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!

Angel Wings

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!!

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.