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. 🙂

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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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! 🙂

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

All my love,

Kirsten

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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.

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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.”

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“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

 

How Film Inspires My Craft

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Hello, darlings.

I’m taking a slight detour this week. After posting my affinity for contemporary romance last week, I wanted to share another creative aspect that influences my writing.

TV and Film.

As a kid, I watched a lot of movies. It was a weekly ritual to go with my Dad to the video store and rent movies on Friday and Saturday nights. He introduced me to films I never would have chosen for myself. Die Hard, The Saint (with Val Kilmer), Gone with the Wind, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…the list goes on and on. We also watched Home Improvement and Star Trek: The Next Generation religiously. I loved the action and adventure, the romance and the drama. It thrilled me to experience a new adventure every week. Not to mention, it became a way of bonding with my father.

I carried the passion for film into adulthood. But it wasn’t until I took a film class in college that I was able to dissect and analyze the structure of the shows and movies I loved. At first, I thought it ruined my film viewing experience because I was pulling it apart thread by thread to see how the story was woven together. Then I realized how it could help me in my own storytelling experience.

No matter how much I longed to be in a film, either acting, directing, costuming, whatever the case may be, I knew it would always be a pipe dream. My gifting lays solely in the written word. I could visualize the story in my head, but words were the only way I could bring these adventures to life.

My husband and I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, even though we have very different tastes sometimes. He enjoys cheesy B-rated movies or corny 70s films. My tastes are a bit more varied. I watch Korean dramas and foreign films, but I also live for a good destruction movie complete with natural disasters or gigantic mutated creatures encroaching on major cities.

I will be the first to admit that reviews and recommendations are subjective. I’ve had people recommend movies and shows that I did not enjoy or abandoned with disinterest. There are ones I enjoyed, but they didn’t have what I desired most…

To be blindsided.

I’m not talking cliffhanger. No. I mean I want a twist so ingrained in the story that it caught me completely by surprise, but when I think back on the story, the answers were staring me in the face the whole time.

Now that I’ve discovered the patterns in storytelling, it’s hard not to see what’s coming. So when I find a show or a movie that does this, I’m addicted.

It seems HBO has this on lockdown for me right now. They started with Game of Thrones, but it’s Westworld that has me riveted right now.

During my husband’s deployment last year, I watched Westworld while waiting for Game of Thrones episodes to air.

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Holy crap, did they hook me good. I binged the show. The first few episodes left me confused. Were we in the wild west, the present…oh, wait, we’re in the present in a theme park filled with robots. Okay. Then they started throwing character after character at me. Halfway through the show, I finally got a grip on the basics. Who the players were, where they were, and what was going down.

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But I never expected it to play out the way it did. Not in a million years. I will not give spoilers, just in case you haven’t seen it but want to enjoy it with fresh eyes. I wish I could. It’s one of those stories I wish I could wipe from my memory and watch it again.

These are the twists I live for. The ones that make me go, “What the ever loving hell?!” or have me jumping off the couch shouting at the television.

I wanted more Westworld. I still had questions that needed answers. I wanted more William and Lazlo and Hector and Ford and the Man in Black…*grabby hands* But I had to wait.

Fortunately, the wait is nearly over. Westworld Season 2 begins on April 22nd, and I for one am ridiculously excited to see how the story continues. So if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you give it a try. There is excessive language, violence, and nudity. This show is absolutely NSFW and not family friendly. Adult content ahead. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. But everything in the show works to push the story forward.

I’m hoping that season two will give my muse a jump start.

It always amazes me how small elements, characters, settings, or even lines of dialog from a TV show or movie can provide a spark of inspiration. I love when those moments happen.

So, how about you? Do you find yourself inspired after you watch a good movie or an engaging TV show? Let me know in the comments. I’ll keep you posted on my Westworld addiction. *grins*

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

All my love,

Kirsten

Character Interview: James Bates

Welcome to my interview with James Bates, leading man in Winter’s Gentleman. We first met Bates in Jewel of Winter and followed him throughout the Thieves of Winter Series. I had quite a few requests for his story. I’m excited to say, his story is coming this summer!

I hope you enjoy this interview showing a deeper picture of the butler we all fell in love with in the Thieves of Winter.  If you’re curious as to who I would cast for Bates, the closest I can come up with is a cross between Gordon and Alfred from the TV show Gotham. Definitely more Gordon though. *wink* I’ve provided pictures of the actors from the show. Obviously not mine, just inspiration.

Me: Welcome, James, thank you for joining me today.

Bates: The pleasure is mine, my lady. How may I be of service?

Me: *blushes* Always the proper gentleman’s gentleman, aren’t you?

Bates: *smiles politely* It is my duty to be polite in address and serve as I can.

Me: You are a loyal servant of Lord Edmund Reddington, correct?

Bates: I am the head of the household staff, as well as Lord Edmund’s butler and personal valet on occasion.

Me: How long have you worked for Lord Edmund?

Bates: I have been in the employ of the Reddington house for fifteen years come September.

Me: That is quite a long time. Do you enjoy being a butler?

Bates: I have a generous employer and a stable position, I would be a fool to jeopardize it. To answer your question, I do, to an extent.

Me: Sounds like you’re being reserved in your response. This is a safe place, I promise I won’t tell Lord Edmund anything you reveal today.

Bates: While I appreciate the gesture, there are some secrets one cannot reveal. That would be—what do you call it, ah yes, spoilers.

Me: *laughs* Well, we appreciate your restraint. I’m sure readers would prefer going into your story spoiler-free. Would you be willing to answer some personal questions about yourself?

Bates: Within reason, of course.

Me: Of course. I’ll start off simple. What is your favorite food?

Bates: Roasted Duck with root vegetables. Although the occasional indulgence in chocolate never goes amiss.

Me: Do you know how to cook?

Bates: *pointed stare*

Me: I had to ask. *laughs* How about I ask about some firsts?

Bates: Very well.

Me: Tell me about your first crush. The first person you thought you loved.

Bates: That would be my governess. *heavy sigh* She was a lovely, young French woman, Mariette. I would have done anything she asked. She returned to France when I left for school at the age of eleven.

Me: Sounds like she made quite an impression on you.

Bates: She did.

Me: Do you have any siblings, James?

Bates: *shifts uncomfortably* I do. An older sister, Lilah.

Me: How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Bates: Thirty-five.

Me: I’m surprised you aren’t married. Do you have anyone special in your life?

Bates: Being a bachelor provides fewer complications. My employment is demanding of my time. It would be unfair to shackle some poor woman to such a life.

Me: You didn’t answer my question.

Bates: I believe you know the answer.

Me: Anna is quite young. Do you not find your attraction to her inappropriate?

Bates: In my era, it was not unheard of for a husband to be ten or twenty years his wife’s senior. Anna is nineteen. I have known her since she was a child. I admit only that she deserves better than me.

Me: Sounds like you have some heartbreak in your past. Did a first love break your heart?

Bates: A first love, no. But I made some poor decisions in my youth. Ones I will pay for until the day I die.

Me: So there’s no lost love you pine for?

Bates: No.

Me: Dare I ask about your first time making love?

Bates: That is quite a personal question, but if you insist on knowing, my first time was with a widow who lived in the village outside the school. She often brought treats for the boys. I shall leave the rest to your imagination.

Me: You are quite the tease, you know.

Bates: *takes a bow* So I’ve been told.

Me: *fans self with the interview papers* Let’s change the subject, shall we? *clears throat* Have you ever been in a fight?

Bates: Yes, several.

Me: Have you ever taken part in a duel?

Bates: *drops his gaze* Once, I would rather not discuss it.

Me: As you wish. Do you read?

Bates: When I find the time, I do enjoy a good read.

Me: Do you have a favorite author?

Bates: I am quite partial to Arthur Conan Doyle. His detective is quite an interesting fellow.

Me: You strike me as a highly educated man. Why are you working as a servant?

Bates: Penance. I am right where I need to be. *smiles half-heartedly*

Me: What can we expect in Winter’s Gentleman?

Bates: Answers, and a bit more insight into my past. I promise it will be more revealing than this interview.

Me: Well, thank you for joining me today. I shall leave the comments open for questions. If the readers have any questions for you, they can post them here. You can answer at your leisure.

Bates: My pleasure. I look forward to responding to their inquiries.

Thank you all for stopping by to check out my interview with James Bates, butler extraordinaire. If you’d like more interviews like this, please let me know. I had fun with this one.

Winter’s Gentleman is coming soon!

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

All my love,

Kirsten

How to Write a Love Letter

This week, I’ve recorded a little video for you. Enjoy!

So, what are your thoughts? Are you going to write a love letter this year? Have you ever written one before? Share your experiences, suggestions, and thoughts in the comments below.

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

All my love,

Kirsten

Love Romance? Love Movies? Check this out.

My family loves movies. But none of them loves them the way I do. While I’m a huge sucker for romance novels, I’m very picky about the romantic movies I watch. Especially if the chemistry between the love interests is non-existent or forced.

There are some films I saw as a kid that stuck with me. These are still on my keeper shelf. Most of these have distinct elements of romance in them that held my fascination well into adulthood.

I would love to share a few of those with you.

Gone with the Wind (1939) – It just. It’s a hot mess of volatile emotions, but it painted such a vivid picture in my young mind. I never sympathized with Rhett until I was older. Scarlett never deserved him.

 

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Yes, please.

 

The Mummy (1999) – Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell. *swoon* What can I say, I love the action, the adventure, and the smoulder. The attraction between Rick and Evey keeps perfect pace with the film. I love this film so much. Why do you think I named my daughter, Evelyn. *wink*

 

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We totally understand why you’re flustered, Evey.

 

The Saint (1997) with Val Kilmer – What can I say, I love Val Kilmer. My dad recommended I watch this one when I was in high school. I fell in love with it. Not technically a romance, but the love story within the plot is memorable to me.

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The Saint.

 

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Don’t even tell me that’s not a romance at its core, cause it is. That injured Indy kiss toward the end screamed it loud and clear. Indiana Jones and Marian had wicked hot chemistry.

 

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He’s milking this for all it’s worth. Smart man.

 

Persuasion (1995) with Ciarán Hinds – This adaptation of Jane Austen’s book by the same title will always have a special place in my heart. I picked up a copy of it on a whim when I was sixteen. I have loved it ever since. The slow burn chemistry in this one just has my inner romantic squealing with delight.

 

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This scene though, it hits me right in the feels.

 

Oh, and how could I possibly forget to mention this little gem:

 

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Madmartigan for the win.

 

Willow (1988) with Val Kilmer (again) – You see the trend yet? I love movies with action and adventure, but my favorites are the ones with well-placed, simmering, and believable romance bubbling on the back burner. This one still makes me laugh and swoon every time I watch it.

 

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“You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, without you I dwell in darkness…”

 

 

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Me. Totally me.

 

Sorry, got a bit distracted there. *clears throat*

These films influenced the blossoming writer inside of me. They made me long to be like the independent heroines, full of sass and wit and fire. I fell in love with the snarky, dominant heroes who craved adventure and caved to the woman who enchanted them.

They helped mould the stories I wanted to write.

I’ve compiled a list of other films with strong romantic elements that have made an impact on me both personally and as an author of romance.

I realize that not everyone will enjoy the same movies I do. We’re not all wired to enjoy the same things. Recommendations for books or movies are tricky because of this. Still, I would love to share my personal favorites with you.

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So, I would love to hear from you. What movies would you recommend that aren’t on my list? Please post your suggestions in the comments.

Or, if you’d like to comment on my recommendations, I would love to hear what you have to say.

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

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authors After Dark Convention

Today I’m taking a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in my first conference. Although I’m an author, I will be attending as a reader,but in all honesty, I’m both to my core so I’m just pleased to be able to attend.

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They are also hosting a Sins and Virtues Ball this year. Which sounds like a blast!  My hands are shaking from excitement.

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I will be sitting at the Diligence table with author Jayne Rylon. I promise to post photos and details as soon as I get home next week.

So, for those of you readers who want to mingle with authors in a relaxed and cozy atmosphere, this is the convention for you!

I will give a full report of my adventure in next week’s blog post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kirsten. @—/—–