My Favorite Part of Wyoming Living

I have lived in the wonderful state of Wyoming for the last six years. Aside from the 75 mph blinding winter wind and the summer thunderstorms that can produce quarter to baseball size hail and possible tornadoes, it’s a refreshing place to live. We lived in Cheyenne, which isn’t the prettiest part of Wyoming. In fact, some people would call it the “armpit” of Wyoming. But she has her beauty too in her historic landmarks and small-town atmosphere. Not to mention the yearly ten-day shindig of a rodeo aptly named Cheyenne Frontier Days. ūüôā

We’re an 8-ish hour drive from Yellowstone National Park and approximately a 5-hour drive from Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Deadwood, and the Badlands. But to the south is Denver, Colorado our closest major city at only an hour and a half drive. There’s not a whole lot for 50 miles in each direction. But that’s okay because I like the slower pace and the open western blue skies. You’ve never seen skies this blue in all your life.

But you know what my favorite part of living here has been? Seeing these gorgeous creatures outside my window every, single day.

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A photo I took of a Buck Pronghorn ©KirstenSBlacketer 

The pronghorn, also called antelope, are a strange breed of creatures. They’re the fastest land animal in North America. Their hair is hollow (which isn’t great because it holds in the animal’s natural stinky odor), but it provides a great defense against predators because it comes out in clumps if you touch it. Mind you, it’s illegal to touch wildlife, but when they run into fences, you can see big puffs of hair fly on impact.

They have horns, not antlers, but unlike most horned animals, they shed their horns every year around Thanksgiving time. This makes for a funny spectacle because their skulls have two protrusions on top that hold the horns, so they look like they have little devil spikes. The horn is hollow so it slides right off come the end of November.

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Found on http://animaldiversity.org/collections/mammal_anatomy/horns_and_antlers/

The coolest part about their horns is…they’re made of hair. Yup. The horn’s texture is rough and you can see the fine hairs that make up the composition of the horn around the base of it. I’ve found the horn sheds on base. It’s the craziest thing.

Also, a side note, the females can grow horns too, although they don’t often get as big or impressive as the buck’s horns. The way you tell the males and females apart is by the dark patch on the jaw. Only bucks have the dark patch highlighting their jaw.

Out on the plains, the pronghorns will run as soon as you get within 500 yards of them. They’re skittish and jumpy and fast as hell. They have amazing eyesight, and if you even attempt to slow down to get a good look at them, they take off.

There’s only one place where you can get a good, up close and personal look at the pronghorns. F. E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is the only place in the country to have a nearly domesticated pronghorn herd. I live on the base and see these crazy critters every single day.

In fact, one of my favorite hobbies in the late spring and summer time is to drive around the base and take pictures of the herds. The best time is the end of May, beginning of June when they start having their babies.

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They are the cutest little ball of fluffs you’ve ever seen. Pronghorn aren’t very big. Probably the size of a donkey. So these little lopiedopes, as my daughter likes to call them, are smaller than your average dog.

They should be having their babies any day now, and I’m so excited to photograph them one last time.

The bucks are so much fun to watch. Every one of them has unique horns. So it’s one of my games to see how many different bucks I can photograph. We compare their horns then. I like when they’re wide and tall, but there are many that have narrow horns. The curl is also a fun little quirk to notice between them all.

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Big Boy 1 ©KirstenSBlacketer
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Big Boy 1 ©KirstenSBlacketer
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Big Boy 2
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Big Boy 2

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I love showing off the fantastic images I’ve captured of these beautiful animals. When we finally leave Wyoming, I will miss them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little wildlife lesson and the photographs. I know it has nothing to do with writing. But it does tell you a lot about my love for photography, wildlife, and my appreciation for the wild Wyoming home I had the privilege to call home for the last six years.

Please feel free to leave a comment or a question if you have one. I look forward to hearing from you! ūüôā

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

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Ten Things About Me That Explain A LOT

Discovering a new author is like meeting someone new for the first time. Often when we pick up a book, it’s the story that calls to us first. But we often forget that the first book we read by a new-to-us author is their first impression. It can lead us to the next step in the reader/author relationship (which is devouring all of their backlist, if you’re like me) or moving on to the next book.

If you’re still here, that means I passed the first impression and you are curious to know more about me. Well, I must warn you…

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Jughead and I have something in common. 

Yes, I am a weirdo. In fact, I think we all are in our own little ways. And that’s okay. What I love about meeting new people is uncovering those little things that make us unique? Like finding out someone is a Riverdale fan. Even better when they tell me they love Jughead Jones. Or discovering that someone I just met reads romance! Oh. My. Gravy. That just makes my day ten million times better.

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This is me if you love romance or you’re in my fandom. Bonus points if you ship the same OTPs.

I love meeting readers and other authors. When that spark of common interest binds us, it’s like winning the lottery! Okay, maybe not that good, but you get the point.

I’ve decided to tell you ten little-known tidbits about me that will explain why I am the way I am…a crazy fangirl romance author.

  1. Romance is my Jam. When I find time to read, the only fiction I go for is romance. I’m obsessed with romance. Contemporary, historical, time travel, a dash of paranormal here and there. If it’s romance, I’m 100% game. Bring on that HEA/HFN, bonus points for steamy romance with my favorite tropes.
  2. I’m allergic to cats. A lot of authors I know are cat people. I used to be until I discovered I’m allergic to them. Not deathly allergic, but enough to be uncomfortable in a house with them. Although, I do love cats.
  3. I love food. My husband and I are foodies. We love to cook together. He normally enjoys coming up with recipes for dinner. I’m more of a dessert kind of girl. So I’m the baker. Tiramisu is my favorite dessert of all.
  4. I speak German. Not well, but I can muddle my way through it. In high school, I took four years of German, then in college, I had two semesters of German classes. I wish I had more opportunity to speak it. A lot of my family heritage is German, so I decided to pursue it as a way to keep ties to my heritage.
  5. This girl rarely wears makeup. Seriously, I hardly ever change out of my pajamas and put on a bra most days. So makeup is not something I indulge in. But when I do decide to get all dolled up, I like the 1940s Hollywood glam and 1950s pin-up looks.
  6. My husband may be Air Force and we may have lived in Alaska, Kentucky, Wyoming, and New Jersey, but I have never traveled internationally. I don’t include my five day drive out of Alaska on the Al-Can Highway through the Canadian wilderness. I can’t wait to get to Europe and do some more research on my family history and find awesome inspiration for my books.
  7. Tea and Coffee. I love both. Which I pick depends on my mood. Sometimes wine trumps both of these. And no, I don’t care if it’s nine in the morning. If you bring me a large iced caramel macchiato or a wine slushie, I will love you forever.
  8. Antelope and Jackrabbits are my favorite animals. Which if you combine them, you get the Jackalope, one of my favorite mythical American creatures second only to the Thunderbird. The last six years we lived in Wyoming and I fell in love with both the antelope and jackrabbits. Odd looking creatures they are.
  9. I. Love. Movies. I’m a film addict. Old black and white classics, modern blockbusters, romantic comedies, 80s comedies, action and adventure flicks, spaghetti westerns, the list goes on and on. I love watching movies. But one of my greatest pleasures is watching natural disaster/end of the world/huge monster demolishing a city movies. I can’t seem to get enough of those, not sure why. I also have a TV show addiction as well: Game of Thrones, Riverdale, Westworld, Murdoch Mysteries, etc. And of course, there’s my love for TV shows that never had a chance to really blossom, Firefly and Moonlight. May they rest in peace.
  10. Kissing scenes. I live for them. I also rate them on a scale of ice cold to meh to sizzling to hot damn, where’s the cold shower? I should really write an article on the best kissing scenes I’ve ever seen. There’s a thought for a future post.
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Tom Hiddleston can demonstrate some of his talent in person anytime. I volunteer as tribute. (Sorry, hubby. You know I love you.)

There you go, ten things about me that explain a little about me. I thought they may shed some light on why I am the way I am, but honestly, I don’t think anything could really explain that.

I’m a lovable ball of weirdo who has her quirks and enjoys the little things in life. Do you have anything in common with me? What do you love that makes you uniquely you? Let me know in the comments.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Finding The Bright Side

My husband must be a sage old man beneath his ruggedly charming exterior. We’re opposites in personality¬†and talent. Where I can write and organize, he can problem solve and fix broken things.

Tim and I

Most days I feel like I’m the broken thing that needs fixing. It probably stems from my pessimistic nature. I admit it. I’m a pessimist. While I really want to see the bright side, most days I just want to curl up into a ball and sleep. I hate conflict and everything feels like an uphill battle.

My sweet husband thinks it’s all in my head. He tries to motivate and support me in everything I do. But I feel like a lost cause most days. Those few days where I get a burst of inspired energy, it fizzles out by dark.

Again, he’s a problem solver, so his mission, in his mind, is to help me get back on track. I love him for that. But it also irritates me to no end. Why can’t I just stew for a bit?

He’s not an optimist. No, my hubby is 100% realist. That alone should make me feel better about his support. He wouldn’t support me if he didn’t believe that I could do it. A lot of days, life, let alone writing, just feels overwhelming.

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While I’m sitting over here bitching about the wind, which is completely apt because Wyoming is notoriously windy, my husband is adjusting the sails. Every damn time.

Problem solver extraordinaire. Even if he doesn’t know HOW to fix it, he offers sound solutions. He has a handful of sayings he keeps on the cuff when he sees me falling deeper into my pessimistic little dungeon.

“Life is good, babe. Life is good.”

“Don’t complain about something unless you’re willing to offer a solution.”

“Now, tell me three positive things that happened to you today.”

or

“Give me three positives for every negative.”

I’m a fortunate woman. I have a husband who not only supports my writing, but he tries his best to help me out of these awkward funks I find myself in.

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I wish I could understand why my brain works the way it does and work through these hurdles. But until I work through it, he will sit with me helping me find my way back to the bright side. Sometimes that’s all I need. Someone sitting by my side in the dark as we wait for the sun to rise on a new day.

One thing I can say for certain, spending time with my family is more important to me than anything else in my life. Writing is a part of who I am, but lately, I’ve lost the passion for it. Perhaps I need to recharge with my family before taking on another project.

We will be moving this summer to a new base in a new country. I’m terrified and excited in equal measures for this new adventure. But right now, my heart isn’t in my work. So, I hope you’ll forgive me. I had huge plans this year to up my writing game, but this new direction our lives are taking will dominate all my time and energy. Once we’re situated at our new location, I’m hoping the muse will return with a vengeance.

I know my husband will be there with his glass of bourbon ready to offer any encouragement and support he can. My family is my bright side. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

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Perhaps some time in the sun with my family is just what I need. And a big thank you to my husband who puts up with my doom and gloom and always brightens my day.

Do you find yourself sitting in the dark like I do? Are you a pessimist too? How do you cope with all the negativity swirling in your head? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment or two. *hugs*

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

My Strange Reading Habits

I love to read. More specifically, I love to read romance. If you’re here, then you understand why I love it with such desperation and devotion. Because you do too.

In a world of chaos and uncertainty, I can always count on a romance novel to give me one thing reality can never guarantee. A happy or at least emotionally satisfying ending. It also allows me to take the romance journey over and over. The meet-cute, the first kiss, the overcoming of conflict and obstacles in order to secure the relationship between the hero and heroine. These are the stories I long to lose myself in.

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I have had many people scorn, ridicule, and outright shame me for my passion for romance. And honestly, I couldn’t care less about their opinions. I make it a rule never to shame or scorn someone for the books they read and enjoy. If that is how they choose to spend their time and energy, then more power to them. They know what they like.

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To that same end, I know what I like. When I do get time to read, my genre of choice is always romance.¬†People often assume that because I write historical romance, that it’s the only subgenre I enjoy. Well, they’re partially accurate.

I read quite a bit of historical romance. Most of the time, it’s because the premise of the story caught my attention. However, as I have been writing more historical, I find myself comparing my work to other authors. This can be both a blessing and a curse. So I limit my intake of historical romance¬†if only to keep me honest and refrain from being discouraged. Because that happens too. Authors can often be their own worst critics.

Honestly, I find myself gravitating toward solid contemporary stories with unique premises or specific tropes. I have a soft spot for mistaken identity or hidden identity, forbidden romance, masked, enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, close proximity romances, and retold fairy tales. In contemporary romance, some of these are a bit harder to come by. So I indulge by changing it up. My latest discovery is the technology mixup trope. It has become one of my new favorites.

You know what I mean. The stories where the hero and heroine meet because one sent a text to the wrong number and mistakenly initiated a conversation with a complete stranger, who ended up being the one. Or the stories like You’ve Got Mail, where they dislike each other in person but have a connection online.

Here are two I picked up last month. I’m still reading Wait with Me, but it’s really good so far. Accidental Tryst was fun and heartwarming.

I also love a good taboo romance or the popular boss/employee trope. Sometimes a dark romance is just what I need to get my brain moving again when I hit the brick wall of writer’s block.

Earlier this year, I picked up Midnight Hunter on a whim. I devoured it in hours. I wasn’t sure how the author would redeem the hero, but she did. And I loved this book.

Heartless is the third book of Winter Renshaw’s that I read. I loved all three of them. The other two were Absinthe (a forbidden romance) and Country Nights.

Mr. Rochester is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre by Marian Tee. I love her work. She writes engaging characters and stories with depth. Drawn was the first book I read by her, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I love strong heroines and heroes with a strong drive and a bit of a chip on their shoulders. I love heroes and heroines who are in their thirties and forties.

Often times, historical heroines are in their late teens or early twenties, per the norm for a woman of marriageable age prior to the twentieth century. I find it more difficult to relate to these heroines because of my age. Although I do enjoy writing them, after a while, I crave more connection with the heroine.

Historical adventures and romance can be fun, but the restrictions sometimes prove frustrating for the reader. Not to mention being an author of that era. I know I personally get overwhelmed by the amount of proper etiquette required for a specific era. Sometimes I need a change of pace in order to be able to connect with my own characters in a historical.

Strangely enough, I don’t gravitate toward romantic comedies when it comes to film. I still love a good romantic subplot, but I’m an action/adventure junkie through and through. Bonus points if there are natural or manmade disasters and giant creatures wreaking havoc on some major cities. I’m weird, I know.

But I also enjoy Korean TV Dramas and period films like Timothy Dalton’s Jane Eyre and all the Pride and Prejudice variations. Then, just to shake it up, I watch Star Trek: TNG, HBO’s Westworld, and Game of Thrones. So I have an eclectic taste, as you can tell.

I don’t fit a mold when it comes to my tastes in entertainment. Strong characters, solid stories, passion and adventure, and always a bit of romance. These are what draw me into a fictional world.

So I never rule out other types of fiction when it comes to reading, but I prefer romance. It’s that happily ever after/happily for now that seals the deal for me there. I love diving into a story knowing that at the end of it all, the hero and heroine will be together and ready to start a new life together.

Contemporary romance gives me a reprieve from the historical worlds I write in.

Contemporary romance suggestions

Feel free to post your contemporary romance suggestions in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. I think I’m going to go read a bit now. Thanks for stopping by. *blows kiss*

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten