Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Well, I’m still here although still minus the broadband connection, and Gunnar hasn't yet decided who is the winner of Anne McAllister's book. It's been snowing in his part of the world and that it tough on a dog, but I'm sure he'll have it sorted by Monday.

But right now there is nothing on earth that would keep me from introducing my guest this week, the glamorous, multi-talented, Ally Blake.

Ally and I have never met, but we really bonded over the books we wrote for the The Brides of Bella Lucia series. Our heroines were half-sisters and when my heroine, Louise went to stay in Melbourne with Jodie, we wanted to be sure that our characters didn’t behave, well, out of character.

It was terrific fun exchanging scenes, cocktails, and supporting characters and when I decided that my website needed a new look, it was the multi-talented Ally who I turned to.

She writes great books, too; her lovely Billionaire on Her Doorstep is very high on my list of best ever Harlequin Romances.

This month she has a new book, FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR, on sale in the US and UK, but I’ll leave her to tell you all about that.


I love my husband. Adore him to bits. Feel beyond blessed that all those years ago at the local TV station he walked past the conference room and caught me sneakily eating a chocolate bar when I was meant to be partaking in a serious meeting.

He’s so lovely he tries to help come up with ideas for new books for me all the time. Problem is he’s really terrible at it. Horrendous even. So much so when he tells me his ideas, I’ve found the best thing to do is stick my fingers in my ears and say, ‘La la la,’ really loudly until he gets the hint and leaves me be.

He tries. He really does. ‘Why can’t he be a football player and she can be his best friend’s girlfriend?’ he says. I’m serious. And this is even one of his better ones!

But there was one night, snuggled together in front of the TV, watching a random eighties movie, when he came out with a pearler. Out of nowhere, in one long stream of consciousness, he gave me such a lovely, poignant beginning to a romance novel I could scarcely breathe lest it float away before I’d written it down it.

From that moment FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR, my current North America and UK release, was born.

Needless to say he’s proud as punch and will likely tell everyone he meets that he practically wrote the thing too. Which, I add here just for the record, he most certainly did not. Though he did make me dinner, did rub my feet, and did do lots of other things to help make this book possible.

Yet, just to be safe, in future I think I’ll let him stick to naming my characters’ pets ;).

Here’s a small taste of what my husband can inspire me to write. Hope you like!

Through a gap in the seemingly never-ending wilderness, Hud was blinded by a pinpoint of light. He held up a hand to shield his eyes and tugged his rucksack through the heavy brush until he found himself face to face with the old pool house.
A half-smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and pressed against the backs of his tired eyes as echoes of more long forgotten recollections tickled at the corner of his mind. Dive bombing. Performing pretty darned legendary back flips off the diving board. Lying on his back in the water for hours simply watching clouds shift past the pitched glass roof, wondering if his mum and dad looked up if they would see the same clouds while trekking some thrilling spot on the other side of the world.
He levered his heavy rucksack to the ground, and left it where it lay. Claudel was fifty metres off the road, behind a ten foot brick wall, and a ten minute walk through a pine forest to the nearby township of Saffron. If anybody was lucky enough to find his shabby old khaki bag they were welcome to the raggedy clothes, and just as threadbare passport within. It wasn’t as though he’d be needing them to head through a different kind of wilderness with his trusty Nikon camera slung over one shoulder and a hunting knife slung over the other with his team of documentary filmmakers at his back any time soon.

He cricked his neck, pressed his hands into the tight small of his back and glanced upwards to find brilliant red bougainvillea creepers seemed to have swallowed half the long building, leaving the hundred odd remaining white-framed glass panels that had survived the tests of time, thick with dust and mould. He could only hazard to guess how foul the inside might be after not having been blessed by a human touch for a good ten years.

‘If memory serves correctly...’ he said out loud, the sound of his voice raspy and deep in his ears after hours of non-use. Then he made his way around the back of the building to find the door was ajar, at an odd angle, askew on rusted hinges, as though it had been yanked open.

Instinct born of years spent stepping unannounced into dark, secret places he stepped quietly - toe to heel - over a small pile of worn broken glass and inside the pool house where his feet came to a giveaway scraping halt of boot soles on tessellated French tile.

The pool house was clean. The mottled green tiles around the margins sparkled and the dozen white marble benches were spotless. Miniature palm trees in plant boxes edging the length of the room were luscious with good health. And the water in the pool shimmered dark and inviting against the black-painted concrete bottom.
A sound broke through Hud’s reverie. A soft ripple as water lapped gently against the edge of the pool. And he was hit with the sense that something was about to break the dark surface. He held his breath, squared his stance, squinted into the shadows and watched in practised silence as...

A mermaid rose from the depths.

From there everything seemed to slow; his breaths, his heartbeat, the dust floating through shards of sunlight, as the nymph waded through the water, away from him, leaving a trail of leisurely wavelets in her wake.

Water streamed over hair the colour of brandy. It ran adoringly over pale, lean, youthful arms. And as she swayed up the steps, water gripped to her willowy form as long as it could before cruel gravity claimed it back to the dark depths.
Hud felt like he ought to avert his gaze. Like he was too old, too cynical, too jaded to be allowed such a vision. But those same qualities only meant that his curiosity far outweighed his humility, and his eyes remained riveted to the back of the exquisite stranger.

I’m writing my next Harlequin Romance right now, and my hero has a young daughter. Problem is I am struggling to come up with a name! I could ask my hubby but I thought I’d ask you lovely folk instead just to mix things up.

Whoever picks the perfect name for a 4-year-old moppet with dark curls and a penchant for getting as muddy as humanly possible wins a signed copy of FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR!

Harlequin Romance - North America and the UK March 2008
Mother’s Day Gift Selection - Australia & New Zealand April 2008


Donna Alward said...

The first name that came to mind was Lily.

You've drawn a beautiful picture with your excerpt, Ally!


Kate said...

Hmm, how bout Maisie? The excerpt is great - can't wait to read the book! Cheers, Katie

Virginia said...

I have always like the name of Danielle, or April for little girls. She looks like a Danielle to me.

Jan Jones said...

Oooh, that excerpt was just luscious.

Four-year old, mischievous moppet .... Holly?

Cryna said...

Loved the excerpt.....

As for the name - the first one that came to mind was Theresa.

Jill said...

I like Poppy or Pippa. Although those both sound "English" to my American ears.

Estella said...

The first name that came to mind is Samantha.

Ally Blake said...

Wow I go to sleep for a night and I come back to all these lovely messages.

Donna, I love the name Lily. It was the heroine's name in the first book I ever finished. And no it will never see the light of day!

Katie, hope you enjoy the rest of the book too. And Maisie is a fantastic suggestion. Hmmm... Need I read on?

Hi Virginia, I love that you got a feeling looking at the picture. That's what inspiration is all about!

Hey Jan. Lucious? That made my day!

Ally Blake said...

Howdy Cryna. Thanks for letting me know you loved the excerpt. This book truly did have fairy dust surrounding it.

Jill, Poppy and Pippa sound just fine to me! I feel like such a dufus that all these great names didn't come to me on my own ;).

Oooh Estella, I love Samantha. Are you wathcing 'Samantha Who?' on telly? Such a cute show.

You guys are getting me really excited to write this book now! But the moppet's name is still up for grabs and with it a signed copy of FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR so keep those fab ideas coming!!!


Cryna said...

Another name that I really like aside from the one previously mentioned in my post would be would be Shirley (as in Shirley Temple)and taking into account your description.

Anne McAllister said...

Ally, as a child who had a great acquaintance with mud, allow me to suggest "Annie" for your 4 year old!

And since Liz doesn't seem to be able to get my emails telling her who won the book during my week as guest blogger, I'm posting it here (and apologizing for taking up your week!

Gunnar picked Michelle Douglas. I put the details in the comments under 'my' blog piece. So, Michelle, if you come here, go there, too, and claim your book.

And my congrats to your husband for having one good plot in him. That's more than most of our dearly beloveds seem to have!

Liz Fielding said...

Anne, I'm sorry! I've found your email and post the winner properly on the blog on Monday.

Donna, I love Lily, too. The old flowers names are really making a comeback, and Ruby seems to be getting popular again, too.

Lots of lovely names to choose from, Ally. (I'm taking notes...)

juliemt said...

I've always loved the names Flora and Freya, and I think that this little girl would really suit both names.

Donna Alward said...

Pippa was the name of my heroine in the FIRST version of Hired By The Cowboy. Of course she became Alex(is) when I rewrote.

Samantha is cute and she could go by Sam...

I love names I can shorten. Pippa was Phillipa, Alex was Alexis, and my latest has Lucy, though she's really Princess Luciana.

Maybe I just like those kinds of names because the short version says something about the character and then sometimes the long version can say something else.

Liz Fielding said...

I love that dual name/dual personality thing, too, Donna.

Flora is lovely. I used that as a heroine name once. I love naming heroines and little girls. It's the heroes and little boys I have trouble with!

peggy said...

the name saddie comes to my mind

BethRe said...

How about Molly

Natasha said...

I reckon Milly - with Emilia for 'posh'. Who knows, she might grow up to be a bank manager.

And btw that's really generous of me because it's my 'spare' girls name. I just keep giving birth to boys! :)

Anonymous said...

I like the name Golsie

Liz Fielding said...

Peggy, a friend of our had a little girl called Sadie -- her real name was Mercedes. Her Dad said they called her that because it was the only way he was ever going to get one!

I used that in a book a long while ago -- but my Sadie was a stroppy goth teen. (She recently made a guest appearance in a book as a responsible adult. I really must write her a story of her own!)

Rachael Blair said...

I'm gonna say Imogen - only because I absolulely LOVE it and my darling hubby doesn't. We are currently talking #3 and girl's names, in case we actually have a pink one. He reckon's Yonka - I think he's joking!

peggy said...

i would aso like to add hannah

deseng said...

Oooo what a tantalizing excerpt! I have to get this book! Well, this is the first name that popped into my mind when visualizing a little curly headed 4 year old, and that was Lindsey. Then I got to thinking that this little girl is a mischief maker who has a cute sense of humor and is always laughing and thought, "Ah, that has to be a Shelley for sure!"

Michele L.

Ally Blake said...

Ooh, Cryna, the curls, Shirley, hmmmm... then again I do have a chicken named Shirley so that might be tricky ;).

Hey Anne! I'm sooo with you! You know what, that picture of that little girl could have been me at that age. I have sooo many pictures of me knee deep in mud "helping" in the garden.

Waving big to Liz!!! Thanks for having me here Liz. And stop stealing all my great new character names!!! I have a friend with a little girl called Ruby. My hubby had that as a choice for our little girl too. gorgeous.

Okay, off to read the next group of names. La di dah!

Ally Blake said...

JulieMT, oh I love Flora! I've used Freya as a secondndary character in another book. Can you see why this is so hard for me? No names I've used and no names I've already named our pet chickens ;).

Donna that duel personality thing is great. My heroine in the same book we are all helping me write ;), is Gwendolyn, but called Wynnie by everyone but her mum.

Peggy, Sadie is right up there, I can tell ya! Veeerrrry cute.

Hey Natasha!!! Aren't you nice lending out your spare name like that. Far more generous than I'd be. We have a spare girls name in case we ever have another but I'm keeping it to myself!!!

This is too much fun!

Ally Blake said...

Bethre, Molly is just lovely. I did have a little girl named Mila in a book once, Italian seting. And a heroine called Holly in another. Hut never a Molly. There, it's now on the list!

Liz I cracked up at the Mercedes comment. Your friend should be a writer ;).

Hey Rachel! See now maybe I ought to be like you and Natasha and giev away my "possible" baby names as I won't use them as hero/heroine names. Unlike Natasha who has used her kids names. Have you done all five yet Natasha? Imogen is heavenly.

And Peggy Hannah is loooovely. There is something really soft and innocent about that name I think.

Boy oh boy you guys are making this both fun and tough. I truly could use ANY of them.

Ally Blake said...

Michelle L, sooo glad you enjoyed the excerpt!! There's a tad longer one on my website and even more of the same if you buy the book ;)!!

It really was a pleasure writing FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR. From the moment Kendall appeared on the scene like a mermaid before Hud's the whole book felt kind of magical.

As to Lindsey, I once knew a girl called Lindsay who was very cheeky. And I do like a cheeky moppet!

I am yet to be completely swayed so keep 'em coming!!!

Dena said...

Hi Ally, It's great to see you here. You have such a wonderful husband,and funny with his suggestions. I love your books and Falling for the Rebel Heir sounds really good. I haven't read what everyone else has down for their suggestions so hopefully mine are repeats. I like; Emma, Angelena, Gabrielle-Gabby-for short, Anna, Linney, and Korie.

Dena said...

I missed a not in my post. Not repeats, lol.

bluecat said...

How about the name Annabelle? I didn't see that one in the comments. Lilybeth or Lilibeth. Melandra.

Lisa62 said...

Ooh! She sounds lovely! And looks like a Dolly or a Payden. I also like Tulia, Tullip, Maggie and Winnie. But the first is my favorite.

Congrats to whoever wins.


Kate Hardy said...

I have to say "Chloe", don't I? Considering that 3 years ago my daughter was a 4-y-o moppet with long dark curls, the most beautiful blue eyes and a propensity for getting really, really grubby.

Nowadays, we only see the curl when it's freshly washed and dried, and she's clearly got my share of girliness as well as her own. (The words pink, glitter and sparkly come to mind. This is a child with a major collection of hairslides and bobbles. And she is desperately trying to persuade me to let her wear my lilac pearls to the school disco tonight...)

deseng said...

This is so fun reading all these names everyone has submitted! I have thought of another one. How about "Audrey Ann"? Isn't that a pretty name for a little girl with curls?

Michele L.

Ally Blake said...

Hey Dena, lovely to see you here too. And even lovelier that you love my books. Big hug and wave from me to you!!

Now "Gabrielle-Gabby-for short" is in with a chance! That was on our list of girls names but more on my list than hubby's list so I may just have to use it in a book. This book? Or do I save it for a heroine? These are serious questions that must be asked and answered during this process!

Hey bluecat! Annabelle is a cutey pie name to be sure.

Howdy Lisa. Super cute list of names. Funnily enough Wynnie is the heroine in this same book!

Big super waves to Kate!!! Chloe is a gooorgeous name. So much so I used it as a little girl name in my book A FATHER IN THE MAKING.

Michelle back again. It's addictive getting to name characters is it not ;)?

Oooh I feel I'm getting close to an answer chickadees. But I am still willing to be swayed. Keep 'em coming for the chance to win a signed copy of FALLING FOR THE REBEL HEIR!

squiresj said...

The first name I thought of was Rennie. My husband always said when I named my daughter Sarah Rene, he would call her Rennie. It's an unusual name. Besides she looks like a tomboy.
Loved the blog

Cryna said...

Another couple of names that I thought of are: Juanita and Winnifred (Winnie for short).

petrie46 said...

enjoyed the reading well done alice is a good name

michelle Douglas said...

Sigh, Ally. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mermaid more than anything else in the world. Am seriously looking forward to reading Falling For The Rebel Heir (what a fab title!)

Let me reveal my utter laziness. When searching for character's names I look for short - the fewer keystrokes I have to type in the better. So... I think Erin suits your curly haired moppet just fine ;-)

Anne, I am totally stoked to have won a copy of your book - give Gunnar a hug from me. I have been without a computer for a week (a WHOLE week!) or I would've gotten back to you sooner.

Ally Blake said...

Hey Michelle! You're a girl after my own heart. One of my fave movies/stories is 'The Little Mermaid', probably from loving Danny Kaye when I was a kid and having seen Hans Chrisitan Anderson a hundred odd times. I even collect Little Mermaid movie memorabilia. It's lovely to be able to add those little pieces of yourself into your books.

And thanks for "Erin'! Mmmm, never thought about making names short on purpose. You're a genius!


Dena said...

Hi Ally,
I'm happy to hear Gabby has a chance. I thought up a few more...Suzy, Lucy, Jaclyn, Jocelyn, and Holly. I really like Jocelyn.

Maureen said...

Some of my favorites are Sara, Susanna or Susie for short and Emma.

Wilma said...

I like the name Rylie. This sounds like it will be a fun book to read

catslady said...

The first name to come to mind was Molly.

Possibly a Penny or an Alysa or Alex or Emme(a).

limecello said...

Hi Ally,

I took some time to think about it, and many of my names were taken! Haha - obviously they're good choices ;-).
Mine are Kaylan, Ashley/Ashleigh, Alexa/Lexy, Ava, Ariana, Bridget, Emily, or Morgan. Haha I'll stop myself there.

Kimberly L said...

Lenny Emma. My friend has a daughter same age and brown curly hair. Tha name suits her to a tee.

Jennifer Faye said...

Hope I'm not piping in too late but how about Molly?

Great excerpt! Can't wait to read it!!


Ally Blake said...

Hay again Dena. And waving to Maureen as you're on the same track! My sister's name is Suze, so maybe that would be a nice ode. Especially since it is her birthday today!

Ooh Wilma, I've never thought sto spell Rylie that way but I love it! Who knew this choice could be so fun or so hard???

Hey catslady!!! And of course you're not too late Jennifer Faye. Molly has to be the most popular name here. Which means she really looks like a Molly. Hmmm... Thinking cap whirring...

Hey Limecello, well you and I have verrry similar tastes! My daughter's name is Bridget Ava, so that crosses off two of your choices. And I've already had Morgan as a heroine. Though I am loving Ashleigh...

Gosh I only have a day to choose! Who will she be?

deseng said...

Hi Ally!

Here again! O.k. my husband has chimed in with Theona, Theo for short, Gueneviere, Gwen for short, Cindy, Stephanie, Ruthie, and believe it or not he mentioned Sunshine! That was after I told him what the little girl looked like.

I have a cousin named Ashley and they call her Lee for short. Sometimes they call her Ash too!

Michele L.

Carol said...

I love my neices name, Caitlin, but we call her Caity.