The Week: 4th – 10th November

Friday afternoon writing view Sonya Heaney Author Coke Cat Coffee Canberra Australia Book 8th November 2019

Friday afternoon writing view: Coke, cat, coffee, Lisa Kleypas book – and the table runner bunched up because a certain grey feline likes to attack it …

My oh-so neat, easy-to-understand, high-tech way of plotting a book! Sonya Heaney Author Historical Romance 7th November 2019

I’m working on a new book! And my plotting process is a mess! This comes after sending my next book off to my editor at the start of the week.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Remember (2019 Westcott series #7) A novel by Mary Balogh

Premiere Date for Virgin River

Cover Love

The Earl's Betrothal by Karen Tuft

#Amwriting!

Here’s how my day is going: this is my oh-so neat, easy-to-understand, high-tech way of plotting a book! A printer, scissors and sticky tape; what more do you need?!

I’m actually really excited about this book. It’s not for my current series, and it’s going to be BIGGER in many ways. It’s also not going to be seen by anyone outside my publisher for a long time. (If you couldn’t tell by this mess …)

My oh-so neat, easy-to-understand, high-tech way of plotting a book! Sonya Heaney Author Historical Romance 7th November 2019

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

Vintage Romance?

I don’t want to talk about old-school romance books right now, but romances that are too modern to be classed as historical romance, and too old-fashioned to be classed as contemporary romance.

This has been on my mind a bit recently for a few reasons:

  • In an authors’ group I’m part of I came across several people who wanted to submit manuscripts set in the 1960s and the 1970s and the 1980s, but they had no idea who would even look at them.
  • I am currently working on my father’s Vietnam War commander’s memoirs (my father was in the armoured corps of the Australian Army), and I have the 60s on my mind.
  • June this year sees the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba – considered the second most significant battle Australia fought in Vietnam – and my father is helping to organise the entire national service/memorial (he also did the 40th).

There is so much potential for so many good stories set in the second half of the 20th century. It was a time with so much upheaval. The Cold War, the rise and fall of communism, Korea, Vietnam… Not to mention all the changes at home, with women’s changing roles in society etc.

And yet… where are these books?

I do know of one publisher who has actively been seeking these sorts of stories for years and years: The Wild Rose Press.

However, isn’t it time we start a wider market for these books?

The Week: 18th – 24th March

So. I have news. BIG NEWS. However, I’m not going to share it until everything is finalised. In the meantime, here are some silly pictures:

From my home office window in Canberra on Thursday afternoon. One of Australia’s scruffiest baby birds (that is about half a metre in length – so not so little). What a cute mess!

St Patrick's Day Dancing Canberra 2019

St Patrick’s Day dancing in Canberra last weekend.

Out Now: The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

My review of What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucile de Pesloüan

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucile de Pesloüan

My review of Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

10 Romance Clichés

Uh, Book Depository?

10 Romance Clichés

Harlequin Publishing Logo

I randomly stumbled upon this blog post a little while ago, and thought I’d link to it. Usually when I see posts like this I disagree, but Harlequin editor Patience Bloom is pretty spot-on!

Bloom mentions clichés such as those bolts of electricity that always seem to be running up characters’ arms when they touch their true love, the “natural beauty” heroines whose routine consists of putting on lip gloss and nothing else, and those “curves in all the right places”.

You can read the whole post HERE.

Remember “Romantica”?

Wild Card (Elite Ops #1) by Lora Leigh

Around a decade ago, everyone in the romance community was talking about a new subgenre: “Romantica”. It was when romances started getting super-steamy, but they also had the classic romance-genre Happy Ever After. They weren’t erotica, but nobody had a better term for them.

Remember that? Because it was a term I used to use fairly often, and until a few weeks ago I’d totally forgotten about it. There’s not a great deal of purpose to this post other than to observe how quickly things in publishing change.

I was reminded of “Romantica” because I was rereading Smart Bitches’ hilarious 2009 review of Pregnesia, which was connected to a discussion about Lora Leigh’s Elite Ops series, which led me to read some old reviews of some of those books. I don’t remember much about them other than that the first one used the misogynistic term “dumb blonde” a lot, and ended with a scene involving surprise anal sex, where the hero commented that he’d finally “touched his wife’s soul”.

Things change so fast in Romancelandia that I doubt these any of these erotic romance books would be written the same way now, only a decade after they were first published.

In the years since, a certain Twilight fan by the name of E.L. James wrote some fan fiction about another blonde-hating brunette who got spanked by a billionaire, and suddenly “erotic romance” was in the mainstream everywhere.

Not all change is good. I’m growing increasingly annoyed with readers who one-star books – particularly historical romances – because the characters don’t perform like porn stars on the page, or because the heroine is a virgin (unmarried pregnant girls in the 19th century often ended up on the streets – or dead. There’s a reason there were so many premarital virgins). Amazing authors like Mimi Matthews have to self-publish because her books aren’t filled with the steamier stuff so many publishers demand.

I wonder what – another ten years on – we write, read, and talk about now will seem spectacularly outdated then.

The Week: 25th February – 3rd March

One of the cockatoos who lives in the front garden, coming to investigate the other birds on the back deck on Wednesday morning.

Australian Raven Bird Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 25th February 2019 2

A raven trying to steal my plastic container at lunchtime on Monday – caught in the act!

Argh! How is it already autumn?! We’re still having temperatures in the low to mid-thirties in Canberra (in the nineties, if you measure in Fahrenheit), but the leaves are starting to change.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Melbourne Production

My review of Lady Notorious (The Royal Rewards #4) by Theresa Romain

SYTYCW Blog: “Banish stylistic clichés!”

SYTYCW Blog: “Banish stylistic clichés!”

sytycw-logo harlequin so you think you can write

The So You Think You Can Write blog makes for an interesting read when editors weigh in on trends in publishing. They also give advice on things they’re tired of seeing in romance books, and they recently had a post about phrases that need to be retired.

One phrase that is starting to annoy me in historical romance is “gloved hand/s”. When it first started showing up in books I thought it was a great description (especially as a reminder that our historical characters dressed very differently). However, now I see it in every single book, and it has completely lost its impact.

Here are some of the things editors are sick of (and you can read the whole post HERE):

Her mouth formed a perfect O.

She bit her lip.

His smile didn’t reach his eyes.

She looked up from under her lashes.

She touched his hand and felt a jolt/spark of electricity.

(I’ve got to admit to absolutely despising the last one. People aren’t electrical conductors!)