewrites. The heroine has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, but I've been holding back from really exploring how deeply this affected her. I think I was afraid of upsetting myself or the reader. But I think every voice that adds to women being deserving of respect and a romantic hero that shows it is a good thing.
There's only one thing to do, and that is to go my own way with this. I need to stop holding back or pulling my punches. This story deserves to be told to the best of my ability and I'm going to do my best for it.
If you've ever felt not good enough or hopeless about achieving something, I totally understand how you feel. Its terrible in the way it cripples creativity. Mt advice is to make a start on something and do it just for yourself. Turn off your inner critic that says it's no good and focus on the fun you're having while you're doing it. Nothing ever has to be perfect, even nature is imperfect.
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Heart-melting, passionate romance.
With ‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby', several elements came together to inspire Katrina’s character. As a child, I dreamed of being a ballerina. I was fortunate enough to go to classical ballet classes at a very good school. Each year there was a concert held at the town hall. The Victorian-style theater with balcony seating was very grand.
I can recall how it felt to dance on a stage in front of hundreds of people. Even if I was only a flower on the edge of swan lake I loved the excitement of being backstage, having my makeup done by the older ballerinas and how the precious tulle skirt felt against my legs. I remember the nerves and adrenaline rush when it was my cue to go on stage. I wrote a blog on my website about that time called Memories of Being a Ballet Dancer.
I read a magazine article about a ballerina who’d received a grant to help her in returning to dance for The Australian Ballet company after having a baby, a seed was sewn that matched with my ballet dancing experience. Katrina’s character came to life in my mind, a ballerina who had a baby and is now returning to dancing but the father discovers she’s had his child through the publicity she was given as a grant recipient.
When traveling in Italy I enjoyed the northern lakes so much, dining on stone terraces overlooking a lake while the sunset was so incredibly romantic. While driving to the shops one day, we went past a car company that I’d never heard of in Australia. I don’t even remember the name of it now, but the idea of an Italian Aristocrat who’d inherited his racing car driver father’s company popped into my mind.
I’d once been a fangirl of Ayrton Senna, the Grand Prix champion and a dashingly handsome young maverick. I was so sad when he died in a crash on the track.
I found inspiration for the daddy for Katrina’s Baby. Alessandro Rinaldo was the son of a racing car driver who had died on the track. He’d become a champion himself following in his father’s footsteps but had promised his mother that he’d never marry while still racing so that he didn’t break a woman’s heart like hers had been if he was killed.
More pieces of the puzzle came together when I discovered that the Grand Prix race held in Melbourne coincided with the Australian Ballet Company season there. Also, another piece is that the Italian world-renowned Ballet company home is the Teatro De Scala in Milan where nearby is also the famous Grand Prix track at Monza.
I could now place these two people in each other’s home cities through their work. He and Katrina had met at a society function in Melbourne and later and had a whirlwind romance when she won a place at the La Scala ballet company. So they could be together in Europe they married, but he did it in secret and made a pact with her that they didn’t have children. When she fell pregnant Katrina didn’t expect him to want the baby because when she’d found her birth father he rejected the connection. She had firsthand experience that when men say they don’t want a child, they meant it.
She left Italy and came home to Australia to have her baby. The theme is about father-child relationships. What does it mean to be a Dad, and how far will you go to accept a child into your life or reject it. I personally have a very loving relationship with my Dad, I could empathize with Katrina's heartache over being denied a father’s love and wanting to protect her child from the pain of rejection, and also with Alessandro who’d unwittingly deprived himself of the gift of fatherhood but strongly wants to make amends.
The scene where Alessandro surprises Katrina mid-pirouette at her rehearsal and confronts her about their child came to me in its entirety, like watching a movie.
The book The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby was born. The working title back then was the Rinaldo Heir. I still like the working title but thought the published title would let people know what the book theme was about more. Which one do you prefer? Perhaps you can think of one that I didn’t.
An excerpt from chapter one.
Alessandro Rinaldo, Italy’s darling F1 champion checked his rear view mirror as he took the premium position at the top of the track on the last corner. The car behind drifted a fraction down the steep incline in a challenge to his lead. Alessandro always succeeded at whatever he set out to do. The other driver knew that but would be ready to take advantage the minute Alessandro gave him a tiny break.
They went deeper into the tight corner. Alessandro focused on the camber of the track, his speed, the distance from the wall. But then, a photo he’d seen of Katrina flashed through his mind. She stood on pointe in a pink tutu holding a baby that had his eyes and his father’s smile. The punch in the chest hit him again. A child he’d never met or even knew existed was as familiar to him as his own face.
He should never have opened his emails. Never read the ballet company donors’ newsletter when preparing for a race. A week ago he’d discovered that his estranged wife had born a child. His child! He’d decided to put the information in his lawyer's hands while he focused on the race, but his will obviously wasn’t strong enough to keep thoughts of her and his child out. His lawyer confirmed that the child was DNA tested shortly after birth, his name was on the birth certificate. Why would she have done this without telling him?
A bitter taste flooded his mouth just as the challenger behind pulled down sharply from the turn in a suicidal attempt to overtake on the inside. Alessandro checked his speed, too slow. The desperate challenger capitalized on Alessandro’s momentary distraction.
If Alessandro moved an inch from the barrier, they would clip wheels, but if he sped up, he could scrape the wall. He must maintain his current position if he wanted to win this race. And he wanted to win this one more than ever. The revelation that he was a father meant he had to keep the promise he’d made. This would be his last year on the circuit.
He hadn’t made this choice. Katrina had gone against their agreement, not to have children. But even if she hadn’t planned it. Not telling him wasn’t fair; they’d made a baby together. She must have been attempting to tell him the last night they were together. God knows he hadn’t made it easy for her. But two years? Not finding a way to tell him in all that time was betrayal, pure and simple. He inhaled deeply and tried to concentrate. I can’t think about that now. I have a race to win.
He pressed the accelerator. Alessandro, formula one world champion, must put this challenge down. No one was going to get the better of him, and definitely not here on the track. But the nearest driver was now beside him and keeping him pinned against the wall. If he pushed in front to take his chances, he’d be gambling with both their lives. Dying or winning was on the table, as it always was during a race, but this time was different. The father in him was young and he’d only known for a week that a child existed, but the impact was high. It demanded survival; squashed the idea of dying.
He took his foot off the gas just enough to keep him in second place, but the challenger was going too fast now, drifting up the track. Fear spiraled though Alessandro and tangled in his gut.
Braking hard would put the rest of the field behind them into peril but keeping up this speed meant the two of them would lock wheels on a tight curve. Losing control would result in a major disaster. He did the only thing he could to save everyone. He let the beautiful car, which he’d spent a year engineering, drift up into the barrier.
Metal screamed. In his rear mirror, the cars behind were braking and steering away down the track. The idiot beside him shot ahead. After the pack had past Alessandro pulled his disabled car off the barrier. He‘d thrown the race, his distraction had given the challenger an opportunity. His aching, stiff shoulders slumped.
His tire had a wobble from being pushed against the barrier, and the front guard scrapped it but suddenly dug into it. His back end flipped out and now the front of his car dove into the barrier. The machine lifted briefly and smashed back to the ground before spinning away down the track. The world flashed again and again. I gave the race away, and I’m going to die anyway.
Highly combustible fuel vapor prickled his nostrils. Metal scraping on metal meant sparks would be flying. His grandfather, his father and now himself all dying the same way. At that moment a strange sense of peace came over him. He resigned himself to his fate, and then he remembered his child. A child he’d never meet. His fists gripped the wheel as, instinctively, he fought to gain control, desperate to live.
The world spun and spun, but the car slowed and eventually stopped turning. He landed on the inside on the race track. A miracle. He unclipped and forced himself to breathe slowly while he waited for the emergency team to arrive and pull him out. He prayed the miracle held and a fire didn’t start before they could get to him. Before he could meet and hold his child. His son.
Edited from a blog that was posted on Romancing the Genres 26th Jan 2019
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover
The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby
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My first objective is to drink a glass of water while I make a cup of tea. I drink my tea sitting up in bed where it's restful and peaceful.
Next I like to meditate. This is a time where I clear my mind and let my brain waves shift into a receptive place. I like to let what is bothering me come forward and then let it go into a stream to be carried away. I learned to meditate years ago and I am able to make the shift from monkey mind to receptiveness effectively now, but it took practice. I’ll meditate for about 10 to 30 minutes. Once I've let go of distractions, I am able to let creativity rise and new ideas be received into my conscious mind.
I always feel refreshed after meditating and ready to meet the day's challenges. Using my phone, I’ll do a quick check for emails and social media that need responses, then I get up ready to have some breakfast.
After straightening the bed and putting the cushions back, I wrap myself in my new Kimono (which I adore) collect my reading glasses, phone and tea mug and swan out to the kitchen at about 8.30. Depending on how hungry I am, I have one or two pieces of toast topped with something different each day. My favorite toppings are gluten free Vegemite, jam, a poached egg, a slice of cheese or slices of tomato with salt and pepper. I make another cup of tea to have with it.
While I’m eating breakfast I like to watch a couple of YouTube videos. Topics that inspire me are crafting, gardening, home decorating, and story analysis. The channels I’m enjoying most are Olivia’s Romantic Home, Garden Answer, Live Your Style and The Take.
After breakfast I turn on my computer and while it’s firing up I take a cup of coffee into the garden and water the flowers or just sit and enjoy the view. I bring a glass or water into the office and start work at about 9 to 9.30. If I’m having a low energy day, that can move back to about 10 to 10.30 before I have the brain power to begin working on whatever is most pressing. If I have a blog due, that takes priority. I prefer to write blogs like my books, write a draft and revising some time later on. It doesn’t always happen but that’s what I aim for.
If I can dive straight into my current WIP I love it. I’ll write for about an hour. I’ll drink a glass of water, shower and get dressed in something comfortable. I brush my hair and teeth and fill another gloass of water to take back to my computer. I begin another session of 1 to 2 hours of writing. That takes me up to lunch time.
I keep writing on and off for the rest of the day, interspersed with five minutes jobs like washing a load of clothes or vacuuming the bedroom. I have more energy as the day goes on, but this morning routine seems to get me productive and feeling better.
Noticing what my habits are gives me the framework for a routine that I can consistently keep to. Also I gain the ability to tweak it a little. Trying to impose a routine has never worked for me. Mindfulness of what I need to be productive has been the basis of how I structure my day. Awareness provides the ability to grow into making more healthy and productive decisions.
I suppose the takeaway I'm sharing in this blog is that when I consider my needs and not just what I want to accomplish it works. It's a balancing act as are most things in life. The push pull of doing what we need to, opposed to what we want. Knowing my limits lets me take care of myself while still having productive times in my day.
While YouTube is inspiring I can feel a little glued to the telly. If that happens, I remember the good feeling I have when working at my computer. After all, a morning routine has to work for you, not against you.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover
The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby
Follow Dora on Instagram Facebook and Pinterest
Creative people will experience it at some time or another. A deep gut reaction preventing them from starting a project, completing it or worse, making them perform poorly. The later becomes a self fulfilling prophesy that they aren't talented enough.
This deep gut feeling brings a sense of impending doom. A warning to not proceed because danger lies there. Anxiety driven decisions follow which feel deceptively right. 'Do it tomorrow', anxiety says or 'Have something to eat'. If strong enough to ignore this horribly uncomfortable feeling, the constant thoughts of 'Is this good enough,'accompanied with feelings close to panic, while doing the task, can undermine the ability to finish. Because anxiety driven thoughts are dominating the creative part of the brain, it lowers the quality of what can be produced.
Unfortunately this anxiety can become worse the more proficient people become at their craft. More knowledge means anxiety can judge more harshly. Work that is a baby waiting to grow up can be tossed aside as useless because it hasn't arrived fully formed. Judging has to happen after the work is produced so that it can be refined and developed further. But performance anxiety, armed with knowledge, disparages the seedling for not being a fully bloomed rose.
I have asked myself the question, if I did this before, surely I can do it again. But asking questions is dangerous because anxiety will answer. It will say, that past success was luck, you can't do it again. This time is different and you won't be able to do it again. Blahhh. That's enough of that.
I've tuned to inspiring writing quotes, and I've seen a lot in my ten years of writing. They have their place but when it comes to performance anxiety there really aren't any that help me. But the words of prolific romance author, Maisy Yates, stayed with me. I heard her speak about her writing life at a Romance Writers of Australia conference. She said that she protects her joy of writing because her writing supports her family. That is the clue that led me to finding a practical way to get the words flowing. Remember the joy.
What I did, is remember how good it felt to be sitting and typing at my desk. How amazing it is to me that something that never existed before is now here. I don't communicate with my performance anxiety, I shift my focus away from worry to what I enjoy doing. A simple remembrance of a time I was enjoying my writing seems to beat that performance anxiety energy. Joy is powerful, it has energy changing properties. It builds a desire to turn on my computer and sit in the chair and start typing.
It's the process of being at my computer and typing that I like. I enjoy being a writer and eventually there will be a story. The baby will be refined and edited and even grow up into something surprising. I don't think about if it will sell, if I will like it. I stay in the present and enjoy writing. Eventually the characters start to take form in my mind and they starts to say and do things like I'm watching a movie. I'm typing as fast as I can so that I catch it and bring it into the physical world where it can be shared with others.
This brings me to the other element that helps keep me coming back to my computer. That writing my stories instead of letting them just play out in my head means I'm sharing them with others. It's an act of generosity to tell stories and that energy is loving. It matters that I am willing to share and have made a contribution. It's my contribution for others to enjoy or not, that doesn't matter really, only that I was willing to let something of my creation go out into the world.
Being an author means I will not be liked by everyone. I can't know exactly how much pleasure my work might bring to other people or for how long, but that's not my concern. Writing the stories is my business, and I enjoy doing it.
My next project is to start the second draft of a story about a girl born into a musical family. When her mother dies she is sent to live with her grandmother in another state. Now grown up she's come home after inheriting her father's nightclub.
However, she discovers the guitarist from her father's band has already made a home there and expects her to sell it to him. She finds out that he's become the adopted son her father always wanted.
This romance explores how our sense of home informs our identity. It isn't just a place on a map but a place that holds the secrets of who we think we are.
I'm going to enjoy developing this story and bringing it into the day light. It's the joy of creating that is going to bring me to my keyboard, open the file and pick up where I left off each day.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
My current work in progress is set in the music industry. It's a story that is partly inspired by my time working in administration for a rock music venue. I met some famous people, which was wonderful but most interesting was learning what when on behind the glamour. I've always loved being where music is playing, so it seemed a good fit when I was invited to work there.
I'm not surprised that I was drawn to work in the music industry, having grown up with music playing much of the time. Besides my father playing classical records on Sunday mornings, my older sister played records like the Bee Gees and the Beatles every day. But live music was also a huge part of my early life, performed by friends and family on our heirloom piano in our modest lounge room.
I can still smell the Mr Sheen as I polished my great grandmother’s piano. The carved scrolls enchanted me with their fairyland quality, as I revealed warm glossy hued timber swirls from beneath their coat of dust. For me it was the magical center of our house. Not only did it look majestic and beautiful, from it came sounds that transported me to another world.
Aunty Bev, Dad's sister, played by ear. She would say, "Sing the tune for me," and then she could play it straight away. Family gatherings were common, a highlight would be when she'd sit at the piano and begin playing the songs we all loved. Her brothers would gather around with their wives and all my cousins and we'd sing together. I was aware of belonging to a warm and loving family and felt happy, oh so happy.
I also loved it when my sister played for me. Mostly she had to practice her lessons but sometimes she play for fun and I’d sing along standing next to her. I wanted to learn but couldn’t make my hands work independently of each other. I learned guitar instead and could play and sing as often as I wanted.
As time went by, I developed thick calluses on the end of my fingers from playing so much, but I didn’t mind. I did very well at playing beginner chords and even achieved a first place certificate for best in the class. However as soon as I needed to play the more advanced bar chords it got too hard for me. My wrists weren’t strong and they didn’t toughen up. But I continued to play adapting songs and fudging the chords a bit. I enjoy the guitar sound so much, because like the piano, it is the strings vibrating that makes the sound.
Dad’s best friend loved creating beauty around him, gardening and painting, but particularly music. He was a concert pianist during the second world war and played many famous classical pieces on that old piano in our lounge room. His music somehow became a part of my soul. I can recall, all these years later, how it felt, how it sounded as if it were yesterday.
I’d stand at the end of the keyboard and watch his fingers move incredibly fast across the ebony and ivory. How was he able to strike so many correct notes in perfectly timed succession? The sound waves vibrated inside my lungs as I breathed the music in, closing my eyes. I’d think only of the sound and let it become a tangible living thing inside, transporting me to another dimension where only beauty exists.
I hear those tunes now when my father plays his recordings, and it uplifts me as only something loved and familiar from childhood can do. It can’t be the same experience I had as small child, standing beside Uncle Keith, with the sound waves of uplifting beauty reverberating through my body and flooding my senses. But music still transports me to a world of magic and beauty.
I'm so fortunate to have had that experience at a young age, and while we lacked some things, in regards to music our family had an abundance. It had a healing effect, soothing worries away and bringing joy. In the novel I'm currently writing, music is the hero. Helping to bring a woman home to where she remembers the joy music brought her in childhood and into the arms of a Country/Rock-star that needs her to love him.
While I write I'm drawing on the memories of my child self, listening in wonder to the magic of music and the strong family connection it holds for me.
Stefanie London, a writer friend, posed a question on her Facebook feed this morning about whether or not people re-read their books and if so which ones do they come back to the most.
I could put my finger on two. I re-read Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe many times, enjoying the escape from the mundane world to fantasy land with talking animals. Each time I rejoined, Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Tom on their adventures I experienced the excitement and camaraderie. I relived their testing times and determination to keep going when all seemed lost.
The second book is Persuasion. This Jane Austen classic not only fired up my romantic nature but also combined a reunion love story with a tale of having to leave home. Anne goes on adventures unimagined when her father has to rent out the family estate and move to Bath. Although she imagines spending the rest of her days in a place she dislikes, that isn’t her destiny. The move sparks a chain of events that provides her with choices of new home and romance that had previously been unimagined.
I noticed the link between these two stories was each had a heroine who had to leave her home. Her safe world had been upended, and she has to use all her skills to navigate through what transpires because of it.
It makes sense to me that these types of stories would resonate with me because of the experience I had at the age of nine. I had to leave my home when I became sick and spend a long time in the hospital. My mum would come and visit me every day. While she was there, I felt safe, but when it was time for her to go, the hospital was a scary place. I had to make new friends with the staff and other patients and endure often painful or uncomfortable tests and treatments to make me better. I was on my own most of the time and had to deal with stuff that didn’t happen in ordinary everyday life.
Like the heroines of the stories I read, I came home again one day but was changed by my experiences. I used to wake my sister at six in the morning with my singing which I learned to do to pass the early hours in the hospital. What was worst was that home felt foreign. It seemed as though I didn’t belong in my own bed anymore. It took quite a while for that feeling to go away. I definitely became more independent from this experience, and I learned some fun crafts from the occupational therapists at the hospital that I was able to do at home. I learned that I can manage away from Mum and Dad and that although the journey can be tough, it helps to make you stronger.
In 2013 I had to spend six weeks in the hospital. I learned some precious things about myself during a time of forced retreat. Not long after romance came into my life and a new home followed. I love my life, even though there have been times it felt like it was kicking my butt. The ordinary days have become treasures to me because I’ve experienced the challenging times of being alone and struggling.
I like to read and write romance or books because they are always the story of people who have to face tough situations and grow from them. Finding love is the metaphor for having discovered the way to survive and thrive with challenging changes and embrace a happy life.
You can read the first chapter of my books on Amazon, or if you have a subscription to KU, you can read the whole book.
Do you have a book that calls you back again and again?
clothing. I got to see buttons and fabric samples, zips etc. I already had an interest in fabric from learning to patchwork so that part of my day was the favorite. Samples would arrive from the upstairs workshop and I’d be asked to try it on to check the sizing. I dreamed of being a real model but had to admit my first love was fashion designer.
In my senior years at high school I talked about being a fashion designer and doing a diploma at The Melbourne College of Textiles. At the time the college was just down the road and around the corner so it seemed like a perfect fit for me. However I was advised it would lead to work as a pattern maker at best or a machinist at worst. I knew I didn’t want that, I wanted to draw and create things. I didn’t come from a rich family who could fund me going solo so I looked for a way to earn a living in an office. Working in the fashion industry gave me an opportunity to see behind the glamour and find out what the industry could be really like.
My to be released book the Australian Billionaire’s Secret Proposal, is the third and last book in the Baxter Sister Series. It's about the middle sister, Ruby. She's a talented fashion designer, but she struggles to stand up for herself. Only when she can does she find her way back to true love. I was inspired by those days working alongside fashion industry professionals but I wanted to know more about being a designer.
As luck would have it I was talking about the book to my travel agent who put me in touch with a working fashion designer. We met and I told her about the events in my book (a fashion designer who's had her designs stolen) and the setting in Melbourne, Australia and Jaipur, India to check for authenticity. She told me the book could have been about an experience she once had in the industry.
She gave me heaps of information which enabled me to understand the pressures a designer is under. She explained of the number of garments and how many collections per year she had to design to tight deadlines and importantly, the potential to have your work stolen is very real.
I was so lucky to have an afternoon talking to her and all she wanted was a salad from subway as a thankyou. While we ate, I filled a notebook as she talked about her time at a previous employer who’d sent her to India to work. She was so surprised that I’d used that city as the setting for the last portion of the novel.
With all of that being such a huge coincidence I feel that this book was meant to be.
Mum taught me to sew when I was a teenager. The first thing I learned to make was a basic wrap around skirt first which I wore with pride. Then, I graduated to more complicated dresses.
Smock style clothes were my favourite I have a picture of me wearing a smock top I made when I was about forteen. I loved the feel of cotton the most and the sight of luxurious, meters spread out on the dining table. It seemed a shame to cut into it but I wanted the new dress so the paper pattern pieces were pinned on and cut out with Mum’s best sewing scissors.
Those early clothes making attempts gave me a can do attitude to crafting with fabric. I altered patterns and combined two different patterns to get the style that would suit me best. I made party dresses and the dress I wore to my high school graduation ball. I also made the dress I wore to my engagement. But with the price of patterns and fabric going up and the cost of buying a new dress coming down, it didn’t make good financial sense as I went into my twenties. What had once been a necessity was a luxury later on. But sewing my clothes during my teenage years created a lifelong love of fabrics and fashion.
I went to work in an office and that allowed me to buy an expensive fashion magazine called Harpers Bazaar. During the early 1980’s I cut out pictures of the fashions I loved and pasted them into a scrap book. I still have it. I dreamed of being a fashion designer and going to Paris, but it was never something I could fund so it remained a dream. There in the back of my mind until I began writing romance. A fashion designer came to me, a rebel with vibrant magenta hair at high school and a dog eared scrapbook that she took everywhere with her.
She woke in me the girl who’d made her own clothes and took pride in her work and she lived the dream I couldn’t. Ruby Baxter finished high school and went to work for a middle of the road family fashion house. She designed bread and butter styles that sell but dreamed of having her own line. She put in hours of work to pull a new collection together to relaunch the fading fashion house but when it was met with rave reviews her boss took all the credit. So Ruby leaves determined to pursue her dream and work as a freelance designer but her ex boss is afraid Ruby’s work appearing elsewhere will uncover her lie so she tells another. She claims that Ruby stole the designs from her and passed them off as her own.
Of course she needs a white knight and there’s one who’s been following her career for years. He’s the boy she loved back in high school. Hushing up a family secret had divided them but now he’s determined to clear her name. Ruby has no other option than to accept Jarrod’s help but he commands a high price. Ruby’s hero turns out to be a calculating businessman in the fashion industry who will turn protecting an old friend from scandal into an advantage.
It always amazes me where my stories come from and I’m really enjoying the memories of how much I enjoyed sewing and creating a fresh design to wear that no one else will have. I think if I’d been on the verge of achieving my dream and having it stolen from me, I’d so just about anything to make it right. If it was the handsome Jarrod who I’d never really gotten over, it would be a major challenge but I think I’d take the chance. What would you do?
The Australian Billionaire’s Secret Proposal is the final book in the Baxter Sisters Series and is coming soon.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free short story, Brave in Love and get the details of when Ruby and Jarrod’s story will be released.
I want my novels to have an uplifting effect on the reader. I take passionate, sexually attracted couples with terrible emotional wounds on a journey through the relationship they are meant to have. In finding a healing love it leads them to strive for their happy ever after.
In this week’s blog I’ve posted an excerpt from The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby. It falls close to the end of chapter two, and begins in Katrina’s point of view. It changes to Alessandro’s in chapter three. I did this because it’s about a man meeting his child for the first time. I want you the reader to be able to feel what each is suffering and hoping for It’s a huge moment in all their lives, Katrina, Alessandro and their baby Alex.
For Katrina and Alessandro, their past is playing a huge role in their present, and it is playing out through their internal thoughts and is preventing them reconciling.
In the first couple of chapters we see that both Katrina and Alessandro are still very sexually attracted to each other. It’s a strong pull that is matched by real love. But the hurt that this love once delivered makes them reluctant to let those feelings resurface. But it’s still there. You can read the first chapter on Amazon.
Have a read of the excerpt below and after it I’ll talk more about how healing love is working in the story.
Katrina and Alessandro fell in love but their relationship didn’t work out the first time because Alessandro lacked the ability to commit and Katrina couldn't believe a man could truly love her.
In the excerpt, baby Alex brings Katrina and Alessandro back together. You can see the effect on Alessandro that meeting his child has. Also what is shown is that their pasts play a huge role in how they internally process the events taking place. Alessandro finds the will to be a better man and show up, while we also see how Katrina is going to have to rethink her plan of raising Alex alone.
Neither is comfortable with the way things are changing. No one ever is, but the love they feel for each other and their little boy will keep them trying hard to work things out. Of course they have a lot of changes to make regarding their view of the world and each other but their love enables them to heal.
Although Katrina and Alessandro are good people, their past hurts have caused them to make hurtful errors of judgment, so that now it’s almost impossible to put things right. But this is a romance and they do find a way. That is because of the healing kind of love which is my kind of romance.
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The Italian Billionaires Secret Baby is available in eBook and print or borrow for free from your Kindle device with Amazon Prime.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.