Cowgirl Up! A Colorful Legend

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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite

Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women by Heidi M. Thomas captures a small piece of American history that might otherwise be forgotten. I’m talking about the contribution of women to the world of rodeo. Cowgirl Up! specifically concentrates on the contribution of women from Montana during the golden age of rodeo in America. Montana became one of the states holding commercial rodeos in 1896, but rodeo derived from the working world of ranching. Long before the commercial rodeos sprang into being, there were informal local contests to see who was best at roping, riding, and bronco busting. Conditions were terrible sometimes and the pay was not good by today’s standards, but that didn’t stop women from wanting to compete.
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Cowgirl Up! takes this early history and weaves it into colorful legend. There are many famous names from American history here. Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Dale Evans, and Annie Oakley are the ones I knew. If you are a real rodeo fan, you will probably recognize names like Lucille Mulhall, Prairie Rose Henderson, and Fanny Sperry. The characters, both men and women, are colorful. The history is rich, and the anecdotes, facts, and biography are very well written. It is obvious that Heidi M. Thomas loves her subject and, if you are a fan of the American West and American history, you do not want to miss Cowgirl Up! It should be on the bookshelf in every school library across America, but especially in states where rodeo played an important part in their history. These women and this sport should not be forgotten.

 

Published in: on May 19, 2016 at 11:47 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women is Here!

CowgirlUp Cover 3x5

It’s official: Cowgirl Up! has been released. I received my author copies last night, so I’m now in business! I’ll kick off my release with a panel discussion “Women Who Broke the Mold” Sept. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Peregrine Bookstore in Prescott AZ, along with WWW friends Amy Hale Auker and Carolyn Niethammer.

And my launch party will be at the Phippen Museum next Saturday, Sept. 13, at 1 p.m. I’ll give a PowerPoint presentation on women’s rodeo history, we’ll have refreshments and fun! Then I’ll be on tour in Washington and Montana.

You can order books through my website, on Amazon, and from your local bookstores (please request that they carry it, if they don’t have it in stock!)

Hope to see you all soon!

Review: “Heidi Thomas’s story struck a resounding chord with me as I began chapter twelve. I loved the book up to that point, but on page 111 the stories of rodeo women intersected the story I tell, about the forgotten women pilots of World War II, the WASP. The seat hit the saddle and the rubber met the runway. From early in the twentieth century, women began ‘making it’ in the rodeo, in aviation — in life — but the Depression followed by the War changed everything. The years since are witness to a world where women have had to re-earn what they were on the verge of having in the early 1940s. Here, a descendant of a rodeo cowgirl spins a fascinating tale of hard-won accomplishment, and she tells it artfully, with love, honesty, and respect.”
—Sarah Byrn Rickman, author of five fiction and nonfiction books about the WASP of World War II

Western Roundup Giveaway Hop

Western Roundup Giveaway Hop_2013_smWelcome to the third annual Western Roundup Giveaway Hop, running July 19-31st. After you check out my blog post, please go to Books and Benches  to find out who else is giving away awesome books and visit their blogs as well!

At the end of this of this Roundup, I will draw a name from my commenters (please include your e-mail address!) and the winner will receive your choice of one of my “Dreams” novels: Cowgirl Dreams,  Follow the Dream or Dare to Dream.

3 book covers

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? Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.

Follow the Dream continues with the rodeo and ranching dream, but as the terrible drought of the “dirty thirties” progressed, Nettie and Jake (based on my grandparents) moved more than 20 times and finallytrailed their herd of horses 400 miles from Cut Bank, Montana to Salmon, Idaho to find grass.

 Dare to Dream travels on to the 1940s when Nettie, Jake, and Neil are settled on a ranch near Ingomar, Montana. The town was established in 1908 as a station stop on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Although the land around Ingomar attracted numerous homesteaders during the decade following the railroad’s completion, the region proved to be far too arid and inhospitable for intensive agricultural use, and the town declined. The railroad through the area was abandoned in 1980, and only a handful of people remain in Ingomar today.

Synopsis: Nettie has recovered from the loss of her friend Marie Gibson in a freak rodeo accident and is ready to ride again. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet.

The “Dreams” series is available from the author’s website http://www.heidimthomas.com, on Amazon, and from the publisher, Globe-Pequot/Twodot Press http://www.globepequot.com/dare_to_dream-9780762797004.

 Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a ranch in eastern Montana, writing stories and riding horses. From one small piece of information about her grandmother has come three novels and one soon-to-be-released non-fiction book about old-time rodeo cowgirls, Cowgirl Up! Heidi’s first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, won an EPIC award and the sequel, Follow the Dream won the WILLA Literary Award. She is a freelance editor, teaches community classes in memoir and beginning fiction writing in north-central Arizona where she also enjoys hiking the Granite Dells.

Please visit these blogs:


Does Nettie Dare to Dream?

Dare Cover Final“Ready or not, rodeo world, I’m back. Nettie Moser inhaled the smell of rodeo—dust, animal sweat, manure—the scent of pure happiness. She strode to the arena fence near the chutes and climbed onto the top rail to watch the color guard parade the flag. A pretty teenaged cowgirl, long blonde curls bouncing under a white hat, led a group of equally lovely, brightly-clad ladies through their paces. The rodeo queen and her court.

Nettie shook her head. Some like the pomp and falderal, but I’ll take a rangy steer any day. She looked around at the crowd. Wonder where the other women riders are. She hopped down from her perch and headed for the registration booth where Jake already waited in line. “Here I am, ready to ride.”

It had been a long five years since her dear friend Marie Gibson was killed when her bronc collided with the pickup man’s horse. That accident had shattered Nettie’s rodeo dream but she finally overcame her fear with the help of her mentor’s unforgettable advice: Live your life, follow your dream.

“And I’m glad.” Jake pulled her into the circle of one arm. “But did you get a look at those steers, little gal? They look pretty big.” He winked at her.

Nettie took a couple of exaggerated, swaggering steps. “Never met a steer who could get the best of me.” She laughed out loud. It felt so good to be here in Cheyenne. The snorts and squeals and bawls of the rough stock in the pens, the shouts and cheers and curses of the cowboys were music to her ears. Anticipation skittering inside, she could almost feel the steer’s rough hide through her denims. She stuffed her leather gloves into her back pocket and leaned over to check pull the straps on her spurs tighter. She couldn’t wait to be on the back of a bucking, writhing animal, pitting her wiry102 pounds against its half-ton of muscle and bone.

Grandma on Horse

Montana cowgirl Nettie Brady Moser has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the journey toward her dream of being a professional rodeo rider. In the 1920s she struggled against her family’s expectations and social prejudice against rodeo cowgirls. During the Great Depression, marrying Jake Moser and then raising their son took priority over rodeos. And then she was devastated by the death of her friend and mentor in a rodeo accident.

In the spring of 1941, Nettie, now age 36, is regaining her heart and spirit, and she is determined to ride again at an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet.

Based on the life of my grandmother, who rode rough stock in Montana in the 1920s, this  rodeo saga parallels the evolution of women’s rodeo from the golden years of the 1920s, producing many world champion riders, and shows its decline, beginning in the 1930s and ending with World War II in 1941.

Published in: on June 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dare to Dream Blog Tour, Week Two

Dare Cover FinalBack by popular demand! I had so many kind and supportive people offer to host my Dare to Dream blog tour that I’m extending it to a second week. I will be drawing names from comments for giveaways, from books to coffee mugs to cowgirl and dreams-related items.

Here’s my itinerary for this week:

May 19: Linda Weaver Clark, http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/ Author interview. Book giveaway–your choice of Cowgirl Dreams, Follow the Dream or Dare to Dream.

May 20: Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Sharing With Writers http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-family-history-can-be-used-in.html “How Family History Can be Used in Fiction.”

May 21: C.M. Mayo’s Madam Mayo http://madammayo.blogspot.com/ “A Roundup of 5 Things to Know About Old-Time Rodeo Cowgirls”

May 22: Beverly Bateman’s Five Secrets, http://beverleybateman.blogspot.com/Five secrets about me and my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy

May 23: M.K. McClintock http://www.booksandbenches.com/  “A Sense of Place”

May 24: Shanna Hatfield http://shannahatfield.com/ An interview with Nettie Moser

Cover Reveal

Many of you have been waiting way too long for the third book in my “Dream” series. Well, you don’t have to wait much longer! Dare to Dream is scheduled for release May 6.

Dare Cover FinalSynopsis: Montana cowgirl Nettie Brady Moser has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the journey toward her dream of being a professional rodeo rider. In the 1920s she struggled against her family’s expectations and social prejudice against rodeo cowgirls. During the Great Depression, marrying Jake Moser and then raising their son took priority over rodeos. And then she was devastated by the death of her friend and mentor in a rodeo accident.

In the spring of 1941, Nettie, now age 36, is regaining her heart and spirit, and she is determined to ride again at an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet.

Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, who rode rough stock in Montana in the 1920s, this sweeping rodeo saga parallels the evolution of women’s rodeo from the golden years of the 1920s, producing many world champion riders, and shows its decline, beginning in the 1930s and ending with World War II in 1941.

Advance reader comments: Finding our place and following our hearts is the moving theme of Dare to Dream, a finely-tuned finish to Heidi Thomas’s trilogy inspired by the life of her grandmother, an early rodeo-rider. With crisp dialogue and singular scenes we’re not only invited into the middle of a western experience of rough stock, riders and generations of ranch tradition, but we’re deftly taken into a family drama. This family story takes place beginning in 1941 but it could be happening to families anywhere – and is. Nettie, Jake and Neil struggle to find their place and discover what we all must: life is filled with sorrow and joy: faith, family and friends see us through and give meaning to it all. Nettie,  or as Jake calls her, “Little Gal” will stay in your heart and make you want to re-read the first books just to keep her close. A very satisfying read.—Jane Kirkpatrick, a New York Times Bestselling author and WILLA Literary Award winner of A Flickering Light

~~~~~

 “Heidi Thomas’s latest novel, Dare to Dream, rings of truth. Here is the real West, ranching in the 1940s, women and rodeoing, the heart-rending affect of World War Two on the Montana homefront, and great characters who bring it all alive. I loved it.”—Irene Bennett Brown, author of Women of Paragon Springs series and the Celia Landrey mystery series

~~~~~

 Nettie Moser is a strong woman who defies fear, bad luck, and male opposition to pursue her dream of being a champion steer rider. Set in the uncertain war-world of the early 1940s, Dare to Dream is a highly readable tale of a resourceful woman who faces life with courage and a daring heart.—Susan Wittig Albert, bestselling author of A Wilder Rose and the China Bayles mystery series

And more news!

CowgirlDreams Front CoverCowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream will be re-released by my new publisher, Globe-Pequot/Twodot Press, at the same time, with a new look! You can pre-order Dare to Dream from my website, and you can still order original copies of Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream at a discounted price.Dream Cover Final

Published in: on March 28, 2014 at 6:39 am  Comments (11)  
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A Cowgirl Falls in Love

Dreams 1 5 X 2In my first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, Nettie and Jake are working horses together when they are caught in a sudden hail storm. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m offering this excerpt:

For just a moment the force of the hailstones seemed to let up, and Jake wrenched his saddle loose. “Here, grab one side.” He hoisted it over their heads. The sky grew a shade lighter as the hail turned into rain that fell in sheets, driven diagonally by the wind. Nettie stumbled along with Jake, bumping into each other. Both held the saddle up with one hand and led their horses with the other, the storm pushing them from behind.

Lightning slashed through the murky sky. A thunderclap rattled her teeth. The horses shied and tugged at the reins. Barely able to breathe, Nettie could no longer feel her hands. Her whole body was numb. She felt the saddle slip. They wouldn’t make it. She was going to fall. They’d both be hit by lightning.

“Hang on, we’re almost there.” Jake shifted the heavy saddle to take more of the weight himself. “It’s OK. You can do it. Come on. Just a few more steps.” Together they staggered the last few yards to the old shack. Jake dropped the saddle on the refuse-strewn porch and tethered the horses under the roof overhang on the lee side. Then he pushed the door open and helped Nettie through the opening. She nearly fell into the room, relief flooding over her.

He pushed the door shut against the gusts of wind and rain, and struggled to latch it. Then he knelt beside her, his wide eyes examining her face. “Are you all right? Are you hurt? Anything broken?”

“I’m OK.” Nettie looked up at him, gulped and blinked. “Oh my gosh, your eye …” She sat upright and reached up to caress the rapidly swelling bump.

“I’m just fine.”

“Oh, Jake, we coulda been killed.” She shuddered as the realization washed over her, then broke into great hiccupping sobs.

He encircled her with his long arms and drew her face to his chest. He smelled like horsehair and tobacco. It didn’t matter that his sodden denim shirt stuck to her cheek. She closed her eyes and snuggled close inside his embrace as he stroked her wet hair.

The rain beat a vicious tattoo on the roof. Just like those hailstones on her head and back. Her skin still stung, and her hands were raw and tingling. She shivered again. The ice seemed to have penetrated her blood. Her teeth chattered. Never in her life had she been so scared. They were lucky to be alive. Safe in his arms now, her sobs gradually subsided.

Jake hugged her closer, his face only inches from hers. She felt his warm breath on her cheek.

He rubbed a hand up and down her back, sending warm shivers through her body. “I have to let you go for a minute and see if I can get a fire going.”

Nettie clutched at him. She didn’t want him to go, even a few feet away.Love-Couple-Vector

Murmuring in her ear as if soothing a skittish colt, he eased out of the embrace and off the floor. He picked up an old horse blanket from one corner of the nearly empty room and shook the dust off. Gently, he wrapped the worn, dirty wool pad around her shoulders.

Nettie glanced around the room, wallpaper peeling in strips, cobwebs strung over the windows, the floor rotted and splintered. Wonder what happened to the people who lived here? A wooden chair slumped on its side, a leg missing. Jake stomped on the remaining legs to break them, then the rungs and the back, into pieces. He pried up a loose floorboard to add to the pile of firewood

Nettie watched him squat before the fireplace, moving with such confidence. Gosh, he knows just what to do. He whittled shavings from the wood, then struck a match from a little tin canister in his pocket. He’s so handy. And so caring. He protected me.

Jake blew on the flame, coaxed it to catch. Above the sunburned line on his forehead where his hat usually rode, his skin was fair. His reddish blond hair shone softly.

The flame caught and grew, its flicker kindling a spark of hope in her. She heard the snap as it spread to the other shavings and sticks of wood.

Jake added more fuel to the fire. He coughed as it smoked, but then the smoke drew up into the chimney. He sat next to her again, cradling her in the curve of his arm. He took out a small flask from his pocket. “Here, have a slug of this. It’ll help warm you.”

She coughed at the harsh fire that ran down her throat. But it did warm her, and her shivers diminished as her clothes dried.

“Thank you for saving my life.” Nettie raised her face to his and kissed the corner of his mouth. Then, to hide her blush, she leaned against his strong body. He tightened his arm around her shoulders.

They’d made it. Together. They were together, and that was all that mattered right now.

Cowgirl Dreams and the sequel Follow the Dream are available through my website and as a Valentine’s week special, I’m offering FREE SHIPPING! Be watching for the third book in the series, Dare to Dream, coming in 2013.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thanks to Janet Oakley who tagged me for this Blog Hop historyweaver.wordpress.com

If you want to participate:
1. Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog

2. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

3. The questions with your answers

Here’s mine:

What is the working title of your book? Nettie’s Cowgirls

Where did the idea come from for the book? This is the third in my “Dare to Dream” series, based on my grandmother who was a real Montana cowgirl. The first book is Cowgirl Dreams (EPIC Award winner) and Follow the Dream (WILLA Literary Award winner).

What genre does your book fall under? Western Historical.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? That’s a difficult question. My grandfather looked like Charlton Heston, but of course that’s impossible. Maybe Jake Gyllenhall. Not sure who would play Nettie, a petite, feisty ranch woman with auburn hair.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Despite World War II and the demise of women’s rodeo where they competed on rough stock with the men, Nettie continues to follow her dream by mentoring young trick riders.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I have no agent. The publisher of my first two novels is Treble Heart Books http://www.trebleheartbooks.com

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Too long! Two years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? It’s hard to say. My series has been compared to the Little House on the Prairie books in some ways, but it’s different. It’s not a romance, but has sweet romance in it, it’s not an old-time “shoot-’em-up” western but it takes place in the west and around the ranching and rodeo world. It’s basically a fictionalized story about my grandmother, who rode bucking stock in rodeos, and was an avid horsewoman. This book is more fiction than the first two, however, and delves into “what might have been.”

Who or What inspired you to write this book? My grandmother, who seemed ahead of her time, a woman who was the epitome of “Cowgirl Up”–do the hard thing without complaining.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It takes place in Montana during the 1940s and Nettie is faced with letting her son go off to war.

Thanks for stopping by this Blog Hop and please check out our host Susan Taitel http://susantaitel.com/2012/09/ and the other bloggers participating in this event, including historyweaver.wordpress.com, http://thomasaknight.com/, http://sydneyssong.net/blog/ and http://www.sieders.com/blog/

Also please peruse my blogroll links and visit some of my friends there!

 

The Champions Creed

This poem is courtesy of Kaila Mussel, the first woman to qualify to compete with men in the PRCA since 1941. She also is the amazing bronc rider in the Reba McEntire video. See an article about her by Shirley Morris, author of the documentary Oh! You Cowgirl
The Champions Creed
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win but
think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with the fellow’s will,
Its all in the state of the mind.
If you think you’re outclassed,
you are;
You’ve got to think to rise.
you’ve got to be sure of
yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger for faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 12:55 am  Comments (3)  
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Cowgirls, Balladeers & Concerts (Or What I Did This Summer)

Juni Fisher sings at a cozy concert venue at the Cowgirl Co-op near Spokane WA

I did a book signing and reading and was honored to meet Juni Fisher and enjoy her wonderful voice and storytelling.

Book signing in Monroe WA with Dawn Nelson & Jessica Hedges

On National Cowboy Day, I shared a table at Del’s Feeds in Monroe with author Dawn Nelson and cowgirl poet Jessica Hedges, whom I had met at the Juni Fisher concert.

A book signing with Mary Trimble

Mary Trimble and I signed books at A Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth, WA.

Book Table at Anacortes Street Fair

Selling more books in front of Watermark Books during the Anacortes Street Fair. (It rained!)

And discovered a great new, up-and-coming country singer, Chance McKinney & Crosswire.

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 3:16 am  Comments (4)  
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