The Week: 12th – 18th August

End of Winter Flowers Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 13th August 2019

First signs of spring (however, there’s one last blast of winter on its way over the coming few days!)

I am VERY busy at the moment. VERY. That is all I have to say this week! (Except that if you’re having a bad week, maybe watch this Belarusian man driving his horse-drawn car!)

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It is now less than one month until my book comes out, and you can read the first two chapters HERE or HERE.

Hannibal Brown Burmese Cat and Grey Crazy Cat Sonya Heaney Canberra Australia 13th August 2019

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Hannibal from next door now comes to hang out with Crazy Cat.

Crazy Cat (the grey one) is ENORMOUS.

Danger Close

Danger Close Long Tan Movie Vietnam War Travis Fimmel Australian Army 1966

Children’s Book Week

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen cover

Danger Close

Danger Close Long Tan Movie Vietnam War Travis Fimmel Australian Army 1966

I had the opportunity to attend a special screening of Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan last night with some Vietnam veterans (including my father) and other members of the Australian Defence Force. They actually had a counsellor there just in case, and now I understand why – it was quite the experience.

Long Tan is the best-known battle Australia (and New Zealand) fought in the Vietnam War, but I was still amazed both by the quality of the movie, and the actors in it. The “face” of the movie is Major Harry Smith, played by Travis Fimmel, of Vikings fame.

In the 1960s my father was an armoured personnel carrier driver stationed in Nui Dat, which is the base under attack in the movie. He later fought another major battle only a few kilometres from the base: Binh Ba, which had its fiftieth anniversary this year.

It was amazing to see people my father knows portrayed on the big screen, and to know people who consulted on the film.

I would strongly recommend this movie, as long as you’re prepared for it. It’s very confronting, and that much sadder because none of it is fiction.

The Week: 3rd – 9th June

Here are a couple of images from the day-long 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba in Canberra on Thursday, which were broadcast live on TV. (If you’re an avid war history fan, you can still watch the whole thing online!)

The first one shows the Minister for Veterans and Defence on the left, and Vietnam veterans from the official party on the right. My father is the veteran in the centre. It was SO sunny that we were all blinded and melting by the end, despite it being the first week of winter!

Battle of Binh Ba 50th Anniversary Anzac Parade, Canberra, Australia 6th June 2019 Ray De Vere Chris Heaney Vietnam Veterans Vietnam War

The second image is from the Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial the same evening. The ceremony was dedicated to Binh Ba veterans in general, and to the sole Australian killed in the fighting in particular. (There was also a British D-Day veteran present.) Afterwards, veterans and their families were lined up for a photograph – I’m one of the dots on the left of the picture!

Veterans and the families of those who served. Battle of Binh Ba, Vietnam, 50th anniversary. Last Post Ceremony #awmemorial cbr.

We had a formal dinner that night. You don’t know what it’s like to party until you’ve done it with Vietnam veterans! We overstayed our welcome in the ballroom, were moved up to the rooftop bar – and then overstayed our welcome there!

My Cover!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

My review of Resurgent by Brynley Blake

Resurgent by Brynley Blake

Hey – Australians!

Batlle of Binh Ba Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Canberra Australia 5th June 2019

Everyone in Australia: at 2pm tomorrow the 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba – a major battle in the Vietnam War – are going to be broadcast live on television from Canberra, and then repeated the day after.

My father has played a huge part in organising this event, and hundreds of soldiers, past and present, are flying in to participate. My parents are in the official party, and will be obvious on TV, and I’ll be sitting… somewhere…! We’ve all been too busy to finalise this.

Afterwards, there’s a function at the Australian War Memorial, and then there’s a huge dinner tomorrow night, and I’ll be staying at the hotel in the city, because there’s just so much going on!

The Week: 27th May – 2nd June

I have a cover for my book! I can’t share it yet, but it’s FANTASTIC, and I keep randomly opening the file to look at it. I had to fill in a multi-page cover brief to give the designer an idea about what to do, and I was cautiously optimistic, but it is SO much better than I could have hoped for.

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The last day of autumn in Canberra.

So, now it’s winter in Australia. However, we’re still having such beautiful days.

The coming week is A BIG ONE for me. The Battle of Binh Ba 50th anniversary commemorations are going to take up all of my time (the 6th of June is the big day), so any plans to write/read/blog won’t happen. I know it’s the same date as the D-Day commemorations, but this battle was much more significant for the Australian military.

Binh Ba was one of Australia’s iconic battles in the Vietnam War, and my family is heavily involved in all aspects of the anniversary. (I know “iconic” is a bad choice of word, but I don’t know how else to describe it.) My father is one of the organisers of the whole thing – obviously, he fought in the battle – and I am going to have a chance to talk with the man who won a Military Cross for Binh Ba, a man whose book I am currently helping to write.

I am actually “moving into” a hotel here in Canberra for the duration of the events.

New Book for Joanna Shupe

Vintage Romance?

Recently Reread: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

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: 12th – 18th November

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Some pictures from the Great Wall near Beijing, Jinan, and the Zibo district in China last week.

These past few months have been crazy. From winter to like-winter weather in Europe, to warm weather, to a heatwave in Canberra, to freezing China, to another heatwave in Canberra. I’m so confused where I am and what season it is! Now I’ve done my Christmas shopping (just in case things didn’t arrive in time), I sort of feel like it’s time for the year to end!

My review of A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Another Book Community Gone?

A Jane Austen Christmas

Mr Darcy Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Foil Christmas Card Sonya Heaney In the Past Zazzle Shop Silver Version 2

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Long Tan Cross

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Armageddon Seventy Years On

Long Tan Cross

Because I live in Canberra and have a former military father (and love history!), I spend quite a lot of time at the Australian War Memorial.

I went with my father today, half because of the occasion (one hundred years since the First World War ended) – to see the thousands and thousands of handmade poppies in the garden out the front (today was the last day for the exhibition), and half because I’m currently working on the memoirs of a Military Cross-winning Vietnam veteran (my father’s commander in the war), and he was heavily involved in the Long Tan dedication ceremony.

Long Tan is by far the most famous (infamous?) battle in Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, and my father knows people in the iconic photograph.

The cross arrived at the War Memorial not all that long ago, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in its special new room. Unfortunately that room – as they tried to make it a quiet place for reflection – is practically hidden, and I think most visitors will miss it…

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The Week: 13th – 19th August

What a week. I am very busy at the moment.

In the world? We’ve had about 120 bushfires in the region in the past few days. To people who deny climate change: it’s WINTER here. Canberra’s kangaroo plague is getting worse (also due to climate change!). Then there was another terror attack in London, and that horrendous bridge collapse in Genoa…

Then there was the shock death of Soviet gymnastics star Yelena Shushunova. She was the 1988 Olympic Champion and a five-time World Champion. I still have video tapes of her. She died so young that one of the gymnasts she trained with still competes.

Happy Birthday to the National Library!

Enlighten Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th March 2017 National Library of Australia Canberra Women's History Reflection Night

Out Now: Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears by John McNamee

Pie Comic by John McNamee Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears

On this day: the Australian Women’s Army Service was formed

Awas_in_wa_1943Northam, West Australia. 1943-04-20. The Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, inspecting personnel of the Australian Women's Army Service at the We

Vietnam Veterans Day

Binh Ba 1 - Copy

One Year Ago

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