Friday, February 18, 2011

Meet Heidi M. Thomas

I'm glad to have a special guest blog post today. Please welcome Heidi M. Thomas to the blog.

Heidi is a longtime writer, a journalist and a pre-published novelist. In addition to writing for herself, Heidi edits manuscripts for others and teaches classes in Memoir and Beginning Fiction Writing. Heidi lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her latest book series is on cowgirls. The books, Cowgirl Dreams  and Follow The Dream tell the story of Nettie, a 1920s cowgirl.

I think it is a fresh idea that young adult readers will enjoy. I'm looking forward to everyone getting to know Heidi and Nettie better!

Welcome Heidi as she talks about the cowgirl behind the series. Enjoy!

The Cowgirl Behind Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream

In a scrapbook my grandmother created is a clipping from the Sunburst Sun (Montana) newspaper, Aug. 26, 1922, that reads:


1:00 Parade of cowboys and cowgirls, headed by Cut Bank brass band

2:30 Tootsie Bailey will enter competition with entire field, riding wild steers with only one hand on cirsingle

Another clipping states “Tootsie Bailey won first and Mary (Marie) Gibson second prize in the steer riding.”

Marie Gibson was a well-known Montana cowgirl and won national awards for bronc riding.

Tootsie was my grandmother and she would have been 17 at that time. I did have the opportunity to spend time with her, ride horseback, and get to know her pretty well before she died suddenly when she was only 57 and I was 12.

I know that she was an avid horsewomen and that she was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dust mop. My dad told me she had competed in rodeos, riding steers, when she was young. I kept thinking how courageous that was, especially as I got older and watched bull and bronc riders. Grandma was petite—five-feet two-inches and weighed a little over 100 pounds. I was amazed that she would pit herself against an animal that weighed 900 pounds or so, one whose sole purpose was to get that pesky rider off its back and then maybe stomp on her!

My character, Nettie, has a dream to become a rodeo star and the tenaciousness to follow that dream. In Cowgirl Dreams, during the 1920s, she faces family and social barriers to that dream. The sequel, Follow the Dream, finds her still holding on to her dream. But the drought and depression of the 1930s forces her to make some tough choices and rethink how her dream works in with her family and life in Montana.

Both books are available through my website, from my publisher and from the normal on-line sources. Follow the Dream is also available on Kindle.

Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a ranch in eastern Montana and now lives in western Washington where she writes, edits for other authors, teaches community writing classes and blogs She is a member of Women Writing the West (, Skagit Valley Writers League ( , Northwest Independent Editors Guild ( and VBT—Writers on the Move ( .
Thanks to Heidi for guest posting today! If you'd like to meet and get to know another amazing author stop by Robert Medak's blog where Debra Eckerling will be guest posting.


Mari said...

Thanks to Heidi for hanging out with me today. Lookin forward to reading the books myself, even if I'm not a young adult :)

The Old Silly said...

Always a pleasure to read more about Heidi and her writing. Nettie sounds like my kind of protagonist and gal - her drive, tenacity and determination - love it!

Marvin D Wilson

madcapmaggie said...

Heidi, your book sounds great. How did you go about researching the 20's?

Nancy Famolari said...

Both books sound like something kids would like to read. Great post!

Heidiwriter said...

Thanks, Mari, for hosting me today. FYI, I'm no longer a "pre-published" author, with two books under my belt :)
Maggie, my dad told me many stories about growing up in the 20s & 30s, my grandmother left some photo albums and a scrapbook. I also read several non-fiction books about the cowgirls of the 20s.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Heidi, loved this. I swear I think that because I had "Cowgirl Dreams" I didn't grow up to be a namby-pamby girly, but a strong woman. I think that I played cowboys and robbers with my brother, wore chaps and a hat, and wielded a toy sixgun, did, too. Even though I grew up to be less than taken with guns. LOL.

Magdalena Ball said...

What a great story, Nettie, and how lovely that you've been able to pick up your grandmother's dreams and run with them - effectively breathing life back into and creating something entirely original. Thanks for sharing it with us. Maggie

kathy stemke said...

You've been an inspiration to me Heidi. I've started a YA Historical fiction about my mothers life as an English War Bride. It has proven therapeutic. I think it's important for young adults today to experience history through real human experiences.

Continued success on your books Heidi!

Donna M. McDine said...

I love historical fiction and you make me love it even more.

Martha said...

What a great story about your grandmother. What a blessing you got to spend time with and her.
Your books sound wonderful.

Karen Cioffi said...

Heidi, that's so wonderful that you have a clipping of your grandmother from 1922. She sounds like an extraordinary woman.

I love historical fiction, and your book sounds wonderful.

Mayra Calvani said...

Original idea for a series! I wish you the best of luck with it!

BTW, Mary, I'm your new follower. I hope you'll follow me back.

Arletta Dawdy said...

As always, Heidi, you shed light on a near-forgotten bit of western history: the cowgirl competitors. I thnk the 1920's in the west are almost a forgotten era but you bring it to light very nicely.

Heidiwriter said...

Thank you all for visiting and commenting! You made my day!