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.
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.
|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.