510x765-Goodbye-275x413Today I welcome Sheri S. Levy to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.
My YA novel is Seven Days to Goodbye. It was published by Barking Rain Press in Vancouver, WA, August 26th. The story characters are thirteen and fourteen, and targets ages 9-14. The illustrator, Stephanie Flint, created an amazing cover and my editor, Cindy Koepp, helped polish the story.
AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.
Sydney, a six month old, red-merle Australian Shepherd with warm amber eyes, is Trina’s first service dog. After one year of training with Trina, Sydney, must be returned to his kennel to be matched with his forever companion. While on his first beach trip, he loves playing Frisbee, swimming, and chasing Darby, a black and white, Springer Spaniel. Sydney not only becomes a water dog, but makes a magical connection with a young boy with autism and educates the boy’s parents about service dogs.
AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.
Thirteen-year-old, Trina, vacations on Edisto Beach, S.C., with her best friend, Sarah, and her dog, Darby. Trina becomes conflicted over Sarah’s new personality, and giving-up her first service dog, Sydney, in seven days. During the week, Sydney makes a magical connection with Logan, a young boy with autism, and brings the girls and Logan’s older brothers together. This story combines humor, growing pains, and plenty of puppy-love-of both varieties.
photo(7)AOB: What inspired you to write this story?
After retiring, I longed to write and keep my dogs’ memories alive. I brainstormed on unique plots, familiar settings, and experiences in special education, and added autism and service dogs.
AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?
My story had been revised many times and received positive critiques, but no one felt it was the right story for them. With everything so subjective, I had to find the confidence to keep sending queries and not give up. With the support of my critique group, and because I loved writing, I continued to pursue my dream. I have motivational phrases around my office reminding me, If you give up it will never happen!
AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones?
What are these stories about?
While researching service dogs, I met a young boy with a diabetic alert dog. I interviewed him and sent his story to Clubhouse Magazine. It was printed in July, 2010, and can be read on my website. The story won n the General Interest category and was nominated for a Maxwell Award in the Dog Writers Association’s contest. Those positive events inspired me to continue writing.
While working on Seven Days to Goodbye, I put it aside for a while and wrote about a very difficult and troubled, dog I rescued. Since I had taught special education, I used the same techniques to train him. My first draft of A Stranger in our House has been written as a comparison on how I worked with a special needs children and a special needs dog. Maybe one day I’ll polish it! It was great therapy writing it…
AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?
My next story is called Starting Over. If I say too much, it will give away the ending of Seven Days to Goodbye. This is a sequel, has horseback riding, and there is a dog!
AOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?
While researching service dogs, I found an organization, PAALS, close by and became involved with their training. It is 100% charitable. I am pleased to be a part of helping them raise money for service dogs by donating 10% of my net from each book sold. It takes thousands of dollars to raise one dog and the need grows every day. PAALS trains dogs for mobility, autism and PTSD. Veterans and other service related jobs receive their dog for free.
I also enjoy tutoring students in reading and writing, and getting their honest input on my stories before they are completed. Doing author visits, gives me a new method to motivate students of the importance of reading and writing, and of pursuing a dream and to never give up!
024AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?
As a child, I was an avid reader. We went to the library often and I brought home loads of books, and read under the covers with a flashlight. I can’t say which book influenced me more, for every book engaged my imagination.
AOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you love to write, make time for it every day, but take time to enjoy life, and friends. For me, walking my dogs gives me time to think, observe nature, and get revitalized. By staying involved, and trying new things, I gain new experiences for my stories.
Readers can find out more information about Sheri on her webpage.
Thank you Sheri S. Levy for joining us at Dog Reads!

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All materials © 2018 Annemarie O'Brien. Web site by Websy Daisy. Illustration © 2013 by Tim Jessell