MARVIN – Marvin resident Melinda Nielsen has been a devoted mother for nearly two decades, which inspired her to write a children’s book that features illustrations from a Marvin Ridge High School junior.
Nielsen recently published her first children’s book, “Oh, No. Not a Babysitter. Not Tonight!” which addresses the idea of having a babysitter from a child’s perspective.
The Marvin resident said she became interested in writing children’s books after she had her two children, Bryce and Sarah, and reading countless books with them.
“Whatever lights your child up is just magic, and you foster that love of reading as much as you can,” Nielsen said. “You hone in on what your child loves as much as you can.”
Nielsen’s idea for the book came after she would sometimes leave Bryce, who today attends college, with a babysitter while the family lived in Florida. Being an only child at the time, her son was skeptical about any babysitter.
“Not Tonight!” highlights different potential babysitters, such as aliens, monsters or clowns and explores how a child might perceive a babysitter.
Nielsen always knew she wanted to be a writer, but experienced many obstacles before making her dream come true.
She received multiple rejection letters from potential publishers, had trouble finding an affordable illustrator and underwent a tug-and-pull with her publisher, Xulon Press, to make the text and illustrations fit into a cohesive book.
Nielsen found an illustrator in Marvin Ridge junior Mariella Filippis after developing a close relationship with her family.
Mariella typically paints realistic artwork that Nielsen describes as “breathtaking” and the junior had to learn to adjust her artwork to fit the genre.
“It was an interesting experience. It’s not normally what I do,” the junior said. “Sometimes things got lost in translation and the fact that my personal style is more realistic than a children’s book and making sure I understood (Melinda’s) vision (was important).”
Mariella has a passion for painting and often uses her art to express herself.
“I like the sense of creation, being able to put down thoughts in my art and convey a message,” she said. “(I like to) see myself represented in such a way.”
After Nielsen and Mariella experienced difficulties with the publisher regarding the book’s look, Mariella’s family purchased software to help develop the pages themselves to ensure the book carried out Nielsen’s vision.
“Mariella’s mom (Toni) used to joke that the only thing they didn’t have was a printing press in the basement,” Nielsen said.
The junior said the completed product was the most rewarding part of the process because she could see how her illustrations completed the story.
The Marvin Ridge student plans to pursue art as a profession. She said she may illustrate other books in the future, but knows other forms of art also will be in her future.
Nielsen said she hopes the book resonates with other children and serves as a starting point for parents to open up a conversation with their children about babysitters.
“When you hear a child giggle, it’s all so worth it,” Nielsen said.
The Marvin resident said her proudest moment was when she saw her book on the Barnes & Noble book list and on Amazon.com.
She asked her husband to help her publish her book as a 50th birthday present because she wanted to “do something for (herself).”
“In my soul, no one will ever take that away from me,” she said.
Nielsen said she might publish other books in the future, possibly one dedicated to her daughter since her first book was for her son. She also said she’d love to plan some book signings.
“If enough people were interested, I’d create an event,” Nielsen said, adding she’d want to host a signing in Barnes & Noble, in her neighborhood or even New York.
The Marvin mom believes the writing process is a “journey” and has advice for other writers: “If you’ve written something that makes you say, ‘This is one of my pearls,’ and to you it felt right from the beginning and it was a thought process for you, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else,” Nielsen said. “Once you get that pearl, you just have to find your way of getting it out to other people. Look for a place to put it.”
The book is available at barnesandnoble.com, XulonPress.com and Amazon.com. Contact Nielsen to request a book signing at MelindaNielsenauthor@gmail.com.