Saturday, April 29, 2023

Fifty years


Fifty years ago today, my dad died. How the fuck have 50 years passed? Sometimes it feels like forever, but some part of me still feels like the kid who was taken to the hospital the week before to see him, who flung herself so hard at that beloved man in his shabby blue terry robe that my mom cried out to warn me.

I know it hurt him, understanding after the fact that the cancer had not only damaged his lung but his ribs. I know that hugs for a long time had probably hurt, and also that he wouldn't have traded them for a pain-free existence.

Whenever I was sick, I would tell my mom to keep him away, out of my room. Because I always wanted to be perfect for him. Stupid kid. I was perfect in his eyes.

He sometimes said, when I was sick, that he wished it was him instead of me. I'm glad I was old enough when he died not to have taken that upon myself, to somehow have blamed myself for my ear infections turning into his lung cancer.

A lifelong smoker. An asbestos worker in the shipyards during WWII. A welder. A firefighter in the tin helmets/iron men era, when they called themselves smoke-eaters. 

It's a miracle he lasted as long as he did.

He retired from the fire department around the time that respirators came in. It wasn't the same, and he was getting old - or so I thought, though he was only two years older than I am now when he died.

There's not a day when I don't think about him.

Friday, April 28, 2023



I recently had a great discussion with author Alison Treat on her podcast, Historical Fiction Unpacked

It's been a favorite listen for a while now, giving me more book recommendations than I'll ever have time to read, but isn't that just the way it is?

It's a short episode, only a skooch over a half hour. Here's a link to listen if you're interested. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Spring things


This has been one of those weeks where it feels like a lot has happened, but it's actually just been normal, everyday stuff. Which isn't bad, right? "May you live in interesting times" is something you never want to hear, not after the interesting times we've already lived through.

We're still getting acquainted with Rufus, but he's settled in beautifully. It's interesting to watch him discover new pieces of his environment, like this footstool. Which is right next to the window where he likes to sit, and in full view of the couch, so now that he's found it, he can sit there and look cute and we can sit comfortably and observe his cuteness. Win/win.

It's also been garden heaven. The front yard has gone from yellow (daffodils) to lavender (lilac and creeping phlox), and now that we had some significant rain on Saturday night, pink will soon be creeping into the color scheme. 

The local nurseries have stocked early because of the weather, so I have the backyard veggie beds almost completely planted, except for a few tomato varieties that I haven't found yet. I've tried growing my own under lights in the basement; it doesn't work. I don't know why. I gave the setup to a friend and she's going gangbusters with it, so my brain must see it as a variation on houseplants, something it doesn't want to do.

I was supposed to have my first craft show of the season this coming Sunday, but there's been a complication. We live west of Philadelphia, and this Sunday is the Broad Street Run, a race that goes the entire length of Broad Street (a long street which completely bisects the city) and my craft show is on the other side. We could take the long way - over an hour - and go around the city and come in from below, but that would be a long ride, and my husband would have to leave immediately and reverse the whole thing because he'd planned a meeting at his West Philly office to keep him occupied while I was working. So the poor guy would spend almost 4 hours in the car while I was spending 6 at a craft show.

Thankfully the organizer is a sweetheart and has let me roll over my payment until the fall show, so I'm not out any money. He'll go off and do his thing on Sunday and I'll stay home and either write or make more pieces for my now-first craft show, which will be Sunday, May 7.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Coming Closer is here!

Yesterday was the launch for Coming Closer, the second book in my Ava & Claire series. The ebook and paperback are out in the world and I'll be adding a hardcover option as soon as the cover designer and I get done with our tweaking.

The launch went really, really well, and I'm only slightly feeling the champagne we had last night to celebrate.

Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere that five years ago, none of this had happened yet. In April, 2018, I was still 8 months away from getting any interest from a publisher, and it was October 2021 when I split with them and republished Songbird and A Wider World myself.

I regret nothing. It's been a huge adventure, and the learning curve just keeps curving, but that's also part of the fun. There's always something new to learn, and I thrive on input, always have.

For those who have already ordered their copy of Coming Closer, I want you to know how much I appreciate your support. (I'll also appreciate any review you choose to leave, but that's your choice - a writer can only hope).

For those who are on the fence about ordering, here are a few snippets from some advance reviews on Goodreads:

With the historic background and descriptions of Philadelphia in the 30s masterfully woven into the story, Coming Closer is as compelling and immersive as the first book in the series, Coming Apart. Ava and Claire are characters to care about, their personalities fully realized. Heenan’s prose is tight but evocative, and the story flows naturally. Highly recommended.


Coming Closer is an engaging story, well written, and you just cannot put it down. I was fascinated by the inserts of the historical background of the Inauguration of President Roosevelt...and the visions of the the remnants of the Great Depression’s impact on the city. I’m familiar with Philadelphia so I enjoyed the author’s references to certain landmarks and streets. As the sisters attempt to establish themselves in the community, they have to deal with the pressures of family, relationships and their shared past.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

A night out

We had a night out this past week - Six was playing at Philadelphia at the Academy of Music and we treated ourselves to tickets. They weren't "Broadway" expensive, which is always good for the budget, but they were worth every cent. And the Academy is one of my favorite venues and will appear in the third of my 1930s books, so I looked around and took notes while I was there. 

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, actually - since I've been steeped in Tudor history since I was a kid - but I enjoyed every bit of it. Like Hamilton, it's bound to get new people interested in that period of history, and also like Hamilton, it's full of catchy songs that I'm still humming a few days later.

From the first note, the lights and costumes and sheer energy of the show made me smile. I wasn't sure about my husband - he's very tolerant and actually well-versed in Tudor history these days - but going by the audience, this was going to be an absolute estrogen-fest. Groups of girlfriends, mothers and daughters, much squealing and shrieking.

It was fabulous. (And husband survived quite nicely).

It does make me wonder how the wives would feel about being remembered in such a way. Honored? Annoyed? Confused, definitely. They might not understand what a musical was, they definitely wouldn't understand this musical as "music" as it was defined in their day, and they might be offended at some of the portrayals (though they were definitely based on well-known facts, just well-known facts might not be quite factual for some of these ladies).

But still.. almost five hundred years later, they're remembered. And as one of the key questions goes near the end of the show, are they remembered simply because they shared a husband? Or is their husband remembered because of them?

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

And then there was one... again

This was his adoption photo

When we lost Harriet earlier this year, I didn't intend to get a new cat right away. I'd never not overlapped before - I've had cats for almost 40 years, without interruption, and I wanted to see what it felt like. Also, with all the eye stuff going on, I didn't want strange cat hair floating around, getting in there.

But according to the eye doctor, I'm healing, and it certainly feels like it. And late last week, my local animal rescue posted a photo of an orange tabby named Garfield, and that was it. I talked to Mario, we thought about it for a day, and then we went to visit him on Friday night.

I've met his foster before - I had attempted to adopt a cat from her back after Nicky died, but Harriet wanted no parts of a new sibling. When we went down to her basement, where Garfield was hanging out, we couldn't find it. Turns out he had climbed into her ceiling and had to be tempted down with a box of treats. Worrisome, I thought, but we don't have ceilings a cat can get into.

He made a nice impression, affectionate, cute little chirping noises, letting us pet him. After we came home, we talked some more, and decided he would be a good fit. I took an extra day to clean, set up litterboxes, and make sure I took up all the glue traps and mouse traps - hopefully any residual mouse problem will be taken care of by our new child.

Watching Marie Antoinette.
Did she say cake?

We picked him up Sunday, brought him home, opened the carrier, and I carried him to the basement to show him the litter box. He then investigated the rest of the basement, climbed a shelving unit, banged his head on a ceiling tile, and climbed into the ceiling. Oops.

He came down pretty quickly. He's food motivated, which helps. And he's fitting in rather nicely. By that evening, he was watching TV with us, albeit from the coffee table. He's since discovered the couch, and I'm hoping that we'll soon be complaining about how much room he takes up in bed.

Also, his name is no longer Garfield. Everyone, meet Rufus.