For some, working on others’ behalf can stall progress on individual projects, and for Monika Rose, assisting fledgling authors with spreading their wings has been a big deal.
Rose founded the Manzanita Writers Press many years ago, a nonprofit publisher operated out of the Manzanita Arts Emporium headquartered in downtown Angels Camp. An English teacher at San Joaquin Delta College since 1998, Rose has helped many area authors edit and publish novels in fiction, nonfiction, historical and other genres.
She released “River by the Glass,” a 211-page poetry anthology, in 2011, but work on her own projects has been systematically pushed aside in favor of helping new writers. Rose says she has two adult novels swirling around in her mind, but when she stumbled across a box of scribblings from her children’s childhoods, she knew she had to publish a different book.
It has taken the better part of two decades to do what she thought she would as her kids grew up, and that’s put the bedtime stories she told her son and two daughters to paper.
“I had to do it before the grandkids were too old,” Rose chuckled from the Manzanita Arts Emporium.
The box of notes and drawings she made more than 20 years ago was discovered about two years ago. The result of two years of work accomplished since is “Bed Bumps,” a children’s book she celebrates Saturday at the emporium.
“I had to put myself aside,” she said.
“Bed Bumps” follows a boy who is a “clutterbug,” as Rose refers to the child, who collects things from his life and stores them in or under his bed. A banana peel, an iguana (poorly drawn, she gleefully admits), household pets, books and more can be seen in watercolors that Rose created herself all those years ago.
“He’s modeled on my son, Brennan,” Rose said. “But really, all of my kids were like this.”
She said she used to relay a collection of about five or six different tales she made up to her kids, and when she found the box of notes and artworks, she thought of her grandchildren.
“The basis (of the book) is a love of reading,” Rose said.
Without being too sing-songlike, the story in the book is told simply, with a few words or phrases repeated to emphasize ideas. A few area artists helped with her painting over the years, and the watercolors contribute colorful, whimsical visuals to most every page.
“It’s got a rhythm and a rhyme,” she said. “I love the learning” that children can engage in with simpler stories that open imaginations wide.
Rose had to carefully map out the book so the text and appropriate watercolors were matched on the pages.
“Some of the drawings were OK,” she said of the discovery, but others required a bit of modern-day doctoring, “… so kids could relate to the images.”
“There are lots of little details,” she said, acknowledging the work that authors and editors go through when planning publications for print. Since she has helped so many area authors do the same thing as a primary editor for the Manzanita Writers Press, Rose said finagling those details has been a little more rewarding with her own book. But it was still a lot of work.
At the end of the book, Rose deliberately added some activity pages to encourage young readers to dive into the story more deeply and appreciate the details in the fanciful tale. Rose says the book is intended for new readers, perfect for a bedtime story, but she hopes the activity pages help little learners strive to get more from what they read.
“Something not in the bed is mentioned, but it’s included in the story; what is it?” she said. “They get to go back and search and discover.”
And the intended audience isn’t the only group that has embraced the new book.
“I think it’s necessary to bring out the inner child inside of us and play a little,” Rose said. “This book has tickled adults when I read it aloud to them, as it brings back memories of childhood.”
Other stories that may wind up as children’s books include a tale of a porcupine that’s far too difficult to get along with, a child who invents a clean-up machine, and something she’s tentatively calling “Ugly Bugly,” which is a twist on “The Ugly Duckling” fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
“Bed Bumps” is feted at an event at 4 p.m. Saturday at the emporium, 211 S. Main St. (Highway 49), Angels Camp, where Rose will read a bit of the book, tell a story, and sign copies of her new creation. The event is free to attend, and the book sells for $21.99.
Releasing her own book is exciting, but even as the title hits bookshelves, Rose encourages others to put their stories to paper.
“I encourage people to follow through on their creative projects and don’t wait too long,” she said. “I plan on following my own sage advice, dished out to other writers in our community, and carve out more time to complete my numerous writing projects, including novels, short fiction, a new poetry collection and more children’s books. What fun! It’s time to take them off the back burner and set them to full boil.”
For more information, call 728-6171.