The Dancing Plague of July 1518

Die_Wallfahrt_der_Fallsuechtigen_nach_MeulebeeckEngraving of Hendrik Hondius portrays three women affected by the dancing plague

An engraving by Hendrik Hondius portrays a similar outbreak in the 1560s.

In July of 1518, dancing mania – a phenomenon that occurred across Europe for several centuries – hit Strasbourg, Alsace (France). Approximately four-hundred people danced themselves to exhaustion, and even to their deaths.

The plague began when a woman named Mrs Troffea began to dance in the street.

At the time, it was decided that the people could be cured with more dancing, and so musicians were hired to encourage them – which resulted in more deaths.

One modern-day theory suggest that consumption of fungi containing psychoactive chemicals (similar to LSD) was to blame. Mass hysteria has also been suggested.

The Week: 8th – 14th July

I did something spectacularly stupid on Wednesday: I tripped and fell onto the glass corner of a piece of furniture – WITH MY FACE! I’ve spent the rest of the week with the right side of my jaw badly bruised, and also sliced in two places. It’s made going out in public pretty embarrassing! I’m very lucky I didn’t do something much worse – or kill myself – so a funny-looking face is definitely the best option.

Lots of work this week – and the realisation I want to change something in my first book, but it’s far too late now! I’m having a bit of trouble balancing historical accuracy with not causing offence to twenty-first century readers:

Writing colonial Australia, and talking about Indigenous characters.

I’m also wading through the seventy-gazillion websites authors are apparently supposed to be on, such as BookBub.

Some of my travel plans have changed, and it now turns out I’d have been able to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne next month, but it’s too late. (However, I definitely had an “Oh my God, I’m a published author!” moment when Harlequin emailed to ask what parties I’m attending. Apparently you get special – free – perks when you write for them!)

I’d like the opportunity to speak to certain people face-to-face about things, but it’s not going to happen this year. Instead, I’m busy stressing about pitching future books…

Oh, and here’s my review of Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice.

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

Writing colonial Australia, and talking about Indigenous characters.

There’s one thing you can’t do once your editor has sent your final, edited manuscript back to your publisher: change anything.

I’ve been agonising over a few things in my upcoming book for a while now. There will always be things some people hate that others love, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

However, what’s concerning me is how to write colonial New South Wales/Australia when there were so many ugly parts to it.

My first book mentions Indigenous Australians a number of times, but they aren’t featured characters until the next in the series. Even so, I’ve been stressing about language choices. Do you have your characters speak the way people did then, or do you modernise their speech so it sounds more like we approach discussions of ethnic groups today? (Obviously, certain words should never be used in a book written in the twenty-first century.)

Do you find a middle ground so that you’re not whitewashing and romanticising your colonial characters?

In this first book I’ve mentioned specific peoples and regions (Ngambri, Ngunnawal etc.), and will explore this more in the next instalment. However, I’m concerned about language used, and hope I’ve not managed to cause offence!

The parts I’m worrying about are all of a few sentences in an entire book, but I’m completely stressed!

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

From penniless delivery girl…

To billionaire’s bride?

The perfect summer Ally Jones spent with gorgeous French billionaire Dominic LeGrand was unforgettable, despite her unrequited feelings. Now Ally’s a struggling courier and is stunned when her latest delivery brings her to Dominic’s door. Yet what’s even more shocking is his proposal! Dominic needs a temporary wife, but with the enticing promise of his expert seduction teasing Ally to her limits, can she really just play the role?

Lose yourself in this tantalising marriage of convenience…

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

When I picked this one up, Harlequin’s Presents line had been on my mind (due to discussions in a writers’ group). It had been ages since I’d read one of these, and I thought something by Heidi Rice was a good way to return.

The Presents line is, as some authors call it, “fairy tales for adults”. It delivers a steamy, larger than life story, with tropes galore.

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride worked for me. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than many Presents books because both hero and heroine approached their fake relationship like adults, and there was no melodrama. Rice delivered all the wealth and opulence – as well as the alpha male – without making the book seem “old school”. And this was a heroine who was a little down on her luck, but who had ambition, and a career in her future.

I loved the London and New York locations, and I especially loved that the author seemed to know her settings personally. They weren’t just window dressing. The reference to the overcrowded Trevi Fountain on the trip to Rome was also welcome, because, honestly, these days there’s nothing romantic about the place:

Trevi Fountain Rome Italy Tourist Crowds Sonya Oksana Heaney Summer 2016

From my last trip to Rome in 2016. You can’t even see the water!

There were a handful of things in the steamier scenes I could take issue with (we really need some new terms that aren’t “velvet over steel” and “bundle of nerves”!), but I did like how the author subtly changed her terminology when the characters went from England to the United States. In fact, I loved that.

This book delivered exactly the quick-read fairy tale (for adults!) I wanted.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

BookBub?

I’d (kind of, maybe) heard of BookBub before, but only just got around to investigating it. Apparently you can sign up to track current sales and freebie books of authors and genres you like…?

Apart from signing up for an account, that’s about all I know about it so far, but apparently it’s really popular.

HERE I AM if you’re interested in following me!

The Week: 1st – 7th July

Tuggeranong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Mountains Nature 30th June 2019

The amazing Brindabellas that surround Canberra, at the end of last weekend.

The mountains are one of the inspirations for my book.

A crazy collection of noisy miner birds on Friday morning.

Busy week. I tried to get a lot of writing and editing done, but also this:

I swear, there is nothing more frustrating in this universe than trying to organise documentation and get through the red tape of a former (or current) communist country! The hoops you have to jump through are maddening, and I’ve done it twice in less than twelve months, first with communist China last year, and this week in preparation for two months (from August to October) in the former USSR. And it’s that difficult even with me knowing the staff at the embassy here in Canberra!

Why do I do this to myself? I’m not sure of the answer at the moment!

I got mansplained at by a twenty-one year old English guy this week. Not knowing I was Ukrainian, he spewed a whole lot of revolting Russian propaganda at me (what’s with the resurgence of under-thirty tankies?! It’s no better than being a Nazi.).

I was “informed” that Ukrainians want to be part of Russia (they don’t), that Ukrainians love Russians (they don’t – ethnic cleansing and genocide tend to sour people’s feelings). He also “informed” me that there’s nothing wrong with re-forming empires, and that England should be doing the same thing. I was further “informed” that Putin hasn’t done anything wrong (he has), that he wants good relations with the West (he doesn’t), and that it’s only the mean behavior of the EU that’s stopping Russia being good (uh, no).

What it all boils down to is that the whole world is capable of outrage about anything and everything that happens in the United States, but tens of thousands of dead Ukrainians don’t matter.

You know the term “seething with rage”? That’s what I was doing a few days ago.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

Release Day for Anne Gracie

Marry in Secret (Marriage of Convenience #3) by Anne Gracie

Cover Love

My review of Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour, the sixth book in Mary Balogh’s Westcott family series, is out now.

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh . . .

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother Harry home from the wars with Napoleon. He’s come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honour means, and how only with it can one find love.

Release Day for Anne Gracie

Marry in Secret, the third book in Anne Gracie’s Marriage of Convenience series, is out now.

Marry in Secret (Marriage of Convenience #3) by Anne Gracie

A rugged and ruined naval officer comes to claim his bride in an unforgettable tale of love, revenge and redemption from the national bestselling author of Marry in Scandal

Lady Rose Rutherford—rebel, heiress, and exasperated target of the town’s hungry bachelors—has a plan to gain the freedom she so desperately desires: she will enter into a marriage of convenience with the biggest prize on the London marriage mart.

There’s just one problem: the fierce-looking man who crashes her wedding to the Duke of Everingham — Thomas Beresford, the young naval officer she fell in love with and secretly married when she was still a schoolgirl. Thought to have died four years ago he’s returned, a cold, hard stranger with one driving purpose—revenge.
 
Embittered by betrayal and hungry for vengeance, Thomas will stop at nothing to reclaim his rightful place, even if that means using Rose—and her fortune—to do it. But Rose never did follow the rules, and as she takes matters into her own unpredictable hands, Thomas finds himself in an unexpected and infuriating predicament: he’s falling in love with his wife….