Monday, December 28, 2015

One Week 'Til Valentine's Day - Sorta


A week from today the Candy Hearts Series from the Wild Rose Press debuts and with it my novella, Secret Admirer.
On this post-Christmas, back-to-work (and here in the Midwest, icy) Monday, I was thrilled to receive this review and share it here with you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: SECRET ADMIRER ( A Candy Hearts Romance) By Ally Hayes

 SECRET ADMIRER ( A Candy Hearts Romance) By Ally Hayes
Review by: Peggy Jaeger
5 stars!

            A fresh start in a new town and at a new job are just what almost-30 Andi needs. And flirting with the hot guy she sees in her new favorite coffee shop each morning is a welcome bonus. If she could only discover what his name is without seeming too aggressively flirty.

            Combined with the new job are new office friends, and when Andi takes the plunge to meet an even wider circle of “friends of new-friends,” she discovers a texting soul mate in a guy named Garret, who sounds almost too good to be true. Through a series of missed how-do-you-do-meetings and family obligations, they are prevented from a face-to-face encounter, but the texting relationship grows more intense with each new missive they send.

            Coffee shop guy looks better every time Andi sees him, and when she finally discovers his name, she starts to devise a way to get to know him over more than just their morning caffeine shot.

            Andi now knows the name of one hot guy, but not the other, and both are making her girly parts go zing! What’s a girl to do?

            SECRET ADMIRER is a quick, cute and thoroughly enjoyable, satisfying read. Ally Hayes has that rare ability to draw you straight into the lives of her characters as a reader, and right into Andi’s life and dating dilemmas.  I highly recommend you add SECRET ADMIRER to your Valentine day reading list.

Available for Pre-order onAmazon 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Exciting News - 

You may still be thinking about candy canes, but the authors at the Wild Rose Press have been thinking about candy hearts for the past few months. I'm thrilled to announce that my novella, Secret Admirer, is part of The Candy Hearts Series launching January 4, 2016.

Throughout January and February romance novellas will release in different genres, but all are fun and sure to get you thinking about Valentine's Day.

Here are just a few of the covers of the first titles coming soon:




For more info on these upcoming titles and pre-orders, visit and check back here soon for more sneak peeks. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Sneak Peek from Reality Rewind…..

“Beth?” Scott asked tentatively when I answered the phone the morning after I sent him the email. It wasn’t our usual time to talk, but I was prepared, knowing he’d call as soon as he finished reading and absorbed the tell-all statement.

I pulled my robe tight against chill of the November air as I tried to sound as normal as possible. “I’m here. Are you at the office?”

“I haven’t been able to get myself to go in yet. I read it last night and it was too late out there to call you. I slept a little, but oh honey, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell you how sorry I am you had to go through this. I actually hurt for you.”

I knew he did and part of me didn’t want to share the details with him for this reason, he loved me so deeply, relaying the events of the night would put him in pain too. I was careful with my words.

“I hope you understand now why I needed to share it this way. Writing is my coping mechanism.”

“I realize it’s easier than talking about it, and I don’t want to push you, but I wonder if I could ask a question.”

“Of course, anything.”

“This is what kept me up last night, Beth. How did you get home? Please tell me you didn’t fly back alone.”

“No, Alex flew out to meet me right away as both my brother and lawyer. He dealt with whatever I couldn’t and made the calls to Tom’s family. It was he who decided to wait until we returned home together to tell Emma. She’d been staying with Judy and Chuck. In fact, when we returned, I couldn’t even go back to the house and just stayed there with Emma and them. I don’t even know how long I stayed. When we finally returned, my niece Amanda stayed with us and Emma clung to both me and her cousin equally.”

“I’m just so sorry.”

“I know Scott, I do. Just remember you saved me from my grief which I let last way too long.” I poured a cup of coffee even though I knew it would do little to combat my exhaustion from the restless night.

“I feel like it’s wrong to say, ‘I love you’ when we’re talking about your late husband.”

“It’s not wrong. I’ve gotten past the inner-conflict. It was difficult, but you made moving on easier for me.”

He paused, I could imagine his smile as he said with sincerity in his voice, “I love you too."

 I sunk down into a kitchen chair, my previous nervous pacing now seemed unnecessary. “I love you too and I hope you’re ready for whatever reactions come of this when I share it on my blog. Some of my posts in the past have gone viral rather quickly, and those were just about the show, I can’t imagine how fast this will make its way around. I know not everyone will be kind, but I still think it’s better to have it out there rather than react if and when any questions or speculations do come up. I know your ex-wife’s article could contain just about anything, including my history.”

“You can’t scare me away.”

 I smiled into the phone and was ready to hang up contented we’d passed this hurdle, when I heard him take a deep breath, a sure sign he had more to say on the matter.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

                                                 The Ordeal – Part Two

So, we learned to heat food on the stove, in the oven, crockpot and toaster oven.
We made popcorn the ‘old fashioned way.’

We ate fresh food.

We ate out – more than I care to admit.

The bill for the microwave, including the installation I was told would be reimbursed after the microwave is successfully installed, arrived.
I paid the bill.

The 21st came and so did the installers!

The microwave fit the space, and it worked. I didn’t let them leave until I’d heated a cup of tea.
Every now and then it turns on by itself when closing the door, but I figure that’s a minor nuisance I may or may not address. I have 15 days to decide to keep it – or so they say.

Lastly, I called the nice customer service lady to tell her all was good. She assured me she’d issue the rebate immediately. That was over a week ago, but as she said – “The check’s in the mail.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Ordeal – Part One

The microwave made a noise. Then a smell.
“I’m not touching it,” said my daughter. Her partially popped bag of popcorn sat deflated in the defunct appliance.
“Me neither, wait for Dad.”
After complaints of her now having nothing for a snack and later me trying to remember how to make rice on the stovetop (the microwaveable pouches rock) my husband came home.
“Oh, come on.” He replied when we told him we were afraid to touch the microwave.
He removed the stale popcorn bag and ran the fan feature.
“See, it’s fine.” He said.
“Try actually heating something,” I suggested.
He grabbed a dish containing a lone broccoli spear (I steamed those) left over from the middle kid’s dinner and placed it on the rotating glass plate. He hit the 30 second button and gave me a smug look.
The control panel went dark.
“It’s dead,” I declared.
“No, I can fix it.” Famous last words.
After an hour or so of searching on-line, my husband pronounced it unfixable.
“Dead.” I said.
“Yes, go buy a new one. Remember to measure before you go to the store.”
Happy my husband agreed that our family of five could not do without a microwave, I shopped on-line that night. I found the model to replace our over-the-range eight year old family friend and set out the next morning.
“You’re in luck, we have this in stock and you have ton of reward points. You’re a preferred member so we’ll ship it to you and haul away the old one for free. Unfortunately, installation costs $120.00.”
“Ouch, for a $250.00 microwave? Is it something my husband can do?”
“Afraid not, gotta connect the vent, blah blah…”
I called my husband, and he agreed – just schedule the installation.
I left with a delivery date of Monday October 12th and installation date of Thursday the 15th. I assured them I could be home on the 15th after 12 noon, all day.
I was happy.
The kids couldn’t understand how to heat anything. “It’s like we’re Amish!” whined the youngest. Her pancakes were heating in the toaster oven, making them too crispy and her apple cider was cold, not hot as she preferred.
“Amish don’t watch Spongebob before school, they churn butter,” the middle kid told her. She likes cold cereal in the morning, she was unaffected.
“Relax, it’s just a few days away”
Monday the 12th arrived. The kids had the day off and so did the husband. He had work to do from home though and opened his laptop.
“Uh oh, you’re not going to like this,” he said. He read from his screen. “We’re sorry to inform you that order number xxxx has been delayed. Your estimated delivery date is November 3rd.”
“November 3rd!” The kids and I yelled.
“BS, they said they had it in stock. I’ll just cancel this order and we’ll go today and just come home with another one so they can install it Thursday. Maybe we’ll even get a Columbus Day deal today.
Although heading back to the store was not part of my plan I couldn’t think of another way to deal with the situation.
“Wow, that’s crazy. We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” said the women at the customer service desk. “Let’s just cancel this and get you a new one.”
A big box was wheeled our way.
“It’s not letting me cancel the order. It’s ‘in transit’ so it’s been assigned out to UPS, we can’t touch it now.”
“How can it be in transit if we’re not receiving it for 3 more weeks?”
“Good question. Let’s see, it’s coming from Ohio.”
“Are they walking it here?” My husband asked. We live in Chicago.
“I don’t understand it either, let me make some calls.”
They were very nice, she and the other guy who became involved. The other end of their phone call obviously held not-so-understanding people. In the end (of this part) they said the only thing we could do was purchase this new one, still sitting on a dolly next to us for the past hour, and return the one that arrives November 3rd.
“I won’t be home November 3rd,” I said.
“Oh, that’s tough, they won’t just leave it on your doorstep. You have to sign for it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course. I agreed to the 12th because I knew we’d be home, otherwise I’d have taken it home.”
“Well, you’ll have to have it redelivered.”
“No we won’t,” said my husband. “We’ll not accept it and you’ll be able to cancel it on your end.”
“We can do that.”
“I want that in writing and all your contact info, please.”
They obliged and we purchased the microwave at our feet, assured we would get reimbursed and not lose our reward points.
A big burly guy carried it above his head to or car.
Driving away my husband said, “I have zero faith this is going to go smoothly.”
I nodded. We’d double checked we were still scheduled for installation on the 15th, after noon. Still I was doubtful.
Halfway home, my cell phone rang through the Bluetooth in my car. My husband answered hands free. We could see the call was coming from our house. We’d been gone for 2 hours at a store 5 minutes away, I was sure the kids were looking for us.
“Hey,” our oldest daughter said. “Did you guy just go buy a microwave?”
“Yeah,” I said shocked she paid attention to what we said as were leaving.
“Well, there’s a big box on our front step from Samsung.”
My husband laughed, I swore.
“Ok, take a photo and text it to me from the step.”
My husband pulled a u-turn.
“We’re back,” we said to the store greeter. He spoke into his collar microphone. I imagined he was warning the customer service desk.
“Guess what was waiting for us on our front step?”
I held my phone to show her the photo. Her jaw dropped.
“It’s a Columbus Day Miracle!” I exclaimed. They were not amused.
Paperwork, refunds, apologies and promises were exchanged. Burly guy came back out to our car to retrieve the now unnecessary purchase.
“Oh well, they better come on Thursday,” I said when we got home.
I gave my cell number so I could get the call about the installation time window. By 2pm no call had arrived and my oldest was home early from the PSAT exam. I told her the store might call the home phone and to please make sure they are coming after 12 the next day. I returned at 6 from a basketball and volleyball game. No call had come. Uh-oh I thought, but got busy with dinner.
At 7pm I got the robo –call indicating the installers would arrive on Thursday between 9 and 1.
I called. They couldn’t change it. Installation is done by a third party. I asked to speak to someone else and insisted she bring up my account.
“Oh, I see you’ve been through a lot.”
“Do you also see my request for after noon?”
Of course.
I understand and will email a request to the installer now and request a time change, he’ll call on his way over.”
“I won’t be home until noon. I can’t answer my home phone.”
“I have your cell as the contact number.”
No call came before I left the house at 9 to take middle daughter to get her braces on. At 11 am, fully wired up I got her a drive-thru smoothie and dropped her back at school. She tried to get me to let her skip and go shopping.
“Can’t, microwave getting installed.”
She understood and said she’d walk home so I could be home for the guy.
Still no call on my cell.
11:20 I arrived home. There was a message on my home phone.
“Hi, this is Bob, I’m on my way over to install your microwave.”
Then I checked the time stamp. 9:15 am.
I called.
I got the same woman, thankfully.
“Oh dear. Ok, we’re going to wave the fee.”
I thanked her.
“When do you want to reschedule?”
“Uh, later today. I said I’d be home now.”
“Yeah, he’s overbooked.”
“Me too. How about tomorrow, my husband can work from home.” I lied. I could get out of some stuff.
“No, how about next Wednesday the 21st?”
And now I wait…

To be continued.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Adventures

                                                        New Adventures

Today begins a new adventure for me and my characters, Beth and Scott in the Reality Series. Their adventure continues in Reality Re-Mix which is now available for Kindle.
Only Kindle.
This is my new adventure, self-publishing. A bit intimidating, a bit overwhelming, but a whole lot of exciting. The process has thus far been easy to follow and straightforward, but nerve-wracking nonetheless.
Today is day one and I hope to have good news to report soon as I prepare to self-publish the third and final novella in the series in November.
Thanks for sticking with me and Scott and Beth. I hope you like where I take them in Reality Re-Mix and answer all the questions of their past in Reality Rewind.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Today I’m thrilled to share an article from my hometown paper.

Petrak: In search of the perfect beach book

By Pioneer Press

She dug her toes into the warm sand, as if anchoring herself for some much-needed solitary time along the shore. Her children ensconced several yards away, busily burrowing and building castles topped by sturdy blades of seagrass and the occasional shard of driftwood, she felt herself relax, finally, after what seemed like an endless cycle of wake-run-work-drive-sleep.

She slid one hand into a canvas tote, felt around the towels for a hard spine and pulled out the book that had caught her eye on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, during her lunch-hour browsing time.
"Literally couldn't put it down," one online reviewer had enthused, though she figured that was a bit of hyperbole just to get placed higher on the reader comment page.
"A perfect beach read," added another, a statement that, along with the enticing cover of an azure sky with a lone seagull, propelled her to hit the "Add to Cart" button in a rather impulsive moment.
Propping the hardcover in her lap, she turned the stiff few pages and began reading: "Gwen should have known that he'd be up front by the casket, glad-handing various aunts and family friends who smelled of linen soap and who laced tissues through their knotty fingers. Always the comforter, the charmer, the center of attention even when it was supposed to be about someone else…"

Okay, I might have made up the first couple paragraphs, but the fact remains that I've been looking for a good beach read in advance of my annual Michigan vacation.
 To me – and many others – a good book and a beach chair go together almost as much as sun and surf.

Searching for a good book, I started wondering about the works of local authors. After a quick search, I found that there are, indeed, several published authors living in this community who have penned books worthy of beach-time reading or, for that matter, anytime reading.

One example is a book of short stories called "No Turning Back" by La Grange resident Dan Burns. Published by Chicago Arts Press, the book includes "an eclectic mix of stories that expand the boundaries of genre and imagination," according to the author's website,

Kevin Guilfoile, meantime, put La Grange on the literary map nearly a decade ago with his popular novel, "Cast of Shadows," which was followed by another tome with positive reviews by the New York Times called "The Thousand."

Allyson Hayes of La Grange, who has appeared in this column before, just finished writing the third in her series of "Reality Series" books, published by the Wild Rose Press. Her first short story, "Reality Re-Do," came out last fall.

There are probably others, especially in this era of e-books, blogging and self-publishing. And you never know: in 2016, you could be settling down on the shore reading "Tales from the Minivan: Get Me to the Beach Right Now!" by Lynn Petrak.
Or not.

Lynn Petrak is a freelance columnist for Pioneer Press.

Monday, May 4, 2015

         Saying Goodbye to Characters

            You know that bittersweet moment when you finish reading a book and can’t bear to part with a character you’ve come to love for 300 pages? I’ve tried to make my characters as memorable and hope someday to invoke that emotion in my readers, but I never thought about having that same feeling when writing about a character.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Reality Series and finding it tough to say goodbye to Beth and Scott. They’ve been with me for a couple of years now, but it’s time they made room for the other voices in my head.

I realize it’s the appropriate time to end of their story. I’m even happy with the ending I wrote for them, but the act of actually ending their place in brain has me conflicted.

            I introduced them to each other, made them fall in love, and gave them a few hurdles to jump over and a few beds to fall into. I’ve gone into their pasts and secured their future. My work here as their creator is done. So why do I feel like I’m abandoning them?

I’m aware they are fictional and their fate in my hands, maybe that’s exactly why it feels so daunting to say goodbye.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment and realize there must be ways to conquer this feeling. For now I’m going to heed the advice of another writer friend of mine and proceed to re-read the third and final book until I feel like I’m sick of Beth and Scott.
 I can only hope my readers are happy with the ending and just a little sad to see their story come to a close.

Monday, March 23, 2015


    Verbing – the act of using a noun as a verb in everyday speech.

            No, that wasn’t from Webster’s or Oxford’s dictionary. This is an observation of mine of late, especially in my household of teenagers.
            It’s not a new phenomenon, but it seems very popular lately. You may not even recognize it as odd anymore, or may be doing it yourself. Have you googled, lately?
            The first time I noticed the grammar abuse, I was driving a carful of sixth graders to a volleyball game a couple of years ago. From the driver’s seat I overhead this exchange:
            “Who are we versing today?”
            “I think we’re versing St. John’s.”
            I whipped my head around to face my daughter in the backseat.
            “Please tell me you didn’t just say versing.”
            “You’re playing St. John’s, not versing them.”
            “But it’s us versus St. John’s, so we’re versing them.”
            Ah, twelve year old logic. I waited until we were home from playing  St. John’s and explained that you can’t just take a noun and  use in verb form.
            “Why not?”
            “It’s just not right.”
            “But everybody does it.”
            This time the twelve year old logic had a valid case. Everyone was doing it. Does that make it acceptable? Webster’s and Oxford will add a word simply because it becomes part of our vernacular and since verbing seems to be trending I wonder if it will become accepted as well

            Personally, I believe it’s similar to the use of slang. When new words pop up, used only by certain demographics at first, they usually become generally accepted. I haven’t noticed too many new slang terms from my high school age daughter or her middle school sisters. They still use, 'awesome' and 'cool,' though they do use text-speak abbreviations. So possibly this trend of verbing is the new slang and as such I plan to use it in the same way I would use slang in my writing, sparingly and only in age-appropriate situations. I might have the child of a character use a term or incorporate one that has been generally accepted over the last decade, such as googling.
  Unless my characters are hipsters, I will not be using brunching, gaming, tindering, or juicing.

            I’d love to hear your thoughts on incorporating this trend into your own writing or just share some of your favorite or least favorite of these new terms.
Back to novelling.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Reviews Are In!

Well, one at least.  While I'm eternally grateful to all my friends and supporters for their Amazon and Goodreads reviews, yesterday I received a 4 start accolade from Long and Short Reviews and am eager to share.  What better way to end a blog drought than with a review? It also gets me off the hook with trying to come up something.
Seriously though, this came at a perfect time. I've been a bit stuck with a rewrite for the sequel and this re-lit the fire I desperately needed.
Thanks so much!

Reality Re-Do by Ally Hayes

Reality Re-Do by Ally HayesPublisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Length: Short Story (114 pages)
Heat level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Willow
Following her husband’s sudden and tragic death, Beth Franklin finds solace in her couch, watching Dream House, a home improvement show – until she tires of the show’s routine and writes into the network, suggesting a plot twist.
When TV executives ask her to consider appearing on the show, she finds herself not only renovating a house, but her own life when she and co-host, hottie Scott Roberts, hit it off.
With broken hearts in common, Beth and Scott take a risk on love, surprising not only themselves but the show’s viewers, as well.
The novella – Reality Do-over – is definitely every Fan-girl’s dream!
Beth Franklin is ready to move on with her life. To do this she gets her favourite reality television show to help her, but finds more then what she could of hoped for – that being Scott Roberts.
Scott Roberts, co-host of Dream house and Beth’s celerity crush is everything a main love interest should be – sweet, caring, gorgeous and most importantly truthful. Scott is definitely going on my list of fictional crushes.
The character development of Beth was brilliant. I was along for the ride a she tired to figure out how to continue her life after her late husband’s accident. I was truly blown away with Beth as she built her life back up from scratch after it crumbled around her. I was especially amazed with the fact her close friends and her daughter didn’t question her grieving method of ‘channel-surfing’ and help her out as the story goes along.
Ms Hayes has created a beautiful written story that I literally could not put down. I needed answers to the questions that had me bitting my nails right up to the last sentence.
This novel is perfect for all those who have ever fantasized a life together with their celebrity crush. I highly recommend it.