A Q&A with Sharalyn Morrison Andrews, Maine author of a new book "Brave Nellie." As a long time blogger, sharing her adventures, she has been writing about her travels and shares with us the story of a Brave little dog in her first self published book. Her travels and accomplishment getting a book out there is truly inspiring (not to mention she is also my auntie which is pretty darn awesome!) As artists, writers, and creative folk we all have to share what inspires us and support each others passions. I hope she inspires you to live your adventure and share your story.
You have traveled the world and shared many of your stories on your blog . When did your interest in traveling begin? And what keeps you traveling now?
Sharalyn Morrison Andrews, Maine Author and World Traveler
I would have to say that my interest in travel began at a relatively young age and evolved over time. When I was about 7 years old, my mom, aunt and I flew to Florida to visit with my grandmother, who spent her winters there. Today, flying at the age of 7, is not anything momentous. However, back in 1961, it was. To help you understand better, I was the only child in my second grade class to have flown on a major airline. Back then, when people flew, they wore their best outfits. I remember, I was wearing my Easter outfit and my mother and aunt were dressed nicely as well.
In my teen years, I babysat for a couple who traveled each summer to Europe. My junior year in high school, there was a suggestion that I might go to Spain with them to help with their two young children. I was very excited but sadly, that didn’t happen because they found a hotel which offered child-care services. The seed had been planted, though.
At 16, I was a waitress at a small restaurant in my hometown of 3,000 people. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon and a lady stopped in for a piece of pie and coffee. We started talking and she shared with me about her recent trip to Italy. She was describing the wonderful sights that she saw. It was then that I promised myself that I would one day go to Europe and see it all for myself.
As the years passed, I lost sight of my traveling dream. After college, I was working for a newspaper in the classified advertisements department. In the newsroom, there was a reporter who had recently traveled to Europe. We went out to lunch one afternoon in May and I asked her all about the logistics of planning and fulfilling a trip to Europe. I spent the rest of the day, figuring out a budget and plan. That night, I went home and told my family that in September, I was going to go to Europe. That was the beginning of my traveling adventures.
There are a variety of reasons why I continue to travel today. One major reason is my husband’s employment. He is an engineer and has worked on projects throughout the United States and now, the world. Our life has been one of constant travel from one project to the next. I love to travel as I feel that it introduces you to such an amazing and unique education. When I travel, I learn so much because I am exposed to the history, culture, art and geography of the area I am either living or visiting.
“Through all my travels, I have discovered, there is no place like home. It took me leaving Maine to really appreciate the beauty of this state and all that it has to offer.”
- Sharalyn Morrison Andrews, Maine Author and World Traveler
Just to put it in perspective, can you share some of the places you have been and perhaps one or two that really stand out to you?
I have been to approximately 40 countries, which is quite a few but when you think that there are 196 countries in the world, I haven’t even begun to put a “dent” in them. To give you an idea of where I have traveled; I have been throughout Europe, Canada, the United States, South America, Dominican Republic, Belize, Costa Rica, South Africa, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Vietnam.
Each place has so much to offer, it is difficult to say just one or two that really stand out. I absolutely love anywhere in Europe. I love the history, art and scenery of just about anyplace I have visited there. Jordan is an amazing country. Personally, I didn’t think the scenery was outstanding but the friendliness of the people, the food was delicious and again, the history in that part of the world is incredible. Japan is beautiful, as is Vietnam. I love Peru, too.
You have called many places home over the years. Having grown up in Maine you have continued to maintain a home base in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Can you tell us a little about why Maine?
This question makes me smile! When I left Maine on my first travel adventure, I was “gone for good and never coming back.” Over the years, I have learned “never to say never!!” Through all my travels, I have discovered, “there is no place like home.” It took me leaving Maine to really appreciate the beauty of this state and all that it has to offer.
Most of my family still lives in Maine and it is wonderful to come home and spend quality time with them. Plus, Maine is a beautiful, beautiful state. I love the rugged coastline of Maine, the beaches, the mountains and the lakes. They call Maine the “Vacationland State” for a very good reason.
““New things are scary but if you are willing to try, good things can happen.”
What inspired you to author your first book, "Brave Nellie?”
I enjoy writing and over the years, I have kept journals while traveling and more recently, a travel blog. The blog is mostly to keep my family and friends informed of the adventures that David and I experience while we are living in foreign countries, but anyone is welcomed to read it.
Nellie was such a brave little dog and she handled everything that I taught her with such grace, acceptance and trust. She was a dog that had spent her approximately 5 years of life on the beach of the Dominican Republic. I had to train her in about 3 months to prepare her to live with her “forever family”. She had to become accustom to living in a house, walking on floors, going up and down stairs, walking on grass, in the woods, having a collar and leash and learning to go into a crate for a flight to the states. Everything I showed her, she accepted and learned quickly.
I just felt that I had to share Nellie’s story and I felt that the children could really benefit from her experiences. Children are faced with so many new challenges on a daily basis….going to school, the dentist, the doctor, getting a shot, joining a new activity group or learning a new sport. Nellie’s message to them is that “new things are scary but if you are willing to try, good things can happen.”
It is a good message for adults as well. I think that we get into our comfort zone and when we are challenged with new ideas or things to try, we tend to shy away. So, I encourage you to remember Nellie and be brave and try!
Was writing a book something you always wanted to do?
Not always, but I would say in the past 10 years, I have been seriously thinking about writing a book. I have been writing short stories about experiences that I have had, during my travels, over the years. It has sort of been in the back of my mind that would be a fun book to share. I have been side-tracked with my Brave Nellie project.
Tell us about self publishing. What advice do you have for others who want to get started but are not sure where to begin (or whether self publishing is the right option for them)? I
I would encourage someone to talk to others who have self-published. There are a variety of ways to self-publish. You can do it all on your own by going on a self-publishing website…Lightning Source or Amazon for example.
Then, there are small companies that will help you through the process. I decided to use one of these companies. There was a contract for the services and they receive 10% of each book sold on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Amazon and Barnes and Noble get a commission on each
book sold as well.)
My advice is to research, research, research and ask tons of questions, especially, like I mentioned earlier, to others who have already self published. Living in Maine, I belong to the Independent Publishers of New England. They have a wealth of information and conferences throughout the year. I found these to be very helpful.
Part of the proceeds of your book will be donated to help support the stray dogs on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Can you talk a little about your hopes for what the proceeds will do for dogs like Nellie?
For each book sold, I plan to make a donation to the Association of Friends for the Animals of Sosua. They are a great organization that spay neuter stray dogs, rehabilitate injured ones, feed them and try to find homes for them. This organization even helps to get dogs, from the Dominican Republic, adopted in Canada, US and Germany. They were very helpful to me in coordinating Nellie’s trip to the US. I want to support their continuing efforts. http://www.aaasosua.com
I always like to ask this question. What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
It is alright to “march to the beat of a different drum”. You don’t have to live your life to what society deems is the norm. Dream big and follow those dreams and don’t allow society’s expectations to sway you on how to live your life. One of my favorite sayings and life philosophies is “Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.” Today, I share that saying with anyone who will listen.
And finally, what is next for you as a Maine author and world traveler?
I have a couple more ideas for children’s books. One is about my girlfriend’s West Highland Terrier, Lizzie. The other book, will be about the adventures of my brother’s French Bulldog, Jack.
I hope to continue working on my short travel stories and get them organized in a book. I continue to try to keep my travel blog up-to-date. You can find it at www.sharalynlovesanimals.com
As for my travels, my husband’s current project is in Johannesburg, South Africa and I will soon be joining him there. After South Africa, we will be living in Namibia. Dubai is on my list, as I have some dear friends I would like to visit who are living there.
November 9 from 2-4 p.m. at the Hubbard Free Library, Hallowell, ME
November 16 from 2-4 p.m. at the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Brave Nelly can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.