iUniverse’s Thomas O.P. Sweeney, a West Point graduate and MBA, relates his recent memoir, My Dearest Christina, as well as his background and writing experience.
My Dearest Christina is a memoir by me, Christina’s father, about a truly remarkable, generous, caring and brave person who died way too soon. In her short life Christina touched a lot of people and did a lot of good. She was an unselfish, compassionate and caring young woman. She had her doctorate in Pharmacy and she was a credit to her profession. She was deeply religious and had a deep rooted faith, but she was by no means a cloistered saint. She had a wicked sense of humor and loved to entertain and be around people. This book tells the story of her life and the story of her incredible battle with Lupus.
I am 67 years old. Jennifer, my wife of 42 years, and I have lived in Frisco, TX for the last two years. We moved here from Illinois to be near Christina after she became so sick. It was the best decision we have ever made. I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army as an Armor Officer for seven years. I received my MBA from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. I worked for 37 years in various management positions for the same chemical company. Jen and I have a son, Tom Jr., and a granddaughter, Julia, age 4 who reside not far from us in Arlington, TX.
Writing is something I have come to enjoy. I think I am a pretty good writer. In my professional life, I was the one who was called upon to write papers and articles for our business. I wrote the language for our company proposals during union negotiations. I write an annual Christmas letter which I have repeatedly been told people wait for with anticipation. All of these tasks required completely different styles and tones. This is my first attempt at writing a book. Ironically I almost was dismissed from West Point my first semester of Plebe year because of my writing. I have problems writing about subjects that don’t interest me, and that showed up in the papers I wrote that semester. I barely got through with a very low D. My next semester, things changed radically. I was assigned interesting topics, and I finished the semester with a high A. I have never looked back.
I love my daughter and miss her terribly. I confess I knew absolutely nothing about Lupus prior to its attacking Christina. I have since come to know it as a cruel and vicious disease. If I can make more people aware of it and inspire them to contribute to its ultimate defeat and eradication, I will consider myself successful.
I am currently working on a sequel. In My Dearest Christina, I encountered a mysterious person while I was having coffee at a coffee shop shortly after my daughter died. He was a real piece of work. After due consideration I felt that his life might be worth exploring. The working title of the new book is Barney, The Likable Demon. I hope it provides a good and entertaining read to the audience.
One of the reasons I wrote my current book was to get my emotions on paper. It was a healing experience. I hoped and continue to hope that others will read the book and get to know and appreciate Christina for the person she was. Having said that, I am not sure how wide an audience there is for a work like this. I have contacted the Lupus Foundation, and they have expressed some interest in helping to promote the book, but nothing definite yet. I hope that our local parish will make parishioners aware of the book and I also have hope that community where we reside will publicize the work.
My absolute favorite part of this process after I hit the final keystroke on the manuscript was receiving the final proofs and cover from iUniverse. I freely admit that there was ego involved, but I was very happy and proud to open the email. I had created something.
It’s obvious that I am not a grizzled veteran of the publishing wars. My advice for aspiring authors will seem trite. It is one word, “write”. Every author has his/her way of doing it. Some meticulously plan their story with detailed outlines, character studies, etc. Others fly by the seat of their pants. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way. Whatever you are comfortable with is the way to begin. If it does not work you can always change your method. If you don’t enjoy writing, you never will write. So my advice is write. Write early and often. Write every day. Get words on paper. With word processing programs, words can be modified, arranged, changed and molded very easily. Nothing can be done however if you don’t ……..write.