Lynn Wiese Sneyd is a professional writer and owner of LWS Literary Services, a boutique agency that coordinates book publicity campaigns for authors, assists with query letters and book proposals, and provides ghostwriting and editing services.
Her most recent books are The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs and Cowboy Up! Life Lessons from Lazy B, both of which she co-authored with H. Alan Day. A frequent presenter at writer’s conferences and workshops, Lynn is the literary consultant for the Tucson Festival of Books and the producer of “The Cowboy Up” podcast.
Before starting LWS Literary Services, Lynn served as the literary publicist for Russell Public Communications and a community relations manager at Barnes & Noble Booksellers. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in English. A recipient of a Ragdale fellowship, Lynn currently resides in Tucson, AZ.
The Horse Lover was released in paperback on September 1, 2022, after eight years in hardcover. Lauded by Booklist in a starred review as “an instant classic, the award-winning memoir tells the story of the cowboy who started the first government-sponsored wild horse sanctuary and the adventures he had caring for and training 1500 wild mustangs. The University of Nebraska Press decided to publish a trade paperback version due to strong annual sales.
Do you write in more than one genre? Prior to ghostwriting The Horse Lover, I published a parenting book, some essays, and a handful of poems. My intention was to try my hand at fiction. But when Alan knocked on the door and shared his story, I knew his memoir needed to find a home. I edited the manuscript, but based on agents’ comments, we didn’t quite get the storytelling right. At my suggestion, Alan hired a few other editors. Again, no one was making the cut. One day, frustrated, I just blurted out, “Let me help you write it,” which was insane because I’d never written a memoir and had been on a horse only half a dozen times in my entire life. Alan, however, agreed. So we started from scratch and eventually figured out how to tell his story. I then went on to ghostwrite three other memoirs, one of them also with Alan.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Writing a creative nonfiction story, specifically a memoir means that you have to get the facts correct. Yes, some details rely on memory, but other details remain static over the years. The landscape in Arizona, for instance: is dusty, dry, and expansive. How does that differ from the landscape of the South Dakota Sand Hills? And how can you make the reader feel those differences? And what about the details of a ranch: the fencing, the corrals, the barn, the main house? As a ghostwriter, I had to rely on the author to share these details. Often, I corroborated my understanding of what I was hearing with facts and images researched on the Internet.
How do you go about writing something you don’t know? I still can’t believe I was involved in writing The Horse Lover. First of all, I grew up in Wisconsin riding a Schwinn bicycle, not a palomino, a paint, or any horse. Horses frightened me. Maybe that’s why I transferred from the horse-riding unit to the sailing unit at Girl Scout camp. So who ends up being my writing partner? Alan Day was one of the great American cowboys. Alan grew up on a 200,000-acre cattle ranch in southeastern Arizona, was practically raised on a horse, and had adventures that I only heard about on Netflix. I can’t tell you how often he described and diagramed what it was like being horseback in a football-field-sized corral with 100 frightened wild mustangs. Also, I really had to listen to his word choice and syntax and not insert my own versions, which tended to sound feminine. He’d usually catch the errors, and we’d have a good laugh and correct them. With all the memoirs, I probably spent as much time listening as writing.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Captivating stories almost always have subplots. Sometimes I see them before I start writing. Other times, they present themselves. When I started writing The Horse Lover, I was concerned that the story, while fascinating, wasn’t enough for a full manuscript. It wasn’t until we were about one-third of the way through the manuscript that one of the main subplots presented itself. Alan was talking about the wild horses and absently said, “Reminds me of the time I roped a renegade bull.” I’m sorry, you did what??? It turns out the wild bull story was suspenseful and colorful and involved one of the horses he dearly loved. That’s when I started weaving stories about horses he had loved throughout his life into the wild horse narrative. 73,000 words later, we had a book!
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’m finally trying my hand at fiction, something I’ve wanted to do for the past thirty years. I’m finishing the final draft of a novel that has to do with art and is set in the Midwest, where I grew up. It’s such a kick to create characters and a story. I’m eager to finish and see where the book lands.
For more information about The Horse Lover and Cowboy Up, visit www.alandayauthor.com.
For more information about LWS Literary Services, visit www.lwsliteraryservices.com.
And to listen to The Cowboy Up Podcast, tune in at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-cowboy-up-podcast/id1521902050.
From Wisconsin to Arizona is quite a change. Ironically, one of the few times I was on a horse was up in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Bless you and Alan for what you did for the wild mustangs. good luck with your writing.
Thank you, Michael. There’s something about Wisconsin and horses. Not sure what it is. But thank goodness for lakes! Lynn