Merry Christmas One and All!

Christmas-Tree-Clip-Art-6Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas! Thank you to my friends, my followers, and readers of my books for supporting me so wonderfully this year!

Heidi M. Thomas

Published in: on December 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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November Round Robin: Favorite Food

This month’s Round Robin blog topic is a favorite food or meal—appropriate for Thanksgiving! When you’ve finished reading, please visit the other participants to see their favorites.

My favorite food is hands-down…can you guess?…wait for it!…OK, I’ll tell you. It’s CHOCOLATE! No surprise to those of you who know me, of course. I think chocolate covers all the food groups and possibly should be a food group all by itself!chocolate_06

“Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly.”—Sandra Bullock

If you weren’t already convinced, here are 10 health benefits of chocolate:

  1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk.
  2. Chocolate boosts heart health with anti-inflammatory properties
  3. Chocolate fills you up because it’s rich in fiber
  4. Chocolate fights diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity
  5. Dark chocolate’s flavenoids offer protection from UV damage from the sun
  6. Chocolate can help stop coughing with theobromine
  7. Chocolate boosts your mood
  8. Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties
  9. Chocolate may also increase blood flow to your eyes
  10. Chocolate may make you smarter, feeling more awake and alert Chocolate photo

Eating chocolate is a bit more challenging when you are trying to avoid sugar, like I do (mostly). I have recently discovered Lilly’s Chocolate, sweetened with Stevia, in several flavors at my local health food store. Also Trader Joe’s Simply Lite bars are scrumptious (sweetened with sugar alcohols).

Here’s a recipe, shared by actress Tracy Pollan that I would like to experiment with, substituting Stevia, unsweetened carob chips and coconut, and canned coconut cream sweetened with Stevia for the sweetened condensed milk.

Micaela’s Nirvana Bars

6 tbsp (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
9 full graham cracker sheets, crushed into coarse crumbs
1⁄4 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup white chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs and salt. Stir to mix well. Press crumbs into the bottom of baking pan. Layer on chopped nuts, then semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle coconut evenly on top. Drizzle on condensed milk, covering everything with a thin layer.
  3. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely in pan, then cut into 1 1⁄2-inch bars. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen Bars.

—Excerpted from The Pollan Family Table by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan. Copyright © 2014 by Old Harvest Way, LLC. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Now, grab a piece of chocolate and go visit the following blogs to find out other Round Robin participants’ favorite foods:

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
 

Published in: on November 22, 2014 at 6:32 am  Comments (5)  
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Traveling the Big Sky Country

I recently returned to my home state of Montana for a book tour, to visit old friends and family, and to drink in the beauty that is “Big Sky country. My sister-in-law (Thelma, or Louise, depending on who’s addressing whom) traveled with me.

Big Sky

We even had a taste of SNOW as we traveled from Great Falls to Helena:

Snow day

 

A display of a one-room schoolhouse at Ft. Missoula brought back memories of my grade school days:

One-room school Ft. Missoula

Stopped in at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls:

CM Russell Museum

Signed books in Helena, where the state’s governor bought a copy of Cowgirl Up! for his daughter.

Signing in Helena

Another signing at the Miles City Saddlery:

Miles City Saddlery sign

Visited the tiny (pop, 14, plus 2 seasonal) town of Ingomar, near where my grandparents ranched in the ’40s and ’50s. It’s main business is the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Cafe:

Jersey Lilly

And the “conveniences” are located out back:

Out back Jersey Lilly

All in all, a fun trip and a total of 5,000 miles of driving! I’ll be posting more on my travels later.

Published in: on October 31, 2014 at 6:10 am  Comments (2)  
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What is the scariest thing that has happened to you?

I’m participating in a round-robin blog this week about scary things. Please also visit the other participants listed at the end of this post.
We all have had heart-pounding, stomach-clenching moments that live permanently in our memories. In the past, I’ve only had a few  scary experiences.

Ski hill

  • Perched at the top of a black diamond ski run, thinking I should’ve stuck to the bunny hill.
  • Climbing to the top of a 75-foot platform at the water slide park and looking down at that nearly vertical drop. Can I just climb back down?
  • Performing a piano solo at a music competition. Why didn’t I practice more? What if I forget the notes?
  • Giving a talk in front of a large crowd. What if I sound stupid?

All these instances created that flight-or-fight, adrenaline-producing, momentary fear response. But each of these experiences turned into something thrilling, something I would do again. I learned from each scary moment

Now I face the scariest experience of all. My husband—best friend and soul-mate—of 40+ years is gone, and I’m facing life at the top of another one of those seemingly impossible peaks. Do I have the courage, the strength, the stick-to-itiveness it takes to pass through grief and recreate my life without him?

Those scary experiences that now seem so mundane did teach me that I could pause, take a deep breath, and call on some deep inner strength. I learned I had the courage to do it, that I could live through it, and that I came out the other side stronger than I was before.

I hold on to that thought, and it doesn’t seem as scary.

 

Now, please visit the following participants and see what scares them!

Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (5)  
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Navigating the Writing Path: Start to Finish

Blank notepad over laptop and coffee cup on office wooden table

Welcome to the I C Publishing Summer Blog Tour on navigating our writing paths from start to finish. Jonnie Martin, author of Wrangle invited me to participate in this fun tour. Read her blog post here. www.jonniemartin.com

Here are my answers to the Blog Tour questions:

How do you start your (writing) projects?

My novels are historical, so I usually do quite a bit of research before I start writing. They’re also based on a real person, my grandmother, so that helps formulate the storyline. I don’t do a formal outline, but I may jot down notes or an informal timeline. When I have my idea of how to start, I’m in that state of excitement about a new project, and I can’t wait to get going!

How do you continue your writing projects?

I often continue research as I’m writing, as questions will crop up and I need specific historical details to ground my characters or the incidents in the story. I belong to a critique group, so that helps keep me on a deadline. I know that every week I have to bring several pages, and the feedback also keeps me on track or gives me ideas where to go from here.

How do you finish your project?

Once I’ve finished my first draft and have gone through it with my group, I go back over it and do an initial rewrite or two. Then I have a couple of Beta readers read and critique it and then I do another rewrite before submitting it to my publisher.

Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.

One thing I learned in a writing class is to give yourself permission to write out of chronological order. If you get to a certain point and are stuck, but you know where you want to be in future pages, go ahead and write that future scene. That helps bridge the gap, and gives you an idea of what you need to do to get from Point A to Point B.

I’m the author of  a “Dreams” novel trilogy: Cowgirl Dreams, Follow the Dream, and Dare to Dream, and a non-fiction book which has just been released, Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women. You can order autographed copies through my website.

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

Rodeo ‘No Place for Women’?

I’m expecting my author copies of Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women any day now! You can order autographed copies through my website, and pre-order on Amazon. Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter One: Rodeo is No Place for Women

“Ruins the events for us men”

 Dust filled the air, giving the clear blue sky a brownish haze. Steers bawled in their pens, broncs kicked their stalls, and the rodeo announcer bellowed out the name of the next rider.

A baby let out a lusty yell. Margie Greenough Henson turned to the wooden apple box, where her son lay on a pillow, and picked him up, clucking and shushing.

Her sister, Alice, called from the chutes, “You’re up next, and I’m after you.”

The slender red-haired Margie waved her acknowledgement and turned to a lanky cowboy standing nearby. “Here, would you hold Chuck for me while I ride? It’s only for eight seconds.”

Alice Greenough riding broncThe Greenough sisters, who are listed in both the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, epitomized the Montana cowgirls of the early 1900s and bridged the final transition between the Old West and the modern era.

A woman bronc rider earned her living by beating competitors (often men), wearing men’s clothing, and living around cowboys. She had to be tough, otherwise she’d have been squeezed out. Home was on the plains and on the road, with little room for fluff. But this life didn’t necessarily make her “hard-boiled.”

Montana’s Greenough sisters, Fannie Sperry Steele, Marie Gibson, Bobby Brooks Kramer, Jane Burnett Smith, the Brander sisters, trick riders Birdie Askin and Trixi McCormick, and pick-up rider Ann Secrest Hanson proved that athleticism and femininity are not mutually exclusive.

The London Evening News validated these accomplishments in its report of the cowgirls in the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe in 1924:

“… It is amazing to see these slips of girls take fearful tosses while fighting outlaw horses, and then half an hour later it is still more amazing to see these same girls strolling out to tea in their Parisian frocks.”CowgirlUp Cover 3x5

The following quote about Lucille Mulhall of Oklahoma in a 1900 New York World article could also have described most of these Montana women: “…only ninety pounds, can break a bronc, lasso and brand a steer, and shoot a coyote at 500 yards. She can also play Chopin, quote Browning, and make mayonnaise.”

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the public image of rodeo cowgirls was as “loose women”, because they participated in a tough, dangerous men’s occupation, traveled around the country with men, and often wore men’s clothing. They were generally not thought of as wives and mothers, and rodeo riding was considered detrimental to women’s reproductive organs, but most of them did have children, like Margie Greenough Henson. In fact, she told the Arizona Daily Star in a 1994 interview, “In the fall of 1930, I was riding bucking broncs and he (her son, Chuck) was born in February of ’31.”

Published in: on August 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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Cover Reveal for Cowgirl Up!

CowgirlUp Cover 3x5

My newest book and first non-fiction, Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women, will be released September 2. I’m very pleased with the cover and the inside layout done by my publisher, Globe Pequot Press/Twodot.

After researching old-time rodeo cowgirls for my novels, which are based on my grandmother, I thought I would like to tell the stories of the women from Montana who went on to become world champion bronc riders, trick ropers and riders. They are a fascinating a courageous bunch, women to be admired, women ahead of their time. Here are their stories.

Synopsis: When someone says “Cowgirl Up!” it means rise to the occasion, don’t give up, and do it all without whining or complaining. And the cowgirls of the early twentieth century did it all, just like the men, only wearing skirts and sometimes with a baby waiting behind the chutes. Women learned to rope and ride out of necessity, helping their fathers, brothers, and husbands with the ranch work.

But for some women, it went further than that. They caught the fever of freedom, the thirst for adrenaline, and the thrill of competition, and many started their rodeo careers as early as age fourteen. From Alice and Margie Greenough of Red Lodge, whose father told them “If you can’t ride ‘em, walk,” to Jane Burnett Smith of Gilt Edge who sneaked off to ride in rodeos at age eleven, women made wide inroads into the masculine world of rodeo.

Montana boasts its share of women who “busted broncs” and broke ranks in the macho world of rodeo during the early to mid- 1900s. Cowgirl Up! is the history of these cowgirls, their courage, and their accomplishments.

You can pre-order from my website with free shipping until Sept. 2.

Published in: on August 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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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:


June Round Robin: An Explosive Scene

Round Robin bannerThis excerpt is from Follow the Dream, book two in my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy. Jake and Nettie have tried to put on a rodeo but had low attendance and poor earnings, so many cowboys didn’t get paid or were paid very little. I don’t have many “big” explosive moments in my novels, but this was fun to write.

A funereal mood enveloped Nettie along with the smell of stale cigarettes and yeasty beer when they walked though the swinging doors of the Ranchers Bar. She braced herself. This was the last place she wanted to be. She wished they could just go home.

Usually, after a rodeo, the saloon rollicked with laughter and shouts as the cowboys relived the highlights of their rides, embellishing the successes with each telling. Today the crowd was hushed. Men sat hunched over their drinks, and only a few forced laughs punctuated the low murmur.

Jake and Nettie settled on stools at the bar, and Jake summoned the bartender. “A round for the house, on me.” He downed his whiskey in one gulp, then turned to the room. “Gents, ladies, I’m very sorry about today’s poor purse. I’d like to buy you a drink to make it up to you.”

The pitch of the conversation rose a notch. Somebody shouted. “Hear, hear.”Dream Cover Final

“That’s the least you can do.” Another voice sang out.

A burly cowboy stepped up beside Jake. “It’ll take more’n one drink to make up for this.” With the speed of a rattlesnake, he drove his fist into Jake’s jaw.

“No!” Nettie shouted.

Jake’s head rocked back and he fell against the bar. His hand came up instinctively to feel for the damage to his face. Driving his weight forward, Jake ducked under a second punch. His return jab glanced off the cowboy’s shoulder. The man spun to the side. He recovered his balance with a roundhouse to Jake’s upraised arm.

The room erupted into a mare’s nest of shouts and commotion. The crowd surged forward to surround the two men. Nettie scrambled over the top of the bar, her drink flying, to land beside the bartender. She grabbed his arm. “Help. Stop them!”

He merely shrugged.

The two men rolled on the floor. Grunts punctuated slaps. She couldn’t tell who was landing punches where. The burly cowboy had Jake down.

No, now Jake rolled on top. He punched the cowboy in the nose. Blood squirted.

The cowboy heaved Jake off and swung a left to Jake’s eye. The onlookers shouted encouragement. “Git ’im. Punch his lights out.”

Nettie screamed. The din and confusion overwhelmed her with total helplessness. This couldn’t be happening. She had to stop this insanity. Where were the other women? Gone. No help from them.

Nettie slipped from behind the bar and out the back door. Her boot heels thundering on the wooden sidewalk, she ran down the street to the Sheriff’s office and yanked open the door.

“Bar fight. Help!” she yelled and ran back to the saloon. Sheriff Ingram lumbered behind.

 

boxingNow, please visit the following blogs for more on explosive scenes!

* Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog

*Anne Stenhouse http://goo.gl/ILNek6

* Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
* Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
* Kay Sisk  http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
* Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
* Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
* Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com

Published in: on June 28, 2014 at 6:29 am  Comments (8)  
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