Amanda Rose is a small-town girl and author from Northeast Iowa. Her many years of travelling and studying abroad have inspired her to become a children’s book author so she can share her appreciation for culture and language with young readers.
Her first children’s book It’s a Wonderful Story follows Lydia, a German woman in search of a new winter coat, as she discovers that love transcends all borders.
I recently interviewed Amanda on her writing and publishing journey:
Miriam Laundry: Amanda, when did you start this book? Where did the idea come from?
Amanda Rose: Summer of 2019, my daughter wrote a letter to one of my friend's daughters in Mexico. Her excitement of having a pen pal inspired me to write a story called Will You Be My Pen Pal. I went on to write three more pen pal stories. It ignited a spark that still burns strong today.
I bought all the books about writing picture books and became an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) member. Later that year, I joined an SCBWI conference where I sent my Pen Pal book for review. They loved the theme and challenged me to find the heart of the story. I asked myself, "Why are pen pals important to you?" This question changed everything.
I went home and sat with that question. I kept asking myself, "Why am I writing so much about pen pals?"
Then it hit me, and it hit me hard—my Grandma. The long-time tradition of exchanging letters, especially with someone from a foreign country whom one has never met, is how my family came to be.
ML: Wow! So your family started with two pen pals?
AR: Yes. This book shows the first correspondence between My "Oma" Grandma Lydia and my Great Grandma Anna.
ML: Why was it important to share the message in your book?
AR: To have this piece of history is amazing to me. It is a lost art that should never fade. My children will write to their grandparents, and I see the joy it brings. I hope someday if I have grandkids, they will send me happy mail, not a text or email — a handwritten letter with a drawing or picture made just for me.
ML: Yes, letters are very special. If the letters between your Oma and your Great Grandma inspired the idea for this story, what inspired you to turn that idea into a children’s book and become an author?
AR: I have been building imaginary characters and scenes in my head since I was a kid. I was the ultimate daydreamer. That faded as life became more about responsibility and living practically.
I had a health scare that taught me many valuable lessons about people and life. I promised myself that day I left the hospital for the last time, things would be different. I took my life back and realized my worth. I needed to make a change. I had this overwhelming feeling that my time was now; I just didn't know how.
Slowly, I made decisions that led me to write again after not putting pencil to paper for almost a year. I wanted to live my life with purpose, and writing was part of that. If I can use words for good and inspire children along the way, I have done my job—the one I was meant to do.
ML: I can only imagine how impactful that turning point was for you. I experienced a similar feeling when I was called to write my first children’s book. However, I also remember facing many challenges in my publishing journey. What was your biggest challenge when writing this book?
AR: My biggest challenge was getting out of my way. Initially, I would tell the story with magic and fiction because I was afraid of messing up. Once I realized my vulnerability and ego were getting in the way, I let it go and wrote.
This story needed to be told through a child's eyes and said in the form of innocence while keeping it non-fiction. That meant sorting through the pain, the grief of war, and strife while pulling out the pieces of hope and love. I wanted to give my Grandma a gift of her past consisting of love, not ashes.
ML: Putting your thoughts to paper is a very vulnerable practice. Breaking through barriers to produce your best work can definitely be a challenge. Did you learn any important lessons through those experiences?
AR: "Writing may be a passion, but publishing is a business."
This quote resonates with me. It would have taken me a lot longer and cost more money if I had gone on this journey alone. It was eye-opening to see how many resources and skills are needed to bring a book to life.
A supportive community can make such a difference in an author’s life. I had the pleasure of working with you in my Publishing Mastermind program. What made you join the Publishing Mastermind?
AR: I found my why - I needed the how.
ML: What was your favourite part of the program?
AR: The help and resources - 1:1 calls, group meetings, zoom sessions with other industry leaders, and your insights into the publishing business. My book was published within nine months.
ML: Nine months is a fast turnaround. Do you have a fun story or memorable moment to share from those nine months?
AR: The most memorable moment was when I read the book to my Grandma. Seeing my Grandma, this strong German lady that I have never seen cry, eyes swell up with tears to the words I wrote was something I'll never forget. Even with her dementia, you could see a spark of remembrance in her eyes as I read.
ML: That is such a special moment. I’m so glad your book provided that for both of you and that your family has taken so much positivity from this book. What do you hope parents and children take away from It’s a Wonderful Story?
AR: I hope to inspire children to be curious about their ancestors. The success of my book looks like a parent helping her child write a letter to Grandma or Grandpa, asking questions about their family story.
ML: Amazing — we need children’s books like yours in the world. Do you have any advice for the aspiring authors out there who are hoping to publish their children’s books?
AR: Just write. Write as often as you can, never stop learning, find your people, and don't look back.
ML: Thank you, Amanda.
Watch the Full Interview: