Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Tuesday 30 May 2006

pant pant pant

Okay, so my work in progress has now hit the 124% mark according to the little worm thingie on the side of my blog. Yes that's one hundred and twenty-four percent. A whole quarer of a book extra that I don't need.

How do I keep getting to this point? My last book, MEANT-TO-BE MOTHER a darling book which I adored writing, which had so many scenes and emotions and wonderful bits crammed in there only edned up at aroudn 48000 words. So how come the book before that one, WANTED: OUTBACK WIFE, and this epic have both hit 64000 at the end of draft stage? That's over 300 pages! Am I crazy? Are my characters desperate to stay on the page? Am I repeating myself? Am I repeating myself?

All of the above I would think. But that's half the fun, seeing every book have a pattern and a pace and life of their own. Never the same experience start to finish.

And now the fun starts. Now I get to play boss with the red pen and the delete button. Now comes the slash and burn. Now to cut 12000 odd words from my story without losing the heart, the pace, the depth, the detail and the scenes I love.

Natasha? Trish? Nic? Ola? Those of you with similar deadlines? Are you chasing your tails or is it plain sailing? If it's the latter I don't want to know!

Saturday 27 May 2006

love is all we need

Today I had a journalist ask me to provide four lines on the subject: Is love all we need?

It got me to thinking, there are so many ways of looking at that statement. One can go over all ardently romantic and sigh dreamily and say "You bet it is!". Or at the other end of the spectrum you can take the question literally to a ridiculous degree and say "Hardly. Try living on love without a water chaser and see where that gets ya!"

So, I'd love to know - what do you guys think?

My favourite response wins a signed, advance copy of HOW TO MARRY A BILLIONAIRE, one of my upcoming Silhouette Romance North American releases, plus some other goodies!

its win win!

My footy team won again last night. And I couldn't be there! That shows how dedicated I am to this writing career of mine, that one of the highly anticpiated games of the season was fought out just down the road, and I remained strapped to my computer, writing, editing, polishing, swearing, and okay, I admit it, I was also watching the game on my laptop at the same time.

Sigh... This is turning out to be the best footy year. Have I mentioned the Collingwood Magpies are the best team in the whole world? And next week we play our arch nemesis, the Brisbane Lions. They beat us in two Grand Finals in a row earlier this decade, and we're not going to take it anymore!

For those of you bored silly, here's a picture of one of our super goal kickers Chris Tarrant from when he was nominated as one of Cleo's Bachelor's of the Year. Obviously very talented, don't you think?

And to add to the excitement, Collingwood have asked to to write a mid season review for their website! It's the biggest sporting website in Australia with hundreds of thousands of individual hits per month. So come mid-June, when this lovely wonderful easy as pie (note the sarcasm) book of mine is off and away, I will be happily writing about something else I love as much as I love writing romance.

My beloved footy. Life's good!

Tuesday 23 May 2006

one too many cooks

Okay, so this blogthings thing knows me too well. I am not a cook. Give me a fail safe recipe and I will manage to fail. But so far safely. I haven't burnt anything worse than a fritatta...

You Are Not a Cook

You know cooking isn't for you, and you wouldn't even consider trying to make a homecooked meal.

And this is a very good thing. You've saved all your friends and family from unintentional food poisoning!

I'm a poet, and didn't even know it

Natasha, Trish was always bad enough with these things, now you've got us all going!

I've done this a couple of times now, with a couple of different answers depending on my mood and both times I came up with the same answer. Must be written in the stars. And it's all my mother ever wanted me to be! Who knew she was right...

You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.

And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...

Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.

You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.

Monday 22 May 2006

up where we belong

Saturday night, my team - the Collingwood Magpies, for those of you who have not had that fact rammed down your throats over the past few weeks - won.

Okay, so the word "won" is an understatement. They beat Geelong by 102 points. They thrashed them. they looked like they were playing a practice match against the local under 14s. A very scared nervous bunch of under 14s. While we, the brilliant, fabulous, glorious Collingwood Magpies looked like the best team in the history of the world.

Now, despite my team playing brilliantly, I am not. I am involved in a tipping competition and out of 130 tipsters, I am coming...wait for it... drumroll please... 130th!

I think that deserves an extra prize. I don't think anyone could tip that badly if they tried! And that's including tipping for my team every week. Imagine how badly I'd be doing if my team weren't winning. Jeez!

Tuesday 16 May 2006

literary leanings

I've just about recovered from my big day out on Saturday.

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Williamstown Literary Festival, to give a version of the Sassy and the City talk Nicola Marsh and I had the pleasure of giving at last years Romance Writers of Australia conference. I missed having Nic there as my wingman, and I missed being hers, but I think it went well nevertheless.

Considering the audience was unknown, and not a mob of eager, fresh faced, itching to be there romance writers ;), I curbed the talk a fair way and as well as giving myriad helpful hints on how to write a cracking romance, I also talked about the changing face of contemporary romance. About Bridget Jones and Sex and the City, about Buffy and Pretty Woman.

And about how nowadays romantic stories can be about pleasure hotels and footballers wives. About speed dating and breaking up by SMS. About post-feminist twentysomething heroines who want it all and fiftysomething heroines trying to find their way after their happily ever after went kaput. About how romance writing affects pop culutre and vice versa.

And I had such a ball!

There were lots of lovely smiley faces, which was wonderful. I had some great questions from the crowd including wondering what the main difference is between chick lit and straight romance, about whether I have a grand plan about my plot and characters - I do not - and about how one noisy extroverted speaker manages to survive the solitary job of being strapped to a computer desk, alone, day in and day out. It made me wish it was all just question and answer time - that's my favourite part!

The real highlight was the chance to have a chat and a giggle in the green room afterwards with the fabulous Shaun Micallef and Tony Martin, two wonderful aussie comedian/actor/writers who were up on stage after me. We talked about audiences and Thank God You're Here (a fabulous, hilarious new Aussie TV show, the rights of which have been bought up all over the world so you'll likely get your own version soon enough)

They were soooooo nice. Chatty, funny, charming. I stayed on and watched their talk and it was hilarious and brilliant and full of gossip about writing for Australian television and wonderful strories about ther lives writing comedy and meeting the likes of Spike Milligan.

Fab stuff. Want to do it all again.

Anyone need a speaker?

Sunday 14 May 2006

so close and yet so far

So I'm now at 90% of my WIP.

90%! That feels so very close to the end, don't you think? But its funny, in my head it still feels like there is still so much to say, to tell, to show, to know about Maggie and Tom. But I think there always is when you're in the downhill run.

There's admissions, final reflex flinches, kisses, proposals, acceptance, realisations, sending the news across the wire to all the secondary characters and the like to yet get through. But I love all that. I love it hen it all comes together and the loose ends are all tied up in a neat little bow.

But at the moment I have them baulking on me. It's happened far too fast for her and the fact that it's happened at all has him in complete disarray!
Do you think they'll get together in the end? Fingers crossed!

Thursday 11 May 2006

grace under pressure

The lovely Sharon J left a great comment on my last post which had me thinking.

Can you write well when you have a word count war going
on? I'd feel under the wrong kind of pressure, I'm sure, and that would just
pull down the quality of my writing.I noticed this when I joined knit-a-longs
(lots of people knit the same thing and it becomes a bit of a competition to
finish first). I'd stress and wouldn't enjoy the knitting and the end result
would be nowhere near as good as it could have been. I'm sure I'd be the same
with writing. And if I were being paid for the work, that'd make it even worse!
How do you manage this? Doesn't it affect you at all?

Hmmm. Don't ya reckon Sharon J makes a really good point?

Would it be better to work in a hermetically sealed room for a week with no distractions, no deadline, no pressure, no one breathing down your neck to write at a particular pace and armed only with the desire to write the best book you can write?

For some people I know this is really important. Some writers need silence and the door shut to their office. Some writers need to sit from 9 to 5 wearing a business suit in order to feel like they are at work. Some writers can't handle one ounce of clutter on their desks as it only distracts. Picture me sighing in resignation, as I imagine myself being one of those people. Tidy, organised, calm, cool and collected...

I on the other hand am currently sitting in my office with the CD player on full blast, the washing machine chugging away in the background, in tracky pants, ugh boots and ratty old fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm. Within an inch of the edges of my computer, in every direction, there is clutter, piles of paper, hordes of scattered pens, a half drunk drink, a half eaten packet of M&Ms, a wall full of quotes and pictures, a handful of statuettes collected on my travels - a mini Eiffel tower from Paris, a quartz elephant from San Gimignano, a Romeo and Juliet statuette from Verona, and a bunch of dried red roses so old I can't even remember their story.

I also have a calendar beside all the clutter with my deadline marked in red pen. I have a writing festival talk to give in two days time. I have visitors coming to stay from next Wednesday until deadline day. I am involved in a BIAW, I am in a word count war with Natasha Oakley, and am insistent that my wordmeter worm grow every day.

Too much physical clutter? Too much brain clutter? Maybe. But for me it works. The pressure of wavering piles of paper. The noise, the stress, the deadline, it gets my adrenalin pumping. And when my adrenalin pumps, that's when I write my best stuff.

Okay, so that took ten minutes out of the three hours I have to write today, so the pressure is now even worse.


Monday 8 May 2006


Just to add to the mounds of inspiration - read pressure - that I am swimming in in order to get this book of mine finished before my Mum and Aunt come to stay for a week, as well as engaging in a WORD COUNT WAR with the lovely and busy Natasha Oakley, and making sure that my word count worm is getting bigger every day, I am also part of a Book In A Week project with the Romance Writers of Australia.

Today is day one.:
Daily word count: 1000
Total word count: 46000

My plan? To hit 52000 by next Wednesday 17th May. Can I do it? Can I ever!

(So long as I believe my own good press!)

Saturday 6 May 2006


3000 words today. Phew!

Half of that thanks to Alphie, who I'm sure writes half the stuff when I'm not looking, and the other half thanks to...I just don't know.

Maybe it due to:
  • the fact that I was terrified of having to delete an entire 5000 word chapter that just wasn't playing ball...
  • or the fact that I've hit a point where I kind of know how the end is going to come together...
  • or the fact that I've had a major plot twist in my head from the beginning that I hadn't even begun to weave through the book, and I only realised first thing this morning that the heroine was trying to tell me to give up and not force the issue so I decided to drop the whole thing and it made me feel so much lighter in letting it go...

Who knows? But now I can go to dinner with my hubby and Sheree and Chris and Melissa and Steve at Jenny and Paul's and have a glass of red or two and enjoy every second of it knowin that I'm ahead of schedule!

Natasha? Any news? Any further? Do you want to kill me now?

Friday 5 May 2006

so far so good

Had to pop in to say so far I'm winning!

The fact that Natasha is starting from scratch and I am starting at about 38,000 words in really ought not make a lick of difference. Right?

But so far I'm trundling along at a comfortable 1000 words a day. This isn't lightning speed for me. But at this stage of the book, the "middlish" bit before the fabulous downhill run to the gorgeous mushy yummy ending, seems to take the most finessing. I do the most re-writes on this section, and tend to completely change settings, add entire scenes or flip the heroine's goals on their heads when writing, and rewriting, this middlish bit.

I think the problem is I've never been one of those authors who adores putting my characters through the wringer. I'm a bit soft that way. I love them too much to want them to really hurt. But I think for one to write a book that really resonates, one has to be able to see the moments where one is being just too darned soft, and throw them a curve ball or three to see how they react and grow and become better people through the adversity!

I mean look how yummy my Tom looks when he's all moody and pensive! So worth the pain I'm sure.

I've hit one of those points right now. One of my soft "I love them too much to hurt them" points. My heroine has dropped a huuuuuge bombshell on the hero. As bombshells go, they don't get much bigger than this. (And no she's not secretly a man...) Move onto the next time they meet, and for some reason I had written an entire chapter with them being charming and polite and oh so nice to one another. I mean come on, she's just told him...something shocking. If he's going to be polite because he's just such a nice guy, and she's going to not be mortified to be in his presence because she's just that mature, well then aren't they just too perfect for words!

I don't need no perfect hero and heroine. I'd be bored in two minutes flat with that sort of story. So now I have to be the big brave one and make them say things to one another that would make me just die if I was in their shoes. I'm gong to have to get them to admit things, and apologise and have a "talk". And to do that, I'm going to have to cut, perhaps, maybe, oh god! a whole chapter. Gulp!

Must I? Will I? Can I?

Give me strength!

Wednesday 3 May 2006

oh brother

I'm meant to be writing. 1000 words a day would do me nicely about now. The lovely Natasha Oakley and I are egging one another on to get our latest works in progress zooming along. And the little worm word counter thing on the right hand side of my blog is begging me for movement. I have chocolate, I have coffee, I have hero inspiration up to my eyeballs.

So why did Big Brother have to go and start up again? I promised myself I wasn't going to get caught up in it all. It's a horrible show. Truly.

Yet I haaad to watch the first episode just to see what sort of ning-nongs they'd picked this year.

The fact that they have a guy who looks like David there is hardly helpful, even if he is "55% gay" - his words, not mine! And I have to be up on what's going on so I can talk about with my mates, right?

My hubby just bought me a new hard drive DVD recorder too. It's my new best friend. I've spent the last couple of days becoming intimate with its buttons and knobs and I'm pretty sure I could now fly the thing blind-folded. But with over a hundred and fifty hours of recording time imbedded into the darned thing, it means I can tape everything. Including Big Brother Up Late. All two and a half hours of it every night. So the next dayI can sit down at "lunch" and watch it!

Okay, so it doesn't go for two and a half hours with my new whizz bang hard drive DVD recorder and you can click past the add breaks with one touch of a button and fast forward through all the drivel, which okay really is most of it. But still...

Someone slap me over the back of the head right now. Please!

Monday 1 May 2006

my happy muse

Okay, so I have a cold. I'm sniffling and achey and I can't stop sneezing. So why does it feel like my muse is coming awake after a long sleep?

Is it because I had the house to myself after over a week of spending a really very lovely time out socialising with my brother-in-lawa nd his girlfriend who'd come to stay? How can one even think of creating when one is still digesting the previous day's fabulous dinner, shopping, football win, Arrested Development rerun...?

Is it because I've been asked to contribute a piece to a book being made about my footy team called "The Barrackers Are Shouting" and today was the deadline so I had to get over my sniffles and just do it? And has putting pen to paper, so to speak, awoken my muse despite his best efforts to sleep out the winter?

Or is it because today is the 1st of May and I have a book due in exaclty one month and my muse has heard my cries for help and said "Right! Fine! I hear ya! Let's get this thing done!"?

Or is it the though of my particpation in the RWA book in a week beginning on the eighth? I've made it my goal to finish my "Sorrento" book by the 15th of May, thus giving myself time to let it lie before I slash and burn for the final edit.

Whatever the reason, today I sat sniffling in front of the telly in my tracky pants, old jumper and ugh boots with a box of tissues, a huge glass of sugar water and my Alphasmart and felt the words come easily again.