Saturday, September 6, 2014

MY LIFE: A NUT LEAVES ITS SHELL! BY KIRSTEN LYNN



First, I would like to thank the Sweethearts for asking me to be a part of this amazing group of authors!  It’s an honor join you all. 

Through September, we’re posting a bit about ourselves. I initially thought how easy this would be, but it’s hard to write about oneself. I would much rather write about a villain or hero of the American West, or fictional characters, but here we go…

I was born in a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky…No wait, that’s not right… Sorry, that‘s Abraham Lincoln…I’ve got it now…

My love of the West and cowboys comes naturally. I was born and raised in God’s playground, also called Wyoming.  The daughter of two school teachers and possibly the finest parents on earth, but surrounded on both sides of the family by farmers, ranchers, a couple rodeo cowboys, salt of the earth with a few pepper flakes mixed in, average ordinary people.  My brother and I were blessed.  Dad was also my fourth and fifth grade math teacher that poor, poor man. My mom was a first grade teacher, who is one of the most caring and giving people I know. Both taught me the value of hard work, faith, honor, and being true to myself.  
My parents in the Tetons


My maternal grandparents had a dairy farm and I spent as much time as possible out at “the farm.”  My poor uncle had a shadow for many years. I “helped” him irrigate, milk, or whatever else he was doing.  If I wasn’t with him, I was on the top post of the cow pens telling the bulls all my problems and listening to theirs, telling them stories, or giving an impromptu concert.  The farm was the center of my universe for many years…I still miss that old piece of dirt. I’m sure if you look hard enough my footprints are still haunting that ground.

My Grandpa "Papa" as a young ladies man
Lala who tamed his wild heart




Papa (yes that's me the pink bundle)
Lala still beautiful at any age













Both of my grandmothers were strong, beautiful, amazing Western women.  They were also natural born story tellers and shared wonderful stories of their past and my ancestors.  These tales filled my imagination with cowboys, American Indians, sodbusters, great heartbreak and joy.  (Sorry I don't have a picture of my Grandma Arnold at my fingertips)
   
What I didn’t learn from my grandmothers, I learned from my dad on our family vacations. We drove throughout the West, with him telling us the history of places along the way. In true Western fashion, what he didn’t know, he weaved an even greater tale. 

Trip to South Dakota (me on Ol Smokey)



Up near Virginia City, MT
After high school, I wanted to leave Wyoming (I know I was an idiot), but I didn’t want to go far. So, I headed up to Montana. There I spent three years going to college and graduated with an Extended-History degree, meaning I didn’t have a minor I opted to binge on history courses, but still managed to be just three credits short of an English literature minor.  I loved all history and had a devil of time trying to figure out what I wanted to focus on for my graduate degree.  It was between Civil War and the history of the West.  That’s when a professor took me aside and threw a third iron onto the fire. He told me I had a great mind for strategy and tactics and thought I’d make a good military historian…I didn’t know the military had historians, but I was sold.


Annapolis, MD

So, I don’t bore you with all my education (I know, too late) I ended up with a Master’s in Naval Warfare that I worked towards while working full time as an accounting clerk (if you can imagine) in Montana.  Through a series of luck, hard work, and volunteering with the Navy and Marine Corps, I spent six years living in Annapolis, Maryland and working at the Washington Navy Yard in D.C.  It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn't give the experience up for the world, but I belong in the West, this is where my roots are and I was drying up out East.

Landing in Vietnam at the Marine Corps Museum

Playing CO of USS BARRY at Washington Navy Yard

 
It was about this time a friend started writing and while searching for books and online courses that might help her I decided to give it a shot.  Unlike many authors, the thought of writing a book, other than a non-fiction tomb, hadn’t crossed my mind. I enjoyed reading romance, and my mind was full of stories and daydreams, but putting it down on paper and trying to sell it was beyond me.  After I wrote my first story, a romantic suspense that I’d still love to revise and see if I could get it published, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of writing and soon turned to writing my heart and my heart was the West, but the military still held a tight grip. Many of my stories combine the three pieces of my heart: the West, the military, and history. Honestly, I just don’t think I can put into words how much I adore writing and how much it means to me. 

On one of my visits home, my parents brought me to Sheridan to do some research for a story. It was love at first sight.  As he told me stories of living here, visiting his family here and the people we have buried in this ground, I felt a stronger bond to this land.

Downtown Sheridan
Cow camp in the Bighorns


A few years ago, I resigned from my job in D.C., packed up, sent an e-mail to a local museum in Sheridan, Wyoming and moved back home.  Life fell into place and I was embraced by the Sheridan community. I got a job at the small museum. Then I got another job collecting oral histories from local residents. Then I got a third job helping a local ranch establish a private museum and work on the histories of the two ranches owned by the same family. I also still work with the Marines, assisting them with their oral history program when needed. 

I have fifteen completed manuscripts and most of the stories take place right here in the shadow of the Bighorns. Although, I have set a couple in the Tetons (a mountain range just north of where I grew up) and my debut novel and the sequel to it pay homage to Montana, a place and people who captured a piece of my heart in the years I lived up there.

I have been blessed. There have been heartaches and dreams shattered along the way, but I would never say I’d do anything different, because who knows the people and places I would have missed.  Life can break you down, or build you up…ultimately I think it’s your choice.

Whew! I hope you’re all still awake. 

My debut novel is HOME FIRES, and I’ve been just a mite excited about its release (read bouncing off the walls, dancing in aisles).  Hope you’ll check it out. I assure you Cord and Olivia have a much more exciting life than the one you just read. 

A shattered Confederate hero turns west to forget the love of a woman he believes is dead. Hunting him is an iron willed Army nurse determined to find the love she knows still lives and an enemy resolved to destroy them both.


















Kirsten Lynn writes stories based on the people and history of the West, more specifically those who live and love in Wyoming and Montana. Using her MA in Naval History, Kirsten, weaves her love of the West and the military together in many of her stories, merging these two halves of her heart. When she's not roping, riding and rabble-rousing with the cowboys and cowgirls who reside in her endless imagination, Kirsten works as a professional historian.

27 comments:

  1. You've definitely had an exciting life, Kirsten. Loved hearing about you growing up surrounded by farmers. Life sure was a lot easier in those days. Thanks for sharing yourself with us all. :)

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  2. A very colorful career, Kirsten. Your life seems like a patchwork quilt filled with different pieces, but making a beautiful image. Who would have thought of a career involving the military? I wish I had listened to my college instructors the way you did. I focused on what I should be, instead of what I really wanted to be.
    You live in the state I write about, but as a native to Wyoming, you have a view I can never have. Too bad westerns didn't take place in North Carolina.
    It must be so exhilarating to listen to the oral histories of the people who live in your state.
    I wish you all the best.

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  3. Kirsten it seems you had an exciting life. The pictures were wonderful. They say everyone returns to their birthplace. I also have never lived far from home. The best of luck with your books.

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  4. Hi Paisley,

    Thanks! I don't know how much easier it was in those days, I remember pretty hard times, but it was a great way to grow up.

    --Kirsten

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  5. Hi Sarah!

    That's such a beautiful description of life. It really is a bunch of patches we sew together. I was lucky and my parents always encouraged us to go after what was in our hearts whether it would make us millions or not (and a historian falls in the not category).

    The oral histories from around here have been beyond anything I imagined. These individuals have had fascinating lives.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Glad you love Wyoming so much.

    --Kirsten

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  6. Hi JoAnne,

    Thanks for plowing through the short history of my life. :) I've never thought of my life as exciting, it's just my life. I live life by the theory "will I regret not doing it when I'm 80." That's what led me to D.C., and I'm glad I did it, but I'm happy to be home.

    --Kirsten

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  7. Congratulations Kirsten on your first post at Sweethearts! What a wonderful life you've had. So great to get to know you better. :-)

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  8. Hi Kristy,

    Thank you!

    It's been fun meeting all the Sweethearts and getting to know them.

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  9. Kirsten, what an interesting life you've had! So glad you've joined us here at the Sweethearts and I really DID enjoy learning more about you and your rustlin' ways...LOL
    Cheryl

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  10. Wow! What an interesting life you've led, Kirsten. I've enjoyed reading your "life story" and "meeting" your parents and grandparents. The only contact I've ever had with the country was through my Mom. She was born in a small locality about 45 minutes away from Montréal (my hometown). Some members of her family lived in a farm and I remember going for a visit there. I loved playing with the many cats and look at the little pigs and chickens - and the horses. But, my experience ends there. I'm a city girl, through and through.
    I wish you all the best with your books. And I will get to read them, one of these days. Gosh! So many books to read! :)

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  11. Cheryl,

    Thanks so much for stopping by. I think this will be a fun month learning about each other.

    I'm so thrilled to be a part of Sweethearts!



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  12. Liette,

    I'm a bit of a hybrid, I can live in the city or country, but given the choice I'll take country. I'll admit, sometimes I miss the things a large city offers.

    Thank you for the kind thoughts and I hope you get to read all the books you'd like to soon. You're right, there are so many wonderful ones out there.

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  13. I read every work with anticipation. Love how what is in our hearts, even when we don't know it, guide us to the place we need to be.

    I wish you the best with all the wonderful stories I know you will be writing for your faithful readers. Yahoo and Whoopee!

    Doris

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  14. Thanks so much, Doris, you are such a wonderful encourager!

    All the best to you!

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  15. Great story, Kirsten. It sounds like an exciting life. I look forward to reading your novel. I love the cover, by the way

    Robyn Echols

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  16. Thank you, Robyn, It's been a good life. Hope you enjoy Cord and Livy's story!

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  17. Well, now I know who to ask about military history. Wow! You are so accomplished, Kirsten. I enjoyed learning more about you, and am so happy you have joined us here at Sweethearts of the West. Thank you for sharing this post with us. I look forward to reading your books, and love both Montana and Wyomimg.

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  18. What a varied life you've led! And exciting. True, we never know what will happen in our lives, or the direction our lives will take. We may make plans, but often, for one reason or another we get turned in another direction. I thought I'd teach English, but as a sophomore (at age 28)I saw a notice on the bulletin board that America needed more high school science teachers--and get those, grants called the National Science Foundation were offered. Free Money! Shoot, I could teach science just as well, and probably better than English. That turned my life around.
    Your post was wonderful. I'm so happy you've joined us here at Sweethearts of the West.
    Congratulations on your debut novel!

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  20. Sorry--my comment was published twice. Celia

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  21. Kirsten my dear, you have led a very interesting life and still are. You're like a flower that's unfolding. At each turn you amaze me. The zest for life you have is a rare thing. Congratulations on the new book!! Woo-Hoo! I'm waving my cowgirl hat.

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  22. Thank you, Ashley, for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm thrilled to be a part of the Sweethearts of the West. As long as the questions are about the Navy or Marine Corps, all I know about the other branches is how they support the Sailors and Marines. :)

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  23. Celia,

    I'm so thrilled to be a part of Sweethearts of the West, and thank you and Caroline for the invitation.

    Life throws some curves that's for sure. I always hesitate to use the word plan, because that seems to be the cue for the exact opposite to happen. But just like you becoming a science teacher, I find the sudden turns in our journeys often lead to greater rewards.

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  24. Thank so much for stopping by, Linda. You're such a dear lady. Life has been interesting for sure, might as well embrace it. :)

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  25. Loved reading about your journey. Wow, 15 manuscripts! You definitely have a jump start on quite a career in publishing as well as your career as a historian.

    Those oral histories must be fascinating--fuel for the imagination, too.

    Congrats on your new release!

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  26. Kirsten, your childhood sound idyllic. The tales you heard back then must be a treasure trove of ides for your writing.

    Wonderful photos! I'm glad to get to know you better.

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  27. Hi Lyn,

    Well, idyllic for me, for my parents and grandparents... Just kidding, we went through tough times but I had a great childhood.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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