Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Thursday, 31 August 2006

pink heart society

I've been busy busy. Writing a new book, revisising another and helping get the preperations ready for the coolest new blog to hit your computer screens EVER!

Now I can't believe it's just one more sleep!!! And then the Pink Heart Society blog will hit and life as we know it will be no more.

If you love talking about hot guys, luscious travel spots, good and bad book covers, writing stuff, reading stuff, the most fabulous movies of all time, and great romance, then come along tomorrow and see what we're up to!

In September I will be blogging about my love of Chris Noth, aka Mr Big, who was the inspiration behind my first hero Jacob Lincoln from The Wedding Wish, about why the Aussie Outback makes for such a wonderful location for a book, and about one of my fave romantic films of all time. One I loved so much I saw it six times at the cinema and even had my hair cut to look like the heroine. Which movie? You'll have to come along on Friday the 8th to find out!

See you there!

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

sexy vs sweet - where do you fit?

Do you want to be a romance writer? But you are not quite sure where your voice fits? Do you have the funny feeling you are a sweet writer but you love writing sex scenes and sexy heroes? Are your heroes always Alpha but your books don't lend themselves to sex scenes? Do you love reding chick lit but you have only ever tried to aim your books towards the Presents line? If so you wouldn't be the first!

A couple of my closest writing friends almost fell into that exact hole before they sold their first books to Harlequin. And it made me wonder how many authors fall through the cracks by trying to write to please one market, or believing that's where their book should go, when in fact their voice suits another to a T.

Well, I have now posted my notes for the workshop I took at this year's Romance Writers of Australia conference entitled "Sexy vs Sweet - The Ultimate Showdown". In this workshop I did comparisons on everything from hero types, to voice, to settings, to blurbs, to covers, to editorial gudelines trying to highlight how you can find out where your natural voice best fits.

If the looks of relief on my workshop participants' faces was anything to go by, I really think this might help a lot of people understand the difference between Harlequin Romance, Harlequin Presents and Mills and Boon Modern Extra.
Here is a taste test:

Pay close attention to the language used in the blurb. These words are not chosen randomly. Compare the cover poses, colours, costumes, settings. Every picture tells an important story which also helps place each book into a certain line. Could you imagine either of these covers or blurbs being found on a book in the opposite line? Why not? What are the key markers? Which sort of story would you be more likely to write? Which sort of feeling do your books engender?

SEXY - Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon Modern Romance:

The Italian Boss's Secret Child by Trish Morey

He wants her…

On the night of his company’s masked ball, Damien DeLuca is swept away by the veiled beauty in the corner. He entices her into the boardroom – and their evening culminates in an explosive encounter! But just who is Damien’s mystery lover?

She wants him…

Philly Summers can’t believe she’s just shared a night of passion with her gorgeous Italian boss! She recognised him instantly – he’s been invading her dreams for weeks. But Philly’s determined to keep her real identity a secret

But what about a baby?

…until she discovers she’s carrying Damien’s child…

SWEET - Harlequin Romance/Mills and Boon romance


She wasn’t looking for love, but then it found her...

When Jodie Simpson met her long-lost sister Louise Valentine, she didn’t realise the biggest adventure of her life was about to begin. With her visa about to expire, and desperate to stay in Australia, Jodie has a plan...she’ll marry for convenience.!

Jodie is offering a one-year marriage, with no strings attached. So why does sexy cattle rancher Heath Jameson, who is almost certainly looking for a long-term wife, want to marry her? Heath seems so sure – and so handsome! – that Jodie takes the plunge. Only to fall for a convenient husband who seems to be running from his own past...

Hmmm... food for thought?

So head on over to my website and check out my new article! And don't forget to check out the supplemental compartive notes with the covers and blurbs as I think they show the difference in such a concrete easy on the eye way.

And a big thanks to
Trish Morey and Trish Wylie
who gave me their fantastic insiders view take on what makes a Harlequin Presents and a Modex respectively.

Anyhoo, I hope it helps!

Monday, 21 August 2006


I am deep within the cave, but felt a need to come up for air and coffee and thoughts outside of my hero and heroine's heads! So picture me waving to everyone with hand aching from typing ;).

Now, about my revisions. I was all ready for these to be my most fun revisions yet. Nothing structural at all, just an increased 'hotness' in the first half of the book, as it is for a sexier line than the one I usually write for. Easy, huh? Blast and a half, surely. Seriously, who wouldn't think that would be the most fun a girl can have while strapped to her computer?

But you know what? It's actually really, really tricky. My heroine Abbey is a dyed in the wool feminist, the granddaughter of a feminist icon, and a woman determined not to be turned by a pretty face. And though no woman in their right mind could walk into a room and not swoon at the sight of my hero Flynn who is just beyond dreamy, Abbey can't do that and be happy about the fact. For her it is a real problem, a constant struggle, a weakness she can't cope with. So adding in more sensual awareness on her part has meant such a fine balance.

Too much and she just won't be believable, and not enough and the story won't fit the line. Tricky, huh?

But fun? Hell yeah!

Thursday, 17 August 2006

tagged again

Trish Wylie just tagged me for a game of ‘what’s your favourite book?’ So here goes…

One book that changed my life:

Empire of the Sun. Okay, so it is a book, and I have read the book, but I am sneakily talking about the movie. This was where I discovered Christian Bale, who is still to this day my favourite actor. I have seen all of his films and think him a superstar. Anyhoo, when I was a teenager, I found out he was in a movie called Henry V by Kenneth Branagh, and though I had never read much Shakespeare before apart from a litte Twelfth mnight in high school english, a friend and I went to see it. I looooved that movie so much I then went onto read more of Shakespeare’s work to find that I loved the guy’s stuff. This directly led to my doing a double English major at University focusing on Shakespeare both in the literary and theatrical sense. On the flipside, my top subjects at Uni were creative writing and film and this led me to write screenplays for many years before one day thinking, “I adore reading, why don’t I try to write a book instead…’ And here we are!

One book that I have read more than once:

    Enemy In Camp by Janet Dailey. This was a Mills and Boon from two decades ago at least. My copy has lost its cover. The binding is coming apart. And I am never ever going to let it go. I just adore this book. So much. I love the set-up. I love the heroine. I loooooooooove the hero. I love the secondary characters. It is a superb romance. And now I think I'm going to have to dig deep inot my treasure chest and find it and read it again!

    3. One book I would want on a deserted island:

    One? Just one? So what would I do after I had read that one? Hmmm… Something big and meaty. The Prince in Waiting trilogy by John Christopher perhaps. I own it as one volume so surely that counts as one book? Please!!!!!!! I adore this trilogy. I read it first as a 13 year old and I think it has the best, most poignant, most heart-breaking, most truthful final line in a book ever. As a side note, JC is also the only author to whom I have ever sent a fan letter and I still have his first response framed on my desk.

    One book that made me laugh:

    Most recently Wife For a Week by Kelly Hunter. This was Kelly’s first Modex and when reading it in bed a couple of months ago I had to slap my hand over my mouth so as not to wake my hubby. Another one is Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher. She has a turn of phrase that precisely hits my funny bone.

    5. One book that made me cry:

    HMS Ulysses by Alistair Maclean. This is my Mum’s favourite book. I remember reading the final three chapters through a serious haze of gulping, sobbing, can scarce draw breath type tears. High drama on the high seas. Brilliant stuff.

    One book I wish I'd written:

    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. This is my favourite book, if I am allowed to say I have one without being stoned ;). The humour, the subject matter, the poignancy, the humour, the characters, the twists and turns, the genius, the coining of a term, the humour… I just adore this book and wish I were anywhere near that sharp, and witty, and brilliant.

    7. One book I wish had never been written:

    Firstly I thought this was meant to be ‘one of your books you wish had never been written’ ;). I’m sure some of us have those collecting dust in our bottom drawers. As to a book written by another hard-working soul which I wish had never landed in my eager hands? I do remember a couple of books which I literally threw at a wall I disliked them so much. Others I read that I couldn’t get past the first chapter. But that doesn’t mean that somebody else, or even a lot of somebody else’s didn’t adore them. If it wasn’t for a broad range of tastes out there in the big wide world, then there wouldn’t be as many great books in the marketplace, and I ain’t gonna complain about that!

      8. One book I am currently reading:

      Family Blessings by LaVyrle Spencer. I could well have put this book I a couple of categories – books that made me cry, and books I have read more than once ;). Re-reading this for the first time in a few years, I was in tears by page 2. Yes, page 2. Half way through page 2, in fact. The way she could create a hero who was so likable, so empathetic in such a short time that when we find out that his best friend has just been killed in a motorbike accident we actually cry for him…amazing.

      One book I have been meaning to read:

      On the flipside of Trish Wylie’s answer ;), I have been meaning to read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom as I have already read The Five People You Meet In Heaven and enjoyed it muchly. But for some reason it keeps getting moved down the TBR pile. Hmmm, I don't know why.

        10. Who's next?

          Tagged! Med author Fiona Lowe and Romance author Fiona Harper!

          Tuesday, 15 August 2006

          who will win?

          A Father in the Making I have just been told that my April book, A FATHER IN THE MAKING has been nominated for a Cataromance Reviewers Choice award for the first half of 2006!

          All the nominees are listed here. What a fab group of books!!! Including all of the original Pink Heart Society gals - Trish Wylie, Nicola Marsh and Natasha Oakley which is such great timing considering our upcoming launch of the fabulous, super, Pink Heart Society blog come September 1st. Though we are all up against one another in the same category so who knows, come Friday we might never speak to one another again ;).

          There is going to be a Pink Carpet Awards party this Friday so come along and chat with all of the nominated authors and find out who...won!

          Thursday, 10 August 2006

          romance writers of australia

          I am up and and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful...747.

          For the next week I will be schmoozing and eating up a storm at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the gorgeous Gold Coast for the next few days so I won't see you all for a little while.

          Full report with glossy photos when I return...

          Hugs, health and happy reading!


          Saturday, 5 August 2006

          the end

          Boy oh boy do I love those two little words.

          I can't believe I'm really there. I wrote half the book in a week, then had to stop to finish BILLIONAIRE ON HER DOORSTEP, and then headed back into this one, determined to have it done before conference next week. And I've done it!

          This has been such a wonderful book to write, with two very hard-headed characters. Abbey is a feisty heroine who was raised by her grandmother, a pre-eminent feminist writer, and Flynn is a playboy hero so charming sexy and confident he makes her caught between wanting to kiss him or kick him in the shins. Either way he won't be forgetting her too soon!

          But as per my usual MO, it is waaaayyyy too long. At 66,120 words and 303 pages, it needs some trimming ;). And since I have written the last 3-4 chapters while struck down with a rotten flu virus, I am hoping the ending of the book doesn't suddenly turn out to be about fairies and goblins and rainbows - thanks to the cold and flu tablets keeping me upright - or vitamin C and aloe vera tissues which are fuelling my life right now!

          So now I am off to watch a bit of The West Wing and to eat some lunch, not that I'll be able to taste it with these tastebuds at the moment! And then the slash and burn will begin.

          * Insert evil laughter here!!! *

          Thursday, 3 August 2006

          the brides of bella lucia

          The Brides of Bella Lucia miniseries is finally here! We have been long awaiting the arrival of this fabulous eight book series, commissioned to relaunch the brand new Harlequin Romance.

          OUT NOW...

          First up, this month on shelves across North America and United Kingdom, we have "Having the Frenchman’s Baby" by Rebecca Winters and "Coming Home to the Cowboy" by Patricia Thayer.

          For more info about these two books and the background of the series, check out the Bella blog.


          And to give you a wonderful taste of things to come, Liz Fielding has a delightful online read on eHarlequin! So check out The Cinderella Valentine set in one of the Bella Lucia restaurants in London.

          Also, Rebecca Winters' "Having the Frenchman's Baby" is this month's Reading With the Hosty novel on eHarlequin! If you've read this book, come along and have a natter about it, and if you haven't, then you should!!!

          UP NEXT...

          September: "The Rebel Prince" by Raye Morgan
          October: "Wanted: Outback Wife" by Ally Blake
          November: "Married Under the Mistletoe" by Linda Goodnight
          December: "Crazy About the Boss" by Teresa Southwick
          January: "The Nanny and the Sheikh" by Barbara McMahon
          February: "The Valentine Bride" by Liz Fielding


          Wednesday, 2 August 2006

          broadband or bust?

          As well as a new desk, new computer and a new colour on the walls of my office, I finally succumbed to the wonder and ease of broadband Internet.

          Somehow I expected my world to change. Like when you turn 30, or when you get married, you wake up the next day and take a big deep breath and think, "Is my life ever going to be the same again?"

            Well, just like on those auspicious days, so far I feel no different. For my extra $10-00 per month, I don't feel like my time-management has changed all that much. Sure I don't have to sign-on, I just click my icon and there she is, the Internet in full Kodakcolour. But it kind of always felt like that to me anyway. Since I am an impatient so and so and always have at least half a dozen files/pages open and on the go at once, I didn't mind waiting for a page to load as I would simply write, or check an email or do something else while waiting.

              Anyhoo, maybe I need some time to let it all settle. To let it become one with my life. Or to hear the excitement in my Mum's voice when she calls and I pick up the first time rather than her getting a busy signal every day!