Hello from sunny Tucson! So good to be back in the sun. In the past month, we’ve enjoyed several hikes and bicycle rides, visited the small but lovely botanical garden at Tohono Chul and the Reid Park Zoo, frequented the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Oro Valley, and combed through our favorite area thrift shop, The Golden Goose, in Catalina, several times already.

We’ve also taken in the annual Tucson Gem Show, the Tubac Arts Festival, and ventured to the movie theater for the first time in two years (!!!!) to see Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which we loved. And we traveled 10 miles north to the funky town of Oracle, near where Hardland is set, for breakfast outside at the Oracle Patio Café, wondering what Ruby would think of Oracle now.

Hardland by Ashley SweeneyAs promised, here is the cover for Hardland! The novel is up on Amazon already for pre-orders, or you can request from your local bookstore. Publication date is 9/13/22.

Author endorsements for Hardland are coming in!

“Ruby Fortune leaps off the page. She defines grit and grace—the heroine we need in these times. Riveting and beautifully told.”
Susan J. Tweit, award-winning author of Bless the Birds

“Gritty, honest, and real. Sure to be on everyone’s TBR list.” —Nancy E. Turner, award-winning author of Light Changes Everything

“Smart, savage, and bold as brass, Ruby Fortune’s strength and sense of survival explode from the pages. Held me hostage from the first vivid page to the last.” —Laurie Buchanan, author of the Sean McPherson mystery series

Four Truths and One Lie Winner:

 Congratulations to Michele Waite for guessing correctly that #2 is the one lie. Although I did play freshman field hockey, I did not make the JV team and my short-lived era as an athlete came to an abrupt end! Michele wins a Starbucks gift card for guessing the correct answer.

1) I’ve visited 43 U.S. states. True. The only states I have not visited are: Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kansas, Arkansas, and North Dakota.

*2) In high school, I played JV field hockey.

3) My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Murphy Mulligan, was born in Scotland. Also true. Nanny was born in Saltcoats, Scotland in 1908, the daughter of traveling vaudevillian actors. She grew up in London and emigrated to the U.S. as a young woman where she married my grandfather, Edward J. Mulligan, in the Bronx, N.Y. They had three daughters, my mother, Barbara, the youngest. 

4) I’ve seen John Denver, Billy Joel, The Who, ZZ Top, Pink Floyd, Leo Kottke, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young in concert. Yes! And maybe more! 

5) During COVID, I binge-watched 17 TV crime series. Many of you guessed this answer. Alas, it’s true. My favorites series were Endeavour, Shetland, and Broadchurch.


Win a copy of an advanced reader copy of Hardland in exchange for an honest review. Use my Contact form to tell me why you’d like to read Ruby’s story. This time, it won’t be a random pick. I’ll choose based on your answers.

Book Club Selections:

My book club in Tucson, The Bookies, is reading the following books this year:

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Other choices considered included:


Cave in the Snow by Vicki Mackenzie

Finding Dorothy:  A Novel by Elizabeth Letts

Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst

The Splendid and the Vile:  A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

In Closing:

Remember those candy hearts we used to get in grade school on Valentine’s Day? I recently saw some candy hearts online that said, “Get vaccinated!” and I had to chuckle. Who would have imagined?

But, in all seriousness, as we roll into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I urge you personally to do your part to beat this.

If you haven’t already, for whatever reason, please get vaccinated and boosted. Wear a mask indoors at restaurants, stores, and sporting and cultural events. Practice good hygiene. Socially distance. It’s not political. It is to protect you and to protect your neighbor. It’s science and also the right thing to do!

In this heart-filled month (and on a diet that precludes eating much candy, darn it all), I’m still looking for that candy heart that says, “Happy Reading”!