Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana with 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.
Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, has won an EPIC Award and the USA Book News Best Book Finalist award.
Follow the Dream is the second book in the “Dare to Dream” series about strong, independent Montana Women and is a WILLA Literary Award winner.
Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Western Writers of America, and the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She is also a manuscript editor, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes in the Pacific Northwest.
Where does your passion for writing come from?
I’ve always been an avid reader and I love creating with words. I want to tell the stories of the strong, independent women who were my foremothers.
If your passion for writing was a color, what color would it be and why?
Sometimes it is red and sometimes it is teal. Sometimes my creative passion burns bright and other times it is calm but steady.
How do you keep the passion burning in your relationship with storytelling?
I wish I knew how to keep it red-hot, but maybe it’s good that I don’t, because I might burn out. Starting a new project gives me that excitement. Deadlines and discipline help keep it on an even keel.
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?
This sequel to Cowgirl Dreams is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.
Excerpt from Follow the Dream
Sunday, July 14, 1929
Spring rains never came this year. The little bit of grass that came up is
nearly gone. Used up rest of the hay already. Jake’s not himself. I’m really
When they watched the skies now, it was with a tingling sense of hope and dread. The clouds built up over the rims, dark and angry, then dispersed as the hot winds blew them to nothing.
In June, Jake had only shrugged when the thunderheads passed over and splattered just a few hard raindrops like bullets into the dust. There was always a chance that the next storm would dump its load and the grass would come back, resurrected from its hardpan grave.
Each time the sky grew dark, Nettie ran to gather clothes from the line, shut the windows in the house and bring four-year-old Neil in. While their son played cowboy on a saddle in the kitchen, she and Jake prepared themselves, anticipating the long, drowsy afternoons of gentle rain when they could rest without guilt as the earth replenished itself. But disappointment always followed one brief, hopeful interlude after another. As summer wore on, the clouds produced nothing more than a frightening display of heat lightning, the air so charged with electricity that the hair on Nettie’s arms stood up. She thirsted for a view of something green, the smell of new grass. A silent vigilance overtook their lives.
She watched the tension pull at Jake, his hopeful expectation as the sky darkened, the half-smile when he heard the first clap of thunder, and then the slump of his shoulders when the storm again passed them by. Her heart ached for him, and fear built inside like the thunderheads on the hills.
He no longer whistled in the mornings. It had been weeks since she had seen him joke and wrestle playfully with Neil. He rode out every morning, but more and more often he returned with nothing. The drought had killed or driven off the coyote’s food supply, too.
Disappointment pooled inside Nettie like the rain puddles she craved. One evening in the deepening shadows of dusk Nettie saw Jake sitting on the rock by the corral, his face buried in his hands. Cold fear swept her, stopped her from calling out. Her feet felt too heavy to move. Her strong, invincible cowboy seemed beaten. If he had no hope, what was left?
Shonell, Thank you for hosting me today! This is fun.
People are strong in so many ways! I love stories about happily-ever-after that are more challenging than the part that came before. One of the ways people are strong is learning how to NOT be strong alone, am I right?
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
I agree, Marian. If one has a true partnership with someone, it makes things easier to deal with. I know--my husband is such a person!
That excerpt hits home these days with so many farmers suffering from the drought.
That looks like a good story, Heidi. You really convey a sense of the West.
I'm hooked. Loved the excerpt. I could really relate to the desperate yearning for rain. It is so neat that you can write about your grandmother this way.
It's hard to imagine waiting for rain and knowing your business and life won't thrive without it. I'm a gardener and keeping my half acre of vegetables growing is a challenge in the heat. And I have cheap water from the town well to use! It makes me guilty thinking of using up this resource with what feels like reckless abandon.
Thank you all for your kind and generous comments. Farming and ranching in eastern Montana is a tough business--people have always been at the mercy of Mother Nature.
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