CONCORD -- On her website, local children's author Susan Pace-Koch writes about her love of getting outdoors, one of the inspirations behind starting her own book publishing company, Get Out Books.
"My mind wandered to the idea of getting outside, whether physically or mentally, and all the ways you can see and do things outside ... over rivers, under tents, on top of trees, through gates, and down windy roads -- all to new adventures," the Concord author wrote. "Images from children's picture books leapt to mind. Some ways to 'get out,' and see things captured my imagination. Getting out by foot, by bike, by train, by going to the library and maybe reaching for a dream, all seemed possible."
Pace-Koch will be sharing her dream of publishing her children's book at the annual Creekside Arts Festival at the Clayton Library, March 22, 23 and 24. The event is the ideal place for her to present her book because its theme of inspirational artwork, with a love of children, nature and getting outdoors coincides. All that coincides with the festival's theme of raising awareness about the arts, culture and biodiversity while showcasing the library's creekside certified wildlife habitat and raising funds for educational programs.
"It was about the Creekside Arts Celebration in March at the Clayton Community Library and art and fundraising for a great cause," said Pace-Koch about her involvement. "What better combination could you have than arts and
Her first children's book, "Get Out of My Head, I Should Go to Bed," was born during a family trip, she said.
"This project started for me officially about two years ago, but it has been a dream for several years," she said. "When my son graduated from college, we took him to the Grand Canyon to celebrate. The last day, as we were driving back to the airport, the title to the book popped into my head, and it kept going round and round, and a new chapter on my life started. I thought 'Plans makes dreams reality,' so I planned. One step at a time I studied and learned from many wonderful and generous and talented people."
Pace-Koch said she wanted to produce an interesting, imaginative, colorful, fun book, the first in a series that would be enjoyed by adults as well as kids.
"There are 10 kids in the book, each unique, each with a different reason why they can't go to sleep," she said. "At the end of the book they are all asleep and a good night poem is read."
The author said that she composed her own version of the poem or prayer, familiarly known to most people by its beginning, "Now I lay me down to sleep ... " to more appropriate, more comforting words for children. She said that, as a child, the words from the original version, "if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," terrified her.
She said she hopes her version would provide comfort for young children, ages 3 to 8 right before bedtime.
Another reason Pace-Koch is excited about sharing her book -- her literary artwork -- is to showcase the art of local artist Jeremy Kwan, whose colorful illustrations accurately depict the messages in her book.
The author's mission is also to share some of the profit to help the community. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of her books will go to the Contra Costa County Puppy Raising Club, associated with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and part will go to the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms #20, Operation Pillowcase project.
Another speaker at the Creekside Arts Festival will be Michelle A. Luebke from the county's Department of Conservation and Development.
"I run the Contra Costa Volunteer Creek Monitoring Program which involves taking people out into their local creeks and watersheds to perform scientific inquiries," Luebke said. "My involvement at the Creekside Arts Festival is to show people how much we can learn about a creek by looking at the aquatic insects we find in the creeks."
At this year's event, new professional jurors were added from the Hearst Art Gallery at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, and from Art Concepts, Inc. in Walnut Creek. Every year, artists from the Creekside Arts Guild, featuring artists from all over Contra Costa County, look forward to this event to showcase their way of interpreting art and nature, said Arlene Kikkawa-Nielsen, coordinator of the festival.
"This always provides a nice opportunity for artists wishing for exposure to the world of art by outlying professional businesses and galleries," Kikkawa-Nielsen said.
Other activities this year include an opportunity to paint reptile subjects, outdoor (or "plein-air") painting by California Watercolor Association member Leslie Wilson and a booth featuring the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers, she said.
"I'd like this event to be inspirational, entertaining and educational to people of all ages and walks of life," Kikkawa-Nielsen said. "I'm hoping they'll come and interact at this event, meet others and learn something new about art, the environment, poetry or music and leave feeling that their world has become just a little bit better."
WHEN: 6-8:30 p.m. March 22; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 23 1-5 p.m. March 24
WHERE: Clayton Community Library, 6125 Clayton Road, Clayton