Saturday, March 29, 2014

Writers4Higher features Amy Kirk

Welcome to Writers4Higher

Photo by Amy Kirk

The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.

This issue, Writers4Higher features

Amy Kirk

Hi, Amy. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

I hail from the “Mt. Rushmore State.” My family and I ranch near the rural town of Pringle (population 125), the elk capital of South Dakota, located about 35 miles from Mt. Rushmore and 20 miles from Crazy Horse Monument in the southern Black Hills. I am a proud born-and-raised South Dakotan. I am also a proud rancher, although most of the time I refer to myself as “ranch wife.” My husband Art and I and our two teenagers, Myles and Renee, operate a Hereford-Angus cattle ranch together. In other words, as a family, we raise beef cattle that eventually ends up in grocery stores across the U.S. as well as across the globe. It is very rewarding knowing that we are contributing to feeding people all over the world and we take great pride in raising our livestock. My husband is 4th generation rancher to run his family’s ranch.

Our family’s ranching lifestyle is where my writing comes in. Ranching is a humbling lifestyle, yet an addicting one, full of great stories too comical not to share. I write a weekly humor column about ranch and family life called A Ranchwife’s Slant for newspapers in South Dakota and surrounding states. Our lifestyle involves working with a triple digit number of animals, so our cattle and all the work involved provide me with a constant flow of topics to write about.

My first book, A Ranchwife’s Slant: Cowboys, Kids, and Ranch Life is an anthology of my columns about ranch life from the past six years. I included photos from our ranch of our livestock and family, and interspersed in the book are numerous kid witticisms spoken by my own ranch-raised kids. Writing a book was on my list of long-term achievements, but I was very fortunate that I was approached about publishing a book of my essays before I felt I was “worthy” of book publication.

When I write, I write with five core values in mind: connect, inform, delight, entertain, and expand. 1) Connect with readers about real-life subjects: marriage, gender gap issues, parenting, life with animals, problem-solving, to name a few, by sharing my stories in ways others can relate to. 2) Properly inform people unfamiliar with ranching about the beef industry and what we do, but do it hidden under the guise of humor. 3) Delight readers with positive, happy reading material that makes them feel good and feel better about their own life struggles, challenges, and hardships—by sharing my harrowing mayhem moments dealing with daily ranch life problems. 4) Entertain readers regardless of their knowledge of ranch life—by giving humorous vignettes of ranch life about general, everyday subjects everyone can relate to. 5) Expand just means I want to broaden my readership by reaching more readers in my region, country, and world.

I am inspired every day by where I live. I love being outside in nature and my time outdoors inspires much of my writing. Our cow herd and their antics are also a big source of inspiration, as well as all the work that farmers and ranchers like my husband and I do every day. My family, our family life, our lifestyle, and other women who also farm or ranch whom I feel are so much more actively involved in agriculture than I am inspire me as well. I love journaling, which also stirs up writing inspiration for me. I really feed off of what other women in the world do and always go to pen and paper or computer screen inspired by women who do amazing things in their field of work and life.

2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I would like to see myself broadening outside of my writing comfort zone into other genres; especially fiction, maybe short-stories, and to continue to add to my guest-speaking engagements speaking about “my story” of how writing a humor column (and now a book) has helped me see the humor in adversities regarding ranch life and how I discovered during my search for humorous column topics, that humor can be an excellent coping tool when events happen to me that try to bring me down. Living in a rural area, I love opportunities to meet people and network through my columns, book, social media, and speaking engagements. I want my writing to positively impact others’ lives, especially those who farm and ranch and don’t have regular opportunities to meet and connect with other people. Our industry experiences all sorts of hardships, criticism, and setbacks, making it hard at time to keep going. I see my writing as encouraging others, especially those in agriculture because what farmers and ranchers do helps feed and clothe people around the world and that’s an important humanitarian livelihood to be involved in.

3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?

I share my gift of writing to help others see the positive/humorous side of drudgery and problems. I highlight the humorous, lighter-side of negative situations in hopes that readers will view their own life-struggles with a better attitude by looking for what’s humorous in their own situations when problems arise. I openly share my faults, quirks, shortcomings, mishaps and dilemmas so that others can see that they are not alone in their struggles and maybe say, “Hey, if she can grow a rose garden out of a pile of manure, then I probably can too!” Oftentimes farming and ranching families live an isolated, sometimes lonely lifestyle that can lead to burn out because of the daily demands of caring for land and animals. It is my hope to boost the spirit of these people as well as those who aren’t involved in agriculture.

Would you like to find Amy?

Check out the links to this talented author:

My blogAmy Kirk's Blog

Purchasing information on my book:

Buy the book on Amy's Blog. Books that are ordered through my blog may be signed if interested.


Barnes & Noble:

Facebook page: A Ranchwife’s Slant Amy on Facebook   

Twitter handle: @RanchwifesSlant Amy Kirk on Twitter

A special note: The barn photo at the top of this blog was taken by our featured author, Amy Kirk.

The Kirk family barn was built in 1914 by her husband Art's great grandfather, John A. Kirk. Art and Amy were married in front of this historic barn in South Dakota.

Gosh, she writes and takes amazing photos...more than one talent!

Thanks, Amy!

Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

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