Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.
Saturday, 29 April 2006
bring on may
Wow, what a month April has been!
I've been blogging at eHarlequin, and writing as a "fan in the outer" for my fave team in the whole world, the Collingwood Football Club - who have won three games in a row!!!
I had a rather public tug-of-war over Nathan Fillion with Trish Wylie. For those of you following closely, in the end she has agreed to lend me some very nice bits of Mr Fillion for use in my work in progress for which I will be eternally grateful!
I wrote half a new book in a week before my brother-in-law and his lovely girlfriend Krystal came over to stay, making sure we get out of the house to places like The Lobster Cave - a fabulous seafood restaurant, and a Melbourne institution down by the beach.
Now after all that excitement I'm come down with a head cold.
Do you think I could wind down a bit in May? Maybe a couple of weeks of rest and recuperation?
Hahahahahahahahaaaa. That's a mean cruel and nasty thing to even suggest! With visitors, appearances and a June 1st deadline, picture me knocking back ginger and lemon tea and lozenges like there's no tomorrow.
Especially on one of the greatest days on the Australian calendar. Anzac Day.
This year was the 91st Anniversary of the Anzac's (Aust and NZ corps) leanding in Turkey in World War I. But Anzac Day is the day all Aussies recognize the soldiers who fought for our country at any time.
Anzac Day is also the day the Collingwood and Essendon come together to play against one another in the biggest Aussie Rules game of the home and away season. No matter where each team is on the ladder, the Anzac Day clash is always a feast for footy lovers.
The day was hot. And by hit, I mean hot. Sun bearing down on us like we were in the desert hot. And considering we do live in Melbourne we'd turned up to the footy in layer upon layer of T-shirts and jackets an scarves and beanies, only to have to strip down the minute we planted our buttocks on our very nice seats.
Bit by bit the crowd rumbled in so that by the time to regular fesitivites began - the parachutists carrying the match day footballs, the Roulettes precision flying squadron, and great Aussie singers singing the likes of "True Blue" and "Waltzing Matilda, there were 91,234 of us.
As one we stood, held out hats to our hearts and then they read the poem:
They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn At the going down of the sun And in the mornng We will remember them Lest we Forget
Add to that the lone bulger playing The Last Post and every year its waterworks time for this yong lady.
It just shows how much Anzac Day means to we happy few when you can get 91,234 revved up footy fans to stay silent for a minute.
The match was tough, the winner unknown until the very last second, and my team beat Essendon for the first time on Anzac Day in three years.
Boy does this town of mine know how to put on a show!
Over the past days as we have wrestled over the use of a certain actor to fulfil the role of "hero" inspiration in books and life, it may not have seemed so. Heck, I may have portrayed her as a possessive, and mean and just plain unfair for not allowing me to have free rein on the man who was giving my muse such a good time.
But in the last day, not only has darling Trish been kind enough to allow me to use the specific bits of Nathan that I really truly need in order to be able to write this book of mine - check out Trish's blog for a very clear rundown - but she has also given the world this picture.
For that Trish, I thank you. Tom thanks you. Heck, my heroine Maggie thanks you!
Nathan or Tom? Tom or Nathan? Who will do right by my heroine?
I've been asked to post more pictures, and more information, for some of you who aren't yet sure where to cast your vote. So here goes!
For those of us down under, Tom Williams is iconic - a larrikan, jack of all trades, funny, and he comes across as pretty darned sweet. For those of us who have seen his "free dance" on Dancing With the Stars, we still have trouble rolling out tongues back into our mouths even when just thinking about it. He was also a qualified carpenter before getting his TV job.
Now bring on Nathan Fillion. Before Trish Wylie oohed and ahhed and sent me pictures, he was the guy from "A Guy A Girl and a Pizza Place" who married the blonde chick. (I only just remembered that I actually saw him live in LA five years ago when we got tickets to see a filming of that TV show! Trish will use that agansit me I'm sure!!!) Then he was the bad guy on Buffy who did horrible mean things to Zander so I liked him not a jot. But then came "Serenity" - the movie of the "Firefly" TV show. Sigh... That voice, that charm, that smile...
So Nathan or Tom? Tom or Nathan? And does it matter? Well for this little chook it does.
As mentioned on my eHarlequin blog, I'm having trouble choosing which of two guys would make a better match for the heroine in my current story. And until I get him locked down, I fear that calling my current manuscript a "work in progress" will just be a big fat lie!
So I need your help. I need to hear the voice of people outside of my head to urge me in one direction or the other. You may all pick one guy by a gigantic margin which may confirm what I know in my head, or being that I am a contrary young miss, it may turn me completely the other way and show me that I really do love the other guy best.
Anyway, let me give you a little bit of background first:
This lovely creature to the left is Maggie Bryce, my heroine - a feisty, wounded artist, who after life gave her lemons ran away to a big dilapidated house on the edge of a cliff in Portsea at the very edge of the world an hour's drive south of Melbourne.
Her foil is Tom Campbell, a man whom she hires as a handyman for two weeks to clear out her mess of a backyard - possibly so she can get down to the private beach at the bottom of the garden, or possibly to sell up and move on. Tom is charming, smooth, low-key and laidback. He's settled where Maggie is unsettled. He's warm where she is cool. He gives until it hurts where she doesn't think she has anything left to give.
So here they are, our two contestants.
NATHAN FILLION Imagine a deep, heavenly voice, and a constant twinkle in the eye. TOM WILLIAMS Think cheeky banter and a gaze that makes your knees weak. I could post a picture of Tom from Dancing With the Stars or Nathan with stubble and wearing a leather kilt but I thought that would just give one or the other an unfair advantage depending on your bent and... Oh all right! Here they are!
So guys, is it Tom or Nathan? Nathan or Tom. Or do you have a third to throw into the mix to really make this hard!
Today my team, the Collingwood Magpies, won again. That's twice in a row. Now that may not seem like all that much, but I take my pleasure where I can!
I am so very excited to let you know that I was asked to be this week'sFan in the Outer, which meant that I had to write an article chronicling my day watching the Collingwood Magpies thrash the Kangaroos by 77 points. Yes, 77 points. And all I can say is thank god we won! I was in a mild state of panic this morning wondering how I could spin an article if we had not won. But thankfully that never eventuated so I am a happy girl!
For those of you wishing to know why I love the Collingwood Football Club, here are a few visual inducements which may sway you my way...
Brodie was a contestant on last year's Dancing With the Stars. He is a dapper dresser, a flashy player and a female-fan favourite for obvious reasons.
This is a piccie (the one on the right, not on the left unfortunately!) I took at this weekend's Collingwood vs North Melbourne clash - did I mention we won by 77 points?
Needless to say we had tickets fairly close to the action ;)
Best arms in the business. And by arms, I mean muscles.
Sure he can catch a ball better than most, look at the piccie on the right! In fact he topped the competition's marking stats - marking is when they catch the ball and don't drop it while a half dozen gorillas are clawing at them - a couple of years back.
But seriously, look at those muscles!!!
Superstar. Cute as a button and an absoloute superstar.
This guy is one of the smaller guys in the comp, and look how high he can jump! That takes guts, skill and a fair sprinkle of handsomeness to jump this high.
Not convinced? Well, you go ahead and try it!
I've always thought of him as a little JFK.
Little, because he's so young, almost ten yers younger than me which is depressing enough that anyone able to get their license and hold down a job is that much younger than me, and JFK for those curls, those broad shoulders, that jaw, and that fabulous Irish skin.
This kid can kick a ball longer and straighter than any human ought to be allowed. Pure natural talent.
El Captain. No. 5. Bucks.
Buckley is the ultimate warrior. A gladiator. A tough, no holds barred genius of the game. A Rising Star winner at the beginning of his career. A Brownlow Medallist mid-career. Bucks can kick a goal from 50 metres and can lift a crowd of 100,000 to its feet simply by being on the field.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am a serious football fanatic. I spend a good wad of money on my yearly membership so I can go to the gamnes, yell at the umpires, wear my lucky underwear, sing loud and proud the Magpies theme song when we win, and commiserate with tens of thousands of my new best friends when we don't.
Okay, so in the past two days I have written 10,450 words. Fabulous right? Fantastic! If I keep this up I can write a book in ten days! Problem is, it's not 10,450 words on my current work in progress. It's a new book. A new idea. And even with all of the distractions out there in the big wide world - the Internet, the TV, the fridge - a new idea is the one siren call I find hardest to ignore. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, right? Don't get me wrong, for those of you out there who have never finished a book, it can be the worst thing! I'd think if you haven't yet managed to write yourself all the way to those two magic words "THE END" then shifting from new idea to new idea can certainly be a way to find the right story for you and your voice, but it can also be a way for you to never have to face the big bad - to force your way through the middle of the book slump, to get yourself over the black moment hurdle, and hen to keep up with the downhill, so fast you can barely breathe run all the way to the resolution. But from the beginning of all this jazz, I've actually always found writing two books at once really helpful.
While writing book number one, from here on known as "Sorrento", Trish Wylie and I were having a happy little word count contest. I relish a little competition. It gets my blood going. But as soon as she pulled ahead and finished her deadline book, I lost the cracking pace I had been hitherto enjoying.
Because at this stage, 3/4 of the way in, I know what's coming. And for me that can be the death knell for inspiration. Some writers need to know what's around the bend so they can focus on writing the best way to get there. If I know what's coming, I feel like the work is already done!
One book, one great gaping chasm of "words that must be written" can be so exciting as as a flimmer (a writer who simply flies into the mist as I am writing a story) I have no idea what surprises await me on each page. But it can also be terrifying for the exact same reason. And on those days when the words aren't pouring from me, I can then move right on over to idea number two - the newer book, the fresher book, the one whose secrets are still all wrapped up tight inside of my head.
After a few days playing with book number two, currently called "Alpha", I hope that "Sorrento" will have been percolating nicely in my subconcious and I can come back to it afresh.
I'll let you know how much of this is fact and how much is hail Mary hope in a few days!
Okay, so this might not have a lick to do with writing romance, but it makes me happy. Happiness creates endorphins, which then in turn makes one feel romantic...? Am I stretching the friendship here?
Well tough luck, because today my football team won
In one of my first ever interviews I was asked what makes my home town of Melbourne a romantic town, and one of the first purely Melbourne images that came to mind was snuggling with my hubby at the football - sitting on the same rug, wearing matching black and white scarves and beanies, and keeping each other warm.
That was a few years ago when I had first moved here. I loved football plenty back then, but now that I've been here on five years, footy has become more to me than a fun day out and a chance to colour co-ordinate.
At this time of year, the air in Melbourne cools, people's weekly moods swing from delirium to tragedy depending on the weekend's results, and the sports sections of the newspaper and the TV news suddenly take up twice as much space as anything else. Because Australian Rules Football in Melbourne isn't just a sport. Or a past-time. Or history. It is a way of life.
Come April 25th, when our city's biggest stadium is set-up again for football for the first time since the Commonwealth Games, picture me in jeans, team jersey with the captain's number 5 on the back, member's cap, black and white scarf and lucky red boots - and lucky g-string with the team emblem on the front if you must know! - walking down the wide gravel path towards the MCG alongside thousands just like me.
Over 100,000 people will be at the annual Anzac Day clash against long time foes the Essendon Bombers. 100,000. Can you imagine it? The noise, the adrenalin, the romance? Okay! Well I think it's romantic. Handsome young men, putting everything on the line for the game they love. An entire city mobilising to cheer on their beloved gladiators. Age old rivalries. Kids rebelling and wearing brown and gold when the rest of their family wears blue and white. It's enthusing, heartwarming, and makes this girl's spirits soar.
And did I mention that today my football team won?
I'm up to my second poast at eHarlequin and this time we're talking all about voice...
what's in a voice?
Okay, so we’ve done location thing, now let’s start thinking a little sideways… When we were talking about setting, I was amazed when I realised that the delightful Trish Wylie really doesn’t spend all that much time on location. Yet her books are so Irish it seeps out of every page. She doesn’t need to throw in rolling green hills covered in clover and leprechauns on every second page for us to know exactly where her books are set because her Irish voice is so very, very strong. It got me to thinking about the fact that my editor loves the very “Australian” feel of my books. Even my city books. That is considered to be a point of difference for me. But to tell you the truth, I couldn’t try to be Australian even if I wanted to. The way I write simply pours out of me as though I am speaking onto the page. On the flipside, it means that she sometimes sends back nice little question marks over certain words which for me are everyday language but for anyone not born down under are utter gibberish! So, what does all this really mean? What is the great and mysterious “voice” we hear so much about?
For more questions and answers about voice, quotes from some of my favourite authors and lots of great ideas about where voice comes from, come on over to my eHarlequin blog...
I'm blogging at eHarlequin this month - the North America website for all things romantic - so come along and chat about my new North American release A FATHER IN THE MAKING, about chocolate eclairs, trips to Sorrento and all things nice!
My first blog there begins like this...
location, location, location
Sorry it took me so long to come out to play! You see, what happened was, I was sooooo thrilled about the thought of coming on here to natter with you lovely people, and being that I am an utter klutz, I tripped over my own feet in all the excitement, hit my head, and only just awoke from the haze. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Better than admitting that I am a walking technical malfunction. Though I guess that’s an improvement on being a walking wardrobe malfunction… Anyways, enough excuses – fabulous and utterly believable though they may be - this month I am here to talk about, amongst other highly important and intelligent things, my current Harlequin Romance release, "A FATHER IN THE MAKING"!
For more, come to my blog for a read and do leave a comment!
I lunched yesterday with so many award nominees my head was spinning! Of course the champagne and glittering conversatio that comes with any meeting of authors could have been the reason ;).
Regular Melbourne Mobster lunchers Marion Lennox and Anne Gracie had both received RITA nominations earlier that week. And for those of you not in the know, the RITAs are the highest award accolade a romance writer can get. Think Oscar time! And Nicola Marsh's fabulous novel "Impossibly Pregnant" the first book in the Office Gossip trilogy, for which I wrote book two thank-you very much, has been nominated for a HOLT medallion!
Now, just to add to the fun, the fabulous Bronwyn Jameson, and the delightful Lillian Darcy, who had also both been nominated for RITAs decided to fly in for the day to partake in our rowdy lunch. It was a blast, with clinking of glasses, clapping of hands and kissing of cheeks.
Here's hoping come mid-year those nominations all turn into lovely gold trophies!!!
This month my first Outback book hits shelves in North America.
If you drive not so very far north of Melbourne, braving congested traffic and suburbia as far as the eye can see, you will eventually find yourself on a long winding road leading you to a whole new world.
Think wombat holes hidden in tall grass, fallen logs that double as homes to families of wild rabbits, and yabby filled dams which are haunts of families of grey kangaroos. From abundant hilltop farms, panoramic views reveal the smudge of the city skyline to the south, tracts of clear-cut green pastures to the west, distant eucalypt scattered hills to the east, and sweeping, burnt umber sunsets peaking over the tops of shrub lined gullies the likes of which you have never seen... 1. WORKING TITLE - "Something About Her" From page one thids felt like a really endearing story and my workig title always gave me warm and fuzzy feelings as I read it. It gave me focus too, that my poor hurting hero had no chance from the moment he met this whirl wind of a woman
2. CAST - Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Whitford
I love this picture of Jen, and it sums up my feisty heroine, Laura Somervale perfectly. She's all tumbling auburn curls held back by a pink shoelace, bare feet, bright and raw as the land aorund her, and in the opening scene is caught singing her heart out to an audience of magpies as she hung the washing on her wonky old clothesline. The freshness, and freedom and cheeky look in Jen's eyes are all Laura's qualities.
But then I had to give her a hero. A hero who would challenge her, spark against her, and make her wonder if her idyllic Outback life was all she really needed. So I gave her jetsetting, in demand, city boy economist Ryan Gasper, who I saw as a mixture of heavenly Josh Lyman from The West Wing and JFK Junior. Yummo on both counts, right?
Chloe was named after my friend Sheree's niece who was born about the time I first started writing this book.
Irmela the cow was named after my arch nemesis from school camp in grade 10. Irmela was a milking cow, and she hated me. She would see me coming and charge! But I have never forgotten her, so I gave her a small cameo in this book.
And Chimp, the miniature fox terrier was inspired by my own sweetness and light, Squiffy.
3. MUSIC - unknown
I don't know that I actually had a favourite song or CD for this one. Around that time my hubby bought us a new CD hard drive thing and all his spare time was spent buring our CDs into this machine. So I mostly had to listen to bits and pieces of songs as he titled them.
4. FAIRY DUST - the location
I dedicated this book to my hubby's Auntie Mel, on whose farm we both stayed for several weeks when we first moved to Melbourne. I wrote the majority of my first book, THE WEDDING WISH while seated at a table in her dining room, staring out at the view Laura sees every day.
For more location info, with gorgeous pictures of the Outback location on which Laura and Ryan fall in love, check out my earlier post "it's all in the details".
After an unbelievable summer in Melbourne with 27 degree days being the norm for months and months, and a first month of Spring that passed by just as lovely, it's grey and wet outside. The central heating is blasting. I'm wearing thick socks under my knee high ugh boots. And it's 7:30 in the morning. Okay, now did I mention it's Saturday? Yep. But I didn't mention that I am the type of gal not likely to be seen or heard from until after 10.
But this morning, on the 1st of April, my hubby made such a hullaballoo getting ready for work as he was waiting for a workmate to pick him up as they carpool into the city. But workmate never showed, and thus I, still happily ensconsed in the land of nod, was unhappily drawn into his waking world. After a frantic phonecall it was revealed that said workmate thought that daylight savings ended last night. On a Friday.
When has daylight savings ever ended on a Friday night? Ever? I ask you!!! Meanwhile hubby left of his own accord while I frantically dressed, while still beneath the bed covers and beneath the layers of my gown - did I mention it's cold and wet outside? - switching radio channels, flipping through TV channels, and when they offered no solace, I ended up here, to find that of course we were right.
So as I sit staring at my computer, blurry eyed, at 7:30 in the morning, all in the name of discovering that I was right as I knew I was, I ask you, who's the fool?