Women Writing the West

Alice Trego, Arletta Dawdy, Randi Platt, Mary Trimble at registration

This year’s Women Writing the West conference is once again history. And once again, I come away with an uplifted spirit after meeting old friends and making new ones, creative encouragement, and many new tidbits of information to digest and use in my writing and marketing endeavors.

Heidi, Randi Platt, Mary Trimble

The conference was in Washington state, where I live, and I had the honor of helping our Conference VP, Mary Trimble, plan this event. We started more than a year ago lining up speakers, workshop presenters, and looking at hotel venues. The year progressed, with a new deadline nearly every month, until the last 3-4 weeks turned into an all-consuming, nearly 24-7 effort to weave all our efforts together and tie off the loose ends.

Highlights included the luncheon honoring the WILLA finalist recipients and a humorous, entertaining keynote speech by Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. The Saturday evening banquet for WILLA winners was also a special highlight for me, as I received my lovely trophy for Follow the Dream. Author and poet Ellen Waterston was our keynote speaker that evening.

Another highlight was having my publisher, Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books, family and friends there to see the awards ceremony.

Lee Emory, Marylou Thomas, Heidi and Janet Oakley


Mary and I are now breathing sighs of relief and contentment after a successful endeavor. Thanks to all the members who made this possible. I look forward to seeing you all again next year in Albuquerque, NM!

Follow the Dream Wins WILLA Award

I am excited and honored to announce that my second novel, Follow the Dream, sequel to EPIC-award winning Cowgirl Dreams, has won the national WILLA award.

Both novels are based on my grandmother who rode bucking stock in Montana rodeos during the 1920s and ’30s.

Named for Pulitzer prize-winning Willa Cather, one of our country’s foremost authors, the WILLA is awarded by the Women Writing the West organization. It is given annually for outstanding literature featuring women’s stories set in the west. Awards are chosen by a distinguished panel of librarians and presented at the annual WWW Conference.

This year’s conference will be held Oct. 14-16 at the Embassy Suites in Lynnwood, WA. Keynote speakers are Nancy Pearl and Ellen Waterston. The conference features workshops on writing, publishing, and marketing, panel discussions, a bookstore, and agent/publisher appointments. All writers are welcome. For information and to register, go to the WWW website.

Follow the Dream synopsis:

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?

To read an excerpt from Follow the Dream or Cowgirl Dreams, go to my website at Heidi M. Thomas.

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