Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.
Sunday, 22 January 2006
hearts of pink
I hereby announce my membership to the Pink Heart Society! What is the Pink Heart Society? I hear you ask. The Pink Heart Society is a place for all of us who adore reading romance to celebrate it.
Viva le Category Romance! Viva short, sweet books that give you a flutter in your tummy and a grin on your face! Viva books that give you the same happy, entertaining, moving experience as a great romantic comedy movie while reading them at your convenience at home, or in the car while waiting to pick the kids up from soccer practice, or while the case you are trying is on recess, or to clear your head between exams, or to perk you up when down, or simply to take you away from it all for a few hours.
To find out more check out Trish Wylie's illuminating blog to find out why you are already a member of the Pink Heart Society you just don't know it yet!
I have been tagged by the fabulous Bronwyn Jameson, and since I am a list freak (read below!) I couldn’t help myself! Check out Bronwyn's blog to see who else has been tagged! 7 things I cannot do: 1. Cook. 2. Enjoy summer without six layers of sunscreen, a hat the size of a UFO and sunglasses. 3. Sleep without a cover of some sort. 4. Say something unpleasant without knocking on wood. 5. Jog. 6. Eat cooked mushroom. 7. Read one book at a time.
7 things to do before I die: 1. Karaoke (muchos Long Island Iced Teas will be necessary!) 2. Live at Lake Como for six months. 3. Meet John Christopher. 4. Stay in the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Almost did on honeymoon, but spent the cost of one night’s stay driving through New England instead! 5. Do a proper push-up. 6. Learn Italian. 7. Get laser eye surgery! Please, this year, please!!!
7 things that attract me to men: 1. The flutter in the tummy that comes from goodness knows where. 2. A cheeky smile and twinkle in the eye. 3. A certain je ne sais quoi in the way he walks, talks and moves. 4. A nice suit and tie. 5. Making me laugh so hard my side hurts. 6. Smooth skin and just enough muscles. 7. When they love me back!
7 things I say most often: 1. That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! 2. Whatever… 3. How ridiculous. 4. What’s for dinner? 5. I win! 6. Love you, bubby. 7. Ya-hah!
7 Books or Series I love: 1. “The Prince in Waiting” Trilogy by John Christopher 2. “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller 3. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman 4. “HMS Ulysses” by Alistair Maclean 5. Anything by John le Carre, Dick Francis, Jodi Piccoult or LaVyrle Spencer 6. “Ice Station” by Matthew Reilly 7. Harry Potter et al.
7 movies I can watch over and over: 1. Pride and Prejudice (need I say more?) 2. Notting Hill (the last shot is my idea of heaven) 3. Field of Dreams 4. Aliens (my fave film, though it doesn’t quite fit with the rest) 5. The Winslow Boy (Jeremy Northam at his haughty best) 6. Shining Through 7. Bridget Jones’s Diary
7 people I want to join in (tag, you're it): 1. Nicola Marsh- writer of fabulous, flirty, sexy, mile a minute, modern romance with a twist 2. Trish Wylie- gorgeous Irish writer who'll make you laugh and sigh all at once 3. Olivia Gates- wham, bam, action adventure author who'll give you the reading ride of your life 4. Hannah Bernard- funny, lovely, romantic writer who really makes you feel like it could happen to you 5. Natasha Oakley- wonderful new English author who tugs at the heartstrings 6. Liz Fielding- the queen of the warm and fuzzies and giggles galore 7. Kelly Hunter- brand spanking new Modern Extra author - check out the fab excerpt on her new site! Check out more favourites on my diversions page of my website!
My Mum loved Viv Richards when he was captain of the West Indies cricket team.
She adored him. We kids knew his name before we knew the names of our own green and gold gods of the pitch. For years, a poster of him held pride of place on the back of our toilet door. So whenever the West Indies came to Australia to play One Day Internationals it was a time for this family to play cricket.
Bundled up in t-shirts, short shorts, thongs - of the footwear variety - zinc sunscreen across our freckled noses, and Eskies filled with beer, juice and sandwiches, we went in hordes to the Gabba to watch the mighty teams thrash it out. But as a pre-teen, I knew little about cricket itself. I learned that the cool girls all wore string bikinis, and the cool guys drank so much beer they snored in sight of everyone come afternoon. I knew the names of the wicket keepers who were always my favourite. And I learnt what I thought was my first ever swear word.
Sitting at the Gabba ground in the good old days it was all grass and no chairs and anyone who stood or kneeled or moved ever so slightly it would impede one's view. The great catch cry of the year soon became "Sit down, you Mug!". I thought "Mug" the dirtiest word ever. Every time someone yelled it out I lost it, falling back onto the hard dry grass, clutching at my stomach which hurt from laughing so hard. And when Mum and Dad actually encouraged me to call out to some larrikan with a baggy hat and a hairy beer paunch, I thought I was in heaven!
Thus was my impression of live cricket. As a kid, it was all about the crowd.
So I was interested to see how the game, and my impression of it, had changed as an adult. On Friday, when I went to watch Australia vs Sri Lanka in the opening tri-series One Day International, I thought I was in for a day of proper, mature, involved cricket watching. Eyes on the game. Attention paid to each and every bowl.Ready to laud Brett Lee's fast bowling and Andrew Symonds' all round talent.
But I pretty soon discovered, even for a grown up, that's just not cricket.
Cricket is all about the kids in fake 1970s David Boon moustaches. The rows of guys in matching stubbies, tank tops and yellow afros. The way the local mobile tower transmits the words "C'mon Aussie" to everyone's mobile phone. The catch cries of "You're going home in the back of a divvy van!" and "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi". Aisle 8 who try again and again to get the mexican wave going until once it begins it seems to go around for ever.
And the beachballs.During the eight odd hours we spent at the game, there must have been fifty beach balls. Because let's face it, with the Nazi ground officials and police are out in purely to grab and deflate every beachball they can get their hands on, a crowd of 40,000 needs that many to keep us alert for such a long day.
Add beer to the mix and the later the day gets, and the less beachballs have survived, we the crowd come up with alternatives. Blown up condoms, blow-up dolls bounce about the arena. Or let's just stack up our plastic beer cups and pass them back and back, getting larger and larger all the way until some poor slob in the very back row gets stuck with a corsatina length of plastic cups twice his own height.
The moral of the story is, anyone who says cricket is boring obviously doesn't know how to entertain themselves!
I think setting is a major secondary character in any book. The bright lights and speedy pace of Sydney. The rolling waves and hippy inhabitants of Byron Bay. Or the harsh dry colours, stifling heat and dangers of the Outback. Set the same two people in any of these locations and the setting can't help but make an impact
Take my current book, A FATHER IN THE MAKING. I took a city boy, Ryan Gasper, and gave him a prime reason to move to the country where he meets a dyed in the wool country girl, Laura Somervale, who would never move to the city no matter the reason. This produced my first ever fish out of water Outback Romance.
growing your characters from their surroundings:
Laura is a product of her surroundings. Think beautiful, harsh, hot, rugged and utterly stunning scenery, rolling hills, eucalypts scattered along the hilltops, tasty tank water, barbed wire fences, wombat holes, unforgiving lantana and blackberries curling along creek beds, and wide blue skies over looking the lot. She wears dresses to ward off the heat. Her hair is long and wild and held back by nothing fancier than a piece of string. And she is seen in bare feet more often than not.
City boy Ryan in his neat suit stands out like a sore thumb which adds confilct without even trying. Even when he tries to fit in wearing jeans and an Akubra his clothes are so obviously new that he looks even more out of place
making your location work for you:
The photos here were all taken by me, on a 42 degree day that was so hot my skin felt like it was peeling from my arms the minute I stepped outside. But step outside I did. Because as a city girl myself, I know this one little part of the Outback intimately. Though Kardinayarr property on which my heroine lives and the nearbyt country town of Tandarah are make-believe, they are based on the beautiful part of the world in which my husband grew up. Our heroine's worker's cottage is situated atop a hill I know well. I gave her similar views, the same gorgeous flowers around the verandah, grey kangaroos tripping across the driveway, the fallen tree with its family of rabbits, and a similar dam at the bottom of the hill Kardinyarr is isolated. The townspeople have to rely on one another for so many things - in sickness, in celebration, in care of their children, in times of great hardship. Laura, as a member of the PTA, and of the CWA is deeply involved in her community. Whereas Ryan, who lives his life surrounded by thousands, is a loner. He goes where he is called, traveling the world lecturing. An island to himself he is thrown into this tight community and realises what he has been missing.
write what you know, or if you don't know - learn!:
As research, I spent some time at the Mernda country markets which have been running every Monday for over one hundreds years on the northern outskirts Melbourne. Once there one can spend hours trawling through the strangest collections of knickknacks ($1 videos, costume jewelry, mower parts, football socks etc.).
And I even attended a livestock auction which made its way into the book! On one of the hottest days of the summer, the scent of human sweat and hot beasts in the auction barn was not one I will soon forget.
A defining moment in the writing of the book came when I saw a little family of Angora goats for sale. One looked straight down the barrel of my camera and I just knew they had to appear in the book as well!
Join Ryan a city savvy economist with the world at his feet as he lays down his hat at Kardinyarr, a sprawling country property, and navigates the complexities of an Outback life he never wanted. But navigate it he must if he is ever going to get the better of the utterly too lovely Laura, a woman who sings to magpies, and still uses and apron when she cooks, and captures more than his interest... Add to that her daughter Chloe who is seven going on seventeen, Jill the too cluey owner of the Upper Gum Tree Hotel, Chimp the dog, and Munchkin the goat, Ryan is not entirely sure if he is ever going to get to the bottom of his younger brother's mysterious life and death.
I am a terrible goal setter, but I am a fabulous list maker. So this time of year always has me torn.
The idea of listing things to achieve/give up etc. in the year ahead makes my pen holding finger itch with anticipation. But if I don't lose those 5 kilos, or write the great Australian novel, win a million in the lotto, and call my parents more often, does that mean I am a failure? Can I really squeeze my hopes for the new year into such neat compartments?
I think that hoping for peace, hope and happiness is a great list. A true list. A real list that I hope to contribute to by writing books that make people smile, by smiling every day myself, and by being the best cheerleader I can be to my friends and family all year around.
And even though I am not so silly as to think that by December 31st this year the whole world will be a bright and cheery place, I can do my bit. Right?