Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Tuesday 31 January 2012

ebook of the month...the friends

First published June 2007
eBook out now!

The friends:
I'd always been keen on the idea of writing a book set in one place with only the hero and heroine on the page.  And that's exactly what I intended to do when setting out to write this book.  I mean big house, reclusive painter. No visitors allowed - bar one, of course ;).

Well, that was until my fabulous editor got a look at the first few chapters.  She loved it, but...  Couldn't the heroine , Maggie, have some friends?  Some foils off which to bounce?  Women who know her?  Love her?  Soften her?

You know what?  She was right!  I adore the context and richness that secondary characters add to a novel.  In a short novel it can be a tricky ask, having friends, family and workmates on the page without taking focus away from the romance.  But its kind of what I do.  Since book one.  I can't seem to help myself.  So it's what I did here too!

So here are The Wednesday Girls...

The excerpt:
Late the next morning, a bustle of noise at Maggie’s front door heralded the arrival of Freya, Sandra and Ashleigh, the Wednesday girls.  Annoyed at the racket, Smiley plodded through the house and out the back door.

Sandra, the youngest of the gang, lumbered in first, her dark wavy hair in pigtails, her pretty blue eyes rimmed in lashings of rebellious black kohl and her heavy combat boots clumping loudly on the wooden floor.

‘Mornin’ Mags, sorry we’re late.  Blame Freya,’ she called out, dumping her black leather beanbag in the middle of the floor.

Freya, a single mum with twin girls in the first grade whirled in next, short red hair scruffy, pale cheeks pink, clay stains on her freckled arms, carrying a huge tartan picnic blanket and a cooler filled with gourmet foods.

‘Read the thing or don’t read the thing,’ Freya shouted over her shoulder.  ‘I don’t care.  You’re always going on about male domination in the creation of modern religion and this book says much the same.’

Freya waved a dog-eared copy of The Da Vinci Code over her shoulder like a waggling finger at the fourth musketeer, Ashleigh, Maggie’s old art teacher, the patron of the group, and the eldest at somewhere over fifty years old.  Well over, Maggie guessed, though with her short, insanely curly ash-blonde hair, and layers of autumnal coloured clothes, she had always seemed kind of ageless.

Ashleigh smiled serenely at Maggie and carried an Edwardian dining chair in her elegant wake, before her pale eyes swayed to the painting over her shoulder.  Her gaze wandered carefully over the piece, then down to the floor where the dozen other members of the lukewarm Blue Smudge Series rested haphazardly against one another.

Ashleigh hooked a long thin hand through Maggie’s elbow.  ‘This new one’s coming along nicely, don’t you think?’

Maggie didn’t think any such thing.  ‘Wine for everyone?’ she called out rather than saying so.

‘God yes,’ Freya gasped, heading into the kitchen.

‘Make mine a double,’ Sandra said, shuffling a French cigarette from a box as she stared at Maggie’s painting, with her forehead creased into a kind of determined concentration only the young can achieve without leaving a mark.

‘So what’s it all about?’ Sandra asked, her hand hovering an inch from the canvas as though it could communicate better to her that way.

‘Beats me,’ Maggie admitted. 

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Saturday 28 January 2012

my favourite...apps

Got a brand new smart phone for Xmas - a Sony Experia Arc.  My god is it lovely!  All smooth and dark and delicious.   Like a good romantic hero really ;).   I love being able to email and blog and tweet but there's just a whole world of time wasting fun out there to be had!  Apps, backgrounds, widgets.  Boy do I love the widgets.
Here are my current faves:
IMDB - the Internet Movie Database website is the most perfect treasure trove for movie buffs.  The relief of seeing some random actor in a movie and being able to track down what you've seen him in before has changed my life!  As for the phone app - brilliant!  Blissfully easy access to movie trailers, and session times anywhere in the world.  Love love love it.

GoodReads - easy way to keep quick track of your books and the books your friends are reading.  

Piano Keyboard - plug in some headphones and my eldest makes up and records her own song.  Curly girl is 4 mind you so they sound like a wall of sound.  But its still lovely to watch - and not hear ;).
Angry Birds - need I say more ;) ? Even while it is a love hate relationship for absolute sure, the thing is crazy addictive! 
WeatherZone - even while I know it's never right, and I do have windows to look out of to check for myself, I have this obsession with checking it ten times a day!
Days Until - great for counting down the days til Kinder starts as Curly Girl asks EVERY DAY if she's going yet.

ColorNote - awesome for shopping lists and keeping track of present ideas and presents bought.  Wasa lifesaver over Christmas.

Which Android apps MUST I get for my phone? More of my favourites here.

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Thursday 26 January 2012

I'm reading... Jennifer Crusie

Jenny Crusie's books are an auto-buy for me.  Charlie All Night was inspired and Welcome to Temptation is on my top five books EVER.

In fits and spurts - which is the only way I get to read nowadays (picture three toddlers climbing over me at any given moment of the day) it took me a few pages to get back into the rhythm every time I picked it up, but the times I was able to read in a good solid chunk it just flew!

And for writers with a few hours to spare, her website and blog - Argh Ink - are magic caves of delight!  Her interest in the romance genre and willingness to share the insights - witty, smart, considered and pro-romance all the way are second to none.

Quirky and unexpectedly gritty MAYBE THIS TIME by Jennifer Crusie is a roller coaster read.

More about the author here.  Buy the book here.  Grab Charlie All Night here.  And Welcome to Temptation here.

Next I’m reading... Mr Perfect by Linda Howard.  What are you reading?  Which book MUST I read this year?  Find the other books I've enjoyed in my "I'm reading..." series this year here!  Or join me at Goodreads.

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Tuesday 24 January 2012

ebook of the month... inspiration

First published June 2007
eBook out now!

Trish Wylie and I had an infamous - good-natured - online spat about Nathan Fillion while I was writing this book.  I inadvertently revealed her plans to marry him, and she set to barring me from using any of her favourite bits of him as inspiration for this story.  It was war ;). And you wouldn't believe the thousands who weighed in at the time!  But take into account the rugged handsomeness, the glint in the eye, the big strong manliness of the guy - how could I not be inspired while writing my Tom?

Check out Trish's blog - Writing and Other Forms of Insanity - and search for "Nathan Fillion Ally Blake" - has a nice ring dontcha think? - to see the war for yourself ;).
My Maggie was just as easy.  The delicacy, vulnerability,  spare beauty of Keira Knightley in this picture was heaven sent.

The excerpt:
‘Paint that!’ Sandra gasped from the veranda.  Through the window Maggie saw her pointing downwards with her smouldering cigarette.  And then the sound of a chainsaw cut through the silence.

‘Oh shoot...’  Before Maggie could think of an excuse to stop them, the other two women sorted out their wine glasses and headed outside.  She had no choice but to follow.

‘This is new,’ Ashleigh rumbled under her breath.

Below Tom stood with his legs shoulder width apart as he wielded his chainsaw.  Jeans hugged lean hips.  His dark hair was spiky and a mess.  And a sheen of sweat glowed along his tanned muscular arms.

Sandra sighed eloquently beside her, and Maggie had to admit, even though she had been steadfastly paying no heed to the fact for days, he did make for quite the glorious picture.

‘I know about him,’ Freya said her voice heavy with accusation.  ‘That’s Tom Campbell.  What’s he doing here?’

Maggie leant away from the rail and moved back inside, the last thing she wanted was to be discovered ogling.  The others followed after a time.  Except one.

‘Sandra,’ Ashleigh called out, clicking her fingers.

Sandra took a drag on her cigarette, put it out in a potted fern, took one last lingering look at Tom, then clumped back in. 

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Saturday 21 January 2012

my favourite...romantic moments on tv...the west wing

Season Two, Episode Eighteen: 17 people

Josh and Donna.  'Nuff said.

What's your favourite romantic TV moment?

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Thursday 19 January 2012

I'm reading...Fiona Harper

I am a big fan of Fiona Harper’s work.  Her rich detail, her humour, her smarts.  Also Fiona’s books are always full to the brim with oodles of context which in short romantic fiction is a hard thing to achieve.

SWEPT OFF HER STILETTOS is an absolute gem.  Written in the first person it presents Coreen, a woman who is so into all things vintage she’s like a walking cheesecake poster.   She has a plethora of puppy dog suitors panting in her hip-swinging wake.  But there’s one man who’s never fallen under her spell.  Enter her best friend Adam.

SWEPT OFF HER STILETTOS by Fiona Harper is luxuriant, colourful, atmospheric, and above all romantic.

More about the author here.  Buy the book here.

Next I’m reading... MAYBE THIS TIME by Jennifer Crusie.  What are you reading? Which book MUST I read this year?  Find the other books I've enjoyed in my "I'm reading..." series this year here!  Or join me at Goodreads.

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Tuesday 17 January 2012

ebook of the month... the working title

First published June 2007
eBook out now!

The working title:
The working title of BILLIONAIRE ON HER DOORSTEP was Sunsets Over Sorrento, and as my working titles tend to be, it summed up the emotion, the tone, the feel of the story in one short hit.

Sorrento is a beach town I visited a plenty during the ten years I lived in Melbourne.   Visited and loved to absolute bits.  Its peaceful, elegant, with great food, gorgeous little shops, and some of the most opulent real estate in the country.  My heroine, Maggie Bryce, is a portrait painter who gets stuck trying to paint those darned sunsets in an effort to reinvent herself.  Who knew all she needed was gorgeous Tom Campbell to love her for her to realise she was fine just the way she was.

The title nearly stuck too!  Their Sorrento Sunset was very close to nearly the final title, until the powers that be became concerned that  readers might mistake it for an Italian story rather than one set in a big rambling ramshackle house on the Mornington Peninsula bluff south of Melbourne.

The excerpt:

Her stomach took a small happy trip as she experienced the thrill that came with seeing someone making a connection with one of her paintings.

‘It’s really growing on me,’ he said.  ‘Yep, this one’s going to look just right on the wall in my john.’

Maggie coughed out a laugh.  It was so without warning that her stomach kind of clenched.  The sensation wasn’t in any way uncomfortable but it made her feel off kilter all the same.  She crossed her arms low over her belly.

‘If you’re even thinking about putting this painting on your toilet wall, Tom Campbell, the deal’s off.’

‘Fine,’ he said.  ‘Okay.  Though more people would get to enjoy it there than anywhere else in my house.’

He turned to face her so quickly she hoped he didn’t realise she had been staring at him rather than the subject of their conversation.  She glanced away quickly, but not in time not to notice the solid crease appear above the corner of his mouth.

‘I’m kind of glad my agent won’t get to see this one,’ she admitted.

‘You have an agent?’

She faced him fully and glared.  ‘I thought we had decided you thought I was talented.’

He laughed, his eyes creasing, every part of him seeming to overflow with amusement.  Beneath her crossed arms it now felt as though her stomach had flipped all the way over.

‘Sorry,’ he said, his eyes dancing, ‘of course we had.  That came out wrong.  It’s just that we get painters out here all the time.  In summer they line the beaches painting beach huts and sunsets over Sorrento.  But I just never knew anybody personally who’d actually sold anything.’

Maggie shrugged.  ‘Well now you do.’

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Saturday 14 January 2012

my favourite...romantic moments on tv...cheers

Season One, Episode Twenty-Two:   Show Down Part II

The moment Sam and Diane finally got together.

SAM: You are the nuttiest, the stupidest, the phoniest fruitcake I ever met!
DIANE: You Sam Malone are the most arrogant self centered, son of a b...
SAM & DIANE: (together) SHUT UP!
SAM: Shut your fat mouth!
DIANE: Make me
DIANE: Try it and you'll be walking funny tomorrow... Or should I say funnier.
SAM: You know, You know I always wanted to pop you one!
Maybe this is my lucky day, huh?
DIANE: You disgust me! I hate you!
SAM: Are you as turned on as I am?
DIANE: More!
(They kiss)

What's your favourite romantic TV moment?

More of my favourites here.

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Friday 13 January 2012

I'm reading... Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I once heard another author say they struggled for years to read this Susan Elizabeth Phillips book because they couldn’t imagine enjoying a book about a heroine named Sugar Beth.  I know how they feel!  Every time I picked it up I thought, mmm, maybe later...

Oh my god.  Really!!!  This is one of those rare books that I spent the entire time thinking I WISH I’D WRITTEN THIS!!!  This with a heroine who was the most popular girl in town, stepping on anyone who got in her path along the way, who now down on her luck has to return home.  And a hero so foppish he at first appears in a smoking jacket and slippers!  I tell you this because I do not want you to be put off by these opening pictures.  As this book is magnificent. 

The dialogue is biting.  The back stories and character revelation unique, deep, heartbreaking, real and juicy.  The hero and heroine are nothing short of fantastic.  So strong.  So stubborn.  So  well matched.

AIN'T SHE SWEET by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is funny, smart, touching, raw and wonderful.  BUY IT TODAY!!!

More about the author here.  Buy the book here.

Next I’m reading... SWEPT OFF HER STILETTOS by Fiona Harper.  What are you reading?  Which book MUST I read this year?  Find the other books I've enjoyed in my "I'm reading..." series this year here!  Or join me at Goodreads.

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Thursday 12 January 2012

The floods

With all the excitement living up to my oldest starting kinder in  little over a week, the one year anniversary of the Brisbane floods almost passed me by.

To think this time last year my street was half under water, our house the middle of an island of a dozen homes. My little family surviving in dry crackers and using baby formula as milk as our power had been off for days.

To all if you still struggling to piece your lives back together after losing so much my heart goes out to you and I wish you the best 2012 of any of us.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

ebook of the month...the idea

First published June 2007

The idea:
I was sitting on a train heading into Melbourne to do lunch with the Melbourne Mobsters - a fabulous, witty, brilliant group of romance authors who lunch once a month at a ridiculously posh hotel – when an image just popped into my head.

A ramshackle house perched perilously on the Sorrento bluff. A lean, paint-smattered woman standing at the window looking like the slightest breeze might blow her away.  And the gorgeous handyman - with a toolbox, a Ute, and muscles to match – who has no idea what he is about to stumble upon as he walks through her warped front door.

I thought I'd jot down some notes on my Alphie (AKA Alphasmart)  and 2000 words later my next book was born.

The excerpt:
Tom ducked out of the way of a low hanging vine, watched his step for fear of turning an ankle, and slowed as a magnificent ten-foot-high wood-carved double front door loomed amidst a shower of hanging ferns.  The right door was ajar, but guarded by a sizeable old red-brown hound with a great big smiley-face charm with the word ‘Smiley’ written upon it hanging off his thick collar.

‘Smiley, hey?’ Tom said.

The dog lifted its weary head and blinked at him, its floppy ears and sad expression not changing a lick to show that he felt any pleasure at the unexpected company.

Tom reached down and gave the poor old soul a rub on the head. ‘Is the lady of the house about?’ 

A sudden crashing noise followed by a seriously unladylike spray of words told Tom that the lady of the house certainly was about.

‘Hello,’ he called out, but he was met with silence as sudden as the previous verbal spray had been.  Not finding any evidence of a doorbell, he stepped over the melancholic guard dog, and walked further inside the entrance to find himself face to face with a square stain on the wall, evidence that once upon a time a picture had hung there, a garden bench that had a mildewed look about it as though it had been relegated from outside covered in a pile of unopened mail, and yet another fern living its sad bedraggled life in a bright new ceramic pot.

Another curse word, this one softer than the last, caught his hearing and he followed it like a beacon to find himself in a huge main room with sweeping wooden floors in need of a good polish, lit bright by a series of uncurtained ceiling to floor French doors through which he had a thicket-shrouded view of the sun glinting off glorious Port Phillip Bay.

Images piled up in his mind of what he could do with this place if given half a chance.  And the whole summer, and an open cheque book, and his old team at his side, and a time machine to take him back ten years...  He shook his head to clear away the wool gathering within.

The room he was in was empty.  No furniture.  No pictures on the walls.  Nothing.  Well, nothing bar a twisting cream telephone cord snaking across the middle of the room to the far wall where a large grey drop cloth, buckets of paint, several flat square structures draped in fabric, a rickety old table which held numerous jars of coloured water and different sized paintbrushes, and an easel with a three-by-four foot canvas slathered in various shades of blue.

And in front of it all wearing no shoes, paint-spattered jeans, a t-shirt that might have at one time been white, and a navy bandanna covering most of her biscuit blonde hair was the lady in question.

Tom cleared his throat and called out, ‘Ms Bryce?’

She spun on her heel with such speed paint from her brush splattered across the all-blue canvas.

Tom winced.  It was red paint.

‘Holy heck!’ she blurted in a toned down version of the language from earlier.  Her voice was husky, her high cheekbones pink, and her pale grey eyes aglow.

Well what do you know? Tom thought.  My lucky day.  For Lady Bryce was a knockout.  He wished his cousin Alex was there with him now so he could poke him hard in the side and tell him, this is why you never say no to a damsel in distress.

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Tuesday 10 January 2012

ebook of the month... billionaire on her doorstep

First published June 2007
ebook out now!

The book:

Gone are the days when Harlequin Mills and Boon books were only available for a short month on a bookshelf, as one of the great things about the epublishing boom is that a story once published is around forever.

In celebration, this month I'm starting a monthly look back at favourite books of mine which have now been published as ebooks!

First up is my tenth book, BILLIONAIRE ON HER DOORSTEP and over the next month I'll be chatting about stuff like where the idea came from, location, research (or lack thereof ;)), behind the scenes memories,  and hero and heroine inspiration.

So watch this space...

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Sunday 8 January 2012

my favourite...romantic moments on tv...Gilmore Girls

Season Five, Episode One: Written in the stars...

When Luke pulls out the horoscope Lorelai wrote for him day they first met...eight years before.

Luke: "Lorelai, this thing we're doing here, me and you, I just want you to know I'm in.  I'm all in."

What's your favourite romantic TV moment?

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Friday 6 January 2012

I'm reading... Michael Connelly

My first Michael Connelly book was The Lincoln Lawyer – I’m a sucker for a book with a movie tie-in! – and I enjoyed it to bits.  Thought the movie was great to.  So I decided to go back to the beginning of another Connelly series, beginning with THE BLACK ECHO.

This is the first of 18 – yay what a backlist!!! – books about homicide detective Harry Bosch and I loved it.  Its Hollywood setting focuses more on the seedy side of life in that part of town, with minimal nods to the industry that made the place famous.

Set in the early nineties there are moments it could feel dated but instead it feels atmospheric, giving you a glimpse of a time when homicide detectives had to fight over typewriters in order to type up their reports.

Nothing better than an author with a huge backlist and after grabbing the next couple of books in the Harry Bosch series for myself for Christmas ;), I’m sure you’ll be seeing his name pop up here over the next year!

More about the author here.  Buy the book here.

Next I’m reading... AIN'T SHE SWEET by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  What are you reading?  Which book MUST I read this year?  Find the other books I've enjoyed in my "I'm reading..." series this year here!  Or join me at Goodreads.

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Wednesday 4 January 2012

writer in residence...

As I spend my year writing, I am making myself available to answer any and all of your writing related questions.  Writers’ block, revisions, plotting, voice, head-hopping, POV, how to submit to a publisher, anything that you’re struggling with as you attempt to finish the damn book, you only have to ask.

First up I'll be nattering about Stretching Your Writing Muscles, so watch this space!

For more you can find me on Facebook, my blog, @ twitter or email me at with Writers in Residence in the subject line.

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