Hello Readers!

Back at my desk here in Northwest Washington, I’m still dreaming of Ireland, and can’t wait to get back. It’s wonderful that the world is now open again for travel after COVID—any trip to any airport will confirm this—but when I look at a world map (so many places still to see!), my heart is heavy with the news of armed conflict going on throughout the world, especially as it affects women and children.

There is little we can do to change world affairs, but we can all do our part: Be aware. Contribute to Red Cross. Demonstrate. Write to elected officials. Pray or meditate. Speak up and speak out.


 New Website Design

 Thanks to webmistress, Anji Verlaque, I have a revamped website. Visit https://ashleysweeneyauthor.com for more information.

The cover photo, taken by my husband, D. Michael Barclay, is from a hike on Bengoora (Diamond Mountain) outside of Letterfrack in Western Ireland, looking over the Dawros Peninsula where my great-grandmother, Mary Agnes Coyne, grew up.


 Exciting News from She Writes Press

For those of us publishing through She Writes Press and Spark Press, effective August 1, 2024, the sales and distribution for all title formats worldwide will be handled by Simon & Schuster.

I’ll be in the first cohort under this new partnership with the release of The Irish Girl next fall. Join me in celebrating this validation for SWP/SP as we bring more women’s stories into the world.


 The Irish Girl Update

Because of this new announcement, publication dates in the Fall 2024 cohort are being shuffled. Watch for The Irish Girl now in December 2024. Cover reveal next month!


New Release from Critique Partner

Join me in congratulating one of my critique partners, Shelley Blanton-Stroud, on her newest release, POSTER GIRL, the third and final novel in the Jane Benjamin series. Jane is one of my favorite literary characters: feisty, fabulous, and oh, so flawed.


Cynical young gossip columnist Jane Benjamin joins FDR’s Office of War Information, a propaganda unit, to find a Wendy-the-Welder poster girl to urge more women to the shipyard work essential to America’s winning World War II—and, incidentally, to make herself into the new Hedda Hopper. But somebody doesn’t want those women at work.

During a five-day contest to beat the world speed record for building a liberty ship, Jane investigates the lives of the first women welders and learns more about her flyboy former lover’s secret post–Pearl Harbor mission—and her cynicism begins to melt. But when inspectors find and publicize a series of flaws in the contest-week welding, the women welders are blamed. Worse, two poster girl candidates are killed.

Are they being sabotaged by a belligerent male shipyard supervisor? The industrialist shipyard owner with a history of controlling women? Or someone else trying to diminish the success of the US liberty ship program? To find out, Jane must choose between her professional ambition and service to the women welders—before the murderer harms another girl and America’s best chance of winning the war.

“Lively prose, enjoyably edgy dialogue, and a delightful, unconventional feminist heroine add up to a captivating page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews

I often find myself thinking, “What would Jane do?” when I find myself in a sticky situation. Kudos to Shelley for bringing this wonderfully unconventional character to the page. Highly recommended reading; can be read as a stand-alone or in concert with the first two Jane Benjamin books: Copy Boy and Tom Boy.

Visit Shelley at https://shelleyblantonstroud.com/


Contest Winner

Congratulations to Emily Cheang Catan of California for winning last month’s contest asking for favorite titles read in 2023. Emily won a $10 gift card to Starbucks and wrote to say she’s going to enjoy a caramel brulee latte. Sounds delicious!

Thanks to more than 20 readers who offered suggestions for reading. Here is a partial list of titles suggested:

  • Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Midwife’s Promise, by Eliza Graham
  • The Secret Room, by Sara Swann
  • Kinfolk, by Sean Dietrich
  • The First Ladies, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
  • The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan
  • Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
  • Guiding Emily, by Barbara Hinske
  • The Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese
  • Homecoming, by Kate Morton
  • Don’t Forget to Write, by Sara Goodman Confino
  • The Secret Book of Flora Lea, by Patti Callahan Henry
  • Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley
  • The All-American, by Susie Finkbeiner
  • The White Lady, by Jacqueline Winspear
  • The Art Thief, by Michael Finkel
  • Hester, by Laurie Lico Albanese
  • California Golden, by Melanie Benjamin
  • Rock Bottom, Tennessee, by Kimberly Nixon

Next month’s contest will feature holidays giveaways, so watch your inboxes in mid-December.


In Closing

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving. To my readers both within and outside the United States, I wish you hearts filled with gratitude for the small things in life while the world rages on around us with unspeakable horror.

Reading is key to acceptance. When we open our minds, we open our hearts. Let us read to be entertained, be enlightened, be educated, be challenged, be uncomfortable, be moved.

As character Atticus Finch says in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Maybe by doing this, we can accept every woman, man, and child for who she or he or they is, regardless of race or ethnicity or religion or orientation or neighborhood or political party.

In gratitude for walking this journey together.

Until next month, Happy Reading.