A fifth generation Texan who taught family living, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.
"I'd tell them stories at night that made them too scared to get up and go to the bathroom. I got in trouble for that," Thomas claims. "I told them wild stories of school until they cried not to go. I got in trouble for that too. Mother said she's not sure, but she thinks I was 10 before I ever told the truth about anything. And all my life stories have always been in my head."
The stories Thomas has committed to paper have earned her an impressive list of distinguished awards. Her first book, BENEATH THE TEXAS SKY (1988), won the National Press Women's Novel of the Year in its category. Book two, NORTHERN STAR (1990), was named best novel by the (Texas) Panhandle Professional Writers and the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., an organization of writers' groups from several states. Book three, THE TENDER TEXAN(1991), was Thomas's first national bestseller and won her the first of two Romance Writers of America RITAs, the $1.5 billion romance publishing industry's equivalent of an "Oscar." Book twelve, TO KISS A TEXAN (1999) was her first novel to score on the USA TODAY Best-selling Books list. For THE TEXAN'S WAGER (2002), sixteen was the magic number. As Thomas's sixteenth novel, the book scored number sixteen on the NEW YORK TIMES extended bestseller list.
With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, which houses the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, the state's largest historical museum.
"My door is usually open to students all morning," explains Thomas, who talks to the classes at the University and on other campuses during her many speaking engagements when not writing in her spacious office in WTAMU's Cornette Library. "They come by to visit and ask questions about being a writer. When I was a child, being a writer wasn't an option. All the people I knew had regular jobs. I'm hoping that students will see that being a writer is a possibility. This is particularly important in these days when programs in the arts are being cut in the public schools."
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, "When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I'm still making the world a better place."
While the author toured the country last year, speaking to Desk and Derrick clubs about her 2003 novel, THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY, the members of various chapters formed a Jodi Thomas Fan Club. The group enthusiastically promotes her novels and public appearances and even volunteers to provide drivers for her out of town engagements. More information is available at the author's website.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband and renovating an historical home they bought in Amarillo. Her next contemporary novel for MIRA Books, to be published in 2005, will be DUST COVERED DREAMS. She is currently working on this sequel to THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY, in response to enthusiastic readers' requests.
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