Sheralyn Roman is a Mom from the west side of Caledon. Clearly a Mom first, Sheralyn is also however a published author, a freelance journalist, the small business owner of Writing Right for You, and a dedicated community volunteer.
“I worked very hard to have my kids and consider it a privilege to have been able to stay at home with them,” she says with a genuine smile. “This also gave me the freedom to explore my creative side and start writing more regularly for local publications and small business clients.”
Writing a book has been a lifelong dream for Roman and she feels that choosing careers along the way that involved writing and creativity to some degree kept her on the path to that dream.
“My background in teaching and human resources, training and development, and as a communications strategist, all seemed to naturally lead to my current work. I write for a variety of publications, including newspapers/online/magazines/trade publications, and blogging, as well as a website content developer for small business” she explains.
Roman started down this road in earnest after a friend who was a website developer saw her work in, of all places, a community school newsletter, and hired her to do some writing. Her flexible work schedule eventually allowed her to focus on the possibility of writing a book.
And so it was that Epic Ellie and the Invisible Dragon came to be. It is a wonderfully educational story for the allergic child and, just as importantly, for their non-allergic friends.
“Statistics estimate that one in thirteen or 7.5% of Canadian children live with allergies” states Roman. “Epic Ellie and the Invisible Dragon is a story for ALL children, written from the perspective of what it’s like to be a kid with allergies; in other words, no different than any other kid. Important concepts are introduced in the book, like how to be a S.T.A.R. (Stop, Think, Ask, Read)™ and how to be a great Allergy Buddy.”
Written to inform and educate, using age-appropriate language and references, the book is suitable for teachers and librarians to read in the classroom and for parents to share with a newly diagnosed son or daughter. Big words are broken down and scary medical tests explained, all from a child’s perspective.
Roman says she wrote this story for 2 reasons.
“One was to share the journey of my incredible, brave and beautiful daughter who has faced not only allergies but an additional life-changing diagnosis with a chronic illness and yet copes so amazingly well with many issues related to food, eating, and her health in general.”
“The other, and more important catalyst, was to Educate, Empower and to foster Empathy across two communities – those with allergies and those without. We have experienced a broad spectrum of emotions, attitudes and opinions when it comes to allergies. Some people understand, some don’t. What I hoped to create by writing this book was awareness, at a very young age, of how we are unique, yet we can all work together. And how if everyone acts like a “S.T.A.R.” and feels educated and empowered, together we would all have empathy for one another. With empathy comes understanding, the spirit of cooperation and willingness to all work together.”
Because the story was so “close to home” Roman says it was very difficult to tell it in a way that was educational without including too much “personal journey”.
She grins “I think in total I had almost a dozen re-writes! The challenge was to move the story from one that was originally very detailed and more of a personal experience journal to one that was much more focused and intentional. I also had to “get out of my own head” a lot…that version of yourself where you constantly ask “Is this any good?” “Is this actually going to be useful or helpful to anyone?” And, of course, it also had to be fun to read!”
As Epic Ellie isn’t a mainstream kind of book, getting published proved to be a very difficult journey as well. However, once Roman started working together with IC Publishing and their artist Jenna Stewart, it became more and more real. She is now working with a number of school boards to have the book listed as an educational resource for teachers in the classroom and teacher librarians. She has even created teaching tools to accompany the book.
“Are there more books on the horizon?” I ask.
“This is the first but it will be followed by a second, simplified version of the story based on using the letters of the alphabet,” she replies. “It’s aimed at the pre-school audience. “A is for Allergy…” that kind of approach.”
“And, on an entirely different note” she adds, “I am currently writing a Young Adult work of fiction that really resonates and I am having such fun with it! The working title is “Perfection.”
The cost is $13.95 plus tax. At book signing events Roman encourages those paying cash to “round up” their purchase to $15.00 and she then uses those monies, along with a top up from herself, to donate back to Food Allergy Canada. In addition she plans to do Parent Engagement evenings at local schools and the book would be available for purchase then as well.