“You can take the girl out of Montana, but you can’t take Montana out of the girl.”
Even though I have not lived there for sixteen years, I still consider “Big Sky Country” home. I was born and raised literally in the “middle of nowhere” in eastern Montana, on a ranch near Sand Springs. If you look at a map of the eastern half of the state, right in the center, where there’s the least amount of writing on the map, that’s where I grew up! The nearby small town (and only incorporated town in Garfield County) is Jordan, best known for dinosaur discoveries and the infamous “Montana Freemen” militia of the mid-1990s. I lived in a dormitory there while I attended high school (the last known public high school dorm in the U.S. when it closed in the 1980s.)
Contrary to popular belief eastern Montana is not flat as a pancake. It is high plains desert, with rolling hills and buttes (plateaus or mesas) and we lived about 60 miles from the famous Missouri Breaks, pretty wild country.
This part of the state is known for its protein-rich prairie grass that produces some of the best beef cattle in the nation. Despite the arid climate, when it does rain, grasses and wildflowers, the like you’ve never seen, spring from hibernation.
Although I was somewhat socially backward when I ventured out into the world, I am glad I grew up there. My parents instilled in me a love of reading and learning and travel, and I am a strong, independent woman today because of my upbringing.
I moved to Missoula for college, received my degree in journalism, worked for the Missoulian daily newspaper, met and married my husband. We lived there until 1996, when we moved to northwest Washington for his job.
Missoula is the flip side of the Montana coin—green lush forests, mountains, rivers and lakes. The home of the University of Montana, it is culturally rich in opportunities for music, theater (Missoula Children’s Theatre travels nationally) and nightlife, as well as its great surrounding areas for fishing, hunting and boating.
My novels, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream, take place in north central Montana, around Cut Bank (which usually makes the national news for being the coldest spot in the nation in winter). This is near Glacier Park, one of two in the state (Yellowstone is the other). My grandmother grew up in that area, riding bucking stock in rodeos alongside the men during the 1920s, and that is the fodder for my “Dare to Dream” series, about strong, independent women. I am currently working on a third book, based on my cowgirl grandma.
Links: http://www.heidimthomas.com or Treble Heart Books http://www.trebleheartbooks.com/SDHeidiThomas
On Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Follow-the-Dream-ebook/dp/B0046H9XC4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336511657&sr=8-2
On Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cowgirl-dreams-heidi-m-thomas/1100069690?ean=2940000154717&itm=1&usri=cowgirl+dreams+heidi+m.thomas
(Pictures provided by author)