Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heidi Thomas and Cowgirl Dreams

Raised on a ranch in isolated eastern Montana, Heidi Thomas has loved reading and writing since she was a child. A tidbit of family history, that her grandmother rode steers in rodeos during the 1920s, spurred Heidi to write a novel based on that grandmother’s life. Cowgirl Dreams is the first in a series about strong, independent Montana Women. A sequel, Follow the Dream, will be published in 2010.

Heidi has a degree in journalism, has worked in the newspaper business, and has had numerous magazine articles published. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, is a member of several writers organizations, writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.

Wlecome, Heidi. When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

I began telling stories before I could write. Later, I tried to emulate Nancy Drew mysteries or Zane Grey or whatever wonderful book I happened to be reading at the time. I’ve always loved to write.

I loved Zane Grey as well.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

That we all have dreams and need to pursue them, to find our path in life and follow it. We all have the potential for a gift or a passion, whether it’s for writing, hairdressing or auto mechanics. The path is never straight—we all take many side trips, get lost, forget the goal. But my advice is to never give up, even if we discover the direction we took at the beginning has changed.

Tell us more about Cowgirl Dreams.

Cowgirl Dreams is based on my grandmother’s life. (That seems to be my hook, what grabs potential readers’ interest.) In the book, Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention and defies family and social norms with her dream of becoming a rodeo star. 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?

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? In what way?

Absolutely. I have learned how important it is to develop rounded characters, to show their feelings and reactions, rather than just “telling” the reader about them. What I particularly love about writing is that I’m continually learning something new and improving my craft. It’s never a dull life!

Specifically, how does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

It has had a great influence on my writing. I grew up on a ranch in isolated eastern Montana, without electricity and indoor plumbing for many years, so I could identify quite a bit with the way my grandmother lived her childhood. I rode horses and gathered cattle, but never participated in rodeo. Also, growing up this way formed me as a strong, independent woman, a trait passed along to me by my grandmother and my mother and encouraged by my father.

How do you promote yourself online and off?

I have a website and a blog. I belong to several on-line writers and book-related sites. I did a virtual book tour as well as a “reality” book tour. In addition to bookstores, I sell my book at western-related stores and gift shops and at arts and crafts fairs.

What are your current projects?

My sequel, Follow the Dream, will be out sometime in 2010. I am also writing a third “Nettie book.”

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is and I blog at My book is available as an autographed copy through my website, and it is also available from my publisher and from the usual on-line sources.

It has become clear to me that I should have asked to interview you in person since I've been to the edge of Montana but an avalanche in Yellowstone kept us from going farther north. Next time, perhaps?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anne Patrick returns

My guest today is Anne Patrick, back for a second visit. Welcome back, Anne and even though I have previously interviewed you, please give new blog visitors a brief bio.

Well, I’m a suspense junkie with a bad habit of mixing chocolate and diet colas when writing which can, and often does, lead to mayhem. The proof being almost a dozen romantic suspense novels that are either published or under contract at this time. I do have a lighter side in the form of an alter ego named Kinzie Monroe who writes inspirational romance. When I’m not killing off people or falling in love with dashing heroes, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and traveling to foreign countries to experience new cultures.

Wow! What a great life!
What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

I’d have to say Dee Henderson has been the most influential. I love how she can tell a spine-tingling tale laced with Christian themes.

Why do you use a pen name?

If you knew my last name you wouldn’t ask that question :-). Actually my mother came up with my first pen name, Anne Patrick. The second, Kinzie Monroe, I concocted at the advice of my publisher. We didn’t want a reader to pick up my inspirational romance, expecting murder and mayhem, and then be disappointed.

You have two new books. Congratulations! Please give us a short synopsis of Ties That Bind and Out of the Darkness.

Thank you, Susan. Well if you like reading about serial killers and the FBI profilers that hunt them, you won’t be disappointed with these.

Ties That Bind pits physic profiler Jo McDaniels against a sadistic killer in her former home town, and helping her is the handsome sheriff, Austin Garrett, who doesn’t quite know how to handle Jo’s unusual gift which allows her to tell him things that even the coroner doesn’t know. Things really get tense when they figure out that Jo could be the killer’s next victim.
Out of the Darkness (May release) has ex-FBI Profiler, Alex Michaels, forced into hiding by the serial killer who murdered her twin sister and left her with a career ending injury. Meeting up with an ex-pro football player who is also facing an uncertain future, Alex makes Royce McIntire an offer he can’t refuse. Settling into her new life, Alex has no idea the killer is hot on her tracks along with the team of FBI agents who failed to protect her before. When they all catch up to her, not only is her peaceful life shattered, but once again her life is in jeopardy.
Out of the Darkness is a perfect example of a story done right. You'll keep turning pages because you can't wait to find out who the villian really is and how the story will play out. Once you finish this book, you'll be searching for more from Anne Patrick, and you can find what you seek on her website. To purchase your copy of this amazing suspense thriller, visit Champagne Books.
Read the whole review at

Great review, Anne.
How do you think your writing has progressed since your first book?

It has gotten tighter and less passive, thanks to some wonderful editors who took the time to point out my flaws and made suggestions of how to improve my style.

When do you accomplish your best writing?

I’m a night owl, so usually about the time most normal people are sound to sleep in their comfy beds I’m creeping along dark alleys either searching for a killer or looking for my next victim.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

Music. Not only do I write by it, I can’t get to sleep without it. Now if it’s during the day, a long walk at the lake or a game of Frisbee with my German Shepherd, Zoe, usually does it.

Both novels have profilers but the characters and settings are different. How did you keep confusion at bay while writing the books simultaneously?

Actually the books were written a few years apart with books in between them. Out of the Darkness is the prequel to my first published book, Every Skull Tells a Story. I was midway through it when the characters in ESTAS starting bugging me. They were so insistent I had to put aside Out of the Darkness and tell their story first. Now seven books later, I’m thrilled that Jo and Royce finally get to tell theirs.

Anne, it's been great to interview you again. Let me know when the next book's out.
Where can we purchase these books and get more information about you?

Ties That Bind can be purchased through Awestruck Publishing and Out of the Darkness through Champagne Books or you can buy them at most online bookstores. I have buy links to both on my website: and my blog:
Thanks for another great interview, Anne.

Thank you for having me back, Susan. I’ve enjoyed it! I'd like to offer a PDF copy of either Out of the Darkness or Ties That Bind to one of the commenters. Would you like to draw a name at the end of the day on Tuesday?

Sure! That's very generous of you, Anne. Okay, bloggers, here's your chance. Just leave a comment in the link below for your chance to win the PDF.