Please help me welcome Linda L. Osmundson as this week’s Wednesday’s Guest. Linda is an award-winning author of a series of books for young readers, How the West was Drawn, that focuses on famous Western Artists, introducing young readers to the wonderful world of art. Join me with a cup of tea and enjoy her post.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked my husband Bob.
I’d taught school until our children came along; then I stayed home. But when he asked that question, I was fifty years old, and I needed challenges. So, I became a “professional” volunteer for schools, museums, women’s organizations, HOA’s and church. I was a crafter. I wrote newsletters for our HOA, poems for our party invitations and Christmas letters.
I tried writing a children’s book when my boys were young but discovered it to be much harder than I envisioned. I wanted to enroll in a “writing for children” correspondence course. Bob agreed and I signed up.
I finished the 2 year course in 18 months and wrote articles. Rejections filled the mailbox. I attended workshops, conferences, continued to hone my skills and wrote. Just before we moved back to Colorado after a 15 year hiatus, I received $10 for a puzzle published in a children’s magazine. In fact, a few years ago, I received another $10 for its reprint.
In Colorado I joined a wonderful critique group. I continued to write fiction for children but on the side wrote adult non-fiction articles. The group helped me publish my first real piece about crosses, which sold to a religion teacher’s magazine. More articles appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and various magazines – religious, teacher, senior, travel, Family Circle. But those targeted adults.
My children’s fiction received enough rejections to paper my office wall. One day I remembered advice offered at a conference – write what you know.
I served as a docent in four art museums and two galleries as Bob’s job transfers moved us to five states throughout the West. I gave hundreds of tours to children and adults, taught docents to give interactive tours and taught classroom volunteers the same. I discovered my writing focus – art.
From a love of western artist Charles Russell, I modeled the book after my tours. Questions encouraged readers to really “look and see” 13 images. I added approximately 250 words of text about him and/or the image. A friend and prolific author, Debbie Dadey, named my potential series How the West Was Drawn.
Of course, marketing involved more rejections but Pelican Publishing finally agreed to print the book. On the day my 260 copies arrived, I was 72 years old. I pulled a book from the box, saw my name on the cover and wiped away the tears streaming down my cheeks.
The next book for the series – Russell’s nemesis Frederic Remington – followed. The third book, against my chauvinistic husband’s advice, focused on women’s art.
The Russell and women’s art books won the Spur Finalist Award from the Western Writer’s of America. Women’s Art also won the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s coveted Wrangler Award.
At a Christian Writer’s Conference in Estes Park this year, I acquired an agent. I asked why he would represent a 78 year old author. He assured me he tried to sign a woman in her 90s but lost out to another agent. He currently markets four of my manuscripts –two picture books, a fictionalized autobiographical year in my childhood and a time-travel chapter book which features a popular painting.
I wanted to be a children’s author when I grew up.
I am one!
It is never too late to follow your dream.
“How the West Was Drawn: Women’s Art” highlights fourteen women who painted the West around the turn of the 20th century. This “looking at art” picture book captures the interest of ages 7-107. Questions lead readers to really look at the images, followed by short text about the art and/or artists. The book won the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s prestigious Wrangler Award.
Linda Osmundson is the author of hundreds of non-fiction articles for children and adults. She authored three books in the How the West Was Drawn series (award winning Cowboy Charlie’s Art, Frederic Remington’s Art and award winning Women’s Art) for ages 7-107. Learn more about Linda Osmundson on her website, her How the West Was Drawn Facebook page. See all of the books in this terrific series at her Amazon Author Page. She lives in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, with a view of the Rocky Mountains and Long’s Peak from her deck.