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.
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.
The question of secrets within family is often used as the plot for books. For me I was more interested in how a lifelong secret can affect a person’s emotional development and what consequences this would have on their life. A stone in the pond ripple effect was my suspicion and it certainly turned out that way as I delved into how a secret affair by a mother impacted the lives of her three daughters.
‘The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover’ is the first book in the Baxter Sister series. It’s about the eldest sister Natalie. By the time she is of marriageable age, she doesn’t want a fiery relationship like her parents had. She chooses a cool calculating business acquaintance but his calm exterior is a front, his terrible temper has dire consequences. He dies in a car accident that almost takes Natalie’s life and she loses the baby she was carrying. Once she is physically healed she takes a job in Scotland organizing a fundraising ball to benefit orphans. But she accidentally has a once night stand with her a kind client before finding out who he is. She agrees to a secret affair for the month she’s living in his castle in Scotland while organizing the ball. If her parents weren’t the sort of people who kept secrets she wouldn’t be able to see having a secret affair as an option. The problem is falling in love leads to heartbreak because to secure the future of the orphans, her client, a Scottish lord must have an heir to inherit the trust. Natalie is unable to conceive again. Their secret affair becomes a secret love that can never be openly acknowledged.
In writing these stories I wanted to show the far reaching impact that a secret can have on the people close to the person keeping the secret. That having a secret might be something that is done to protect yourself and others but that the truth will find a way to surface and then everyone has to deal with the real situation when the false one that is hiding the truth is swept away.
‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby’ is the second in the series about the Baxter sisters. The youngest daughter, Katrina is really her mother’s lover’s baby girl. Although both parents knew they decided to keep it a secret and she was never told that the man she thought was her father wasn’t her biological parent. Although he wanted to raise her as his own he was never able to completely forget that she was living evidence that his wife had been unfaithful. Poor Katrina didn’t know why he couldn’t look at her properly or showed more affection to her sisters. She internalized the blame, thinking it was something wrong with who she was, and that made her struggle for success as a ballerina to win her father’s approval.
The secret about Katrina’s parentage was finally outed when her parents died in a car accident. Katrina was shocked but also deeply wounded because a bedrock truth in her life had been a lie. She had turned to her biological father, a man who had paid for her private school and ballet classes but was again rejected. He didn’t want his son to know he’d been unfaithful in his marriage. Even becoming a prima ballerina wasn’t enough to heal her self esteem, and she gave up on ever being a woman that any man would love. After all if her own Daddy didn’t love or want her, who will? This devastating impact of being the victim of a family secret creates even more serious consequences when she falls pregnant to a man she loves but can’t believe he would ever really love her.
The final story in the series is yet to be published. It’s about the middle sister, Ruby. She’s a loner with no friends. Artistic like her parents, she’s out of place in her private school with her dyed, bright red hair. Jarrod is a popular young man, being groomed to take over his father’s fashion business. He recognized her talent for designing fashion when he saw her sketch pad. He encouraged her and saw through her rebel disguise to the soul of an artist.
When Jarrod tells his father about Ruby, his father is horrified that his son is falling for the half sister of his illegitimate daughter. He actively discourages their relationship and refuses to help Ruby in her career. When Jarrod’s parents separate he is asked to stay with his Dad. He’s devastated about his family breaking up and wanting to support his father so he backs away from Ruby.
When Jarrod steps back from her, Ruby doesn’t understand but what can she do but shut down and keep away? She finishes high school still mad with Jarrod for having led her on and worse than that, she believed he was different.
Years later she is working for Jarrod’s family friend. Jarrod is running his father’s company since he passed away. When he hears that Ruby has been accused of stealing designs, he doesn’t believe it’s true. Jarrod knows she has talent and has been set up. He makes a plan to right wrongs of the past and present but getting Ruby on board proves much harder than he imagined.
‘The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover’, ‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby’ and ‘The Australian Billionaire’s Secret Marriage Deal’, completes the series about the Baxter sister’s secrets, yet I think there is so much to untangle when a secret comes to light that I'm also working on a new story about a hero and heroine with family secrets. The healing that comes from secrets being unearthed is an uplifting process so it’s very satisfying to write about characters’ struggling with this journey.
PS. I’m working on having Ruby’s story, 'The Australian Billionaire's Secret Marriage Deal', out in Spring 2018
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, recusing roses and planting new ones.