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

The Week: 9th – 15th December

Bushfire sunset in Canberra

Merry Christmas! I know it’s too early, but we’re celebrating today because we’re going away next week.

Canberra Smoke Heatwave Bushfires December 2019

The bushfire haze in Canberra has been horrendous. It’s hot, and for days there was smoke in your eyes and your throat even if you stayed inside. I live surrounded by mountains, and the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see them anymore. Now the west of the country is on fire, too.

The volcano disaster in New Zealand dominated the news here this week because the majority of the people killed and injured were Australian. It’s horrific.

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

Cover Love

HOLIDAY HOMECOMING SECRETS by Lynette Eason

How’s this for a neighbourhood library?!

Woman Transforms Rotting Tree In Her Yard Into Charming Neighbourhood Library Winter

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!

20190918_100520

Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

The Week: 18th – 24th November

Spring Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th November 2019 Sky Nature

Bushfire Sunset Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 21st November 2019 Sky Sun Garden Nature

Dust Storm Drought Tuggeranong Valley Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Friday 22nd November 2019 Smoke Haze

Our crazy weather in three images:

  1. Our usual late-spring sky.
  2. Sunset with smoke from all the bushfires ravaging Australia at the moment.
  3. There should be mountains clearly visible, but after the fires came the dust storm on Friday. It covered huge parts of eastern Australia.

It’s a little hard to not think we’re in the middle of some apocalypse at the moment, with disaster after disaster …

Jane Austen’s Emma

Emma_poster Jane AUsten 2020

Romance.com.au Christmas Competition

Romance.com.au Christmas Competition 2019

Cover Love

The Hope Book 2 in The Amish of Cedar Grove series. Coming in December from Author Patricia Davids

The Week: 11th – 17th November

Noisy Friarbird Bottlebrush Bottle Brush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2019 1

Noisy Friarbird Bottlebrush Bottle Brush Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 12th November 2019 2

You know summer is on the way when the noisy friarbirds reappear in the garden! They are such funny-looking birds, but their calls are so weird they’re cute. They’re constantly chatting to each other.

It’s late Sunday morning here and I’m (sort of) working on edits for an upcoming book. It’s probably not something I should admit, but I’m pretty bored with the story at this point!

Want to Read: The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort

Manga Jane Eyre

On this day: the Coventry Blitz

The Landowner’s Secret Excerpt

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Terrifying to think about it, but my first book with Harlequin/HarperCollins, The Landowner’s Secret, is out next week.

 

Here is what it’s about:

 

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.

 

And here are the first few pages:

 

Chapter 1

Southern Tablelands, New South Wales

Late April, 1885

 

Alice Ryan woke at the first shout, and sat bolt upright at the second.

With her mind still muddled by sleep, her body shook with fright before she even realised what was happening. She felt the unease, the disturbance in the night. This far out the bush was usually still, the quietness punctuated only by the odd scuffle of a possum or rustle of wind in the trees. But right now there was an energy that didn’t belong.

Curling her fingers into the counterpane, she waited in dreadful anticipation.

There. A voice—faint, but distinct—reached her ears, becoming louder as she sat frozen in place.

Someone was out there, in the dark.

‘Ian?’ she whispered, uncertain. Who else could it be but her brother, and yet … Some instinct stopped her from calling out and confirming she was home. And just as it took complete hold, a second voice joined the first.

Slipping free of the blanket and pressing her bare feet to the floor, she clutched the bed’s footboard and waited. And waited.

The light of a flame—so dim at first she thought she’d imagined it—flashed not too far beyond the cottage’s small window. It wasn’t much, but it was so foreign in the darkness of the scrub.

She strained to make out any sounds that weren’t meant to be there, but heard next to nothing over the pounding in her ears. Moments later the light flashed by again. It was closer this time.

Alice startled; clapped a hand to her mouth.

This was all wrong. Nobody had a reason to be there, on a road that led to nothing but her home. This far out she was all alone, except for—

Endmoor.

If she could slip out unnoticed, she could reach the big homestead beyond the trees on foot—thieves or troublemakers would be mad to try anything with Robert Farrer. The landowner was too wealthy, with too many men on his property, and no doubt he had better weapons than she did if it came to that.

Alice made her decision in an instant.

Moving fast, she struggled into her frock and grabbed her shawl from the end of the bed before slipping a hand beneath the mattress for the small packet she kept hidden there. She stuffed it down the front of her bodice, shaking with fright and determination.

Trying her best to be quiet, she scrambled across to press her back against the cool wall near the door.

One of the men spoke again but she still couldn’t make out the words. There were at least two of them and they weren’t just talking, but laughing. Whacks echoed through the night air, as though they were hitting at the scrub with sticks, and then she heard more laughter in amongst the other sounds of the night.

Whatever they were about, it was a game to them. Likely a drunken game …

Alice curled her toes against the freezing floor and hugged herself tightly, willing them to just go, just leave her be and make their fun elsewhere. The voices came more loudly from the front of the house. Her only way of escape was through there.

Cursing her rotten luck, her absent brother, and all the trouble life brought down on her, she took a big breath for courage and lurched past the window as fast as she could, scrambling in the darkness for the small knife she’d left on the table.

‘Ian, you bastard!’ The call came from so close by her heart nearly stopped.

Desperation took over then, and she chose speed over silence. Fumbling in the shadows with frozen fingers, shoving her way through the bits and pieces she’d left on the table that evening, she patted about desperately until they hit a strip of cold metal. The knife.

‘Help me, help me,’ she whispered to a God who’d never listened before, and gripped the handle firmly, her other hand shaking, while she once again backed up against the wall.

Bracing herself for anything, she pulled back the curtain only enough to get a glimpse of the clearing around the porch. In a sliver of moonlight she could just make out the figures of grown men dotted around the clearing. Further down the trail, near the road, she saw more forms and shadows. Horses, she realised with even more dread in her belly. She sure as hell couldn’t outrun those.

Shaking more, she cast her mind out beyond them all, mapping herself a route of escape. If they were here for Ian, they were out of luck. As usual he was nowhere to be found.

She let the curtain slip back through her fingers and then bent to grasp the laces of the boots left beside the door. There was no time to tug them on, nor to find her stockings.

She nearly shrieked with surprise when something whacked directly against the outside of the house, but held fast and slapped a hand over her mouth again as she waited for what’d come next.

‘Are you comin’ out, or are we comin’ to get you?’ one of them called. It was not a familiar voice.

‘We don’t have all night!’ yelled another.

There was more laughing. More jokes.

Alice rose carefully, quickly tugging the shawl more tightly around herself without letting her grip on the knife loosen. She edged the door open the tiniest amount, trying to peer beyond the intruders to find the fastest direction into the trees. The boots banged lightly against the old wood, and she pressed her lips tightly together in frustration.

‘Maybe there’s no-one ’ere. I swear, James, if we’re out ’ere freezin’ our bloody arses off for no reason …’

‘Someone’s ’ere. There’s smoke comin’ from the chimney and I saw movement at the window just now.’

‘Bloody hell,’ Alice whispered, becoming number and shakier than before. ‘Bloody, bloody hell.’

There was silence then except for the shuffling of shoes in the dirt. And then a third man spoke.

‘Maybe it’s the sister.’

‘There’s a sister?’

An awful pause followed. And then, ‘Is she pretty?’

Alice wished the bottom of the floor would open up and swallow her whole. Fear icier than the chill in the air ran over her from head-top to heels. She knew more about physical fighting than any proper lady ever would, but she was still a scrap of a thing and not likely to get far before they …

‘There’s only one way to find out.’ The first man said. ‘James? Kick in the door.’

‘Not bloody likely,’ she whispered. She’d go to the devil before she let that happen or let a single one of them put his grubby paws on her.

And with those thoughts giving her fresh determination, she flung the door open and ran.

 

You can order it at these links:

 

HarperCollins AU US UK

Amazon AU US UK CA IN

Romance.com.au

Kobo AU NZ US UK CA IE IN ZA

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Google Play

Booktopia

The Week: 19th – 25th August

Currawongs Blue Winter Sky Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Garden 22nd August 2019

With spring in the air in Canberra, we’re having a bit of a currawong invasion at the moment (that’s just a few of them!).

It’s deafening around here. Those birds are freakishly loud, especially when they fight, which is what is happening nonstop now!

Another busy week. I’m heading overseas VERY soon, and I have a book to finish before then. Packing also has to happen at some point!

The other day I found this on the American HarperCollins website. I can’t believe I’m turning up alongside these authors!

HarperCollins Historical Romance Tessa Dare Caroline Linden Joanna Shupe Sarah Maclean Lorraine Heath Sonya Heaney 2019

Recently Reread: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

And here’s a bit of Derbyshire history for you (it’s an amazing part of England, and I’m so glad to have spent time there last year.)

eyam_church_derbyshire_1890 england victorian britain

The Week: 5th – 11th August

This has been… quite a week. So many good things happened (I’d love to share NOW, but can’t) that I’m worried there’s a disaster on the horizon!

We had t-shirt weather for the first half of the week, and then on Friday night it snowed. I am so mad I didn’t see it, because (and despite nasty stereotypes about Canberra) we NEVER get snow. A little bit settled on the mountains, but by Saturday morning the sun was back. It’s going to be around 17 degrees (about 63 Fahrenheit) by the end of next week, so I guess that’s winter finished.

I spent the second half of the week stalking the Romance Writers of Australia conference (in Melbourne this year) online. I really should go in 2020.

Crazy Cat Canberra Australia Thurday 8th August 2019 Sonya Heaney Cats Cute Grey Cat

Someone broke the cat!

P. L. Travers’ 120th Birthday

australian p. l. travers in the role of titania in a production of a midsummer night's dream, c. 1924 state library of new south wales. mary poppins

Cover Love

Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable Quintet #2) by Mary Balogh