Nita Sweeney wrote the book on author persistence. Fifteen years ago, she wrote a book-length memoir about her father and their final year together and submitted it to agents across the country. Of those who responded, 21 outright rejected it.
“But I’m a bit tenacious,” says Nita, smiling.
Flash forward to summer 2018. Nita had submitted a second book-length memoir — the 10th draft of that manuscript — to 108 agents and 132 publishers and received only mild interest in the book about how running with her dog, Morgan, helped her cope with aspects of mental illness, anxiety, and depression.
“I never gave up on the idea of being traditionally published,” Nita says. “I wanted to feel what it would be like to have my name on the cover of a book.” She considered self-publishing but needed to exhaust every possibility for finding a traditional publisher first. “I decided to leave no stone unturned.”
The email that brought Nita’s dream to fruition came in August 2018 from an editor at Mango Publishing, an innovative independent publisher in Miami: They wanted to publish her book. When Mango asked her to change the title, Nita suggested her favorite slogan and Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink was born. The Mango team asked Nita to enhance her social media following and cut 9,000 words from her 84,000-word manuscript. The book was released on May 15, 2019, and can be purchased in many bookstores or ordered online.
Reviews of the book have been impressive and widespread across the country. Even before it was published, Depression Hates a Moving Target (then titled Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two) earned recognition as a Faulkner Society Award finalist and Nita as an Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award nominee. The book was a #1 Amazon New Release in the “Mood Disorders,” “Bipolar Disorder,” and “Running & Jogging” categories. Within a year of its release, the book had become an Amazon #1 Best-Seller in the “Bipolar Disorder,” “Depression,” and “Running & Jogging” categories.
The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) awarded Nita and her memoir a 2019 Maxwell Medallion for excellence in writing in the “Human-Animal Bond” area. Media nationwide regularly seek out Nita for interviews on her journey and the benefits of exercise in treating depression, including the likes of Health.com, Healthline.com, Livestrong.com, Medium.com, and Authority Magazine.
Nita’s second book, You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration & Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving, was released on June 16, 2020, also by Mango Publishing. The journal, co-authored with Brenda Knight and providing writing wisdom from a variety of well-known authors, can be ordered HERE. Her third book, Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight, was featured in the Wall Street Journal and can be preordered HERE. It was recently short-listed for the International Book Awards.
Nita was 49 years old in 2010, overweight and suffering from crippling depression of bipolar disorder when she caught the running bug. Sitting on her sofa in her pajamas one weekday, she saw a social media post about a middle-aged friend who had taken up running. She leashed up her yellow Lab, Morgan, and headed out with a kitchen timer in hand, running for only 60 seconds. But she kept running a little longer each day until, two and a half years later, she crossed the finished line at the Columbus Marathon. Nita Sweeney was a runner.
Since then, Nita’s completed two ultramarathons (50k), three full marathons, 34 half marathons, and more than 100 shorter races—and through it all has faced her many fears, learned to cope with her bipolar symptoms using exercise, and discovered inner strength she didn’t know she possessed.
A product of best-selling author Natalie Goldberg’s “writing practice” method, Nita Sweeney’s articles, essays, and poems have appeared in numerous national publications, including Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, Spring Street, and WNBA-SF blog, Pencil Storm, It’s Not Your Journey, and several newspapers and newsletters. Her poem “Memorial” won the Dublin (Ohio) Arts Council’s Poet’s Choice Award. She currently blogs, and publishes the monthly email, Write Now Columbus, both on this website.
Nita earned a journalism degree from The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, a law degree from The Ohio State University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. A practicing attorney for 10 years earlier in her career, Nita has taught writing for nearly 20 years, is a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers and the Ohio Writers Guild, and serves on the board of the Women’s National Book Association of San Francisco. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and her yellow Labrador and new running partner, Scarlet (aka #ninetyninepercentgooddog).
Sweeney has written a total of 11 books, two of which have been published. That’s tenacity.