Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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

Thursday, 31 May 2012

I'm reading...suzanne collins


I'm a total sucker for a movie tie in and along with the awesome reviews I'd heard about Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES series, I had to read it.  Am I glad I did?  Hell yeah!

THE HUNGER GAMES, along with the follow up books CATCHING FIRE and  MOCKINGJAY are exactly the kinds of books I loooved reading as a young teenager.  Dystopian stories with strong kid heroes.  Tough stuff, and I loved it.  Still do.  John Wyndham, John Christopher.  Ray Bradbury.  In fact John Christopher's THE SWORD OF THE SPIRITS trilogy is still my favourite story ever.  My so's middle name is named after the hero of those books which tells you how much it meant to me.

But back to THE HUNGER GAMES!  It's rich, intricate, moving, tough, unique, terrifying, and completely unputdownable - yes that's a word.  Just check out Suzanne Collins' website where authors such as Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer talk about how they simply could not stop reading til they were done.

Add a love triangle at its heart and I'm done ;).


Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature.

More about the author here.  Buy the books here.

Next I’m reading... Her Best Worst Mistake  by Sarah Mayberry.

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.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

pillow talk :: revisions :: what to do first


First thing I do is highlight the revision suggestions in my editor's letter to find the core problems.

Sometimes there are little things, early line-edits.  Aussie terms that are gibberish to overseas readers.  Sentences that were half deleted in my final edit.  Through lines that went nowhere.  I take care of those first.  Sometimes revisions might seem so daunting you don't know where best to start.  Starting with the small stuff helps get me on a roll.

Next up I go through my manuscript, and add headings and brief notes as to where I might need to ramp up information, to add a scene, to change the POV, to edit down, and why.  I’m a big believer in different coloured fonts and highlights so that I can see in a glance whether the issue is sexual tension, conflict, background, too much information.

Next I expand on those ideas as inspiration takes me, figuring out how I might go about this. I do all this in red at the beginning of the scenes, so that I'm not messing with what's already there until I'm sure.  You can use "track changes" here, but it does my head in ;).

Next up in this Pillow Talk series I'm going to talk about  the bits I loved that I was sure wouldn't stay...and did, and why its worth trusting your voice.
For a more in depth analysis of the manuscript revising process, I'm heading up a workshop at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast this August entitled REVISIONS: REWRITING, EDITING, PROOF-READING...OH MY!  Conference details at the RWA website here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 28 May 2012

pillow talk :: revisions :: what mine are


Revisions from my editor for my latest book have arrived, and as a lead up to the workshop on revisions I am fronting at this year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast, I thought I’d talk you through my process.

This book is known to me and you as THE BLONDE BOMBSHELL (referred to by my editor as “PAIGE & GABE”, which is a good hint the title won’t stick ;)).  My editor loves the story calling it a "contemporary, sparky and a fun, sexy, entertaining read" which I'll take any day of the week!  She loved my heroine, not a thing to touch there, thought the hero "oozes raw and masculine sexiness" and the heroine's side-story with her best friend is perfect.  Yay!  Because I loved that too.

The three things that  I've been told need a little work are:

1.      Developing the hero’s character and conflicts

I don’t have a beta reader of any description.  No critique group or partner.  My editor is the first one who sees the thing after me.  And by the time I’ve spent months grappling with a story, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.  I know his issues, I know his pain, but have I put it on the page with enough subtlety so as to herald problems without hitting readers over the head with it, or has my hand been too sleight?  The latter as it turns out ;).

2.      Developing the resolution turning point to maximize emotional potential.

I’m never hard enough on my characters.  Never.  I like them or I wouldn’t write about them!  So even while I know that the more they have to overcome to be together, the richer the pay-off at the end, I always seem to hold back.  Until my editor gives me a nudge, which always somehow feels like permission to tear their hearts out!  Poor loves.

3.      It’s too long. 

Again no surprise there!  I always write long.  Just the way I go about it.  This book came in at 72,000 words done.  I managed to edit it down to 57,000 before sending it in.  The final word count ought to be between 50-55,000.

So that's the gist of this current set of revisions.  To the writers among you, do you think those suggestions might apply to your work in progress? 

Next in this Pillow Talk series I'll talk about where I go from here.

 For a more in depth analysis of the manuscript revising process, I'm heading up a workshop at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the Gold Coast this August entitled REVISIONS: REWRITING, EDITING, PROOF-READING...OH MY!  Conference details at the RWA website here.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

ebook of the month :: when the hero loves the heroine from the first page


The romantic hero:

One of the things I looooved about writing this book was the hero's struggle. gorgeous Danny Finch, a man who has nothing against a happy ending, has never settled down as no woman he ever met lived up to the heroine Brooke - who has been married to his best friend for the past eight years.

He loves her.  From the opening page.  But after his best friend dies and leaves her a widow, how can he hope to want her?  How could he ever forgive himself if she wanted him back.  He has his chance, but it is fraught with betrayal of his best mate.  Poor gorgeous man!!!

Watching Brooke slowly come out of her cocoon now she is no longer in the shadow of her famous player of a husband, and seeing her come to realise Danny's feelings, and her own, was really heart-warming to write.  Hope it's as heart-warming to read!

The excerpt:
Brooke smiled at him from beneath her lashes, and then slid from the stool.  He turned on his chair and watched her walk away.
He would have recognised that walk among a million.  The slightly boyish figure, the perfect posture, the innocent sway of thin hips and long lean legs.  The charming walk of a woman who always thought of herself last.  While he thought of her often.  Too often.
And thinking the way he was right now was no better than a betrayal of his best friend.  The kid who had used his own pocket money to rent Danny his first set of cricket whites in primary school when he’d found out Danny couldn’t afford to do so himself.  He owed so much to Cal.  So much.
He shouldn’t be finding ways to touch Brooke.  To be near her.  To make her smile.  To make her like him.  It simply couldn’t happen.  Even if there had always been a connection.  An undeniable spark.  From the moment their eyes met across the crowded barbeque he had felt it lodge deep inside of him.
A barb that had never let him go.  The discomfort he had always felt in her company.  It was sexual tension.  Genuine attraction.  Pure and simple.  Though it wasn’t all that pure and far less simple with every passing day.
Even Cal had noticed.  He’d only mentioned it once, knowing it need never to be mentioned again.
‘You’re wishing you got there first aren’t you mate?’ Cal had asked after a dinner party one night during those first months.
‘If wishes were fishes,’ Danny had thrown back.
Cal had grinned, utterly confident in himself and in their friendship.  ‘Lucky for me they aren’t.’
‘And never will be,’ Danny had promised.
And that was his cross to bear.  For even if she walked in here all shining green eyes and lush lips and pink cheeks and skin so soft it physically hurt not to reach out and run his thumb across her cheek, behind her ear, and kiss the tip of her straight nose, even if she sat on his lap, dove one hand into the back of his hair, used the other to trace a long silky line down his cheek and into the dip of his shirt before leaning in and kissing him senseless...  Even then he would not give in.
Cal was gone.  But Cal would forevermore be there, between them.
And even if he hadn’t ever been sure that he liked her, he knew he’d always feelings for her.  An involuntary attraction that had never gone away.  Feelings that now had to be put back away into the tight, dark, walled in place inside of him in which they had been kept for eight long years.
Buy the eBook.  More about the book

Labels: ,

Friday, 18 May 2012


We have two beautiful new chooks - Musical Rock and Oopie Doopie, as named by a 4 & 2 year old - at home, and one just laid it's first egg

Rocky and Oops are a golden Silkie and a white Pekin respectively. So sweet and tame. And it's lovely to look out the kitchen window to see them free ranging in the big backyard.

As for fresh free range eggs? Yum!!?


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

ebook of the month :: nice things people had to say


The awards:

WINNER - Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Winner

FINALIST - RomanticTimes BOOKclub Reviewers' Choice

FINALIST  - Booksellers Best Award
Best Traditional Romance

The nice reviews:
Millionaire to the Rescue is a beautifully written story of an unrequited love finally coming true after so many years. This book had me laughing, crying and enjoying each and every second of it."
5 stars, Cataromance

"Ally does a fantastic job of fitting many emotions into the HRomance format.  Wonderful read."
 4 1/2 stars, eHarlequin Reviews

"Another highly evocative, sighworthy story from Ally, with a dreamy hero and independent, modern heroine. Loved it!"
Nicola Marsh, Harlequin Romance author

"I just finished reading Ally Blake’s book, Millionaire to the Rescue. This is another book that should take out prizes.  Not only did I fall in love with the hero, the heroine was fabulous and loved the minor characters, especially her sister and those gorgeous kids."
Mary Hawkins

"Have also just finished Millionaire to the Rescue and loved it, its gone into my bookshelf - which means its here to stay."
Caitlyn Nicholas
The excerpt:
Once Brooke was sure they couldn’t go much higher, the forest suddenly cleared, leaving great bolts of sunshine to slice down upon the most amazing house she had ever seen.
A great irregular multi level home rambled down the side of the steep cliff face.  Masses of wide high windows, jutting balconies, an eclectic mix of burnt umber wood panels, muddy cream shingles and pale-coffee coloured brick covered in twisting green ivy gave the structure the appearance of having grown out of the forest.
They pulled up in front of a five car garage with a matching shingled roof, but Danny just parked the car out front.  The hum of the engine and the air-conditioning faded to a strange kind of quiet.
No press.  No radio.  No white noise.  Just the soft whisper of a light wind sighing through a million leaves.  It was so hushed Brooke could actually hear herself think.  Which maybe wasn’t such a good thing.
She opened the car door, stretching out her stiff limbs, feeling like they had driven five hundred kilometres, not fifty.  The kids were out of the car and running, exploring, before her flat canvas shoes hit the golden gravel of the neatly swept driveway.  A pristine, green, rock-bordered lawn extended from the edges of the gently curving path, eventually melding into lush palms and mossy undergrowth.  It looked like something out of a children’s novel.  If fairies made their homes between the rocks and trees she would not have been all that surprised.
A jingle of keys and a tangy scent far cooler than the shady forest about them brought her back to the present.  Danny ambled to lean against the side of the car next to her.  He followed the line of her vision as her eyes skittered all over the edifice before them.
‘It’s quite something don’t you think?’ he asked, squinting to fend off the burn of reflected sunlight from the vast arched curtain free window on the very top floor.
‘It’s something all right.’  She faced him.  ‘How is it that I have never been here before?  How is it that I had no idea you lived in a place like this?  How is it that I always pictured you living in some slick black and silver bachelor pad on the top floor of some building in town?’
He held up a hand to shield his face then turned a pair of dark bronze eyes her way.  ‘You tell me.’
Brooke looked away, pretending to be focussed on her kids, but Danny knew better.  He also knew the answer to her questions.
She’d never before been here because this place was his retreat.  His haven of peace and quiet.  And for him to have invited anybody here, for dinner, for a game of tennis, to stay over, that took some leap of faith on his part.  And she had pictured him living in some steel skyscraper because she had never been interested enough to find out the truth.
But the funny thing?  The kicker?  That day in his office a week before it had occurred to him that over the years he had never bothered to find out all that much more about her either.  And that day, and every day since, it felt like some kind of vital imperative that now he find out what that more was.
Buy the eBook.  More about the book

Labels: ,

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Happy Birthday Bright Eyes!

Today my middle child is three. 

Bright Eyes seems like she was born 2.  She was an early walker, a quick talker and born with a glint in her eye.  She's chock full of mischief with chocolate spiral curls and big brown eyes that let her get away with anything.  She's graceful and athletic, has an amazing ear for language and memory games.  And is the sweetest, most loving kid you could imagine.

Love you bub!  Hope you have a super fun day and can't wait to see what being three brings you and us.

Love Mum

Friday, 11 May 2012

must watch TV: true blood

There's nothing better than finding a new author you love who has a huge backlist you can glom to your heart's content.   (My current is Rachel Gibson - faaabulous!)

But for me there's something that comes close.  Discovering an awesome TV show with five seasons down before you even see the first episode.  Right now, for me that would be True Blood.

Set in a made up Louisiana town of Bon Temps, and based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris I'd avoided it til now mainly because of vampire OD.  (Hero's a vampire, heroine can read minds, and the third i the love triangle, well let's just say you get the feeling he's going to get more interesting ;))

This is a show that's actually hard to recommend.  It's raunchy, and its violent.  But if you can handle that the acting is SUPERB.  The writing surprising.   The setting perfection.  The push and pull of the relationships sometimes high tragedy and other times so heart-breakingly raw and real you cling to the edge of your chair and try not to cry.  You cannot let yourself love ANYONE as they might not make it through the episode much less the season, and yet you do.  Love them.

For that reason my hubby and I are being sooo careful not to google anything about the show.  And for a girl who always reads the book first, this time I just can't!  If I knew who was going to live, or die, or change ;), the show wouldn't have the same awesome shock factor.

So, I'm going out on a limb and saying WATCH IT!  Maybe through your fingers for the first episode before you decide if its your cup of tea ;).  Clearly my cup of tea is as hot and steamy as the Louisiana bayou.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

ebook of the month :: collaging


The collage:

I've always "cast" my hero and heroine, from right back at my first ever book.  But the first time I had a go at "collaging" was at a Romance Writers of Australia conference when Barbara Hannay asked us to bring magazines, scissors and glue, and those of us doing the talk proceeded to, well, act like a bunch of joyous kindergartners!  Ripping out pictures we loved, and slapping them together on a big bit of paper.

Here's what I came up with.

The hero & heroine inspiration images changed in the writing - Danny needed to be darker, Brooke more of a mum - but the hero's air of luxury and solitude remained spot on, as did the heroine's fresh, natural, girl-next-door feel.  The "No More Mr Nice-Guy" quote which meant nothing in particular when I cut it out, ended up being the hero's entire character arc.  For me the collage was about a feeling, a tone, a dichotomy that flowed into the book.

I don't collage all that often anymore, as for me it can box me in as much as open up new ideas, but this time it helped for sure.

The excerpt:
A week later, Brooke stood in the middle of the grand foyer of the beautiful Hawthorn mansion she had called home for the past several years.  The house looked so cold now devoid of furnishings she had sold or given away, without scattered toys on the floor, without Beau’s bike and dirty shoes resting against the front hall, or scattered feathers from Lily’s pink feather boa that she never went anywhere without.
Heavy footsteps drew her from her reverie.  She turned with a smile plastered to her face to find Danny coming out of the library with Beau lifted piggy-back style. 
She blinked but it didn’t change the fact that her serious seven-year-old son, a boy who had long since thought himself too old for such things, had his skinny arms wrapped tight around Danny’s neck.
Big tough Danny Finch.  A man who bowled his last representative cricket match with a broken finger.  A man so unforgiving he’d had Australia’s top football commentator sacked for making disparaging and untrue remarks about one of his clients.  Which was why the endearing image of his large hand resting so gently over her son’s small one was so hard to digest.
The second Lily tumbled into the room, her dilapidated feather boa wrapped about her shoulders, curls galore escaping her blonde pigtails, twirling with her arms held wide, loving all the extra space, clueless as to what it meant, Brooke turned away from Danny and Beau before they could see the hazardous emotion building inside of her.
Buy the eBook.  More about the book

Labels: ,

Friday, 4 May 2012

the blonde bombshell has been launched

Always a great relief when a book is finished.  And sent to my editor.  An no longer "I'm so close I can smell it" which this one felt like it was for weeks.

This one was great fun to write.  There's a rogue lift, a flamingo motif, and wedding dress that just doesn't know its place.  I want to live in the heroine's apartment and as for the hero, well, a picture says a thousand words and all that so...

Fingers crossed my editor likes it too!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

ebook of the month: millionaire to the rescue


The book:
MILLIONAIRE TO THE RESCUE was my twelfth book and is close to my heart for a few reasons.

a) I looove the name Daniel.  It would have been one of my first choice for a son's name if not for the fact that one of my husband's cousins is a Daniel.  So my hero in this book was my chance to throw my love towards a Daniel of my own.
b) the hero drives my faaavourite car, the car I'd buy for myself if I ever won the lotto. An S-type Jag.  My parents owned a vintage 360  when I was growing up so I have such fond memories of leather seats and wood-grain dash, and pressing the button to turn it on.  I'd like a flash modern

c)  the hero is a Sports Agent.  And my love of the Collingwood Magpies is pretty well know so it was a blast to make little references to the team throughout.  I even dedicated the book to them: To a whole team of men who bring me agony and ecstasy year in and year out, the Collingwood Football Club.  Go Pies!  Here's a pic of them winning the 2101 flag, just 'cause ;).

The excerpt:
‘I have a present for you,’ Danny said.
‘What for?’ Beau asked, pushing his glasses higher on his nose.
‘Starting a new school.  Didn’t you know that every kid gets a special present on their first day?  It’s one of the million cool things about starting a new school.’
Beau’s mouth pursed as though he didn’t quite believe he could be that lucky.  Then he looked up and over Danny’s shoulder and he realised Brooke was there.
‘What’s the present?’ Beau asked before the chance was snatched away.
Danny felt Brooke watching him.  He felt her questioning glare at the back of his neck.  He hadn’t asked her permission before getting a gift for Beau, and well, he didn’t really want her permission.  This was about him and the kid.  It was a guy thing.  And she could just lump it.
‘I have managed to beg, borrow and call in about a dozen favours in order to get four tickets to...guess what?’
Beau licked his lips, his eyes getting wider as he imagined what the three things could possibly be.
Danny pulled four small rectangles of cardboard from behind his back and used them to scratch his chin.  ‘Tickets to the AFL footy grand final at the end of this month.’
Beau gawped.  His mouth dropped open.  And his eyes all but popped out of his head.   ‘Are you serious?’
‘I am.  You, your mum and sister can come with me.  With those tickets you can go anywhere you want.  You’ll sit in the Collingwood family seats with all the players' kids, and if they make the grand final you can come back into the rooms after the game.’
He handed the tickets to Beau who held onto them as though they were made of butterfly wings.
‘Can I take these to school?’  For this he looked up at his mum, meaning Danny was forced to as well.
He stood, his thirty-three-year-old knees creaking, and turned to face her.  She had Lily, now calm and smiling, while her feather boa wrapped about the two of them so one couldn’t move without the other.
Brooke didn’t look entirely happy.  But that wasn’t why his chest felt like a steel band had been tightened around it.  She looked utterly chaotic.  Her hair was a shaggy mess, her cheeks were pink, and her chest rose and fell as though she’d been running for ten minutes straight which she likely had.  She looked so beautiful, and so right just being there in his home every morning it hurt him to breathe.

Buy the eBook.  More about the book

Labels: ,