An enjoyment of reading to his daughter prompted Ossian resident John Baumgartner to become the author of two new books.
For the past decade Baumgartner, a 1979 graduate of Norwell High School, wrote 10 books. His attempts to get them published were dismal. After receiving dozens of rejection letters for the first eight, he was discouraged and decided to take a break from writing.
His love for storytelling did not abandon him as Baumgartner created stories for his three children each night before they went to sleep. His daughter Nicole, in particular, always asked for more. Finally, Baumgartner connected the nightly stories into a book for his daughter who encouraged him to publish it. “I was hesitant to try to publish again because of all of the rejections I had received,” said Baumgartner. “But I felt I owed it to her not to let her see me giving up my dream of being an author.”
After contacting three publishers who turned down the book, Baumgartner found success with a publisher named Publish America. “They work with first-time authors and I didn’t need an agent,” said Baumgartner.
His first book, Like Losing Your Left Hand, was published in 2011. It is written with a contemporary setting for students in late elementary grades. Last fall Baumgartner began working on a second book, Rori’s Ghost, which was published in 2012. Both books are mysteries.
While Like Losing Your Left Hand is written for younger students, Rori’s Ghost is written for high school students and is a medieval fantasy. The plot centers on an abused girl who must decide if she will help others who need her.
“The theme focuses on the self-doubt we all feel, but shows how we can overcome this weakness for the sake of others,” said Baumgartner.
For his research into his abused character Baumgartner interviewed people at A Friend’s House in Bluffton. “I wanted to know what they thought as they experienced certain things in life,” he said, adding that the abuse mentioned in the book is not graphic. It is also not a ghost story. “ThegGhost referred to in the title is the name of a character in the book,” said Baumgartner.
Rori’s Ghost contains a spiritual message. “While the book doesn’t overtly refer to the Christian faith, it refers to a Creator and Healer and the innate goodness in Nature,” said Baumgartner. “There is a definite born-again experience for the heroine and there is evil present.” Baumgartner and his family, including wife Tammy and daughter Nicole, attend Apostolic Christian Church in Bluffton.
Baumgartner relies on Nicole, an eighth grader at Canterbury High School, for help with the book. “She looks at the first chapter as I’m writing it to ensure the characterization is true,” he said. Baumgartner has begun working on a sequel to Rori’s Ghost.
Proceeds from sales of Baumgartner’s books are donated to A Friend’s House. Rori’s Ghost is available at the Publish America online book store ($16.00), Amazon, and Barnes & Noboe. Like Losing Your Left Hand is available in paperback version at the same locations for $9.00, as well as the Wells County Public Library.
Baumgartner attended Ball State University where he double majored in marketing and journalism. After working in advertising in Chicago, he and his family returned to Wells County in 1988. Today, Baumgartner is director of marketing at Energy Control in Ossian.
Baumgartner credits his Norwell High School literature teacher, Marilyn Koons, for prompting his interest in reading and writing. “She brought reading to life for me,” he said. “She helped students understand the meaning of themes and motifs of a story. From her I thought it would be fun to write a book.”
Cutline: John Baumgartner of Ossian is the author of two books for middle and high school students.