Hello from Tucson!

We escaped the Pacific Northwest a day before a big snowstorm and have traded 12 degrees for 70 degrees. It’s great to be back in the Sonoran Desert.

Welcome New Subscribers!

I’m thrilled to welcome more than 500 new subscribers from across the globe! After reading a disheartening article in The Washington Post earlier this month by WAPO staff writer Andrew VanDam that stated a full 46% percent of Americans hadn’t read a single book in 2023, I’m heartened to see so many new names added to my monthly newsletter list. Readers are thinkers!

Have a read here.


The Irish Girl Is In To The Publisher

As of January 15, The Irish Girl is in to She Writes Press. After an industry proofread, the months-long interior design process begins, followed by final cover design and advance reader copies to the trade. Publishing date is now set for December 10, 2024.

Here are two new blurbs I’ve received from authors:

“Ashley E. Sweeney’s impeccably researched novel, The Irish Girl, takes readers back to the 1880s through vivid descriptions and period dialogue. Thirteen-year-old Mary Agnes Coyne, forced to leave the Irish fishing village she calls home, travels to America alone. Through a compelling narrative filled with interior dialogue, we follow ‘Mary A’s’ solo journey across the Atlantic to New York, Chicago, and Colorado. I promise you’ll fall in love with this courageous, intelligent young woman. I know I did.” Susen Edwards, author of What a Trip: A Novel

“I fell deeply under the spell of The Irish Girl: a heroic yet relatable immigrant’s tale of a 13-year-old girl sent to America who faces every challenge with steely determination and, ultimately, hope.” — Martha Conway, author of The Physician’s Daughter


New Manuscript Soon Underway

I’m keeping this under wraps for now, but come February 1, I’ll be back at my desk creating a whole new story. I’m very excited about this one!


Update on New Anthology from Woman Authors

Feisty Deeds: Historical Fictions of Daring Women will launch on International Women’s Day, March 8. Featuring 23 female authors, the anthology includes stories written across a wide historic range from the 16th century to the present. More next month!


Holiday Giveaway Winners Announced

Five readers won e-books of Hardland, my 2022 release and winner of six literary awards. Congratulations to Linda Hastings, Barbara Miller, Twila Mason, Patty Wright, and Felicia Lockamy.


2024 Hopes from Readers

I asked readers to list their hopes for 2024. Here is a sampling of responses:

—I am 84 and I would hope for less hate in this country. It is discouraging to pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or computer, and read and hear about more horrible things committed by people who hate to such extremes.

—My wish for 2024 is for an end to current conflicts and for more tolerance and acceptance of those who are not the same as us, for whatever reason; be it color, religion, beliefs, or need.

—My hope for 2024 is food and housing for everyone.

—I hope I can publish a book!

—My hope for 2024 is to remain cancer free.

—One of my hopes is to be able to buy a house. We are newly married and are wanting to get a yard for my dog and a workshop for my husband.

—My hope is for figuring out what is the best diet for type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed in August and struggling figuring it out.

—Peace and simple joys for the new year.


Celebrate Gal-entine’s Day!

Author Janis Robinson Daly and I are teaming up to offer a giveaway for Gal-entine’s Day on February 13. Both of our debut novels feature protagonists named Eliza: Eliza Waite and Eliza Edwards, M.D.

To enter, subscribe to both of our newsletters  Here is a link to Janis’s newsletter: https://janisrdaly.com/newsletter/.  Tere is the link to my 

After you have registered for both newsletters, use my Contact form (found here) to let me know.


Book Gifts

I received three of the five books on my Christmas list: Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett and Trust, by Hernan Diaz, from one of my daughters, Anne-Katherine VanderVeen, and Horse, by Geraldine Brooks, from author friend Janis Robinson Daly.

I also received The Bee Sting, by Paul Murray, from my father, Gerald F. Sweeney, and bought Hester, by Laurie Lico Albanese, for myself, to start off the year.


In Closing

I’ve been inspired by authors Anne Lamott and Susan J. Tweit this month to pay more attention to the tiny miracles in life and to be fully present for myself, loved ones, and the world around us.

This, from Lamott’s recent blog in The Washington Post: Age makes the miracles easier to see

“Every so often, even in heartbreaking times, the soul hears something so true out of the corner of its ear that it perks up, looking around like a meerkat for the source. Mine did this when, decades ago, I read a quote of Albert Einstein’s: ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’

There are the obvious miracles all around us — love, nature, music, art. We drunks who somehow got sober call this the central miracle of our lives. Some of you have children you were told you couldn’t have. Some of you were sent home to die, years ago. And have you ever seen a grain of sand under a high-powered microscope? It looks like a jewelry store. . .”

This, from Tweit’s recent Substack blog, Practicing Terraphila

“Paradoxically, I think part of being present for me is recognizing and balancing my intense need for solitude with an equally intense need for connection with other humans, at least in measured doses. The more difficult life gets, the more troubling the times, the more I tend to go inward and hide in my own burrow as it were. But that isn’t necessarily the healthiest response.”

She goes on to say that we need “embodied connections”:

“Isn’t that what we all need to keep us sane and healthy as we deal with life in all of its complexity and challenges? The warmth of a hug, the smile from a stranger, the soft fur of a four-legged companion, the spicy resin of sun-warmed pin needles in your hand, the joy as a bluebird flashes in to drink from the bird bath, warbling a few soft notes. A community of writers and readers…. all are embodied connections.”

(Consider joining Tweit’s Substack, Practicing Terraphilia. I’m happy I did).

And, as always, until next month, Happy Reading!