What to do…?

After visiting the enormous, almost abandoned citadel at Rupea earlier today (picture below), we arrived in Brașov this afternoon. It’s a beautiful place, but when we arrived at our rental apartment in the historic centre there was a little black cat behind a nailed-closed wooden shutter on the floor below us, reaching out to us with both paws.

We didn’t think much of it, but every time we came past the cat was still there. And then when the sun set, and the mail still wasn’t collected from that doorstep, and no lights came on there, I went back down to investigate.

From what my rudimentary Romanian reading skills told me, the letters were all “final notice” electricty-type bills, and the last two were dated the 10th of September (it’s the 17th here).

The cat is trapped, and is STARVING, and even more desperate for water. It can’t meow anymore. We took some sliced ham and a bottle of water down and got as much to it as we could (which wasn’t much through the shutters).

Two young Romanian men in a car stopped and came to help, but nobody here speaks English, and even though my family is Ukrainian, the two countries (they’re neighbours) only have about two words in common in their languages.

I let one of the guys into the courtyard and he knocked on the apartment’s door and talked to the neighbours and tucked a note into the door, and the other mentioned calling the police – because what if the cat’s owner is hurt or dead in there? However, when she heard the word “police”, the maniac neighbour lady came out and yelled at all of us and shooed the men away.

I guess I’ll try and feed the cat for the next few days, and then get our apartment’s owner to help when we leave? If the cat’s owner has been missing over a week…?? I can’t just leave it…

Maybe we’re overreacting. Anyway, here are some pictures:

The ENORMOUS, tourist-free citadel in Rupea:

Brașov’s old town, complete with a Hollywood-style sign on the hill above:

There are stray cats everywhere. They’re gorgeous, and most people in restaurants etc. feed them:

The Week: 26th August – 1st September

Nearly Spring in Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney End of August 2019 Garden Nature Blossom Blossoms Wattle

It’s starting to look and feel (and smell!) like spring in Canberra.

Goodbye to winter! It’s spring here, it’s sunny, everything is blossoming! I have allergies, of course – as ever – but that’s fine.

I need to have a little fangirl moment: a few nights ago one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors “liked” my author page on Facebook, and that made an otherwise appalling week pretty bright for a few hours! My page doesn’t have much there yet, but will after my book comes out.

I worked harder this week than I’ve ever worked in my life, and that includes back when I was a ballet dancer. I’m about to send the sequel to The Landowner’s Secret – out in two weeks! – off to my editor, but the process has not been without drama.

The hours I’ve been putting in these past few days have been unbelievable. I thought 13.5 hours on Monday was bad, but then Thursday happened. I started working at 4am and didn’t stop until 11pm (that’s NINETEEN hours). I slept on the couch for two hours, started working again at 1am, and then emailed my editor at 4:30 in the morning in a state of panic!

What happened, you ask? Well …

In the past fortnight I decided to completely rework the structure of the second book (totally my idea – I can’t blame my publisher for this!). I got myself into such a situation that the timeline and continuity were completely messed up. Every change I made to one scene meant I had to change every other scene in the book.

The process was … not … fun.

With me heading off to Europe on Saturday, I had to get this book done NOW.

I haven’t been reading, replying to emails, or even eating or sleeping this week, and now I’m drifting in the sort of weird, exhausted haze caused by of one of those mega 40+ hour international trips Australians often have to take – but worse.

Here’s my post about inspiration for my September book.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

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

Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

Penguin Bloom The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Bradley Trevor Greive, Cameron Bloom (Photographer).

Penguin Bloom is an extraordinary true story full of hope and courage, featuring Cameron Bloom’s exceptional photographs and a captivating narrative by New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive.

Penguin the Magpie is a global social media sensation. People the world over have fallen in love with the stunning and deeply personal images of this rescued bird and her human family. But there is far more to Penguin’s story than meets the eye. It begins with a shocking accident, in which Cameron’s wife, Sam, suffers a near fatal fall that leaves her paralysed and deeply depressed.

Into their lives comes Penguin, an injured magpie chick abandoned after she fell from her nest. Penguin’s rescue and the incredible joy and strength she gives Sam and all those who helped her survive demonstrates that, however bleak things seem, compassion, friendship and support can come from unexpected quarters, ensuring there are always better days ahead. This plucky little magpie reminds us all that, no matter how lost, fragile or damaged we feel, accepting the love of others and loving them in return will help to make us whole.

Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Bradley Trevor Greive, Cameron Bloom (Photographer).

Despite the title, this is a book about an Australian magpie (totally different breed to magpies in other countries) called Penguin, who was adopted by a family as a baby and then went on to become famous.

The (true) story went “viral”, and is soon to be released as a Hollywood movie.

I came across this book while on holiday at the coast, and read it in one sitting, though it was surprisingly long and with a lot more text than I was expecting – I was initially in it for the cute bird pictures!

penguin the magpie

Speaking of those pictures, they’re brilliant, and there are lots of them. The book is worth it for the photography alone.

However, there’s more to this story.

The mother of the family had an accident in Thailand which left her disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The book is as much about her coming to terms with her disability (which also left her without her senses of smell and taste) as it is about the bird, and the book begins with a chapter written by the husband, and ends with one written by the wife.

I’ll admit: the attempts to tie the relationship with Penguin to the woman’s personal journey were pretty flimsy. I doubt the bird actually had much at all to do with it, but I was willing to forgive it.

I’ve been living with a local family of magpies for years. Each spring they bring their babies to us, and they hang out on the front and back decks, singing, sleeping, occasionally attacking other birds in their territory. Never would I ever let one into the house, though twice a bird has sneaked inside, which was… interesting…

Which leads me to… it’s madness to keep a magpie inside. They make the most disgusting mess (yes, what you’re thinking). I was wondering about this family and their magpie, and it turns out that after a while they came to the same conclusion, and they moved her outside.

I’m dubious about the family’s behaviour taking the bird in in the first place. Once they leave the nest, baby magpies live on the ground for some time. Every spring, wildlife organisations beg people to leave them alone – they don’t need rescuing. Animal shelters fill up with “rescued” magpies that didn’t need rescuing in the first place, leaving vets completely frustrated.

However, my doubts aside, the story is an interesting one, and the photographs of the bird interacting with the magpie are brilliant. Australian magpies have a terrible reputation, as there are a few violent birds who attack humans in their territory in springtime. However, most magpies are lovely creatures – especially if they know you – and this book goes a long way to proving it.

Rome: City and Empire

cof

We visited the Rome exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday afternoon (a tip: go late in the day and you won’t have to wait in a queue for an hour – but there’ll be some fingerprints on all the glass cabinets!).

Here are a few more shots:

The entrance (with me!).

cof

The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!

augustus vladimir putin rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra sonya heaney 20th january 2019

And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.

kerch crimea ukraine rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra

End-of-Year Escape

What happened to me after Christmas?

We left the Canberra heatwave two days after the holiday, and spent several days on the New South Wales South Coast (the *northern* part of the coast). However, we weren’t staying near the beach, but up here, high up in the escarpment, on an incredible property with acres of rainforest, wallabies, birds galore – all for us.

It was an isolated, amazing place to unwind at the end of the year.

sdr

oznor

100 Years at Australian Parliament, Canberra.

The hundreds of thousands of poppies to mark one-hundred years of the end of the First World War have gone from other sites in Canberra (Australia’s capital city), but the 270 000 handmade poppies at Australian Parliament were still here until the end of the weekend.

I drove past last week, but on Saturday we actually stopped and took some pictures.

As part of the British Empire, Australia committed to the war in mid-1914 – before Britain even declared it. Most of our contributions are hidden; because we were part of the Empire, our troops are often recorded as “British” (as were New Zealand, Canadian etc. contributions to the war effort).

I’m glad we’ve done some beautiful things to commemorate the event.