Wednesday, April 03, 2019

No Pain, No Gain

“Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.” ― Bob Dylan

Hear that sound? That's me kicking and screaming as people (people I'm paying) drag me into the current decade.

The lovely and talented folks at Estep Media Solutions and Emily Journey and Associates, some of the brightest web design minds around, gave me bad news about the current layout of Write Now Newsletter.

"It's, well, er, um, kind of a throwback."

That was a polite way of saying the format (you know - the one from 2005) was woefully outdated and unworkable in a modern website. Time for a change.

Stay tuned. A new, lovely, easier to navigate website is coming. It just isn't ready yet.

In the meantime, I have included only one link to the Write Now "Events" page instead of the full list you're used to seeing. All fifty-nine events are there once you click through.

Thanks for your patience and be sure not to miss NUMBER FIFTY-NINE!!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

My Friends Continue to Amaze Me!

As I previously mentioned, I have the best friends.

Thanks Stephanie for the fabulous unicorn mug!

I'll do my best to live up to it.

Sorry my hand is over the image. You can see it on Amazon [Affiliate Link].

Sunday, March 03, 2019

It's Complicated: 3 Rules for Writing about Difficult Relationships

"Love truth, but pardon error." - Voltaire

If my mother hadn't died, she would have been 89 on March 1st. And if she hadn't died, I might not have written Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink because I'm not sure I would have taken up running. Sorry for the cliffhanger, but the book tells that story.

When I posted a photo of Mom on social media, as I do nearly every year on her birthday, friends and family commented with fond memories. They weren't making it up. She could be kind, thoughtful, generous, creative, witty, and brilliant.

But she was the most confusing person in my life.

Mom only appears on a few pages of my running and mental health memoir, but she might be the most interesting person in the story. The year after she died, I wrote a first draft of a memoir about our relationship. I found the writing so painful that I set it aside to heal and gain perspective.

Her birthday and my reaction to the social media comments (curiosity and a bit of terror at the thought of what people who loved her might think after they read the book) led me to ponder how we can love someone so much yet also find the relationship so hard. As a writer, I reflected on how to write about difficult relationships.

Did her death grant me artistic license to tell the truth?

I've written before
about Mary Karr's admonition to memoirists. Karr, author of the memoir The Liar's Club, one of the first memoirs about dysfunctional families to hit the best-seller list, has been referred to as “grande dame memoirista.” When she spoke at a nonfiction conference I attended years ago, Karr didn't mince words. "Don't make shit up."

When I wrote this memoir (and the other memoir drafts sitting in files on my computer and in boxes in our basement) I heeded Karr's words. "Don't make shit up" was my canon, my lodestar, my guiding light. I wrote with abandon while compulsively checking journals, running logs, and datebooks to ensure accuracy.

Then came the revisions where I had to decide what I really wanted to say. How could I portray my experience without making any of the people in the book, and especially my mother, look like either monsters or saints?

Here are three rules I used in both parts of the process:

1. BE BRUTAL. I wrote it all down. I used full names, actual places, true occupations. I wrote what everyone said and how it made me feel. I laughed, screamed, and cried. I put myself back in the scene and relived it on the page.

2. BE KIND. I summoned empathy. I asked myself what the other person might say if they could tell their side of the story. I asked myself if I could be wrong about what happened or why it happened and I wrote that too. While I told the story from my perspective, it's more interesting (and honest) to see all aspects. Perhaps it's my legal training or my "mediator" personality, but after the dust of the first draft had settled, I found great relief in asking these questions. It added depth to a story that might otherwise lie flat.

3. CHOP IT IN HALF. Then I cut, cut, cut. My first drafts are gargantuan creatures, unwieldy and wild. Trimming and tightening helped me see where I may have been mistaken and (I hope) allows the truth to shine through.

Monday, February 18, 2019

What Writers Eat at Sunset

I'll use any excuse for another installment of "What Writers Eat."

The good folks at Mango, my publisher, (I still love the way that sounds - "My publisher") need an author photo for my upcoming book, Depression Hates a Moving Target. I rarely like how I look in photos and I'm extra fussy about this particular snap, so today I visited a third photographer.

Since I only wear "full kabuki" makeup or grown-up clothes under duress, and the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband and I hadn't made dinner plans, I suggested dining out.

Ed already had VASO on his new-restaurant radar so we braved the Dublin death-trap roundabout and took the fourth floor elevator to the roof of the AC Hotel for tapas and a panoramic view to the west and north overlooking downtown Dublin.

We shared res y champinones rostisados (flat iron steak with mushrooms and crispy onions, gambas al ajillo (tiger shrimp, garlic, pimentón oil, and pickled peppers), and judias verdes (green beans with garlic and almonds).

Lava cake sounded tempting, but the tapas were plenty.

All day, the skies had been a typical February-in-Ohio gray, but as the sun began to set, enough clouds cleared to provide a pretty sunset view.

It was just the two of us, and we don't drink, so the bill was well below the $100 minimum for one of the heated "igloos" on the patio. I added that to my bucket list. I'm sure we can find adventuresome friends to join us for another sunset view.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

DHAMT is a #1 Amazon New Release!!!

The joys keep coming! Depression Hates a Moving Target is a "#1 Amazon New Release" in the "mood disorders" category!

Check out that badge!

The marketing wizards at Mango Publishing continue to amaze me.

We love Preorders!! Hint. Hint. [Affiliate link.]

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

DHAMT - Cover Reveal!!!

Last night this happened! I JUST LOVE IT!!!

I am so grateful to Mango Publishing for the care with which they are taking to launch my precious book baby into the world!

Feel free to preorder now and please, stay tuned!!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Instagram for (Introverted) Writers

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” ~ David Terrar quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane in Brisbane's 1911 discussion of journalism and publicity

One of the challenges of being an introverted author is the need for a continuous social media presence. I've written before about loathing the feeling that I'm constantly shouting "Look at me!" to a room full of strangers. My latest challenge has been to make Instagram work for me. I love taking photos and Instagram allows me to post them directly from my phone. But what do readers want to see?

I thought about some of my favorite writers who have Instagram accounts. Anne LaMott, for example, posts photos of her dog and her loved ones and, in her typical honest fashion, her aging mind. She posts a few writing photos including a short video taken at a publisher's office, but she primarily documents her life. With this in mind, I began to post on Instagram the kind of things I already (somewhat compulsively) document anyway.

My first posts were photos of me with famous runners: Amby Burfoot, Bart Yasso, and Meb Keflezighi.

When Scarlet, the #ninetyninepercentgooddog came into our lives, she became the subject. Well, that and the things she shreds.

As a joke, I documented a meal. Some folks criticize Instagram as a place where you go to see what everyone's eating. But my followers enjoyed the food post so much that I transformed it into my beloved #whatwriterseat posts which, if I'd done my research, would have been #writingfuel. Nearly everything already has a hashtag. You just have to find it. In this series you'll find food that Ed, (the #onehundredppercentgoodhusband) cooked, things I cooked (badly), lovely things restaurant chefs cooked, and things I ate during a really nasty upper respiratory infection aka the "hostage crisis" during which I didn't leave our house for ten days.

Since both my life and my upcoming memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, have a mental health theme, I post about depression and the tools I use to manage it. I include running photos of the trail or my group or Scarlet trying to eat my hat. I show brain training photos since neurofeedback (another name for brain training) sits in my mental health tool kit along with running, therapy, and medication. I haven't yet taken a photo of me in either my therapist or psychiatrist's office, but don't put it past me.

I add the occasional writing photo mostly of my laptop in different locations to show my "office-of-the-day." When the book was short-listed for the Faulkner Award, I documented our trip to New Orleans. But my personal favorite writing photo was the "final" (hahahaha - is it ever really done) draft of the book I submitted to my editor at Mango Publishing.

As it turns out, being a writer on Instagram is no different from being a writer in the rest of my life. As a reader, I want a glimpse inside the lives of the authors I love. With the tables turned, I'm offering my readers a view behind the scenes of mine.

Eventually, I'll post a photo of the book cover. Maybe I'll print the cover and post a second photo of me holding the cover. Then, one glorious day, I'll post a photo of the book itself. After that, if I'm lucky, because I do have the best friends in the world, you'll see photos of my friends reading the book. I do love to dream!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Eyebrow Icicles!

A reporter for quoted me as saying “I love it when the sweat freezes into icicles on my eyebrows.”

It's true. I normally do. Morgan was always up for a cold-weather workout as well.

The right gear makes all the difference. The article explains my usual winter running attire:

Sweeney will put on two pairs of long johns under her tights, a “sparkle skirt” to shield her from the wind, a few long-sleeved breathable shirts under a warm hooded jacket, a balaclava over her mouth and head, a pair of sports socks with some bamboo knee-highs, and a hand warmer in each mitten and she’s good to go.

But now, fifteen days into an upper respiratory infection (aka the common cold), I've taken my workouts indoors. Let's be honest. My current workouts look more like naps between guzzling hot tea than marathon training.

But I'll be back, and when I am, let that sweat freeze!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What Writers (who Have a Cold) Eat

The upper respiratory infection (aka common cold) that has laid waste to most of central Ohio struck me as well. When I asked the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband to pick up some bone broth at the grocery, he arrived home with this selection.

This is just one of the many reasons I call him the "one hundred percent good husband." Thanks, Honey. We're "stocked" for a while. #punintended

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What Writers Eat: Hubby's Birthday

Ed, the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband, and I long ago stopped giving each other presents on holidays. Instead, we go to a nice restaurant. Yesterday for his birthday we ate at Houlihan's, a mid-scale restaurant in Upper Arlington a few miles from where we live.

I may have squealed just a teensy bit when I saw the daily lunch special. MEATLOAF! At heart, I am still a farm girl and meatloaf remains one of my favorite dishes. Theirs version was sublime.

They gladly reduced the portion of mashed potatoes in favor of more garlic green beans. The crispy onions were a pleasant surprise.

Ed ordered the taco plate with the chicken tortilla soup. As is his custom, in the time it took me to take the photo of my food, he inhaled his. Someday I will learn to photograph his food first.

Monday, January 07, 2019

What Writers Eat at Colin's Coffee

We like to run on Monday mornings, usually three miles. I often run an extra mile, but not today. I was still tired from the weekend and there were only two of us. One regular was in a minor auto accident and was thankfully not hurt, but couldn't join us. Another regular was recovering from an upper respiratory infection. Others who sometimes run with us were either out of town or back to work after the holidays. Neither of the two of us who showed had much pep. But three miles is three miles. We ran then headed to Colin's Coffee, our standard post-Monday run hangout.

I had my usual:

Behold the McRoy sandwich on a Block's everything bagel. That's a fried egg, bacon, and three kinds of cheese named after Roy, a former Colin's Coffee employee who has sadly gone on to the great coffeeshop in the sky.

The cup contains a "Sleepy Mudshot," a coffee beverage the shop owner, Colin Gawel, named. It is decaf coffee with a shot of decaf espresso and a pump of chocolate.

The buff is swag from the 2015 Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama. I ran the half. Wearing it reminds me of the remaining states in which I'd like to run half marathons. But for today, three miles will do.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

First Day of School

That's what it feels like every June and January when our running group, Marathoner in Training, begins the new season. This morning, when I walked into the Fleet Feet in Lewis Center, here's what I saw:

You can't imagine how loud 1,000 runners excited to start the next adventure can be. It was deafening!

Eventually, Jeff Henderson, "the tall guy" sent us outdoors where he gave us our instructions. We were running a new trail and he did his best to tell us the turns. Luckily, our pace coaches knew the way.

I'm the one in the Sparkle Skirt on the right side with the pink jacket.

I joined this group years ago because I wanted to run a half marathon. I didn't know I also wanted another fellowship, but that's what I found. I love these people.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

It Might Be Time to Party

“Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

The holidays are over. Perhaps you have extra time on your hands. You're back at work, but bored. Maybe you also have an Amazon gift card burning a hole in your pocket. I'm here to help.

Just head over to and type "Nita Sweeney" in the search box.

In the late 1960s, a grade school girl from a central Ohio farm presented her project, a handmade book, to her teacher. The plot of "Sheshak the Wild Stallion" closely followed that of Black Beauty. The book's pages stuck out, the cover edges didn't meet, and the ragged construction paper letters making up the title formed more of a jagged scar than a straight line.

Regardless, the girl beamed as she held the book. She didn't even mind the B+ she received. The book represented something she always wanted: her name on a cover.

If you were in central Ohio last Friday, you might have heard that young girl (now a 57-year old woman) cry with joy after she typed her name into the Amazon search box.

This is a long way of telling you that my memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, is available for preorder.

We're still working on the cover. Endorsements continue to come in. The editor will send revisions. The book won't be released until May. This process is far from over.

But that little girl? She doesn't care about all those big girl details. She's says it's time to party!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Funny Hats: Holiday Edition

I was recently interviewed for an article on about "What Holiday Depression Really Feels Like." I explained to reporter Kasandra Brabaw that my running group has holiday events in which we don festive garb and go run in the cold. I failed to tell her that I also sometimes wear funny hats to stave off the blues. Etsy is fabulous!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

What Writers Eat: Hubby Loves Recipes

I've said it before and I'll say it a hundred times more. If hubby didn't cook, we'd starve. Last night, the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband made pork tenderloin with pomegranate. It was luscious.

He substituted carrots for the sweet potatoes suggested in the photo since I prefer them and they are slightly lower on the glycemic index. It was a delicious feast!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Angel Wings

Yellow Labrador retrievers like Morgan and Scarlet (the #ninetyninepercentgooddog) have a distinct color pattern on their backs called angel wings. I referred to it several times in my memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink which is due out from Mango Publishing this spring.

I would love to use a photo of a Labrador's "angel wings" as the back cover image, but getting the right photograph might be difficult. Scarlet, at least, would not cooperate. Here's a blurry one to give you the idea.

The publisher and I work on the cover together, but they have the final say. And, since they're experienced in these matters, I'll give my input, but trust their judgment. I can always use an "angel wing" photo in my promotional materials, if I can get Scarlet to stand still!!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Driving Blind

I just read this lovely piece by Karla Crisostomo, "Congrats On All The Times You’ve Tried Even When The Outcome Felt Impossible To See
." In it she proclaims, "[F]or every moment you try, you already win." This is my experience.

After I graduated from law school, when I was first a research consultant and then the administrative services director for a labor-relations consulting firm, the company president held regular meetings in the big board room. We all knew what was coming. He would stand tall above us, pound on the wall, and shout, "If you throw enough manure on the wall, eventually something will stick."

Like me, he grew up on a farm. He did not use the word "manure." This was his sales strategy. This was how he brought in new clients. An outgoing man who never knew a stranger, this method came easily to him. I would have rather undergone root canals without Novocaine. It would take me a decade to realize I was not cut out for his brand of glad-handing.

Still, as an author, I too must "throw manure on the wall." Hopefully it is more akin to scientifically developed fertilizer than the stuff we used to muck out of the horse stalls, but still. It needs to stick. And I have to do the throwing. I must "try."

Bear with me while I continue to do what Crisostomo congratulates us all on doing: essentially driving blind. I ask other authors what works for them. I read books about "guerilla marketing." I attend online seminars on how to market a book. I do my best to improve the odds of success by listening and mimicking and learning from successful authors. But in the end, I have to find my own spin. And that's okay. That's what makes it special and hopefully, that's what will also make it sell.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Six Reasons Not to Submit Your NaNoWriMo Novel in December

"Even the greats don't nail it on the first try." ~ Emily Temple

Each year in November, hundreds of thousands of ordinary, everyday people across the world take a challenge to write 50,000 words of fiction in thirty days. It's called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I've done this challenge many times. Since I know how effective it is in helping writers complete a very rough first draft, I often suggest NaNoWriMo in my classes and newsletter.

Each year in December, a fraction of those same people send their unedited or barely revised 50,000 words, the same words they just wrote in November, to agents and editors.

Here are six reasons why you do not want to do that:

1. They will hate you forever.

2. They will hate you forever.

3. They will hate you forever.

4. They will hate you forever.

5. They will hate you forever.

6. They will hate you forever.

Last month my husband and I attended a Veterans Day luncheon at the local senior center. A friend of Ed's who happens to be a retired editor, greeted me by saying, "I hate your newsletter!"

Um. Thanks.

He didn't hate my newsletter. What he hated was receiving submissions that weren't ready for an editor's eyes. I had to agree with him. I don't know if any of those submissions were written during NaNoWriMo, but the point remains - YOUR WORK MUST BE REVISED.

Please. I beg you. If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, don't let the excitement (mania?) of November (or any writing spree for that matter) lull you into believing your work is ready to go out right away. Let your manuscript rest. Then, in January (or August), bring it out again. Revise, revise, revise. Have other people read it. Then revise again before submitting it anywhere.

You get one shot with an agent or editor. Don't waste it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Write It Down" They Said!

My poor husband. I probably snore. The #onehundredpercentgoodhusband is kind enough not to complain about that. But I am definitely a writer. As such, I keep a small notepad, a flashlight, and a pen by the bed. You know! To capture those brilliant insights that pop into my head in the moments before I fall asleep. So he's burdened with trying to sleep while I sit up just enough to turn on the flash light and jot down my thoughts.

Here's the note from last night:

Brilliant, eh? Thankfully he's a sound sleeper.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Top Secret Writing Location

Four times a year, I go to a weekend writing retreat. I refer to the place where it is held as the "top secret writing location." This was the view on my walk.

I love my husband and dog. I love my friends and family.

And, sometimes, I just need to be alone.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Turning Down the Screws

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” - Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Blake, November 16, 1857

In elementary and high school, I belonged to a 4-H club to train dogs for obedience. My rat terrier, Tony, and I won first place at the Ohio State Fair two years in a row. We had a great trainer, a retired factory superintendent, Louie Levengood who had raised and trained award-winning golden retrievers for decades.

As a big show approached, Louie would run a hand through his white hair and remind us it was time to "turn down the screws." We were to become precise, tightening our training the way a woodworker might give a screw a few final turns so the head is flush with the wood. Minor imperfections we'd let slide earlier in the season took on new importance.

If Tony did not sit close enough to my heel or was not looking straight ahead as he sat next to me, I gently corrected him. If he did not come quickly enough, I corrected him. Every detail was important. This paid off. Both years, the state fair judges explained, these details were what led each judge to place Tony and I a few points ahead of the nearly perfect Doberman, Precious, and his young woman owner.

It's time once again to turn down the screws - this time with my memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target.

My deadline, December 1st, approaches like an oncoming train. While I trim, trim, trim, I'm also fixing lingering problems: info dumps, too much telling, and dialogue that doesn't carry its weight. These tasks require focus reminiscent of those days I spent in the large yard near our barn, walking Tony around and around. Stopping and starting again and again. Correcting. Praising. Perfecting. Over and over and over.

I'm under no illusions that the book will be perfect. This isn't the state fair. But I know I have the skill and patience to improve it. With Louie's voice in my ear, I will do my best.

Monday, October 22, 2018

What Writers Eat: Comfort Food

After a long day of traveling, hubby and I found ourselves ten minutes from home at dinner time. We stopped at the new Hen Quarter in Dublin. Fried chicken. Shrimp and grits. Brussel sprouts. Macaroni and cheese. And, happiness!

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

What Writers Eat While in Toronto

I'd never known my life was incomplete until last month when Hubby and I traveled to Toronto for a conference and rambled into Trattoria Mercatto right behind our hotel. Lemon ricotta ravioli with rainbow chard filled the void!

Ed's seafood pasta pleased him as well. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

On Autumn Saturdays, We Watch Buckeye Football

As my husband and I age, the thrill of attending Ohio State football games at Ohio Stadium has waned. Frankly, we'd much rather watch in the comfort of our home while the pupperina chews on things she shouldn't and where no one is spilling a beer down either of our backs.

But today, we made our annual trek to the 'Shoe to watch the Buckeyes beat Indiana.

For me, the best part of a game is the band. Yes, I'm biased, but I believe the Ohio State marching band is unrivaled in precision and style. I lived for band in high school and still regret selling my professional Haynes flute. I also regret that I didn't play a brass instrument and therefore couldn't be in the all brass "Best Damn Band in The Land" at Ohio State. But I was in law school anyway and barely had time to eat or sleep let alone practice music or routines.

I miss the days when television stations showed the full band performance at half-time. Now, when the sportscasters blather on during the mid-game break, I clench my teeth and mute the TV. We're lucky to see ten seconds of marching band footage.

So I may have squealed a little today when we made it to our seats in time to see the "incomparable" Script Ohio, during the pre-game show. If you missed it, here you go - our view from 19C, Row 2.

Friday, October 05, 2018

What Writers Eat after Running and while Reminiscing

On Wednesday nights, a small contingent of my running pace group meets for a few mid-week miles. This week we did four in the thick, humid, central Ohio air. Still green trees and three small deer cheered us on.

After, some of us often go out for a meal, but this week, everyone else needed to go home. I hadn't eaten so I drove through Taco Bell for the bean and rice burrito.

It was not in the least reminiscent of my years in New Mexico. Instead, I remembered evenings with my sister when we would dine at Taco Bell, enjoying not so much the food, but the company. She lived ten minutes away for many years. This summer, after she had retired, she moved to a small town an hour away to live with her long-time boyfriend and his three grandchildren.

After I ate, I texted her. "I went to Taco Bell. Miss you." She texted back, "Miss you too." She's happy and I'm happy for her. Knowing that made the mostly dull burrito taste better.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Not Time to Party Yet!

"If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?" ~ T. S. Eliot

It's official!

This morning I signed a contract with Mango Publishing to publish my re-titled memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought me Back from the Brink.

Yes, I'm over the moon!

But it's not time to party. Now the real work begins.

The editor made suggestions and I have my own ideas of what still needs work. I have until December 1st to submit a "final" draft. (Is any writing project ever final in the writer's mind even after it's published?) That will be edited and returned to me. I'll make those additional revisions and then it will be submitted to the copy editor.

Boom! Boom! Boom! The published book is expected in Spring of 2019.

In the meantime, if it seems I've disappeared, my apologies. I'm head down, working, blinders on.

Don't worry. I'll keep you posted as developments occur.

We party in the Spring!!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Writers Eat While Ill

Yes, I would like some cheese with this whine.

I've been home from New Orleans for a few days and have come down with a low-grade fever. The timing for illness is never good, but wow. I've got so much writing to do!!! Write Now Newsletter is due Wednesday night and I'm deep in book revisions.

Thankfully the #ninetyninepercentgooddog and the #onehundredpercentgood are on duty.

Hubby brought home this ginormous box of chocolate Lucky Charms with magical unicorn marshmallows. He knows I adore unicorns. I hope it lasts the weekend.

And see! Real unicorns, rainbows, and shamrock hats. I'll be better soon.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What Writers Eat in New Orleans

Ed and I traveled to New Orleans for the Happy Birthday Mr. Faulkner Conference after my memoir manuscript Depression Hates a Moving Target, was short-listed in the Faulkner Wisdom Writing Competition.

While in NOLA, we took a friend's suggestion and dined at Mr. B's Bistro. It did not disappoint!

Featured: The #onehundredpercentgoodhusband in his much needed bib. Crab cake with green salad. Barbecue shrimp.