Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Monday 30 May 2011

pillow talk ~ character interviews

Do you also do any sort of 'interviewing' system for your characters to make them more real? ... as asked by Daneille

Ah, no. It's just not me.

Maybe for me it doesn't gel. Maybe I simply don't have the time to do that when I could be writing instead. But mostly I think it's because I like to "write into the mist". If I know too much about my characters or about their story, I'd be bored writing it! I need to discover the characters as the reader would in order to maintain a freshness in my writing.

That said, some authors are brilliant character interviewers! It can be really helpful in getting to know things about them you never saw coming. And in getting to know their natural "voice" which is great for writers who struggle with writing dialogue. The fabulous Trish Wylie is one who interviews with relish. Here's an interview she did with one of her heroines. Now, can you tell this is a girl who knows how to write dialogue? (If you want to know more about Ash, grab the eBook here)

If you want to give it a go you can google "character interviews" for lots of ways of doing it. Or simply open a fresh word file, say "hi" and see where it takes you!

Have more writing craft questions? Comment, Twitter, Facebook or email and I'll post my answers here!

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Sunday 29 May 2011

what a night

Early this morning the house behind ours burnt to the ground.

We woke just before 3am to the sound of an explosion. A ‘whump’ like a great displacement of air. Fireworks had been going off somewhere in the neighbourhood earlier last night and we thought they were at it again. In fact the flicker of light coming through the tops of our bedroom curtains made me sure of it.

I asked my husband to check. He did and what he saw was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen.

At the end of our yard, just beyond our back fence, a three-story blaze was alight silhouetting a massive tree against a backdrop of flame, meaning the dozens of other trees usually in view were on the other side of the fire.

Shaking like I was in the middle of my own private earthquake, fumbling for the phone, I called the fire service, to discover I wasn’t the first. Thank God. They were on their way.

Then past the seven longest minutes of my life waiting for sirens to split the night.

Once help was there, my husband – and half the neighbourhood - went to look see. To see if it was the back shed ablaze, or worse. To see if the family of the house needed help.

While I stuck to our second-storey bedroom window, my eyes glued to the blaze as my three kids, amazingly, slept through it all.

Smoke pilled high into the sky, collecting and disappearing in a ghostly fog against the black of the night. Watching the eerie unpredictable shift and sway of the smoke as it was sucked into the sky was the only moment the writer in me nudged her way into the foreground. Remember this, she said, before smartly tucking herself back away again.

I felt like my eyes were twenty times the size of my head, like I had 360 degree vision as my mind whirred with what was happening, and what I might need to do. I stared so hard as if I could push the fire back from sheer willpower alone.

Then the tree between our yard and theirs began to sizzle. One skinny branch way up high lit up in a bolt of bright light, and that was that. I was downstairs packing to leave.

Dressing gowns and slippers for the girls. A blanket and spare dummies for the baby. My laptop. A hard drive filled with our family photos (it turned out I’d grabbed the wrong hard drive in the end!) My handbag with my husband’s wallet and phone and mine as well.

Upstairs, phone in hand ready to call my mum to say we were descending upon her, the fire continued to crackle and spit and shatter glass. Was the spread wider than earlier? Closer to my back neighbor Mike’s place? Was it already at Nick’s house next door? His lights weren’t on. Did he even know what was happening?

It seemed to take forever for anything to happen.

Then like a great blanket had been thrown over the house the fire eased. Behind the silhouette of the trees, vibrant reds and violent oranges dampened to a dull dusty grey. And with it I found my breath.

We now know that nobody was home at the time of the fire. A family with young kids were out that night of all nights. The police, who have sealed the place off and are investigating today, have said that if they were home they would have died instantly in the gas explosion that gutted the house in seconds.

That family had missed having their house inundated during the January floods that devastated our suburb by an inch. One inch. Then this. Maybe everyone was looking the wrong way when the rapture was meant to come. Maybe it’s gonna happen any day, in our backyard.

You know that conversation we’ve all had – what three things would you take with you if your house was on fire? Running around my house this morning I had a moment to think about it and realized nothing mattered. Not one thing. Not even the photos I would have accidentally left behind.

I would have had the three kids in my two arms and felt lucky.

Hug your families. Keep the stuff you love most close. And wish my street an incident free remainder of 2011!

Friday 27 May 2011

uK re-release #2!

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY! is my second re-release in the UK this month. The three book collection contains my MEANT-TO-BE MOTHER as well as "Accidentally Pregnant, Conveniently Wed" by Sharon Kendrick and "Claiming His Pregnant Wife" by Kim Lawrence!

MEANT-TO-BE MOTHER was written after my husband and I took a holiday in Far North Queensland and what I remember most about writing the book was struggling not to try to put in every single beautiful place we visited. With the tropical rainforests, waterfalls, white sandy beaches and of course the Great Barrier Reef, it's truly such a gorgeous part of the world.

Read more about the book at my website, or better yet, grab a copy today. The Book Depository has free delivery worldwide.

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Wednesday 25 May 2011

my mobile office

Wrote outside on the patio the other day.

Beautiful autumn sunshine, view over my beloved backyard and sparkling - though freezing cold! - pool, birds chirping, coffee hot, Tim-Tams cold, book flying!

Does it get any better than this?


Monday 23 May 2011

pillow talk ~ basic preparation

First up in a series of questions asked here by the lovely Danielle: Just wondering how you set your "notes" Word File out?

For each new book I write I open a word file for the story and another I call "BACK STORY".

I started doing this at the beginning of my career when I had more ideas than I could possibly keep track of, so by creating a back story file I didn't forget the important things: Who the characters were. What they looked like. Who their families were. Where they lived. And what made them tick. I've not amended it a jot since I first started writing. Perhaps it's a comfort thing. Perhaps I'm lazy ;). Perhaps it simply works for me!

Here's what I had for THE ROGUE WEDDING GUEST (out now across North America through Harlequin Presents Extra in paperback and eBook). Do note that some of this changed in the editing process as I got to know my characters even better.

WORKING TITLE: THE LONG WEEKEND (This is imperative for me. I need a title I can hang the story on)

BLURB: (This could be something short enough you could use in a query letter?)

What happens in Tasmania stays in Tasmania...

All work and no play means that Hannah’s crush on her gorgeous boss - blockbuster adventure TV show producer Bradley Knight – has no chance of fading gracefully away. So the chance to go home to Tasmania for her sister’s wedding for a long weekend is just the break from work - and Bradley – she so badly needs.

One problem - Bradley has a gut feeling that if his most able assistant goes back to her beautiful island home, she might find more reasons to stay than to come back. Thankfully, the stunning, raw, rugged scenery of Tasmania is just the kind of place he could set his next TV show. It only makes sense that he tag along!

She can play. He can work. And who knows, maybe together they can find a way to do both!

HEROINE DETAILS & PICTURE: (same for hero):



Age: 25

Height: 5’6”

Weight: Skinny

Hair: Chestnut (reddish brown) thick, silky hair

Eyes: Pale green, soft

Complexion: Warm

Star Sign:

Other: Huuuge smile, frowns alot

(Like): Amanda Peet


Job: Personal Assistant, 18 months in job


Family: Tomboy, daddy’s little girl. Mother and sister are perfect deb types. Father died when she was 14.

Background: Moved to Melbourne when 18. Now 25. Hasn’t been home in 7 years.

Home: Tiny two bedroom apartment in Fitzroy with Sonja, Bradley’s PR manager.

Romantic history: Dates. But too busy for anything more!

Drives: Nothing

Habits: Bites nails, scrags hair back

Hobbies: Soccer as a kid


Personality: Tomboy, diligent, ambitious, competent

Passions: Success

Pet hates: Disappointing anyone

Motivation: She's invisible even while working too hard (Always felt invisible to her glamorous mum)

Goal: To be noticed - can only get there by succeeding at work

Conflict: Being with Bradley will bring her greatest hopes tumbling down



Eg. Hannah’s flatmate and BFF SONJA. PR for Bradley. Party-girl. Knows everyone in Melbourne.

THE GATEHOUSE at Cradle Mountain Tasmania

SONG: (Something I listen to over and over to jerk me into the story at the first note - often times the lyrics resonate as well, but sometimes it's just the mood of the song that feels right)

THROW YOUR ARMS AROUND ME by Hunters & Collectors

I will come for you at nighttime
I will raise you from your sleep
I will kiss you in four places
As I go running along your street

I will squeeze the life out of you
You will make me laugh and make me cry
And we will never forget it
You will make me call your name
And I'll shout it to the blue summer sky

And we may never meet again
So shed your skin and let's get started
And you will throw your arms around me
Yeah, you will throw your arms around me

I dreamed of you at nighttime
And I watched you in your sleep
I met you in high places
I touched your head and touched your feet

So if you disappear out of view
You know I will never say goodbye
And though I try to forget it
You will make me call your name
And I'll shout it to the blue summer sky...

And we may never meet again...
So shed your skin and let's get started
And you will throw your arms around me
Yeah, you will throw your arms around me

Ohhh yeah...
You will throw your arms around me...
Yeah, you will throw your arms around me....

I used to do a timeline chart & a chapter breakdown to keep track of what happened where as ideas came to me until I discovered DOCUMENT MAP in Microsoft Word which, by allowing me to create a list of trackable scene headings, I can see at a glance a list to the left of my word file telling me exactly what happens where, and by clicking on any heading I go straight to that scene. AWESOME!

Watch out for my next Pillow Talk chat next Monday! And if you have any writing craft questions, let me know and I'll answer them here.

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Saturday 21 May 2011

i'm reading... battle hymn of the tiger mother

I've just finished BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER by Amy Chua.

I honestly can't remember where I heard about it! But the idea of a first generation American woman of Chinese descent who raised her children in the "Chinese way" only to have it come unstuck by way of her uber headstrong second daughter Lulu just sounded too good to pass up! Especially one born in the year of the Tiger as I was.

My oldest is the bright 'pleaser' first child just as Amy's is. And my second daughter is...well, she's got a personality as big as the sky! I'm stubborn, and willful and hate to lose. My second daughter beats me hands down on all fronts. So I couldn't wait to dive right in.

It's a great read. She doesn't hold back on her beliefs in what she does, or in where she might have made mistakes. And as a mum it's just fascinating seeing how other people do it any which way! I found her ideas regarding children's self-esteem especially interesting.

Amy's website
Buy the book



Monday 16 May 2011

i heart presents

Today I'm over at the fun and fabulous I (Heart) Presents blog chatting about office romances as my latest US release THE ROGUE WEDDING GUEST is just that!

It's a funny kind of conundrum in that the very idea of having a fling with any of the bosses I've worked for would be unthinkable. Especially since most of them, while lovely, were women ;). ut I just loooove reading - and writing for that matter! - office romances.

For a bit of fun over there I've told a little of the tale about how my husband and I first met. So come over to I (Heart) Presents and say "hi"!

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Sunday 15 May 2011

happy birthday baby girl

Today's your birthday, baby girl!

You love to sing - Incy Wincy is a particular favourite, right alongside disco hit Le Freak. Clearly your tastes are nice and varied ;). You are an excellent dancer - your bum dance is a classic. And such a pint-sized comedian I've never known. Problem with that is I can't keep a straight face when I'm attempting to chastise you for being the cheek you are.
You love your big sister and little brother with a vengeance. In fact I'm not sure your baby brother loves me more than he adores you!

I hope you had a special day today. The expression on your face and the long drawn out "woooow" for every present you opened was so you.

Butterfly kisses and running cuddles,


Monday 9 May 2011

UK re-release # 1

Out this month in the UK is the first of two re-releases as part of great triple collections.

First up is the PASSIONATE PLAYBOYS coll
ection. I mean how ridiculously gorgeous is that cover? Humona humona!

My contribution is THE MAGNATE'S INDECENT PROPOSAL which is probably my most loved book to date. The number of letter and emails and kind reviewed for this book was overwhelming to say the least.

It was a Waldenbooks bestseller, a Romantic Times top pick (after which it went onto win the Reviewers' Choice award for Best Harlequin Presents of 2008), the Cataromance Reviewers' Choice winner that same year and rated a Desert Island Keeper at All About Romance.

And just to top it off my good friend Nicola Marsh has a wonderfully bright sexy story inside as well. Such a treat!

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Sunday 8 May 2011

pillow talk ~ doing it all

For this week's PILLOW TALK, I'm answering Desere of Facebook who asked:

"How do you fit in the writing (and eating M & M's ) and all the other everyday life things?"

I compartmentalise. For me there's no other way.

When I had my first daughter, and was writing from home full-time, I hit a point where when I was playing with her, I'd feel guilty for not writing more. And when I was writing with her on a play mat at my feet I'd feel guilty for not being with her 100%.

I made the decision then to block out time for one or the other. During the day, I'm a mum. Full-stop. In the evenings (when the kdis are asleep - ha!) or days when my husband's home I take time to write. Most often away from home - at local cafes or my local library - as my mother ear can never fully close to the kids no matter how hard I try.

As for eating M&Ms? Well, I can do that with three kids on my lap, both hands on the keyboard ;). No guilt at all!

Any writing related questions - or notices on where I can get M&Ms at a bulk discount - email, tweet, Facebook, or comment and I'll give you my take on the next Pillow Talk.


Friday 6 May 2011

Meet Brunswick Street

THE ROGUE WEDDING GUEST (or THE WEDDING DATE as it was known in Australia, New Zealand and the UK) is out now across North America!

Check back on previous posts to get a gander at the hunky hero Bradley. And the fabaulous heroine Hannah.

Here I want to introduce you to the palce where the book opens - Brunswick Street, one of my favourite places in Melbourne. It's a long flat strip of cafes, restaurants, funky shops and the bohemian residents. The perfect place for a TV producer and his gang to hang out, surrounded by all that noise, and hustle and bustle, and culture and inspiration! Here are some pics of that iconic street that inspired me.

Read an excerpt, or better yet grab a copy of the book to find out how!

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Tuesday 3 May 2011

out now across north america!

THE ROGUE WEDDING GUEST (otherwise known as THE WEDDING DATE in the UK, Australia & New Zealand) is out today across North America!

Look for this cover wherever Harlequin Presents Extra novels are found.

Check out the book page on my website for reviews, an excerpt and where to buy the book. And keep up to date on my blog to find out more about the hero, the heroine and fabulous locations in the book!


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