Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Thursday, 30 November 2006

hugh, I cast thee out!

I have a week to go before my deadline book is due, and even though it's not finished I feel no panic, no tightness in the chest, for this book has gone on rather swimmingly for me so far, especially when compared with my last book, which seemed to take forever to find its footing.

And I know exact why. It all came down to casting the hero.

Casting isn't as easy as picking a pretty face, a favourite actor, a guy with the same name as your hero, or a name out of a magazine. It isn't even as easy as picking a handsome guy with the right colour hair. Hero casting is precise, delicate, and can hinder as well as it can help.

Trish Wylie and I were chatting today and realised that we had boht made huge errors of judement recently while trying to use the same hero pic that ended up biting us both in the backside!
When I found this picce of Hugh Jackman I was beside myself. It's gorgeous right? And evocative as all get out. So I stuck it on my wall and labelled it Danny, my new hero. Trish saw it and wanted it and stuck it on her wall and labelled it Connor, her new hero.

We were both wrong.

My Danny was a pain in the butt. From day dot. He never quite knew who he wanted to be. Soft or hard? Aloof or warm? A good guy or a bad boy? I knew he had loved the heroine from a distance for years but how could I pull that off without making the guy a doormat. Even little things only added to the fact; his floppy hair, his puppy dog brown eyes, his loose, laid-back style. Everything this picture gave me only made Danny weak. It had nothing to do with Hugh himself who is just perfect hero material, but it had everything to do with this one picture and trying to stick it into a Danny sized hole. I knew it. I even blogged asking for a call to arms for readers to help me rename the guy thinking that might make all the difference!

In the end, I but the bullet and recast him myself. I found a picture that spoke to me, that had an edge, an element of danger, a glint in the eyes, the hint of a smile and enough cragginess to make him seem out of reach. Then I went back to the beginning and rewrote just Danny. I changed his hair, his eye colour, his resolve, his personality, the clothes he wore, the shape of his mouth EVERYTHING! And the rest is history.

A MILLIONAIRE TO THE RESCUE will be an October 2007 release in North America and the United Kingdom with outher countries to follow.

Trish Wylie, Fiona Harper, Anne McAllister, Margaret McDonagh have all done recent posts about hero casting as well. Check them out! And if ever in trouble, you can always check out the Pink Heart Society's Male on Monday!!!


Wednesday, 29 November 2006

countdown continues

Laverne went for a squawk and a feed earlier to day so I was able to take some pics of the egglets.

At first she tried to scoot a few out of the way, but now she has the hang of it. She fluffs herself up huuuuge so that she can keep them all underneath her.

Her best friends the doves are a little bemused. They hang out in the mouth of her cage, and even atop her cage to sun themselves, waiting for her to come out and chat. But she's a busy girl with other things on her mind right now.


Monday, 27 November 2006

lucky clucky laverne

It's official. Laverne is clucky.

She has stopped laying eggs and has taken to sitting in the small, warm, dark straw covered area in which she usually sleeps, only coming out for five minutes at a time to eat and drink. And for a girl who is used to spending ALL day clucking, and scratching and eating stuff from within the grass of our backyard that is some change.

Since we are suckers of the highest magnitude, and since she no longer has a Shirley to fertilise her eggs for her, we have now bought Laverne 6 fertililsed eggs from a chook breeder. Some are white silkes, others are fat fluffy bantams. Or we hope they will be when they hatch in ~ 21 days. (Right in the middle of this photo you can see a small cream mound poking out from beneath her feathers). So watch this space for news of the offspring to come.

How did I ever get roped into any of this???!!! I'm a city girl for goodness sake!


Saturday, 25 November 2006

voting and crazy drivers

Forgot to say, on the way to Sorrento we saw a guy driving a convertible sportscar while eating his lunch. And no, it wasn't a sandwich he could eat one handed and throw into his lap every few seconds. We've all done that.

This guy had crockery. And silverware. In his left hand he held a white bowl, in his right hand a fork. Seems those who can afford to drive sportscars don't know about things like takeaway and saran wrap.

I didn't get a good look at what was in the bowl, I was too busy gasping as we drove on by.

Anyhoo, I voted today. State elections in Victoria. I, for one, love to vote. I love turning up at the polling booths and checking out those tooting for the parties. I love saying no to all those trying to have out 'how to vote' flyers, I think the damn things should be illegal. The amount of wasted paper at the end of the day makes me shiver. I love seeing my name on the register roll. I love hiding in my booth and marking the box with my pencil.

None of it is quite so glamourous as The West Wing, or the Kennedys, or all the things I love about the romance of politics, but it means I am a part of a greater whole.

And my guy won our seat for the first time since I was old enough to vote. Gotta be happy with that!

Friday, 24 November 2006

if only I was in charge of a TV station

In the end we watched 15 episodes of West Wing over ~ 2 days. Fifteen beautiful, moving, hilarious, romantic, fabulous episodes. So now we are up to date with Aus television which is about two years behind US television with this series which is quite simply ridiculous. Stupid television programmers would rather play late night quiz shows which are no more than a grab for cash for the station than to play the likes of the Sopranos or, Arrested Development, or the West wing at any decent hour. Okay * puff puff puff * rant over.

Anyhoo, to finish off my Mum's lovely trip to town we shopped with crazy crowds at a centre wide VIP night in our local shops where it was as busy as Christmas, but we finished off the night introducing my Mum to Kripsy Kremes so all was not lost ;).

Laverne update: She's clucky. We're sure of it. She's stopped laying and is sitting in her hutch for hours at a time rather than parading about the backyard fluffing her feathers and eating stuff in the grass. If this continues, we might just buy some fertilised eggs for her to sit on. And all this for a chook who in the first place was meant to give us eggs!

Tuesday, 21 November 2006


Lovely day today!

First, I went on a trip down to Sorrento with my mum and hubby. This is the setting for my June 2007 book, BILLIONAIRE ON HER DOORSTEP which was very nearly called THEIR SUNSET OVER SORRENTO before it was decided readers might think it was set in Italy rather than in a beachside town an hour south of Melbourne.

Lunch at the Sorrento Baths cafe, then shopping in the main street on a sunny spring day is a most welcome diversion. A long liesurely trip driving up the coast always follows. The scent of sea air, and the feel of sand between my toes was invigorating. These are my footsteps in the sand!

Next in my lovely day I found out that I sold my 12th book! A MILLIONAIRE TO THE RESCUE will be an October 2007 release and is set in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges ~ 40 minutes north of Melbourne. I tell ya, my books sure do get around ;).

Monday, 20 November 2006

into the west

Today my mum's coming to visit!

My family live far too far away in sunny Queensland. Well, since I was the one who in fact moved way from home I'm sure they would say I'm the one who lives far too far away. But the fact is when we get ourselves organised for visits like this it's very special. And this time it's super special as it's just my mum. Well, Mum and series five of the West Wing to be more precise.

Not your typical girl's week? Well it is for us. We have a deal, we are allowed to watch West Wing on the telly the first time around, so long as we ring one another to discuss. But the second time around, we cannot watch it unless we are together. So Mum's West Wing DVDs travel the countryside every couple of months when we sit down, put our feet up and watch "just one more eopiside" until the wee hours of the morning. CJ breaks my heart. Toby stretches my mind. And I could just marry Josh and Donna. It is pure bliss!

So imagine me over the next three days, in my tracky daks, a mug of cooling coffee and a bowl of M&Ms at my fingertips as I immerse myself in the fabulousness of the best TV show ever. Oh, and catch up with my mum too ;).

Thursday, 16 November 2006

all hands

I have a hand fetish. I admit it. My heroes, though all different men, have certain things in comon, and one of those things is that they all have fabulous hands.

My love of hands has been a along-time affair. One of the first ever movie ideas I came up with, many many moons ago when I wanted to be a movie director when I grew up, began with Christian Bale's hands lifted to the sun, water dripping off them, beams of hot sunlight shooting through his fingers, making them look almost like frog's feet (it was symbolic okay!). This image was so strong for me I managed to build an entire story of post-apocolyptic life around it.

Further down the track, when originally coming up with the little icons we use for each day on the
Pink Heart Society, this was the one I wanted. We eventually went with the statue of David - which don't get me wrong is fabulous! - but it's indicative that this was my orignal favourite.

Now as a writer, I get to focus on my addiction on a daily basis. When meeting someone new, apart from their face the first thing that we use to take their impression is their handshake. Is it hard and calloused? Bony and firm? Soft and moist ;). So much of a character's personality can be highlighted in their hands. Luca was a piano player, Flynn runs his hands over his stubbled chin as he thinks, James (here, to the left) does the same over his short hair. My current heroine has quite a thing for my hero's hands and wonders: "Was staring at his dimple, being reassured by his dimple, getting prickly feelings skittering across the back of her neck at the sight of his dimple any better than feeling the same way about his large sure hands? Or worse?"

And it turns out I'm not the only one. Many painters find that the hands are the hardest thing to get right. But they are also one of the most evocative - the shape, length,colour, sinew, scars, nails, knobbles - hence so many portraits go from the top of the head to the lap where the hands are positioned just so. Ditto photographers.

Also, the fabulous Hero Inspiration mecca website has a whole section dedicated to pictures of actors in which you can see their hands. There are 23 pictures of Christian Bale in which his hands are featured, more than any other actor.

I knew I was onto something special all those years ago ;).

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

how things change

When you first write a book, you have all the time in the world. Whether its a month of Nanowrimo, or a year of liesurely writing on weekends or every third Tuesday or when the muse taps on your shoulder.

When you sell a book, everything changes.

My current WIP, a Modern Extra Sensual currently entitled THE SWEETEST THING, had a two month window in which to write it. So far during that month I've had to do proof edits - where you get to see the final printout of the book and make last minute changes - for two seperate books, and have just received revisions on a third. I have created and loaded two websites have worked 20 hour weeks in my other job, have lunched, and dinner'd with friends, have blogged here and on the Pink Heart Society on an almost daily basis and have written 2/3 of my deadline novel.

Actually, I don't think I'll ever list things in that manner again. Before hand I was feeling pretty perky, now I'm in need of a long lie down. And I will have one for sure once these revisions are done, and I've written another 5000 words and I've fed the chicken and the dog and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............


Saturday, 11 November 2006

billionaire bachelors

The original title for my current release, Silhouette Romance's HOW TO MARRY A BILLIONAIRE was The Billionaire Bachelor which is in fact the name of the reality TV show on which my hero and heroine meet. (Hint, he's not the bachelor and she's not a bachelorette. So who are they???) When checking my blog statistics one day, I discovered somebody had found me by googling the words: billionaire bachelor. So, intrigued as to what other billionaire bachelors we might find out in the world - not for me of course, I'm happily married, (hello darling xxx) - I checked out the other sites on that google page and found this:

Click here
for a slideshow of the world's actual Billionaire Bachelors, thanks to the wonderful Forbes Magazine! You can see pictures, find out where they live, how they earned their moula and even see what cars they drive. For example:

44 year old Calvin Ayre from Costa Rica is the son of grain and pig farmers who grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. He was once civilly charged with insider trading, but eventually settled for $10,000 and banishment from Vancouver Stock Exchange and moved to Costa Rica where he set up an internet gambling company! Heroic? Well he is now worth a cool one billion.

Then there's Perry Bass. His family's billions were hit hard by Katrina: oil storage tank near New Orleans leaked 90,000 barrels into a containment pond. But gains from oil boom more than make up for it. He has diversified into Disney, John Wiley & Sons publishing and Human Genome Sciences which sounds fascinating. One problem? He's 91.

Now seriously, where would a girl on the prowl be without the internet to help her find true love?

PS. Shirley has gone to a fabulously massive pet store ten minutes from home where he is living with a whole bunch of other free range chickens. Yes, chickens. Female. He's never known it so good! Laverne is coping rather well, and we are hoping to have a Shirley Mk III for her any day now. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 8 November 2006


Turns out Shirley is in fact a boy.

Woke up this morning to him crowing. And crowing. And crowing. Seems he missed the whole 'crow at dawn' memo. As now he has discovered his newfound talent he spent all day today practising. Thankfully I was out lunching with Sheree B, MJ and Emily, three current and ex workmates, in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges so I missed the worst of it. Hubby filled me in when we got home.

I hastened outside and tried to warn Shirley what this means. That he can't stay with us anymore. Unless he simply forgets he is a boy and keeps his voice down... But no. Being cocky, he tossed his head, fluffed his feathers, flapped his beautiful white silky wings and crowed right on back.

Sad sad day. Many tears shed. As this means Shirley will have to take a trip to the farm lest we be pelted with rotten fruit from the neighbours or trips from the local RSPCA representatives for owning an illegal pet.

My husband has made phone calls all over town trying to find him a new happy home by tomorrow.

Wish Shirley luck!

Monday, 6 November 2006


In Australia it is this month is otherwise known as Movember - a month in which men across the country are encouraged to grow themselves a mo and make their friends pay for the privilege of watching it happen!!!

Tom Selleck wore them beautifully. As did Burt Reynolds. Guido on Hill Street Blues was an infamous moustachioed guy.

And I don't mean no five o'clock shadow, or some tuft balanced on the edge of the top lip. I'm talking full-bodied, curly, scratchy, need to be trimmed with scissors mos.

In the height of mo fever in the 70s and 80s mo's on men seem to havve come with hot sports cars, hairy legs and too tight pants. Many came with their own porn video as well.

Look how dashing these fallas are! Hot stuff right? Pure hero material! Now, one David Beckham managed to single-handedly bring back the mohawk and the mullet, shall we get him started on the mo?

In Australia, Movember is a fundraising event to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, and to raise community awareness of Men's Health Issues.

Go get 'em boys!!!

laverne and shirley update

egg update

Mork and Mindy have now been joined by Lenny. Though as of midday today no Squiggy has arrived. We are now almost one hundred percent sure Shirley is in fact a boy.

1) Laverne is the only one laying.
2) Shirley's tail feathers are starting to curl.
3) He/she now struts better than John Travolta even without the tight disco pants.


For a bit of fun to start my day, Liz Fielding tagged me. So her are five things you never knew about me, maybe, unelss I have blabbed about them here before!

1) I am an apple stalk twirler.

When you were in school did you ever play this game? Before eating an apple, twirl the stalk and go through the alphabet. Whatever letter you hit when the stalk comes off is the first name of your future husband. Then throw the stalk in the air and back into your open palm, whatever letter you hit when the stalk falls to the ground is your future husband’s surname. I have been married for 6 years and I still never eat an apple without playing!

2) I once met Hugh Hefner.

And his bunnies at Disneyland and had a photo taken with them. Hef wore a Gilligan hat and a shirt with tiny pictures of Playboy covers all over it.

3) I am a John Fitzgerald Kennedy fan.

Big time. I have bookshelves filled with books. My room used to be covered in posters. My parents bought me a beautiful framed picture of him for my university graduation present. My hubby, unfortunately, does not share my love of all things Kennedy. But he is such a gem he let me go on a Kennedy stalking mission for much of our honeymoon ;). I mean we went to Hyannisport for goodness sake! And Boston! And Washington! How could we not scope out the compound, the library, and the everlasting flame?

4) I can do the splits.

I was a dancer for years - cheerleading for the Brisbane Broncos footy team, the Gold Coast Rollers basketball team and on TV as well. I used to dance constantly. My dad always joked that I couldn't even play tennis without spinning and turning and floating about the court like a ballerina. And though I'm sure I couldn't remember one routine, I can still do the splits which makes me feel a bit like an old time footballer who still thinks he could return to the pros one day if he really wanted to ;).

5) I live in a suburban menagerie.

As well as Laverne and Shirley and their offspring, my hubby and I have a miniture fox terrier called Squiffy, two black-headed pythons called Mary and Frederik, four gold fish called Arnie, Sylvester, John-Claude and Dolph. And since Laverne and Shirley have come along we now have a pair of grey doves who sun themselves daily in our back yard. Feathers fluffed, wings outstretched, like a day at the beach. It's just beautiful.

Now I hereby tag my Pink Heart Society mates: Nicola Marsh, Natasha Oakley and Trish Wylie (who is so deep into deadline mode we are not sure we'll ever be able to drag her back ;))

Saturday, 4 November 2006

red letter day

We had almost given up hope.

Our fluffy white silky chooks, Laverne and Shirley, are a little over six months old, and yet to lay an egg between them. The fact that Shirley is looking more and more like a boy every day is beside the point.

And then this morning my hubby opened up their nighttime hutch and the pair didn't come out. they always come out. Burst out ready to peck and scratch for hours. But this morning Laverne sat in a warm, snug, hay filled corner and Shirley clucked at her like she/he had no idea what was going on. Could it be...?

Finally sunshine and fresh air and temptation of new grass seeds enticed Laverne out of her hidey hole and we found it. Our first egg!!!
We've decided to call it Mork. Not sure what to do with it next. Eat it, I guess, which actually after all the waiting and fanfare just seems kind of mean. Hubby has ideas of keeping it. Hmmm... Watch this space ;).


We now have TWO eggs! In one day!

Laverne went back inside the hutch for about 40 minutes this morning. when she headed back outside we snuck out and found a friend for Mork!!! So now Mork has his very own Mindy!

So exciting!!!

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

National Novel Writing Month

Began today. The first I really heard about it was when Jenna Bayley-Burke gave us a run down on the Pink Heart Society.

Next I bought Chris Baty's "No Plot No Problem" on the advice of Marion Lennox and Anne Gracie who quoted hilarious sections from the book at lunch last week. This book was soooooo funny it inspired me to join up for Nano, the website which encourages all and sundry to write a 50,000 word book in a month.

In it the author talks about telling all of your friends you plan to write a book in a month as fear is a great motivator. If you do not accomplish your task you will be ribbed about it for a good long while, maybe even the rest of your life!

He also espouses the necessity of writing with a "writing totem". Like Superman has his tight and Wonder Woman has bullet reflcting wrist bands, what can you wear to help you become a writing super power? Chris has a viking helmut himself. When I wrote my first book, I wore a white garland in my hair. I can't even begin to imagine why, but at the time it worked for me. Helped me tap into my muse. And now I always, always wear hot pink fingerless gloves. It began as a way to keep wamr in winter, but come summer those gloves will still be a part of my writing routine.

To find out more, check out
my page at Nano, where I have listed an excerpt and will keep a running tally on this bookm, and idea I have been toying with for months but have never had the chance to write. Working title "Tangled". Hero inspiration: Paul Newman.

Or better yet, join up yourself and just write. don't think. don't edit. Don't give yourself boundaries and rules. Just a deadline, and a promise. And good luck!