Claremary P. Sweeney, RI’s Late-Blooming Author

FullSizeRenderI’m a late bloomer. Very late! At age 65, I wrote a story  featuring a tabby kitten named ZuZu, born in a barn at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I liked it so much I wrote more stories set in the Berkshires and added in lots of farm animals and an extended family. ZuZu’s further adventures bring readers to many interesting and historic places. The Hancock Shaker Village, the Red Lion Inn, Chesterwood, the Berkshire Botanical Garden are some of those places that my husband Charley and I have visited many times and I wanted to share them with others.

A Berkshire Tale is comprised of ten tales following ZuZu and her friend Nick through the seasons of a year. It’s appropriate for children of all ages, even adult children like me. I wrote it so that adults could share the stories with a child. This motivated me to create a blog  about the book and about  the importance of reading, storytelling and imagination in the life of a child. The blog, Around ZuZu’s Barn evolved into a conversation with kindred spirits on many topics, with some of my photography interspersed. (I forgot to say that I used my photographs to illustrate A Berkshire Tale.) 

IMG_7698In my short bio, I explain I had been a teacher and administrator for over thirty years, I’m now retired, living with my husband Charley and our two cats, Roxie and ZuZu, in the woods of South County. People who read this invariable would ask, “You have two cats? Well, what about the other cat (meaning Roxie)? Why doesn’t she have a book s1k9cabout her?”  To appease my blog followers, I began to write posts of life seen through the eyes of Roxie, aka The Other Cat. People really love these vignettes and it appears there may actually be another book within these posts.

Another question I’m asked is “Do you have a book set in RI?” I now can answer that I have one in the process of being published. I’m working on Apping the photos at the moment. It’s a small book in rhymed verse set in the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park.. The main character is a baby pitcher plant, Adonis,  who, one morning, decides to stop eating meat. This causes much consternation for his mother, Dee, her friends and the other plants and creatures living around the carnivorous plant section of the gardens. And I’m currently working on a mystery set in South Kingstown, complete with black and white, Apped photos of settings in the book.

A Berkshire Tale hits the shelves at Northshire Books
A Berkshire Tale hits the shelves at Northshire Books

Although I’m a late bloomer, I am trying to catch up, so that by the time I’m 67, I’ll have more books under my belt. Please visit my blog  and check out the photos and “The Other Cat” stories. You’ll also get to know a bit more about me and Charley and the ZuZu stories which I’m continuing in the future.

NOTE: This post was specially written and posted today on

In November, Martha Reynolds opens up her blog to her fellow members of ARIA (the Association of Rhode Island Authors) Founded 5 years ago by Steve Porter ,  ARIA has grown to include over 250 members.  Although we are the smallest state, there are many diverse writers within our borders. ARIA members work together to support each other, afford opportunities to showcase our work and to encourage the “writing life”. In December, I will be reading my stories to children in RI classrooms and participating in three book fairs. All of this was organized by hard-working ARIA members endeavoring to get the word out that even in the smallest state, there is an immense wealth of talented authors who want to share their work with others. I love being part of this group.

36 thoughts on “Claremary P. Sweeney, RI’s Late-Blooming Author

  1. I don’t know about been a late bloomer but hey becoming an author At 65 says to me…You Can be anything you want! Age is no barer…makes me think that there is a whole lot i can still do and no need to fear growing older…a lot is still possible. I pray you reach your goal and achieve your dreams! Proud of you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You go, girl. Let’s hear it for late bloomers! I wrote my first “novel” when I was 11, and thought, “This is what I want.” Unfortunately, I was naive enough to say so, and the “Who do you think you are?” syndrome kicked in. Then school, life, and confidence crises got in the way.

    I gave up on the idea until I was middle-aged, then decided that I was going to be in print by the time I hit 50. (I didn’t quite manage that – I’m a slow writer.)

    The problem is, once one book’s published, people tend to want another. Soon. As you know.

    But hey, writers can only improve with age. Writing a book is not like running a mile in less than 4 minutes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think having so much experience by this time in our lives helps us to be better writers. I’m always tapping in to people, places and things I know well and find it is some of my best material. Yay for all of us! (PS My husband Charley broke the 4 minute mile when he was a sophomore in college. I know he’d agree with you,though.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, you two and thank you. How has your Dimanche been so far? I am working hard on the mystery and have finally found the right voice for it. The chapters are coming easier although I seem to write my best from 3-6AM. What’s that about? Are we going to see you some day soon? Roxie is holding her breath in anticipation (or she might just be in another of her snits). Love, Clare, etal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Clare and the puss cats! I never understand why the muse keeps such antisocial hours …. No wonder writers always look pale and gaunt! I’m on my way to Boston on Tuesday just for 2 1/2 weeks then back to England and France for Christmas. The excitingest bit is that on 29th December The Bean, The Brains and I fly from Paris to Boston and we will then be in Massachusetts for 3 months. The Bean is preparing for this giant leap for Beankind now (she is staying with my mother in Oxford while I make the short recce) and we are off to the vet tomorrow to discuss all the necessary paperwork – she is quite disgruntled! I love this word snits!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Osyth, this is so exciting! We will surely be able to get together if you’re here for 3 whole months. Please keep me informed. You must have so much to do! Have a safe journey and make sure you keep my email address with you so we can keep in contact. Clare

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds as though it’s all systems go with your writing at the moment, Clare. You have a few books on the go, or lined up waiting to be written. Well done! At 68, I’m a fraction older than you, and also started writing late in life. Now I’m writing my third book, but have yet to approach traditional agents. I was waiting until I’d finished the trilogy before doing that. Your community of supportive writers on RI sound like a dream and I wish we had something similar around here! From one late bloomer to another – happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started out sending my first ZuZu stories to established publishers accepting submissions without an agent. (Not many do) But my book was too different for them. It wasn’t the correct amount of words; it was too regional; they were not interested in a series….. So, I ended up self-publishing and that is complicated because in addition to writing, editing and publishing, you now have to market your product. That entails a lot of footwork. I hope to get an agent for the mystery and sell it to a publishing company. Like yours, it will be the first of three in a series. It would make things easier on me. But I also like keeping control of my work and am not really in it to make millions. Time will tell. If you have any questions about self-publishing, just ask. If I don’t know the answer, I can point you in the right direction.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Russ and thanks. But these are all just opportunities to sell A Berkshire Tale. I’m still way behind most of the other ARIA members who, like you, have multiple books on their resume. But I’m comfortable with that. It’s a motivation to write another book; try another genre; learn more from others. Not many accomplishments so far, but I’m working on that. I’m enjoying writing the blog because I’ve made contact with so many talented people like you. And the mystery is fun because the setting is so familiar and inspires me. How are you doing? Are you enjoying your grandchildren? They grow up so quickly but your little ones will have those wonderful books by their grandfather to take with them into adulthood. Take good care and I’ll be visiting you soon. Your friend, Clare


    1. 💐Thank you, Gail. I am new to the Rhode Island Authors’ Group, but they’ve given me many opportunities in the last few months to share A Berkshire Tale and they continue to help publicize the book. This was the most recent and I appreciated the opportunity to talk about my writing. I’m glad you liked the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful post! I think late bloomers are the best Clare! I know you sure are! I really want to get one of your books and I will! I might be having grandkids soon and it will be fun reading to them! You are a gem dear! much love, Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so kind dear! Thank you so much. It is a secret that I will reveal to you, my daughter in law had two miscarriages and is now pregnant with twins but with a high risk pregnancy. So, it is very up in the air!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynn, you are such a loyal friend! Thank you for sharing because, being self-published, I can use all of the help I can get. The book is selling better now that it is the holiday season and there is a Thanksgiving chapter set at the Hancock Shaker Village and a Christmas chapter set at the Red Lion inn. There are ten chapters (books, actually) within A Berkshire Tale. I have four Book Fairs within the next two weeks, so hopefully, more will get into the hands of adult children who love to read. Today I’m reading with a first grade class and then meeting with their parents after school. Again, thanks for all of your encouragement and support. It keeps me going.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is so cool! I love that and tell me anything I can do to promote your book! I am on board and will surely do it! Much love! Lynn I would like to order a copy for my daughter in law. How do I do that? I mean please tell me where I should go?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just sharing this post can work wonders. In my blog there is a page on Where to Buy A Berkshire Tale. It is offered in New England Independent Book Stores and available on line, too. The best way to get a signed copy is to order from Northshire Books and the link is on that page. Or, you can wait to see how everything goes and order a copy from me with what you would like mw to write for an inscription. I’ll mail it to you. Again, thanks, Lynn. I really hope to see you some day soon and you are always welcome here at our home in RI.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. oh my that would be so special if you wouldn’t mind. That would be amazing Clare! If that is not to difficult I would love a personal inscription? Please tell me where to send a check and how to do that! Thank you so much dear friend. I will give it to my son and daughter in law! I will order it now and wont put anything about the twins but just more personal.!!! thanks so much

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We would love to have you here for a visit. Last week I had a new oven installed and it could use and expert cook. Did you know that Osyth is planning on coming to Boston for a few months at the beginning of next year? She’ll be in Boston, right near to my home here in RI. Do you think we could figure out some way for the 3 of us to get together?
        Email me the inscription you would like and your address and I’ll put it into the book and send it on. I’ll take care of it right away when we return from NY this weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

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