Young adult author Sheri Levy is here today and we’re chatting about her new book, Seven Days to Goodbye, part of the series Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training.
During her virtual book tour, Sheri will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift certificate to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit herother tour stops and enter there, too.
Sheri, originally from California, moved to South Carolina with her husband, two children and a Siamese cat. Soon they adopted their first rescue dog who influenced their need to continue living with dogs. Sheri taught a multi-handicapped Special Ed class, and then a GED-parenting class, which included home visits. Because of her love of reading, Sheri found unusual ways to encourage children to read. After her rescue of a difficult dog, Sheri enrolled in dog classes to change his behavior. Her dream of writing, Seven Days to Goodbye, came from the culmination of her beach experiences, her understanding of behaviors, and from research with PAALS, a service dog organization.
Welcome, Sheri. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Soon after Seven Days to Goodbye, a young adult novel, was published, it won with the Dog Writers Association of America in their Special Interest category, February 2015. The Planet Dog Foundation funds the award for the story that reflects the best use of service dogs.
My main character, Trina, a thirteen-year-old puppy raiser, has completed training her first service dog, Sydney. In seven days, he will be returned to his facility to be matched with his forever companion. Trina and her best friend, Sarah, are on vacation at Edisto Island, S.C., but seem to have grown apart over night. Trina plans to swim and play on the beach, and turn Sydney into a water dog. Sarah dreams about meeting guys.
During their first beach day, Sydney meets a Logan, young boy with autism. Their magical connection brings the older brothers in contact with Trina. When Sarah’s jealousy erupts, a new tension alerts the girls about the changes happening in their relationship.
As Logan’s family recognizes the special abilities of Sydney and the need for Logan, the mother is overwhelmed with fear. She is terrified of dogs.
Each step forward in the story, gets a bolt of lightning before things change. And Trina knows she has a difficult decision ahead. Saying Goodbye is harder than she thought. Will she be brave enough to train another puppy? This story has humor, teen issues, and plenty of puppy-love in both varieties.
Excerpt from Seven Days to Goodbye:
Once the boys passed over the jetty, Sarah shoved her folded chair under her arm and chugged past me. “How dare you flirt with Chase! I told you yesterday. I liked HIM. Now you’ve screwed it all up.”
Ten steps behind, I called, “Sarah, I can’t believe what you’re saying. He’s just being friendly because of his brother.”
Sarah stormed toward the house. One arm swung at such a fast pace, she looked like a soldier, marching.
“You’re being ridiculous,” I said as Sarah moved so fast the space between us grew. I yelled the next time. “Was I supposed to get your permission to talk to him?”
She didn’t answer.
I jogged ahead of her and walked backwards. “I didn’t do anything. Chase offered to help me. That’s it. I’m only grabbing this chance to train Sydney with Logan. It’ll give him more practice around kids with autism.”
“Right.” Sarah finally spoke. “No wonder you never told me about the guys this morning. See, you really DIDN’T want me to be with Chase.” She plodded further toward the house.
My sequel, Starting Over, will be published July 18, 2017. I can offer some ideas of the story, but I have to be vague and not cause a spoiler-alert for Seven Days to Goodbye.
I have added a new character, Morgan, who is a very angry fourteen-year-old. She is new to the town, has a new gorgeous horse, and will attend a new high school. Trina hopes to perfect her riding skills on the barn’s schooling horse, works at the barn next door to help pay for her lessons, and continues to train dogs. With Morgan interrupting the barn’s carefree atmosphere, Trina is compelled to uncover this new girl’s problem. As the girls become friends, Trina risks her safety to help Morgan and suffers the consequences. Morgan faces new life decisions, which brings Trina to doubt her own goals. Will she be able to change directions?
Here’s a short pitch:
One confused. The other hurting.
Underneath they are the same.
It takes courage to risk being real.
And strength to change directions.
As friends, they both start over.
Since Starting Over is complete, I am working on the first draft of book three, For Keeps.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always wrote as a young girl, but I never imagined writing a novel. After I retired from teaching special education and a literacy program, my students had spurred my desire to write books they loved to read. That’s when I started my long affair with writing. One day, I met a young boy in a store walking a dog wearing a vest. I asked, “Are you a puppy raiser?
He told me. “NO. This is my diabetic alert dog.”
I interviewed him, wrote his story, and sent it to Club House Magazine. They accepted it. I revised, and I had my very first publication. A writing friend encouraged me to send this article into the DWAA writing contest. In February 2011, it won in their Special Interest category. This gave me the confidence to continue writing, take classes, attend conferences, and complete Seven Days to Goodbye.
Do you write full time? If not, what do you do other than write?
Since I retired from teaching, I am free to write as much as I want. I try very hard to balance my time with my two Australian shepherds, my friends and family, and I usually turn off my computer at 5:00 p.m. to have the evening with my husband.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I prefer writing in my office space, overlooking the tops of the trees, with a piece of dark chocolate, and a few minutes of singer-song writer tunes to get into my own thoughts.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had many silly ideas as a very young child, a forest ranger, a dancer, have a daycare for animals. In the fifth grade, I had made up my mind, I would teach special needs children. I twirled a baton competitively, and began teaching baton to many students at age thirteen. This only increased my decision to be a teacher.
Anything additional you want to share with your readers?
To write Seven Days to Goodbye, I did research with PAALS, a non-profit service dog organization. They train for autism, mobility, and PTSD. Any veteran, or public service person injured on the job, may get a service dog. The founder, Jennifer Rodgers, included me in their volunteer programs. I learned about the skills the dogs use with their forever companion. The proceeds from each book go to PAALS. The biggest thrill of having my novel published is doing classroom presentations, teaching writing skills, and sharing my ideas with students about setting goals and never giving up.
Thank you for being here today, happy writing.
Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog!