Monday, May 5, 2014


ActuallyAlethea is pleased to welcome Heidi Thomas today for the kickoff of the blog tour for her new Western historical novel, Dare to Dream.

Welcome.  Will you share a little bit about yourself? 
I am originally from Montana and grew up on a ranch riding horses. I have a background in journalism, but love writing fiction. I lived in Northwest Washington for 17 years before moving to north-central Arizona a year ago. I love hiking in the granite hills in the sunshine!

Are you a reader?  What types of books do you like best?  What author(s)? I’ve always been a voracious reader. I like all kinds of books from cozy mysteries and courtroom dramas to historical and literary novels. My favorite authors include fellow Montanan Ivan Doig, fellow historical western authors Jane Kirkpatrick and Susan Lang , John Grisham, Craig Johnson.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A writer and a teacher. 

Did you realize that dream? Yes! I am a writer by vocation and avocation, and I do teach classes in memoir and fiction writing.

What were you like in high school?  Class clown?  Nerd?  Cheerleader type? Definitely a Nerd—bookworm!

Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share? Ernest Hemingway: “There are no great writers, only great re-writers.

Tell us about the journey that led you to write your book. From the time I could form letters, I asked my parents “How do you spell…?” I wrote little stories all through elementary school, worked on the school newspaper in high school, and then received my degree in journalism from the University of Montana. I wrote for newspapers and magazines for many years before returning to my first love—fiction. I’ve had three novels published now and will have my first non-fiction book out in September.

What gave you the idea to write your book? And where to set it? My trilogy is based on my grandmother who rode bucking stock in Montana rodeos during the 1920s.

What inspired you to write about the theme? It’s all about having a dream and following it, as the titles of my books say. My character, Nettie, had a dream, and I had a dream. We dared, and we followed, and we persevered.
Please tell us about your current release. Dare to Dream is the third in the “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy and takes place in the 1940s. It is a story of continuing to pursue a dream but finding an alternate, fulfilling way to achieve it. The book is set against a backdrop of WWII and its affect on ranching and rodeo with women’s competition coming to an end.

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding? Sometimes the most challenging thing is just finding the discipline to get to the writing. I do a lot of writing every day—several blogs, editing for other authors, and class preparation. Sometimes my WIP takes a back seat to that. The most rewarding thing is when someone takes the time to write to me and tell me how much they enjoyed my book or what it meant to them. That makes my day!

How do you go about the writing process? Are you a strict outliner, a seat-of-the-pantser, or somewhere in-between? I’m a “pantser”. I’ll make notes and have a plan in mind, but I don’t do a formal outline. Because of my journalism background, I’ve come to realize that my first drafts are my outlines. Then I need to go back and flesh out the characters and the story.

Tell us about the story behind your book cover. My first two books were published by one publisher who closed down last year. The cover for Cowgirl Dreams included a picture of my grandmother, which was a great conversation-starter. The cover for Follow the Dream depicted a story when Nettie and Jake (based on my grandparents’ experience) trailed their herd of horses 400 miles over steep mountain passes to find grass for them during the drought of the 1930s. My new publisher has republished the first two books along with Dare to Dream and their designer chose a theme of vintage cowgirls for all of them. People are asking me if that is a picture of my grandmother on the cover of Dare to Dream, but no, unfortunately it’s not. It does depict the trick-riding women of that era, however.

What steps have you taken to marketing your book? I’ve done a pre-order e-mail blast, I’m doing this blog book tour, and I’m setting up book signings and talks in my area. In August I will be doing a “reality” book tour in Washington and Montana that my publisher is setting up for me. And of course I’m on social media and have a website

Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.

Nettie slipped out of the saddle to close the gate. She hadn’t seen any wires down on the fence, but sometimes calves just got rambunctious and went right through.

“All right, Windy, time to go home and take some iced tea out to the guys.” Collecting her reins, she stuck her boot into the stirrup and started to swing her leg over to mount up.

At that moment a sagehen fluttered out of the brush. Windy snorted. Nettie grabbed for the saddle horn. The gelding threw up his head and bolted.

As Nettie hit the sun-baked ground, she felt her shoulder pop.

Lying still, trying to draw in a breath, Nettie heard Windy’s hoofbeats galloping away. Her chest felt like the horse had sat on it. When she could at last catch her breath, she rolled to one side and tried to rise. Pain in her shoulder radiated down her arm and up into her head. Bright spots exploded in her vision and her head spun. She lay flat again, groaning.

Time drifted by like a wispy cloud. How long she lay there, she couldn’t tell. Nettie opened her eyes. The sky was clear. No more bright spots. Home. Gotta get home.

Slowly, holding her left arm steady, she rolled to her right side. Pain shot through her shoulder. Bile rose in her throat. Taking deep breaths to still the pain, Nettie lay in that position until the nausea passed, then gingerly sat up. Dizziness threatened again and she fought to stay upright. Jake, help.
The afternoon sun drummed on her head, seared her eyes. Gotta get up. She looked around for a stick, something, anything to help her rise. A large sagebrush loomed just out of reach. Nettie tried to scoot her body toward the brush, but the pain washed over her again. Reaching down, she unbuckled her belt and inched it from her belt loops, grunting with the effort. She clumsily rebuckled it, eased it over her head, and slipped it under her forearm to cradle it close to her body.

With her right arm free, Nettie scooted closer to the sage until she could grab hold of a sturdy branch. She rested a minute and pulled herself to her knees. Then with a heave and a yell she stood. The amber hills seemed to sway against the sky. Her legs shook. Sweat poured down her back. No, not going down again. Holding on to her sage lifeline, she took deep draughts of air until the horizon righted itself.

Nettie took a step. Stopped. Let go of the brush. Took another step. Breathed deeply. Cradling her left arm close to her body, she tottered forward. Only a mile to the house. Home, she repeated in rhythm with her halting steps.
Stopping every few feet to catch her breath, she used her red bandana to mop her heated face. Jake, Neil, where are you?

The relentless sun continued its descent from directly overhead. Nettie kept putting one foot in front of the other. Home, home, home. Her heart pounded with the effort. Hours seemed to pass by, maybe even days… Home.

Tell us about your book and where it's available. Autographed copies are available on my website, also from the publisher  and
Aside from entertainment, what would you like people to take away from your book? Encouragement to follow a dream.
Can we look forward to reading about you again anytime soon? My non-fiction book about the old-time rodeo cowgirls of Montana, Cowgirl Up!, will be out Sept. 2

What's next for you? I’m working on the 4th in the series, An American Dream, about the next generation.

Where can readers find you on the web? 
Twitter: @Heidiwriter

My next blog tour stop will be tomorrow at Janet Fisher’s blog where I'll be talking about how my books came about.

There are some awesome prizes in Heidi's DARE TO DREAM giveaway: Choice of one of my “Dreams” books, woven bookmark, denim potholder, Dare to Dream ornament, “Dreams Do Come True” fridge magnet, Cowgirl soap and more. Comment here with your email, or visit

Thanks for stopping by!


Heidiwriter said...

Alethea, thank you for helping me kick off my book launch blog tour for Dare to Dream!

Mary E. Trimble said...

I've read the first two books of this trilogy and I can't wait to read the third. Nice interview.

Heidiwriter said...

Thank you, Mary!

Renaissance Women said...

Heidi, I am so happy for you. What a great feeling it must be to have not only your new book out, but the first two re-issued. Congratulations! Doris

Heidiwriter said...

Thank you, Doris. This is indeed a huge thrill for me!

Arletta Dawdy said...

Your excerpt shows your grandmother/character's mettle and brings the reader into the scene with compassion for her predicament. Nicely done!

Heidiwriter said...

Thanks, Arletta! She was a pistol!

Carolyn Niethammer said...

I love your covers. They really draw you in. So excited to be appearing together to talk about "our" women and their dreams in September in Prescott.

Heidiwriter said...

I'm looking forward to our talk too, Carolyn. Glad you like the covers!

Marylou Thomas said...

I have read the first two books in this series and can hardly wait to read Dare to Dream. Your books keep the reader involved from beginning to end.

Alice Trego said...

What a wonderful interview! I read with great interest the excerpt from the newest "Dreams" novel -- I've already read the first two -- and I can't wait to pick up my copy of Dare to Dream to read about Nettie, whether she makes it home or if she's "rescued." Nicely done, Heidi! Thanks Alethea for sharing Heidi with us...

Heidiwriter said...

Thank you,Marylou and Alice! I do hope you'll enjoy it!

Heidiwriter said...

And, the winner is...Arletta Dawdy!

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview. Will have to check out this author.