Hello Readers!

Today (June 8, 2023) is Women’s Fiction Day today!

Sponsored by the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Women’s Fiction Day “celebrates women’s fiction authors, novels, publishers, book sellers, and most importantly, readers who appreciate women’s fiction and the power of a great story.”

Fans of women’s fiction are invited to visit the WFWA website at www.womensfictionwriters.org TODAY to search the list of authors who are offering giveaways.

In honor of Women’s Fiction Day, enter here TODAY ONLY for a chance to win all three of my novels, Hardland, Answer Creek, and Eliza Waite.


In addition to being named the winner of the Independent Press Association Book Award for Western Fiction, Hardland recently placed in two other awards:

  • Silver Medal for West-Mountain Best Regional Fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY)
  • Finalist for Historical Fiction Pre-1900s in The Next Generation Indie Award

So honored that Ruby Fortune’s story is reaching readers across the U.S. A recent reviewer wrote this:

“Hardland” is set in the fictional town of Jericho in the hills above Tucson, Arizona in the early 1900s.

Ashley Sweeney is a master at setting a scene—“the world blazed red orange yellow white, colors so brilliant they could blind you, saguaro, totem, cholla, prickly pear…shoving fist-sized blossoms toward the rising sun.” Sweeney immerses us in this desert world and into the heart of an unforgettable character—Ruby Fortune.

Sharp shooter, renowned pie maker, boarding house manager and admirer of beautiful underwear, Ruby is forced to make difficult choices and live with the consequences, surviving as woman alone in the wild American West where she does her best to raise four sons.

The prose is crisp, the dialogue snappy and the characters are the kind you can’t stop thinking about. Hardland is the kind of book you can’t put down either.

Bravo Ms. Sweeney!

Remember, if you haven’t yet left a review of Hardland on Amazon, I would appreciate it. It can be as little as one or two sentences and can be listed anonymously. So far, I have 58 reviews with a 4.5 star rating overall. I’d love to see that number swell to 100 reviews before Ruby’s 1st book birthday in September.

Writing Update

I’m hammering out the last quarter of Irish now. I love how the narrative is leading me deeper and deeper into the story. I’m “layering” now, adding color to the prose with description, backstory, and interior dialogue. By the time I write next, I hope to have written any author’s favorite two words: THE END!

Critique Partner Book Launch

Gretchen Cherington, one of my three marvelous critique partners, launched her second memoir, The Butcher, The Embezzler, and The Fall Guy, this week.

Here’s the synopsis:

Three powerful men converge on the banks of the Red Cedar River in the early 1900s in southern Minnesota—George Albert Hormel, founder of what will become the multi-billion dollar food conglomerate Hormel Foods; Alpha LaRue Eberhart, the author’s paternal grandfather and Hormel’s Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary; and Ransome Josiah Thomson, Hormel’s comptroller. Over ten years, Thomson will embezzle $1.2 million from the company’s coffers, nearly bringing the company to its knees.

The Butcher, The Embezzler, and The Fall Guy
opens in 1922 as George Hormel calls Eberhart into his office and demands his resignation. Hailed as the true leader of the company he’d helped Hormel build—is Eberhart complicit in the embezzlement?

In scale both intimate and grand, Cherington deftly weaves the histories of Hormel, Eberhart, and Thomson within the sweeping landscape of our country’s early industries, along with keen observations about business leaders gleaned from her thirty-five-year career advising top company executives. The Butcher, The Embezzler, and The Fall Guy equally chronicles Cherington’s journey from blind faith in family lore to a nuanced consideration of the three men’s great strengths and flaws—and a multilayered, thoughtful exploration of the ways we all must contend with the mythology of powerful men, our reverence for heroes, and the legacy of a complicated past.

 Gretchen’s website:

Book Club News

I’m honored to have been invited for the third time to The Skyline Book Club in Anacortes, Washington for a lively discussion of Hardland. Cynthia Richardson hosted at her gorgeous home high on a hilltop overlooking Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. And I got to see many now-familiar faces! Thank you for the warm welcome yet again.

Recent Titles from the Skyline Book Club

  • The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny
  • Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed, by John Vaillant
  • The Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
  • The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America, by Elizabeth Letts
  • The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin
  • Waterbury Winter, by Linda Stewart Henley

Contest Winner!

Last month, I asked for ideas for upcoming novels. I was overwhelmed with responses!

Here are ten ideas that piqued my interest:

—Depression-era Hawaii (buildup to 1941 with multi-cultural characters)

—A story of survival and self-discovery centering on a pioneer woman kidnapped by Native Americans and ultimately forced to choose whether to stay or reassimilate to her former life, set on the Great Plains, 1849-1870

—A couple struggling to survive in Depression-era Midwest

—Youths spending the summer at Camp Siegfried, a German-American Nazi-Affiliated Bund Camp, at Yaphank, Long Island during WWII

—Pre-Civil War story of runaway slaves gaining freedom

—The founding families of La Conner, Washington, 1890

—Dual narrative set in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials (1692-93) and currently

—WWI story set in rural Montana

—Road trip on Route 66 in a Model A the year the route opened in 1926

—A woman’s solo sailing journey to Alaska in the 1920s

What fascinating ideas! With the rise of AI, I am still convinced the human mind is unfathomable. While I have outlines simmering for my next two book projects, I might take up one or two of these ideas in the future. I’ll keep you posted J

Chosen randomly, Noreen Brown is the winner of a $25 gift certificate to her local book shop in Williamsburg, VA. Thanks, Noreen, and to all who entered!

Giveaway for Father’s Day!

In recognition of Father’s Day, I’m offering two copies of my author-father, Gerald F. Sweeney’s first novel, The Last Proud Gallop.

An homage to my one of my father’s literary heroes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the novel takes place during The Jazz Age as wealthy young people seek fulfillment in Long Island’s polo society, Manhattan, and Southampton, L.I.

Enter here to win one of two signed copies.


In Closing

Michael and I will be aboard Polaris soon for our summer afloat cruising north to British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound, so you won’t hear from me until September.

Until then, enjoy your summer and Happy Reading . . .