EVE SPRUNT – Prolific Writer and Diversity Consultant

Dr. Eve Sprunt is a prolific writer and consultant on diversity and inclusion, as well as the transition from hydrocarbons to cleaner forms of energy. She is passionate about mentoring younger professionals, especially women struggling to combine parenting and professionalism and those facing cross-cultural challenges.

 

Her over 120 editorial columns addressed workforce issues, industry trends, and cross-cultural challenges. In addition to authoring 23 patents and 28 technical publications, she is the author of four books:  A Guide for Dual-Career Couples (Praeger), Dearest Audrey, An Unlikely Love Story, A Guide to Career Resilience (Springer Nature) as co-author with Maria Angela Capello with whom she authored Mentoring and Sponsoring: Keys to Success (Springer Nature).

During her 35 years in the energy industry, Eve acquired extensive experience working for major oil companies on projects around the world. She was the 2006 President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), the 2018 President of the American Geosciences Institute, and the founder of the Society of Core Analysts. She has received high honors from SPE, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Geological Society of America. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from MIT, and she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. (1977) from Stanford in Geophysics. She speaks and consults on women’s and energy issues and is an active member of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Writers Branch.

Books:
A Guide to Career Resilience (with Maria Angela Capello), 2022
Mentoring and Sponsoring, Keys to Success (with Maria Angela Capello), 2020
Dearest Audrey, An Unlikely Love Story, 2019
A Guide for Dual-Career Couples, Rewriting the Rules, 2016

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes, self-help and memoir/biography

What brought you to writing? It runs in the family. My mother (Ruth Chew) wrote and illustrated 29 children’s fantasy chapter books. Mother’s first and best-selling book, The Wednesday Witch, sold over a million copies. My maternal grandfather was also a writer.

As a female scientist, when technical women were rare, documenting my work in writing (both within the company and in industry publications) improved my odds of getting credit for my work and enabled me to build my reputation.

I volunteered to serve as Senior Technical Editor of the Society of Petroleum Engineers for three years because the role included writing a monthly editorial column. I authored “edgy” articles on workforce issues. After my term ended, I continued writing bimonthly editorial columns for another seven years. I began writing books when I retired and was no longer subject to corporate censorship.

What are you currently working on? I am polishing a memoir/biography of my mother, Ruth Chew, who became a successful children’s book author/illustrator after I left home. Passionate Persistence is based on Mother’s 67 years of daily diaries and my memories. The Tri-Valley Writers critique groups and Lani Longshore (as a beta reader) have been tremendously helpful.

When the leader of my hiking group learned that I was receiving the 2022 Curtis-Hedberg Petroleum Career Achievement Award for outstanding contributions in the field of petroleum geology, she urged me to write a memoir about my career. I was astounded to be selected for that Geological Society of America’s award because my degrees are in geophysics, and I usually impersonated a petroleum engineer. However, my most significant technical contributions involved convincing the engineers that they had overlooked critical aspects of the geology.

How long did it take you to write your first book? The first book I wrote was the one I self-publishing in 2019, Dearest Audrey, An Unlikely Love Story. I found an agent for that manuscript, but in hindsight, I suspect she took me as a client because she was a fan of my mother’s children’s chapter books, which were out of print. Shortly after I signed agreements with the agent to represent both my work and my mother’s, an editor at Random House approached me about the republication of my mother’s books. The agent received a sizable commission on the agreement with Random House but never found a publisher for Dearest Audrey, despite representing it for several years.

That agent didn’t like my manuscript for A Guide for Dual-Career Couples but recommended that I go through the submission process for Praeger, which asked for an outline and sample chapters. Praeger accepted my proposal, and the agent spent months working on the contract, leaving me only about six weeks to get the manuscript completely revised if I wanted to have A Guide for Dual-Career Couples included in Praeger’s spring 2016 catalog. I realized that since I was working for myself, I could work 7-day weeks and long hours, and I met the deadline.

Eventually, I concluded the agent would never find a publisher for Dearest Audrey, so we agreed to dissolve our agreement. I hired a developmental editor through Reedsy, who guided me through the self-publication process. Dearest Audrey was published in 2019.

Self-help books like A Guide for Dual-Career Couples and my two books published by Springer, Mentoring, and Sponsoring, Keys to Success (2020) and A Guide to Career Resilience (2022), are accepted based on an outline and sample chapters. The writing and publication process can be very swift.

Passionate Persistence, The Life of Ruth Chew, which I hope will become my fifth book, may be a tough sell. I asked the developmental editor I used for Dearest Audrey to edit it and advise me on whether I should seek an agent or pursue self-publishing. After I left home, my mother was so focused on her successful career as an author my younger siblings ran wild. She wrote children’s chapter books, but her life was not a story for children.

About twice a week, I go hiking with a group of ladies. When the leader learned I was selected for the Geological Society of America’s lifetime achievement award, she said, “Who’s going to write your story? You need to do it.”

In A Guide to Career Resilience, my co-author and I share examples in which we successfully challenged the system. Both of us consider ourselves to be shy, but I don’t know anyone else who would. Our author at Springer objected to the concept that “forgiveness is easier than permission.” We included the concept and the examples but refrained from using the forbidden phrase. In our careers, my co-author and I leveraged that concept to surmount barriers.

My mother (the title character in Passionate Persistence) was an ambitious woman. She thought her older sister, Audrey (the heroine of Dearest Audrey), was afraid of her own shadow. Ironically, before writing Dearest Audrey, I accepted my mother’s assessment of Audrey despite ample evidence to the contrary – Audrey went on sabbatical to Pakistan in the mid-1950s, not knowing exactly where or what she would teach, and was traveling alone near the Khyber Pass when she met her true love.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? All the time. I always disguise their identity if I use them as a bad example.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I plan to write about my life experiences but will weave them into a self-help book because those are easier to market than memoirs.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Join a writing group.

How do our readers contact you? Please contact me at www.evesprunt.com or email me at evesprunt@aol.com

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Wow, what an inspiring story, Eve. It’s great that you’re continuing the family tradition of writing. Good luck with your new one. Stay strong.

    Reply

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LISA M. LANE -Author and Historian

Lisa writes novels, short stories, Victorian mysteries featuring authentic details, and scholarly work about the young H. G. Wells. When she’s not researching and writing, she can be found pontificating about online pedagogy, gardening in root-bound soil, or watching classic movies. She was born in England but has lived in California most of her life.

My thanks to George for asking me to talk about my writing practice and my books! I’ve chosen a few topics to address.

New! Murder at an Exhibition – A Victorian mystery about a photographer’s Murder and how his assistant Bridget and her friend Jo unravel the mystery.

Writing process challenges – The most challenging part of my writing process is that I keep interrupting myself to do research. Let’s say I am writing a scene where my character needs to get across town, and I decide she’ll catch an omnibus. I’ll actually stop and research omnibus routes in 1862 London, checking how often they run and where they pick up. As a historian, I find it’s unreasonably important for me to be accurate, and that means interrupting my writing to be sure.

I also interrupt myself for research just because I don’t know things. Once I even contacted an astronomer to find out which direction the moon would be coming up for a scene. Yes, I could just keep writing, make a note and get back to it later, but I get fascinated when I have a question! I love learning.

Character names – Don’t you just love it when a character’s name evokes something about them? Although I think Charles Dickens went over the top with this (Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times comes to mind), I do like the idea that names should somehow reflect the personality of the character.

Detective Inspector Cuthbert Slaughter, for example, has a very old English name, and he’s a fairly stable and old-fashioned person. Cyril Price, an actor/manager at the Surrey Theatre, has a stage-actor name. Jo Harris, who illustrates for magazines, has a strong name because she’s an intelligent and assertive person. Tommy Jones is the exception: he has a deliberately ordinary name, but he’s not ordinary at all.

Character names are also part of historical accuracy. I want to know what names people really used in the 1860s. So I look through lists of names common in Victorian England, but I also get great names from directories. Sometimes I can find out the real names of people who, for example, had shops on a particular street, so even the publican or grocer might have an actual historical name.

I also base some of my characters on famous or semi-famous people. And sometimes this happens on accident—I’ll read in the Illustrated London News that a person I’ve never heard of designed a building, or I’ll see a daguerreotype of a woman whose expression is just priceless. If I know the names, I’ll find out more about them and build sub-plots around them. Or I’ll just have them pop into a scene—I did that with Mrs. Catherine Dickens in Murder at Old St. Thomas’s. I have a lot of fun doing historical “guest stars.”

And yes, Thomas Crapper really was a plumber and entrepreneur who sold bathroom fixtures.

Plotter or Panster? You’ve probably gotten the idea already that I like serendipity when writing, which makes me an inveterate “pantser.” I have tried plotting; I really have! But it feels like stopping in the middle of a movie and guessing what’s going to happen. I know a lot of authors say the characters take on a life of their own, and sometimes so does the action. I may have a vague idea of the beginning and the overall theme, but I don’t know what’s going to happen until I start writing.

Historical Research – While historical research comes naturally to me after decades as a trained historian, researching for a novel is different. I need breadth more than depth. Rather than finding out everything, there is to know about one topic and then reading articles where historians analyze the perspectives on that one topic. I have many things to research at once—clothing, manners, food, water systems, building materials, omnibuses. And because I’m a stickler for reality, if I cannot find or access something (like a train timetable), I will change the story or the action to create something supported by the sources.

So I’m one of those historical fiction writers where the emphasis is on the historical. I use the newspapers, magazines, art, books, and material culture of the time. Accessing online databases, library resources, and city directories—these are all just part of deepening the story. My goal is to write novels and short stories that could only have taken place during the mid-Victorian era in England. The past is not just a passive setting but rather a place where our commonalities can be seen across time.

Contact me at https://www.facebook.com/grousablebooks
Books and buy links: https://grousablebooks.com/books/
Novels
Before the Time Machine (literary fiction)
Murder at Old St. Thomas’s
Non-fiction
H. G. Wells on Science Education (1886-1897)
Groups
Sisters in Crime (and Partners in Crime San Diego Chapter)
Historical Novel Society
H. G. Wells Society
Social media groups
Facebook: Historical Novel Society (and UK chapter), Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club, SHINE with Paper Lantern Writers, Instagram (@grousablebooks), TikTok (@grousablebooks), Goodreads.

4 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    I love reading historical fiction, and especially so when it’s set in the Victorian era. I do feel research matters and gives a story better texture for entering the fictional world you’ve created. Your books sound terrific.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Interesting description of your writing process. The Victorian Age has always been fascinating and I’m glad you go the extra yard to get it right. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Lisa M. Lane

      Thanks! Yes, If find interesting parallels to today’s culture: the reliance on science, the fascination with gadgetry, the discussions of morality. Seems a familiar time!

      Reply
  3. Donnell Ann Bell

    Fascinating interview. I can so relate to stopping writing to research. Must. Get. It. Right 🙂

    Best wishes,

    Reply

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JOSEPH BADAL – U.S. Army Veteran – Banker – Author

Prior to his literary career, Joe served six years as an officer in the U.S. Army, including tours of duty in Vietnam and Greece, from which he received numerous decorations.

After his military service, he worked for thirty-six years in the banking & finance industries. He was a founding director and senior executive of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company for sixteen years.

Joe is an Amazon #1 bestselling author with 18 published, award-winning suspense novels. He has been recognized as “One of The 50 Best Writers You Should Be Reading.” He was named Writer of the Year by the Military Writers Society of America, is a two-time winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year, a four-time Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal Winner, an Eric Hoffer Prize Winner, a four-time “Finalist” in the International Book Awards competition, and a top prize winner on multiple occasions in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards competition, including “Best of Show” in 2021. He writes a regular column titled “Inspired by Actual Events” in Suspense Magazine.

Joe is a member of Croak & Dagger, Sisters in Crime, Military Writers Society of America, International Thriller Writers, Public Safety Writers Association, International Crime Writers Association, and Southwest Writers Workshop.

Everything to Lose pits New Mexico homicide detectives Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez against a duo of mass murderers terrorizing Albuquerque, New Mexico…and then their arch-nemesis, Lisa French, targets the detectives for murder.

In this fourth book in his Lassiter/Martinez Case Files series, award-winning and Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author Joseph Badal brings back his female detectives as they investigate a series of murders in the Albuquerque area. Inspired by actual events, Everything to Lose is an edge-of-the-seat thriller built on a foundation of characters from previous books in the series, including Lisa French, a psychopathic murderer in her own right who has targeted Barbara and Susan.

This take-your-breath-away story will put you on a thrill ride of tension, misdirection, and surprise within the backdrop of New Mexico’s majestic landscape and unique culture. Barbara Lassiter and Susan Martinez, savvy ladies with real-life personas, are the best female detective duo since Cagney & Lacey. They will have you begging for more of their exploits.

What brought you to writing? Between a verbal story-telling tradition in my family and the influence of reading Robert Ludlum novels, I was motivated to be a writer, especially in the suspense genre. But I was pushed to focus on a more traditional area of study, which led me into a finance career. My desire to be a writer always simmered below the surface and finally became my focus when I was fifty-six. My first novel, The Pythagorean Solution, was published in 2003. I have been a full-time writer since then.

Tell us about your writing process: I write every day for at least four hours in a room sequestered from other household activities. When I begin s story, I generally have a main character and story concept in mind. But I do not outline my manuscript. Rather, I let my characters carry the story. I have no idea where my plot and characters will lead me. Sub-plots and characters arise as I write.

What are you currently working on? I am currently working on two novels. The first will be the fourth in my Curtis Chronicles series and will draw on current events around human trafficking. I have been involved with an organization that is combatting trafficking and want to make more people aware of this hideous crime. The second book I am working on will be the eighth in my Danforth Saga series. The story will be placed in France and Ireland and will pit Bob Danforth and other retired CIA officers against a Russia-funded assassin.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? I have belonged to Southwest Writers Workshop for 30 years. SWW is a writers group headquartered in Albuquerque. Conferences and classes sponsored by SWW went a long way in teaching me about the writing process. Additionally, I met my first agent at an SWW-sponsored conference. I highly recommend that writers join a local writers group. It is a wonderful way to meet other authors and hone one’s craft.

Who’s your favorite author? In a way, this is a bit like asking me which of my children I love the best. I have many “favorite” authors. In addition to Robert Ludlum, who I mentioned above, I love the works of James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, Bernard Cornwell, Sheldon Siegel, Douglas Preston, David Morrell, and many others.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? My characters are typically an amalgam of people I know. I have an extensive list of personality traits that I created based upon individuals I have known. For instance, I included the name of a person who is perhaps the kindest individual I have ever known. If I am writing about a character who has similar characteristics, I use the person from my list as a template for that character.

What kind of research do you do? I perform extensive research for all of my stories. I want my readers to relate to locations and want those locations to be as accurately described as possible. My intelligence/military novels require a great deal of research about current organizational structures, weaponry, technology, etc. Wherever possible, I travel to the locations where my plots are placed. For instance, the Danforth Saga novel I am working on takes place in Ireland and France. I traveled to Ireland and France this year to be able to see the scenes I will include in the books.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Probably the two most important things I can offer new writers are 1) to put their story on paper and 2) to challenge every word in their story. Too many aspiring authors get intimidated by the overwhelming process of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. I recommend that they focus on the writing and not worry about the quality of that writing. That comes after they have finished the first draft. Then they should edit-edit-edit. They must challenge the necessity of every word in their work and eliminate every word that does not move their story forward.

How can our readers contact you and/or buy your books? To learn more, visit Joe’s website at www.JosephBadalBooks.com.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Having had the privilege of meeting Joe Badal and hearing him speak, I can attest that he’s a fabulous writer who knows the craft of writing very well. He’s also one hell of a nice guy. I highly recommend his books.

    Reply

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TERRY SHAMES & Bouchercon

Terry Shames writes the popular Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictional town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. Nominated for numerous awards, she won the Macavity Award for Best First Novel, and her fifth novel won an RT Reviews award.

 

Terry’s latest book, Murder at the Jubilee Rally, is set at a motorcycle rally at the lake outside Jarrett Creek and includes a lot of the mayhem you might expect from a motorcycle rally—including murder. For more about Terry and to sign up for her newsletter and/ or purchase her books, visit www.Terryshames.com.

I thought since I’m at Bouchercon this week, I’d write about the conference and what I get out of it.

Bouchercon long before I was a writer. I had friends who wrote crime fiction, and they urged me to come as a fan. I loved it! And when I started writing crime fiction, I knew where to go for contacts, information, and support. This conference provides all of that!

For me, Bouchercon this year meant more than “talking crime.” I moved to Southern California a year ago, and settling into a new place has been challenging. I miss my old friends! I think it’s only now that I realize how profoundly the pandemic affected our lives. If there had been no pandemic, I would have gotten oriented at in-person meetings with both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America in SoCal. Still, with in-person meetings rare to non-existent, I have found it sadly difficult to get established with writer friends in my new area.

So I was especially excited to attend Bouchercon for the first time since Dallas, 2019. It would be a chance to sit down and get to know people from SoCal, and it would also give me a chance to see old friends from the NorCal chapters. People like Susan Bickford, Diana Chambers, Ana Manwaring, Daisy Bateman, and Reece Hirsch, among others.

What is Bouchercon for if it isn’t to mingle and chat? The answer to that question is more complicated than just “mingle and chat.” Mingling and chatting with fans is always a pleasure, and since Bouchercon is primarily a fan conference, you hope to get some of that. But mingling and chatting with other authors is satisfying in a different way.

I ran into Lou Berney the first night of the conference, and we talked about why it was so wonderful to see our fellow authors in person. We agreed that authors are the only people who truly understand the challenges we go through as writers. The triumphs are easy to share with non-writers. But the daily grind of writing an xxx number of words, the frustration when you hit snags in your plot, or you realize you haven’t really got a handle on your characters is harder to convey to non-writers.

Most “civilians” will listen politely to complaints about a writer’s trouble, but a deep understanding is only possible with people who have been through it. And often, talking through your current frustrations with another author can help you get clarity and solve the problem. For example, who but another writer can understand and sympathize deeply with my most recent problem: I realized that I had written my action scenes backwards, that one event needed to happen before another. Changing it was a nightmare. Every writer I’ve shared that with has laughed along with me and immediately grasped the difficulty of the details that had to be addressed with the change. Non-writers look baffled.

Another thing that writers share at a conference is “the publishing situation”—the complaints, the triumphs, the questions: why isn’t my novel being picked up? Why did my publisher go out of business? Why did my publisher suddenly veer toward cozies and away from thrillers or vice versa? The answer always seems to be Publishing is going through a profound change. What a sentence that is! Publishing is always going through a change.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met an author who is perfectly happy with their publisher. There’s always that “little problem.” A best-selling author’s problems may be light years away from the problems a mid-list writer is facing, but there are always glitches. It’s an endless source of conversation among writers. Happily, “publishers” don’t usually include “editors. Many writers idolize their editors.

Add to this the conversations (usually whispered) about agents—do you need an agent? How do you get one? How do you know which one is right for you? How do you keep one? When is it time to move on? It’s part of the chat.

One thing that is often under-appreciated is panels. I’ve heard authors dismiss panels as something they aren’t interested in, but I think they’re missing a bet. At a “fan” conference like Bouchercon, often panel discussions are more geared toward readers than writers. But even those panels can be helpful to writers. For example, I attended a panel on family dynamics in crime fiction, and there were some golden answers to questions that I tucked away for use in my work. The panels are varied, and it’s a chance to hear what authors have to say about their process and their product. It’s a chance to find out new ways of promoting your work. And it can be a way of seeing your own work in a new light. Not to mention the chance to hear ideas that may spark your creative juices. When you are a panel participant, it gives you the opportunity to introduce your work to new readers.

I was thrilled to find that although this year’s Bouchercon was held just a couple of weeks before my next book comes out, the bookstore actually had a few copies of it. Murder at the Jubilee Rally will be the ninth book in my Samuel Craddock series and will be published by my new publisher, Severn House, in hardcover and e-book on October 4. The paperback will come out in a few months. I love the cover.

 

And here’s how I’m promoting the book at Bouchercon—wearing a motorcycle vest advertising “Jubilee Motorcycle Rally, Jarrett Creek, Texas.”

To end, I’ll paraphrase a quote I just heard that William Kent Krueger made in a recent interview: Make a commitment (to your writing) and stick to it! That’s the kind of advice you can get at Bouchercon than can change your writing!

9 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    I have never been to Boucheron. I had planned to go to the one in Sacramento, but then Covid struck and everything was in lockdown. My husband and I really enjoy your Jarret Creek Series. So glad a new one is out.

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Varadan

    Uh-oh, I just posted my comment on the wrong post. This comment is for Terry Shames.

    I have never attended Boucheron, but so many of my writing friends have. The year I hoped to attend in Sacrmento, my husband and I both moved to Portugal (which we love!). Still, I am happy for friends who get to attend this wonderful conference. On another note, my husband and I both enjoy your Sam Craddock series so much.

    Reply
  3. Terry Shames

    Hi, all, sorry it took me a couple of days to reply. I came down with the dreaded Covid. But really not that bad. If I didn’t know there was such a thing as Covid, I’d think I just had a head cold.

    As for your comments, despite getting Covid, I loved Bouchercon this year. Ana, wonderful to see you. I miss my Norcal pals. Michael, thanks for the thoughts about the book coming out. We can’t always have it like we want it–otherwise I would have told them they had to reschedule! Marilyn, I miss seeing you. And Joan it was a treat to meet you in person. Thank you for having faith in my books.

    Reply
  4. Vinnie Hansen

    It was wonderful to see you, Terry, and I look forward to reading the new Samuel Craddock book as soon as it’s available in paper.

    Reply
  5. Joan Schramm

    You captured the essence of Bouchercon perfectly! I especially enjoyed meeting you in person and getting your new book signed! Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Marilyn Meredith

    I can no longer attend Bouchercon–but I agree with all you’ve said. I used to go faithfully to everyone–and though a bit overwhelming at times, the more you go, the more it’s almost lke a family reunion.

    Reply
  7. Bonnar Spring

    Great piece, Terry! Glad we had a chance to talk.

    Reply
  8. Michael A. Black

    Terry, good luck with your new book. It’s too bad the release date didn’t coincide with Bouchercon, but wearing the vest was a great idea.

    Reply
  9. elizabeth Ana Manwaring

    Thanks Terry. You’ve summed it up perfectly. This was my first Bouchercon and although I felt lost for a few minutes, the incredible generosity of writers and readers with ideas, tips and camaraderie has buoyed me and deepened my commitment to my writing. I’m sitting in the airport mentally planning my next book and anticipating reuniting with my computer!
    Thanks to you and George for a thoughtful and inspiring post.

    Reply

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KATHERINE RAMSLAND – Forensic Psychology in Fiction

Dr. Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared as an expert in criminal psychology on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,500 articles and 69 books, including The Forensic Science of CSI, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer, she was co-executive producer for the Wolf Entertainment/A&E four-part documentary based on the years she spent talking with Rader. Ramsland consults on death investigations, talks to killers, pens a blog for Psychology Today, and is writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist who manages a private investigation agency.

Elevator Pitch for I Scream Man: Forensic psychologist Annie Hunter’s PI team plunges into a perilous case of missing kids and a well-connected network of sex traffickers.

In which genres do you write? I started publishing in the mid-1980s, so I’ve covered a range of genres, mostly in nonfiction: biographies, adventure memoirs, travel, true-crime, writing craft, psychology, paranormal, encyclopedias, scientific analyses, textbooks, and even a cookbook. I’ve also written scripts and treatments for Hollywood. With fiction, I’ve published horror, paranormal urban fantasy, and now my private investigation series. I find that there’s a lot of cross-fertilization.

What inspired your current work, the Nut Crackers Investigation series? I teach forensic psychology, including a course called Psychological Sleuthing, on the psychology of investigation (which I designed and for which I wrote the textbook). I also consult on unusual cases, so it was natural to base a character and her investigative team on what I do. I’ve written a lot of nonfiction on forensic science, psychology, and investigation, so I’ve developed a network of consultants – and some are real characters. In the series, I connect Annie Hunter’s team to whatever consultant she might need, from digital to anthropology to meteorology (yes, there’s forensic meteorology!). Between access to plenty of cases, conversations with multiple offenders, and teamwork with many different professionals, I have a solid set-up for creating plots and characters.

How do you incorporate research or true events into your fiction? I generally start with a twisty crime I’ve come across that will call on my characters’ unique skills. On my core team is a cadaver dog handler, a PI who’s also an artist, and a psychologist with a specialty in suicidology and staged scenes. I research the crime, especially in legal documents, and sometimes talk to key personnel (including offenders). Then, like Law & Order, I spin my fictional scenario. Since I also know the psychological literature, I’m careful to develop characters along realistic lines. One more dimension is that I use actual settings, so I go experience them. I take a lot of photos. For example, after I set a scene in a recreational area, I traveled there to see where I might place an inconspicuous grave. Sometimes the places I see inspire me to turn them into settings. The tower in Ireland that poet W. B. Yeats owned, for example.

You’ve written 70 books, along with multiple other types of projects, and you often write more than one at once. How do you keep them straight? I once heard that a change is as good as a rest. I find this to be true. I work on multiple projects at once – including my day job as a professor and assistant provost. Each provides inspiration for the others. I merely keep them in separate folders on my computer, or in separate piles on my office floor. But when I tire of one project, or finish one, I’m glad to have something else to keep the juices flowing. I have no time for postpartum writing grief because another project is calling for attention.

What is your writing process? I’ve written a book, Snap: Seizing your Aha! Moments, which describes one of the best things to do for the creative process. A lot of people believe that flashes of insight happen at random, but I’ve discovered that you can set yourself up for these to occur regularly. In the book, I propose a program that I’ve found useful for generating the spark. I call it a “snap,” because the flash of genius that really counts is insight plus momentum – it snaps you toward action. It resolves your impasse. First, you create your mental salad. You really work at it, gathering all kinds of info and experiences to toss in. Use a routine so you can tap into body memories, too. Then you relax in whatever way works for you. For me, it’s walking. During this time, you let the brain’s association network mix and match to come up with a plot twist, a new character, the resolution of a scene, etc. I’ve been counting on this process for years. I love it.

What advice do you have for new writers? The most important thing a budding writer can do is to form a support group. This is not a critique group. It’s a small group of people who believe in their work and will be there to assure them when they have doubts. Maybe they’ll be proofreaders (mine are). Maybe they’re just cheerleaders. But they’re essential for the hard times that inevitably come to every writer.

You’ve been writing a blog for Psychology Today for ten years. What’s the theme? “Shadow-boxing,” the title and theme, is about our darkest impulses, as well as anything that may lurk beyond our awareness, “in the shadows.” I write a lot about crime and criminals, since that’s my primary field of expertise, but I also write about creativity, literature with dark edges, investigative techniques, and psychological conditions. Sometimes, I review books.

What can we look forward to in this series? I certainly hope readers will enjoy an investigative series with a deep dive into psychology. They’ll learn about psychological quirks as well as investigative tips. Since Annie Hunter is a forensic psychologist with private practice cases on the side, she has insight into criminal behavior that’s often missed by PIs and cops. Annie has a podcast, Psi Apps, and she’s open to a lot of oddities, including cases with paranormal aspects. And I hope to have weather events in every novel. Might be a hurricane, a tornado, a snowstorm, a flood. I love weather, and I love mysterious places. Wherever I go, I’ll take readers with me.

Annie Hunter’s House

How do our readers contact you? Readers can find me mostly on Facebook. I have three pages there. Also, the website has an email address.

Website: https://www.katherineramsland.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.ramsland
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatRamsland
Blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shadow-boxing
Group Membership:
Sisters in Crime
Writers Police Academy
Mystery Writers of America
Private Eye Writers of America

 

17 Comments

  1. Vicki Batman

    Thank you, Katherine. I’ve appreciated your blogs, etc.

    Reply
  2. Marie Gallagher

    Hey K, I’m going to read your new book (I Scream Man) and suggest it to my Book Club!! Sounds like the kind of book I’m going to love reading!!!

    Reply
    • Katherine Ramsland

      Hey, Marie! Thanks. If your book club wants me to come in by Zoom, I’d be happy to.

      Reply
  3. Kassandra Lamb

    The series sounds fascinating. Can’t wait to read I Scream Man.

    Reply
  4. Valerie Brooks

    Hi Katharine, I’ve found immense help from your books. The snap idea is so worth nurturing. I’m so eager to read I SCREAM MAN. Congrats!

    Reply
    • Katherine Ramsland

      Thanks, Valerie. I’m glad I’ve been able to inspire you. I appreciate the post.

      Reply
  5. Margaret E Mizushima

    Just ordered I Scream Man! I’m looking forward to reading your new book and meeting Annie Hunter. I also use walking to come up with new plot ideas. I enjoyed your interview with George!

    Reply
    • Katherine Ramsland

      Thank you, Margaret. I hope you enjoy meeting my team and entering their adventure. Thanks for reading the blog.

      Reply
  6. Debra Bokur

    You had me at “forensic meteorology,” Katherine. I look forward to meeting Annie Hunter. As for creating momentum and sorting out plot lines and details, walking has been my solution throughout my own writing career. Nothing like a brisk ramble to shake things loose.

    Happy writing!

    Reply
    • Katherine Rams;and

      Hi Debra:

      Walking has always been my go-to for inspiration, and it always works. I’m glad you’ve had the same experience. Thanks for reading about my work. I hope you enjoy the book.

      Reply
  7. Ellen Kirschman

    Hi Katherine: I look forward to your new series. I am always interested in how other psychologists fictionalize their work.

    Reply
    • Katherine Rams;and

      Thank you, Ellen. I’m excited to be launching this series. Psychologists have more range than we usually see in fiction.

      Reply
  8. Joyce

    This book is right up my alley, Katherine, I can’t wait to read it. Sounds fabulous.

    Reply
    • Katherine Rams;and

      Thanks, Joyce! I appreciate it.

      Reply
  9. Katherine Ramsland

    Thank you. I appreciate your comment. Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  10. Michael A. Black

    Interesting insights on writing, especially regard set up the “snap.” Best of luck with your new book.

    Reply

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LYNN WIESE SNEYD – Coordinator of Book Publicity for Authors

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.

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    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.

    Reply
    • Lynn Wiese Sneyd

      Thank you, Michael. There’s something about Wisconsin and horses. Not sure what it is. But thank goodness for lakes! Lynn

      Reply

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