Monday, October 29, 2012

Please Welcome Author Heidi M. Thomas, A Cowgirl at Heart

Heidi M. Thomas Shares Some Great History About Her Cowgirl Grandmother  

The Cowgirl Behind the Books by Heidi M Thomas
In a scrapbook my grandmother created is a clipping from the Sunburst Sun (Montana) newspaper, Aug. 26, 1922, that reads:
Heidi's grandmother on horseback
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!
Grandma was my inspiration for my strong, independent heroine in the first two (and soon a third) books in my “Dare to Dream” series. My character, Nettie, has a dream to become a rodeo star and the tenaciousness to follow that dream. 
In Cowgirl Dreams (EPIC Award Winner), during the 1920s, she faces family and social barriers to that dream. 
About Cowgirl Dreams: 
  Defying family and social pressure, Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention with her dream of becoming a rodeo star. That means competing with men, and cowgirls who ride the rodeo circuit are considered “loose women.” Addicted to the thrill of pitting her strength and wits against a half-ton steer in a rodeo, Nettie exchanges skirts for pants, rides with her brothers on their Montana ranch, and competes in neighborhood rodeos.
  Broken bones, killer influenza, flash floods, and family hardship team up to keep Nettie from her dreams. Then she meets a young neighbor cowboy who rides broncs and raises rodeo stock. Will this be Nettie’s ticket to freedom and happiness? Will her rodeo dreams come true? An EPIC Award winner, Cowgirl Dreams is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.

 The sequel, Follow the Dream (a WILLA Literary Award Winner), 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.

About Follow the Dream: 
  Nettie Moser’s dreams are coming true. She’s married to her cowboy, Jake, they have plans for a busy rodeo season, and she has a once in a lifetime opportunity to rodeo in London with the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe.
  But life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and unexpected family responsibilities. Nettie must overcome challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams, cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster.
Will these challenges break this strong woman?

I believe, whether my readers have aspired to become cowgirls or business women or writers, the message is the same: Dare to dream and follow that dream, even if it changes along the way.

Both books are suitable for young adults as well as adult readers and are available through my website, from my publisher

Follow the Dream is also available on Kindle and Cowgirl Dreams on Nook.

Heidi M. Thomas
About Heidi M. Thomas:
Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana, had parents who taught her a love of books, and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in her veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story. She sings in her church's choir, used to be a member of Sweet Adelines and our Milloula, an MT group which sang at Carnegie Hall once.

Heidi now lives in western Washington where she writes, edits for other authors, teaches community writing classes and blogs and at the Blood Red Pencil editing site ( She is a member of Women Writing the West (, Skagit Valley Writers League (, Northwest Independent Editors Guild ( and VBT—Writers on the Move ( )

Please welcome Heidi M. Thomas to Sweet Not Spicy by leaving a comment.


  1. Welcome to Sweet Not Spicy, Heidi. The tales about your grandmother are priceless! What a heritage!!!

    Morgan Mandel

  2. How fascinating. What a brave woman your grandmother was. That she is the inspiration for your main character is a lovely tribute.

    Wishing you the best,


  3. Thanks, Cheryl. I'd like to think she'd be proud of the books I've written!

    BTW, to all: that's Missoula, MT, the town where I used to live, not milloula--auto spell check strikes again! :)