editing

Talking Rodeo History & Ranch Life With Author Heidi M. Thomas

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After the last blog post with female bronc rider Kaila Mussell, author Heidi M. Thomas contacted me about doing an interview. I won’t spoil the surprise, but Heidi’s background is a perfect follow-up to a bronc riding story, especially since the NFR 2015 has just started! Not only an award-winning prolific writer and editor, she’s an author with a strong western heritage that I think all of us horse lovers can relate to.

Heidi small Author Photo

Heidi at Silver spur tableTell us about your childhood growing up on a working ranch in Montana. What were some of your favorite things about growing up ranching?

I loved the sense of freedom of living miles from a town, being able to run and play with no restrictions as a kid. Working with my parents taught me a sense of self-reliance, strong work-ethic and independence. Being around cows, horses, dogs and cats gave me a love for animals. And being without “technical amenities” gave me a love for reading and writing.

 Peregrine signing

You also had a grandmother that rode bucking stock. What was it like growing up with a grandmother that rode roughstock?

I knew she loved riding and being outdoors more than anything in the world and we rode horses together numerous times. But I didn’t know she was a rodeo cowgirl until she passed away when I was 12. My dad and I were going through photo albums and he casually remarked, “Did you know your grandma rode bucking stock in rodeos?” Whoa! How cool was that! I filed that away in my brain until many years later when I was ready to write about her life.

CowgirlDreams Front Cover 1x1.5What do you think made her decide to ride roughstock, and what were some of the challenges that she faced?

I wish I could’ve asked her questions about that, but through stories my dad told me and my research, I learned that many girls naturally gravitated toward that sport. They, like my grandmother, grew up on ranches, riding with their dads, brothers and later, husbands out of necessity. Then when the men got together and decided to see who could stay on the back of that bucking bronc the longest, the girls said, “We can do that too!” Many started competing around age 14. Their families sometimes were accepting and sometimes not. It was socially unacceptable to wear men’s pants, travel and compete with men, and it was dangerous. The “old-time” cowboys didn’t think “girls” could ride and they didn’t like it when they were outridden by a woman.

 

What impact has your grandmother, and growing up on a ranch had on your writing?

It’s had a huge impact. From that casual remark by my dad have come four published books! Her life and my growing up on a ranch gave me a love and a first-hand feeling for the setting, which I think is an important part of my writing.

Dream Cover Final 1.5x2 

When did you start writing, and what were some of your challenges you faced when you started?

I like to say I was born with ink in my veins. I’ve been writing since I could form letters. I did get my degree in journalism from the University of Montana and worked for the newspaper in Missoula, then did several years of freelance writing for other publications. When I started writing fiction seriously, I found that although I had a good foundation through journalism, I had to learn to “show, not tell” and not to write so spare in the “Accuracy, Brevity, Clarity” mode. After I’d written and polished my first manuscript to the best of my ability, I started to send it out and collect rejections. In that process I learned that I needed to study and practice my craft more, so I took a two-year certification course through the University of Washington in fiction writing. Then, it was a matter of finding a publisher once I was ready to submit. It took ten years from the time I started the book until it was published. I now have four published books: Cowgirl Dreams (1920s), Follow the Dream (1930s), Dare to Dream (1940s), and the nonfiction book, Cowgirl Up: A History of Rodeo Women.

 What was your first book that was published? What was it like to finally see your work in print?

My first book was Cowgirl Dreams, the first of my “Dreams” trilogy, based on my grandmother. It was such a huge thrill to hold that first book in my hands! I was so excited and felt validated, that my dream was coming to fruition after all the years of hard work.

Are you a full-time writer? (If so, tell us how you got there, if not tell us your writing goals)

Yes, I consider that my vocation (as well as my avocation), along with freelance editing for other authors. I didn’t start writing books until after I had “retired” from a “regular” job, and I had a husband who was extremely supportive in all ways—my number one fan and cheerleader.

When do you do your best writing, and why? 

I’m not a morning person, and I don’t have a set schedule, although I keep telling myself I need to! Mid-day and early afternoon are my best times. Also, I think from my journalism background, I find I write best with a deadline! I belong to a critique group that meets once a week, so that gives me my motivation!

You have written several books that have won awards. Tell us about those & the inspiration behind them. 

They are a part of my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy. Cowgirl Dreams won an EPIC (Electronic Publishing) award and was a finalist in the USA Best Books competition. The sequel, Follow the Dream, won the coveted WILLA (named for Willa Cather) award from Women Writing the West. And of course, both are based on my grandmother’s life.

What is your latest book project?

I’m working on “the next generation” trilogy, based on my mother who came from Germany after WWII.

 Any words of wisdom for other writers and those that aspire to write?

From my own experience, I’m glad my first novel did not get published when I first sent it out. Today, it’s become much easier to self-publish and it doesn’t carry the stigma it used to. But don’t be in a big hurry to publish your book. Learn and practice your craft. Take classes, read how-to books, and join or create a critique group. And when you’ve rewritten it for the 50th time and polished it to the best of your ability, hire an editor to go through it. Above all, perseverance is key. Don’t give up!

 

If you want to keep up with Heidi you can find her on social media –

Website: http://www.heidimthomas.com

Facebook: search Heidi M. Thomas, Author

Twitter: @heidiwriter

Publisher buy-link: www.rowman.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Heidi-M.-Thomas/e/B004QT2N4M/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1448835070&sr=1-2-ent

 Dare Cover Final 1.5x2

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Let Me Introduce Myself!

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After ten years of working on a book idea, I finally managed to sell to Solstice Publishing in December 2013. My book, Lost Betrayal, will be coming out in March 2014 in ebook version on Amazon, and also on www.solsticepublishing.com

In lieu of promoting my book, I decided to start a blog – but not just any blog! I wanted something for readers and writers that were also horsemen, or had an avid interest in horses and the horse lifestyle. After all, no matter how hard you try it seems the horse element always shows up somehow.

So here we are. I’ll not only be talking to writers about their books, but also to artists and competitors about what motivates them, speaks to them, and how they got where they are. I want the inside scoop. Besides, I’m always curious about what makes people tick!

By the way, this won’t be a “discipline specific” blog. After all, we’re all horse folks!

Since I’m starting this gig I guess I’d better introduce myself and tell you a little about me and what makes me tick, and what brought me to this point.

I am a Tennessee native that now resides in east Tennessee on my small horse farm aptly named, Fairweather Farm. I’m married and have three step kids who are all enrolled with Uncle Sam for the next few years.

I work full time in the healthcare industry writing contract appeals. I spend the rest of my time judging open horse shows, giving riding lessons and training, and competing in anything from barrel racing and sorting to huntseat and halter. Horses are like air to me – always have been and always will be.

I started writing in high school and never looked back. Over the years, I’ve done some copywriting and have written articles that appeared in America’s Horse, Hoofbeats, Arena Talk, and Horseman’s Yankee Peddlar. It’s rather easy for me to talk about anything horse related. I also write a blog on WordPress, Musings From The Leadrope.

I might as well go ahead and talk about my religious and political views as I’m sure they’ll come up at some point. I have certain convictions based on a lot thought and study, and I know who I am.

I am a Christian and attend a Methodist church and am involved in ministry from time to time. I have Christian values and believe in the Bible. I don’t believe in telling someone what they should believe but I will say what I believe – I hope that my life speaks loud enough that I don’t have to say anything. I also don’t believe in making fun of another person’s faith. I believe regardless of faith, you should treat people with love and respect as none of us are perfect and loving each other is what I’m called to do by faith.

I do love animals and I do eat red meat, wear leather boots and ride in a leather saddle. I believe animals are here to help us and we have a responsibility to manage them well. I believe in being responsible and treating animals well, but I also realize they can be dangerous and there are times for discipline for the sake of our safety. Yes, I love rodeo but I also love English too.

ADDENDUM…  Some of you have been asking about my full length leopard print coat in my profile and avatar pics. This coat was purchased at an antique store in Sweetwater, Tennessee. You can tell that it’s an old coat and the label indicates that it was made in England. The brand is “Shaytoon”. I have no idea whether or not it’s real. I’m sure if it was real, it would have been a lot more expensive than what I paid for it. I don’t condone hunting endangered species at all, and I don’t condone hunting just for sport. By the way, I don’t have a problem with people hunting for meat. The way I look at it, it’s an antique coat and even if it was real I wouldn’t ditch the coat because an animal already gave it’s life for it and nothing can be done about it. It’s better to wear it and honor the animal than throw it away and waste their sacrifice. By wearing it, you open up an opportunity to talk about hunting of endangered species. But again, I don’t think it’s real! 

Now on to that book I was talking about. Lost Betrayal is a romance with a couple of big stories. In short, it’s a story about a girl who’s lost her best horse after a disaster and the journey they both take that eventually lead them back together.

The longer version…

Here’s the book trailer for Lost Betrayal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urkSTWnMNr0

THE FUTURE OF THE RANCH HANGS IN THE BALANCE

Sage is just getting her life back together when a tornado touches down and destroys her family ranch in northern Georgia taking her hopes, her dreams, and the very horse that the ranch’s future hinges on. An ex rodeo cowboy with a past, Garrett has sworn off rodeo and the last thing he needs is entanglement with a woman on a wild horse chase but there’s too many unanswered questions, such as how a horse could stay gone so long.

Refusing to believe her horse was killed in the storm and refusing to give up on the ranch, Sage begins the journey of rebuilding her life once again and searching for the horse that to her, holds the past, and her future. Garrett’s past and a malicious betrayal jeopardize her efforts. Is she strong enough to push past the hurt and the lies in order to get back all she holds dear?

Come visit with me next week as I talk with author Elle Marlow who seems to be taking the publishing world by storm. A debut author, she’s already sold 5 books in as many months! You’ll definitely want to visit for that in depth interview as Elle is a sassy little cowgirl from Arizona whose writing is just a vivacious as her life. Don’t miss it and I’ll see ya at the barn!