Column: Chilton native publishes children’s book

Published 1:21 pm Monday, September 18, 2023

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

Jemison native Susanne Nichols Nissley recently published her children’s book, The Rollaway Bed. Growing up, one of Nissley’s brothers had a special bed with wheels that he used when he was sick and bedridden. Nissley and her late mother, Sue, used to talk about writing the children’s book.

“My family and I used to make up stories of where it would travel since it had wheels,” said Nissley. “Some of the stories were very silly and would make us laugh. It was fun and entertaining to tap into our imaginations. One time mom had a bed with wheels too, that we used to roll across the room. The concept of The Rollaway Bed came from those many positive experiences.”

After Nissley’s mother passed away in 2010, she drafted the story. Writing has been therapeutic and a way to honor the memories of her family.

“When circumstances are looking grim, the light of a story has the power to brighten a dreary day, bring a smile to a sad face, lighten heavy moods, encourage someone … A good book can be powerful and uplifting,” she said.

Besides writing, Nissley worked as an educator for many years. Her teaching career began in North Carolina in 2005, majoring in Elementary Education.  She completed her degrees at the University of Montevallo with a Collaborative Endorsement and obtained her Master’s in English as a Second Language at UAB, working with every grade level preschool through adult.

“While teaching elementary school, I read a lot of children’s books to my students. I often felt inspired to write and illustrate my own stories,” said Nissley. “The design of The Rollaway Bed is intended to encourage listeners and readers to tap into their own imaginations, setting them up to have pleasant dreams. Some of my early readers have pursued their dreams in real life. For example, one of my nieces said her rollaway bed would go to Disney World. A few years later, she went. A friend’s kid said her rollaway bed would go to the trampoline park. I haven’t heard if she has gone since then, but I imagine she probably has or will at some point.”

Nissley, wrote, illustrated and published the book herself and hopes to soon publish it in other languages.

“I learned a lot during the writing process, and continue to learn from it,” said Nissley. “I started to use acrylic paints, then started over to paint the illustrations with watercolors. It took me a while to evaluate the route I wanted to take. The ability to imagine and dream is a gift from God. You have the power to control your dreams. Focus can be hard, so learning how to prioritize effectively is important. A strong desire to do something, coupled with time to accomplish it, willingness to fail and try again, breaking a large task into smaller tasks and finding like minded or supportive people are some strategies I have found helpful in accomplishing a long term goal. Even if it takes a decade, I suspect you’ll be glad you did the thing you set out to accomplish.”

Nissley also spends her time reading to her son and advocates for others to be intentional in reading to children.

“Reading is a way to learn and connect,” she said. “It’s a great way to get acquainted with the unknown. It can be entertaining and enjoyable. For those who are not confident in reading, I encourage you to read more of what you enjoy. Sometimes slow readers are actually thorough readers who pause to think about what they have read, comment, make notes and discuss. Even reading the pictures is a useful and an acquired skill for gaining information. We can all grow in our reading abilities.”

Proceeds from book sales will go to provide educational opportunities and resources for children. Copies of The Rollaway Bed can be ordered on Amazon, under Nissley’s pen name “Maggie Writes.”

Nissley is a wife and mother, who enjoys devoting most of her time to family. She enjoys being outside, hiking, gardening and taking time to cook nutritious and delicious food.