I have been on Brave Nellie’s journey for over a year and a half now. I remember traveling throughout the moors of Scotland tossing the idea of writing Nellie’s story in my mind. Then, sitting with my spiritual advisor, Sarah Winslow and having her tell me “you have got to write!!!” She didn’t tell me this just once but on two separate occasions. So, I sat down and wrote Nellie’s story in about a week’s time.
I had a couple of false starts when trying to find an illustrator but then Lucas Richards was introduced to me and the rest, as they say, is history. Lucas, through his wonderful art, brought my words to life. When it came time to publish, I decided to self-publish and when doing the research, I was overwhelmed with trying to figure the process out. I hired someone to help with that but as many of you know, it has not been a good match at all.
Lucas and I are discussing and researching how to go through the self-publishing process alone and to bring Brave Nellie back to life once again. It is a journey and with each frustration, I am rewarded with people sharing how Brave Nellie has helped and inspired them or a loved one. The sharing of those stories have helped me to stay grounded. They have helped me pause, step-back and really reflect on the reason I wanted to share Nellie’s story in the first place.
This is Korbin and his grandmother purchased Brave Nellie at one of my book launch parties. At the time of the purchase, Korbin was in the hospital. He was undergoing several medical test to diagnose his illness. His grandmother gave him the book as a gift and this is a picture of him reading Brave Nellie in his hospital bed. Later, his mother was kind enough to write to me and share the following “today he had to go in for more treatments and as he was walking into the hospital with me.. he’s holding my hand and says ‘mama, do I have to be brave like brave Nellie?’ My heart melted, thanks a lot for sharing!”
Then there is this message from my friend Darlene, who has a 43-year-old special needs son who was also inspired by Nellie’s story.
“Dear Sharalyn, I am so very grateful to you and Brave Nellie.Since I purchased Brave Nellie when I saw you last, it has been the favorite book of my special needs son who has been preparing for a move to a group home. It is the very first book he has ever been able to read from cover to cover with no assistance. Today is moving day and He read it last night before bed and again this morning. He also made sure to pack it with his last-minute things. He is 43 years old and this is a huge reading accomplishment for him. I am placing my order for my Christmas list right now. Thank you for coming into my life at just the right time and making a difficult move a little easier. Darlene”
Now, I am currently residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. I brought my hard copy of Brave Nellie with me and a few paperback copies. I have sold one to a former teacher who is now tutoring children in English. She is planning on using my book as a teaching tool. She has also asked if I might be interested in working with her and help her students with writing. I am willing but honestly, I don’t know how good I would be at teaching.
Deborah, our landlord here in Johannesburg, is one of the founders of an orphanage Hearts of Hope, http://heartsofhope.org.za. This program offers so much more than just a safe haven for orphaned children…it reaches out to the Kwa-Zulu Natal schools with support of teacher training, providing resources and meals. In the township of Alexandra, they support low-income families by providing food baskets, counseling and educational support.
When I heard of the orphanage, I offered to donate a book and to read it to the children. I had the opportunity yesterday to read my book to about 12 of their 28 children. It was a wonderful experience. All of the children sat on a trampoline under a huge shade tree in the backyard of the house. They were very good listeners and loved the story.
On our way back home, Deborah said that she, too, loved the story and that it would be helpful in the future as they are constantly talking about “forever families.” She also said that it would be helpful when the children were faced with new experiences, that the staff could remind them of Brave Nellie and hopefully, help them overcome their fears. I would have loved to have had a picture to share this memorable day with you but out of respect for the children, I didn’t get one.
A huge thank you to everyone for sharing their stories of inspiration to me. They keep me grounded in remember the real purpose of Brave Nellie is to get the message to be willing to try and good things will happen to anyone, young and old, who is facing a new challenge….whether it be a first day at school, going to the dentist for the first time, moving to a new home, fighting an illness or something as simple as trying a new hobby or sport. It makes me more determined to work hard and find the perfect publishing match so I can continue to share Nellie’s story.