I am so excited to bring you a wonderful conversation with author Lyn Miller today. Lyn's second novel "Addie, Courage Rides a Gray Horse", was recently reviewed on my blog , and is a Cozy Read option from our books page. "Addie" is such a beautiful story with a big heart, and I know you will all love getting to know Lyn a bit, and will recognize her big heart in this interview too. I love learning about the people behind my favorite stories, and hope you do too, so ENJOY!
When Did You Start Writing?
When I was a little kid, I loved telling stories. Mostly I told them to myself, and as I was the youngest of four kids, I spent three years at home alone after all my siblings had gone off to school. I can remember filling my pre-school years telling stories and playing imaginary games each day until I went off to kindergarten myself. In high school, I took a Creative Writing class that lasted one semester. I can honestly say, I can't remember any of my other classes, but I can recall that class clearly. The instructor was a very engaging educator, and while he told many of his own stories, he encouraged his students to tell their own as well. That semester my work was published for the first time, as each student's final grade was determined on a short story that was published into a collective book.
When Did You Decide To Become and Author? Any Events That Led to It?
I put my writing pen away upon graduation the spring after I took my creative writing class. I went out into the world, spent several years in college, which I absolutely hated. I took not only English classes, but also a creative writing class as well. When put into a forceful situation where I had to write to another persons specifications, it killed any desire I had to tell the world any kind of story. Creativity wasn't encouraged like it had been in my high school class, so, I put my talent away.
I can't say attending college was a total loss, for it was there that I met my wonderful husband, Jake. We dated for several years, then we married. The rest, as they say, is history. We moved back to his hometown, and within a few years, I was a mama. And while I was far too busy to think much of sleeping, let alone writing a book, I fashioned my stories in my head late in the night as I rocked my little ones to sleep, or comforted them through illnesses, and folded endless piles of laundry. Then, pregnant with our third, I suffered a miscarriage. It was towards the end of my first trimester, just when the morning sickness was ebbing, or should have been if the pregnancy had been normal. Just when I'd gotten past the shock of discovering I was pregnant and the dreams of holding a little baby were warm and welcome, I learned it was not to be. Jake and I were very devastated. And with two littles already clamoring for attention, I really couldn't just sit down and cry. And so, it was then, when I really needed something, a little voice in my soul whispered a story to me. It took root. Before long, I was expecting our youngest, and after he was born, my husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas.
After a year of reading, one night, I looked at Jake as I rocked one of our kiddos and said, "I want to do it. I can do it. I can write every bit as good as these authors. It might be crazy, but I want to write a book." My husband looked up at me and smiled. Without my ever having said a word about it before, he replied, "I know. I knew you'd decide to eventually." And so it began. I wrote my first book, Granada.
What Inspired Your Story Addie-
I have always enjoyed stories about women in the west, however, I find most of them end up being romance stories far from the truth of the situation. As close as my husband and I are, I just couldn't imagine these widows in books losing a husband, then remarrying within a few months and falling ridiculously head over heels in love again. It seemed so unreal, and I felt it did little justice to what pioneer women actually went through on a day to day basis. While I believe God always has a plan, I felt it might do well to write a story a little closer to accurate when it comes to daily pioneer life. And in my own way, pay my respects to the harsh life women endured back then. In the process, tell a gentle and truthful love story born out of necessity.
How Can You Personally Relate to Addie-
As far as the story goes, I let God be my guide. However, all the animals in the book came from personal experience. I've known plenty of Red Beast milk cows in my life, enjoyed the friendship and devotion of a good dog named Molly who stayed by my side night after night when my husband worked the night shift in town before our first was born. My own kids have learned to ride horses on a gentle, big hearted mare named Matilda who is just like Mare. I live among very talented horsemen and women who helped to shape my understanding of the way horses were handled in the old days of Addie's time. As far as the Gray is concerned, he is real, and he makes his appearance in all my novels. The Gray taught me many lessons, some good, some not so good, but in each I found a little more confidence in myself. And Addie, she is modeled after my grandmother who lost her first husband very young. Her strength leaves me in awe.
What is Your Experience With Horses and Homesteading-
I grew up around horses, but it wasn't until I met my husband that I was introduced one on one with ranching. I have always loved history, and have enjoyed reading and learning as much as I can about life on a homestead. I like to read and hear about the struggles of life and what women of Addie's generation overcame. It makes me appreciate all I've got. As far as horses go, they are a huge part of my life. I like to work with young horses, and the enjoyment of watching one progress through the process is very rewarding for me.
What Inspires You Today-
I like to tell stories of strong women. By that I mean strong women who succeed and triumph over difficult situations by being what God created women to be. I like to write about men who have strengths and weaknesses that compliment that of a woman's, and while I can let my heroine shine, she does so without tramping out masculinity. The genders are made to compliment each other, and I think my characters, whether they realize it in the story or not, do just that. I also love horses, have I mentioned that yet? I love what they bring into my life. And lets admit it. Most of us appreciate a good love story.
Background and Current Life-
As a kid, I moved around a lot. I've lived in different states, born in Wyoming, moved to Colorado, New Mexico, and Idaho. I have traveled to even more states and beautiful places in the west, and for this I am very grateful. I have met so many wonderful people, and have such great memories. I've seen many of the places in my books, and that helps to paint an even brighter picture.
As of now, my family is my focus and I cherish all my time as my kids grow each day. My oldest, Roy, is my right hand man when it comes to many things. At 10, he has helped me as I put rides on green horses, riding along on a steady horse as I ride on an unsteady horse. His depth of spiritual understanding astounds me daily. His humor is a gift, as is his ability with horses. Rose is 8. She keeps me on my toes! She is full of life and energy, and any time you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she has a string of answers ready. They vary day to day. She is a very gifted guitar player. Rolly, my youngest at 5, is my sleeper. By sleeper, I mean just when you think he is just a wiggly boy, he comes up with something profound. His heart is always light and happy, and he loves to sing and yell, usually both at the same time.
I am very blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, and I wouldn't trade a minute of any of it. I ride as much as I can, and I know without a doubt, that out on the desert, in the sun or under the clouds, that is where I personally encounter God most frequently.
I have been blessed with a very dear friend, who is also my editor, Arianne Hagwood. If I paid her a million dollars, it still wouldn't be enough! She is currently helping me go back through my first novel, Granada, and we are making editorial changes for re-release. While I love the book dearly, it needed a few changes. We are aiming for completion of that project in 2018. As she edits away on that, I work away at my current novel, which I hope to release in 2018 as well. But, all things happen in their own time, so we work and hope for the best!
I have so many story ideas in my head, and so very little time. This year, with encouragement from Jake and Arianne, I entered Addie in several national writing contests. While neither of those results will be out until September, I have already learned from the experience of simply entering those contests. My current work is set in World War I, and it focuses of life on the home front. In an effort to save her family homestead with her brothers away at war, our main character, Louise, takes on the responsibility of gathering family horses, and getting them ready for the army remount program. With plenty of varied characters, this book will be an adventure for those who love fast horses.
I have a great crew of women behind me, Sarah Damele who does all my cover work and interior sketches, Becky Lisle who provides insanely beautiful pictures, and my sister, Taryn Foutz, who reads all my work and lends helpful hints, I realize its not just me who makes these books awesome. These are all women who were part of my life before the books, and I am glad to be a part of something that allows their talents to shine as well.
I would like to thank Janis Gilbert, who gave me a chance, and for the opportunity for readers to get to know me a little better!
Thank you so much Lyn! It's so wonderful to get to know you a bit. We at Cozy Read loved "Addie" so much and can't wait to read more of your work! Check out "Addie's" full synopsis and review here, and I hope you will consider it as your book choice in your next Cozy Read box- it makes a wonderful gift!