Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Eyebrow Icicles!

A reporter for Healthline.com 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 amazon.com 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 Health.com 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.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Time and Space for Writing

I'm fortunate to have a lovely bedroom converted to an office in our house. So it's a bit unfortunate that I have so much trouble writing there. This is a serious first world problem, I know, but I prefer to leave the house and write in coffeehouses and libraries.

Writing takes both physical and mental space. And when I'm depressed, it's harder to focus at home. With a clean table and a fresh cup of java, my mind clears.

The main culprit interfering with my concentration at home is our fifty-four pound yellow Labrador "puppy" (she is 13 months old) Scarlet. On social media, she's #ninetyninepercentgooddog. She's so much less mischievous than she was just a few months ago, but I'm hypervigilant and every sound makes me wonder if she's shredded yet another chair or killed another television.

Now that Ed, my husband, is retired, he often stays home part of the day and helps keep the pupperina out of trouble. But he's a busy guy taking classes at The Ohio State University, volunteering at the Upper Arlington Senior Center, and remaining active in politics. Some days, he's gone most of the day.

When I need a break from the pupperina and don't want to leave her alone for eight hours, I ship her off to Puptown Lounge for doggy daycare. From the looks of the photos they take, I'm pretty sure she doesn't mind.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What Writers Eat FAIL!

I forgot to take a "before" photo: meatloaf, green beans, and corn.


It was delicious.

Monday, September 17, 2018

What Writers Eat #1

Sports fans often ask their athlete idols what they eat. Do readers wonder what famous writers eat? I'm not a famous writer, but what the heck. I'm going to begin posting some of the things I eat.

Thankfully, Ed, the one hundred percent good husband, does most of the cooking. If not, we'd starve.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Power of Lists

You've heard of the "to do" list, but what about the "to write" list? It's a powerful tool in my writing kit.

Sitting in the classroom at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico, I watched as best-selling author Natalie Goldberg picked up her cheap spiral notebook, flipped to the back, and showed us a list of scrawled topics she'd penned on that last page. She said she carried a notebook everywhere and jotted ideas on the back page of the notebook as they occurred to her. "If I'm stuck, I look at these," she said.

She'd mentioned this list in one of her books, most likely Writing Down the Bones, but to see the real thing left quite an impression. I began to do the same and still carry a notebook at all times.

We also did list-making exercises in the many workshops I took from her. The topics varied, but here are a few of my favorites:

~ The things I carry (a spin-off from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien).
~ Make a list of everyone you've ever met
~ Write the names of every place you've been
~ Name your pets
~ Tell me every car you've ever owned and what happened to it
~ Write down everywhere you have lived
~ List all your loves
~ Tell me everything you know about the color blue

When I write a list, sometimes I'll fill the entire writing practice with listed, but more often, as I made the list, something would occur to me and I'd soon be writing an essay instead.

Do you use writing lists? I'd love to hear if they work for you!



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Running with the Unicorns!

We did a little running today - ten miles. And there were unicorns to cheer us on!


Up close and personal!


Does your running group have unicorns? If not, maybe you should join ours!

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Dog. That is All.

Some days, days like today, when the new computer is unsatisfactory and needs to be returned, the old computer is on the fritz (which is why you bought the new computer), but the new computer has not yet been returned and the even newer computer has not yet arrived, the roof is leaking and must be replaced, and the air conditioner, while new, needs to be paid for, you only need to look out at the adorable pupperina to know that everything is right with the world if you just stay in the moment. A dog. That is all.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Winning!

I entered a contest. I didn't mean to win. I thought the picture of the prize was ugly. We had to name three ingredients to include in a sushi roll. I listed the three most disgusting things I could think of. I can't even remember them now. But, the joke was on me.

I won!

She arrived today. Yes, we "sparkle sisters" (the wearers of Sparkle Skirts brand athletic skirts) refer to each skirt as "she." And each skirt has a name. I'm calling this one, "On a Roll."

Get it?

Imagine my surprise when I opened her and loved the colors. She's so bright and cheery. Perfect for the rainy weather we've been having.


Sparkle Skirts didn't intended for it to be a writing contest, but I'm counting it as a writing success!