A dream come true
Linda Wylie BearDen manages and sells real estate as her day job, but a lifelong dream of writing children’s books has materialized with her first publication, “Grandpa Bud.” The chapter book, heavily inspired by her time living in Austin, sat in a drawer for 25 years before she took it out and finished it. Now it’s available on Amazon and Kindle, and it’s sold at Ace Hardware in Carbondale and Book Train in Glenwood Springs.
“Grandpa Bud” tells the story of life on a cattle ranch in Texas and, BearDen hopes, helps children understand and cope with death, a topic parents and children may struggle with.
BearDen sat down with the Post Independent to discuss her inspiration for “Grandpa Bud” and what’s next for this newly published author.
Post Independent: Is this the first book you’ve written?
Linda Wylie BearDen: It is. This book was actually started when my son was about 5. I wrote the skeleton of the book at that point in time, and I put it in a drawer. It’s a crying shame, because it sat in that file drawer for 25 years. I had some medical problems and sort of figured out that I wasn’t going to live forever, and I thought, ‘You know, if I am ever going to fulfill this dream, I have to get that book out and finish it.’
It was my lifetime dream to publish children’s books. My desire was to write things that, number one, would cause children to want them to read, and number two, would have facts in it. So last year at about this time, I said, ‘I am going to really focus on the book and getting it published and seeing if this is a career that can be my dream fulfilled.’ So I finished this one.
It took a long time for us to get the illustrations for it, and I got it published. In the meantime, I wrote another book, ‘Armadillo Antics.’ I’m just waiting for [Sami Boyle Gaston] to finish the color on the illustrations, and then we will publish this one. And in the meantime, I’m working on one about a little longhorn bull all the way from before his birth until they decide if he’s going to get to be a bull, a steer or hamburger meat. I kind of put it aside while I get these two published. I’m still working fulltime as a real estate broker, so it’s hard for me to get all these steps done.
PI: Tell me about the story of “Grandpa Bud” and what you’re hoping kids will get out of reading it.
LWB: It’s about the death of this little boy’s grandfather. The little boy spends his weekends at the ranch where this guy is a real old-time cowboy on a cattle-working ranch. Once these people die, they won’t work cows like that anymore. Already, they work cows with four-wheelers and helicopters and who knows what. This was back when they actually used horses and they still branded the cows.
Anyway, the little boy doesn’t want to go because his grandpa’s not going to be there. So he asks all these questions like, ‘Where is he? Is he ever coming back? Did he take his truck with him?’ All the things that children ask.
My purpose in it was twofold. I wanted to give parents and children some plausible answers to those questions. And I also wanted to introduce children to life on a real ranch because children who are in the city don’t have a clue how you do any of these things.
PI: What’s your favorite part of the book?
LWB: My favorite part is the campfire. It ends with the family all gathering around a real typical Texas campfire where they roast weenies and eat marshmallows. For me, the favorite thing about the ranch and the favorite thing about the book is the whole idea of ending the day sitting around a campfire singing country and western songs.
PI: Was the publishing process difficult?
LWB: It is one of the most difficult things I’ve done, and on my resume you see I’ve worked for Texas Instruments, State Farm, IBM, my own personal management company in Austin — I’ve done a lot of real hard things. The reason this was so difficult was because I chose to self-publish it because I wanted to retain control. The thing I discovered is that by the time you get through signing their 14-page contracts, which are as difficult to read as buying a house, you’ve given away your book.
The other thing that made it really difficult was I did it by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have an instruction manual to go by. I just had the computer saying, ‘Okay, now do this.’ I should have gone to school, I should have taken courses, I should have read the magazines that writers receive. But I’m so busy managing property and selling property to make a living that I didn’t really have time to do that. So I did this very much by the seat of my pants, and the next one will have to be like that, too, because I still have to support myself.
PI: What was the most challenging part of the whole process?
LWB: It was having the courage to do it and not fearing failure. I think that’s the reason lots of people never accomplish their dreams, because they’re afraid to step out there on that limb and be rejected. I’m still just kind of floating along by the seat of my pants and doing as much work on it as I can in-between managing properties and hopefully selling again now that the market’s coming back. But I would love it if these were such a huge success that I could do this forever.
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