Supporting Local Bookshops

shop-front Books 'R' Us Tuggeranong HYperdome Canberra

I have always deliberately bought books from multiple sources, in an attempt to support multiple businesses. (Yes, I buy plenty of books from Amazon, too, but it’s SO important to support other sellers.)

Since this pandemic began I’ve been more aware of this than ever, but until a few days ago it didn’t even occur to me to check my local, family-owned bookshops to see if they sold online.

My mother bought a book at a private Canberra shop yesterday, and apparently they could do with some help. And, to my surprise, they have online shopping, and within an hour of me placing an order it had been sent.

If you’re in the south of Canberra, here’s a shop you can check out (in the picture above) before checking out the big retailers. If you go in person their range is HUGE – much bigger than their online offerings. However, there are places like this everywhere, so perhaps consider them next time!

Documenting the Pandemic

I’m sure that many other places around the world are doing a similar thing – and it would be worth checking out – but here in Canberra the ACT Heritage Library has put out a call for submissions to help correctly document this point in history.

Because we live in an online world now, we’re in danger of losing records of life during the pandemic. History that’s written in books so often misses the human element.

The library is asking for (both paper and digital):

photographs
written works such as diaries and recollections
ephemera such as posters, flyers and mail-outs
audio recordings such as oral histories and, recorded recollections
video such as video journals, short films, and digital stories

You can find email and mail addresses HERE.

 

The Week: 10th – 16th February

I SO badly wanted to share my new book cover this week, but I’m still waiting on the high-quality, official version. It’s very, VERY pretty!

I was in two articles for Valentine’s Day:

We asked Romance Authors how they like to spend Valentine’s Day

Romance Authors give their Recommendations for Valentine’s Day Reads

Despite the world’s (and half of Australia’s) media reporting that all the fires in this country are now out, as of yesterday afternoon there were still twenty-four bushfires in my region.

Below is a map from a few hours ago. The grey bits with the blue fire symbols are fires (duh!). The little section with the green ambulance crosses is my city. And I live on the southern side!

It *is* much better, but I’m sick of hearing how great it is that this nightmare summer is over when I still have firefighting aircraft over my house day and night … “Contained” is good news, but “extinguished” would be much better.

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And now the Canberra region has had a landslide! What’s next?!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cover Love

Harlequin’s Free Reads

The Week: 3rd – 9th February

DC-10 American Water Bombing Air Tanker Canberra Bushfires Gowrie Tuggeranong Australia Sonya Heaney 3rd February 2020

Namadgi National Park Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke Haze Canberra Australia Tuggeranong Sonya Oksana Heaney Afternoon 3rd February 2020 Smoke

A huge change in a couple of hours on Monday: the American DC-10 firefighting plane over my house just before the smoke hit – again.

Canberra Australia Bushfire Moon Sonya Heaney 3rd February 2020

And a bushfire-coloured moon on Monday night.

Big week! My mother’s birthday on Monday, and mine on Friday, and all the dramas of our endless fires and storms thrown in the middle.

This week I got my first look at the cover for The Artist’s Secret (I love it!), and I hunkered down and got to work finishing the third book, which doesn’t have a name yet.

I’ve appeared in a few articles in recent weeks.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Chasing Cassandra Excerpt

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

My review of Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Cover Love

The Gentleman's Deception by Karen Tuft

January Roundup

Namadgi National Park Southern Canberra Tuggeranong Bushfire Brindabella Range Mountains Sonya Oksana Heaney Evening of 28th January 2020

Bushfire view from my back deck. Flames crossing the ridge.

I’ve avoided writing weekly summaries for a while now because so much has been happening, and Canberra has been hit by natural disaster after natural disaster (which have been routinely knocking out the internet). We’ve had two freak hailstorms that destroyed large parts of the city, and fire after fire after fire. My brother was trapped in Canberra Airport a few days ago, when a fire burnt into the city from the east.

It’s been frightening to spend the last few nights watching flames coming into our valley – and it brings back memories of the horrific firestorm that hit us in 2003.

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My apartment view in Brisbane.

I was also in Brisbane for a while – how strange to be in a part of Australia where there’s no evidence of fire when your own region is burning!

In Canberra we’ve had record-breaking, relentless heat, smoke, and waterbombers flying over the house all day and all night. Seeing the giant American DC-10 water tanker flying low over your house is surreal and scary.

EDIT. The DC-10 from Alabama flying over my house just before 3pm today:

Water Bombing Aeroplane Surveillance Namadgi Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

A plane dumping fire retardant flies over my house, back from the fires. It looks like the evening, but that’s the middle of the afternoon.

My local library is now an evacuation centre as a massive fire sweeps in towards Canberra. Today is expected to be catastrophic, and the army is door-knocking in my area to prepare people for what’s to come.

None of us know what’s going to happen over this weekend …

Currawong Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

The Landowner’s Secret for $1.99!

The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Summer of Love Promotion

SUMMER OF LOVE_1080X1080 - The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

Happy 207th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published on the 28th of January 1813. Here is the front page from a first edition copy of the book.

My review of Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Book Feature: The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

the perfect wife by katherine scholes

Regency Ostriches

Lord Avery's Legacy by Allison Land

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

Queanbeyan, New South Wales lies just over the state border from Canberra (about a fifteen-minute drive from where I live). It serves as inspiration for my town in my book, The Landowner’s Secret (on sale now!), which is set in the 1880s. (I don’t use the same place name, however.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Queanbeyan over the years because I’ve always had family who lived there, and so I know the place very well. I was christened and made my first communion there, in the Ukrainian church my refugee grandfather helped to build. We also have a bit of a family tradition of Friday or weekend lunch at one of the old pubs in town.

However, being able to track down some images of the town from the Victorian era, of the buildings that the reckless developers pulled down in the 1970s, has been invaluable.

Here is John Bull’s Store, circa 1883:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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Here is the old post office, built between 1879 and 1880:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Built 1879-80. Post office in Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. From the Queanbeyan Museum.

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And here is Monaro Street, which is still Queanbeyan’s main street, circa 1880. It’s a faded old photo, but I notice the town’s transformation over the 1880s, as the population grew and the railway arrived (in 1887), and I have tried to incorporate that into the series:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Monaro Street, looking East, Queanbeyan c. 1880. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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More images can be found on the book’s Pinterest board.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

The Landowner’s Secret

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

The Week: 30th December – 5th January

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 1

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 2

Yesterday Canberra had its hottest day on record. And now, mid-morning, the bushfire smoke (above) is worse than it has been since the 2003 firestorm. Because the air conditioning just brings in the smoke I ended up sleeping on the couch last night, where it was cooler.

This has been an extraordinary and tragic week for Australia. There’s nothing that has happened in any other country that is comparable to the scale of this disaster.

Goodbye, 2019.

Canberra Australia Summer Heatwave Sunset Sonya Oksana Heaney Smoke Bushfire 30th December 2019 1

2020 Begins

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

2020 Begins …

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I was in a little hamlet near the Victorian town of Bright for a week – with no Wi-Fi – and that area now has bushfires everywhere. And now I’m home the fires keep knocking out the phone lines and the internet.

My city, Canberra, currently officially has the worst air quality in the world, thanks to the smoke from the bushfires. The southern part of the city is the worst, and the reading for the worldwide worst air is being taken a few streets from my house. We’re covered in smoke and brown dust.

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

Before and after:

Walk to the shops Tuggernanong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 21st July 2019 Sunny Warm Afternoon

Severe world-record bushfire smoke Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Tuggeranong 2nd January 2020

The national parks around me are being evacuated as I type because they’re worried the fire is going to hit us. And the holiday I’m supposed to soon go on the to NSW South Coast, to research for an upcoming book, is in doubt as Mogo – the gold rush town I wanted to visit – burnt down on New Year’s Eve:

Mogo Bushfire Destruction

When I returned home from Victoria I discovered that the neighbour hadn’t fed his cat in recent memory, and the little sore on his chin had grown to the point he no longer has any fur on his chin, neck or ears – just red-raw sores.

Here he is before he was sick:

Stinky the Cat

I’ve taken control of the cat at the moment, and my time these days is taken up with emergency visits to and phone calls with the vet, and battles with the poor guy to try and get medicine in him and medicinal cream on the wounds – he hates it. I’ve at least managed to get the infection to stop stinking, and he’s gained a bit of weight.

I’ve had a charity approach me to try and help with his recovery, and his owner, who refuses to pay for any medical treatment, needs to be in prison.

I got a lot of typing done while I was in Victoria, but it’s been hard to work since, with our whole region on fire. I can’t even work on a few of my manuscripts, because the locations I was using no longer exist!

This is an extraordinary way to begin the year. It’s horrifying, and it has only just begun.

 

Goodbye, 2019.

The only thing on many Australians’ minds as the year comes to an end is that our entire country is on fire. Canberra is finishing the year blanketed in smoke and suffering through a severe heatwave, and for some of the day we had an out of control bushfire five minutes from us.

The New South Wales South Coast, where many (most?) Canberrans either have holiday homes or have visited many times, is ablaze, with people evacuated to the beaches and the entire landscape burnt away.

We need a miracle for 2020.

Canberra Australia Summer Heatwave Sunset Sonya Oksana Heaney Smoke Bushfire 30th December 2019 1