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Wednesday, July 19

Author Guest Post: Sheri S. Levy






During my early childhood, I was addicted to books. When I started teaching special needs children, ages six- nine years old, I wanted to influence their desire to read. I read aloud every day and left them hanging on the next conflict in the story until the following morning. During the day, we sang songs, and I required them to follow each word with a finger. I played word games on the chalkboard and kept their inattentive brains engaged in learning. Now that I know the value of a therapy dog, I would have had one in my room. In my day, I had set up a reading center for the students sit on the floor and read to stuffed animals.

After I retired from teaching, the desire to write about service dogs went to the top of my to-do-list. I called service dog organizations around the U.S. to ask questions and do research. One day while in a grocery store, I met a young boy with a dog wearing a vest. I assumed he was a puppy raiser since I had learned about them for other dog organizations.

When I spoke to him, he clarified. “No, Mam. This is my diabetic alert service dog.” His mother gave me permission to interview him and I wrote my first magazine article. It was published in Club House Magazine in 2010. The story, Scent with Love, won in the Dog Writers Association, 2011. It also was nominated for a Maxwell Medallion Award. I received a monetary award and a trophy for the boy involved and myself. It was a thrill and certainly gave me some confidence to continue writing.

After writing Scent with Love, I started writing Seven Days to Goodbye. My characters and setting came from experiences and memories. I used our first Aussie, our favorite beach, and I had interviewed another mother about her son with autism and discovered how his service dog changed his life. I became involved with PAALS and they helped me write my stories correctly. I am proud to be involved with their expertise and share my book and author visits proceeds with them. They always have a waiting list for people needing a special companion.

My favorite parts of Seven Days to Goodbye are the interactions with Logan, a seven-year-old boy with autism, and Sydney, the service dog who has been trained to help children with autism.

“Syd-ney, Syd-ney,” Logan screamed in a high-pitched voice, flinging his hands in the air.
Sydney looked to me for permission. I, of course, said, “Okay!” And he darted to Logan.
Not wanting to interrupt their greeting, I walked slowly towards them. “Hi, Logan. You’re awake early.”
He jumped up and down, repeating, “Syd-ney, Syd-ney, Syd-ney.”

The hardest part to write was saying goodbye to Sydney. It is emotional, and I spent days rewriting and crying. But it needed to be intense. My readers have shared it was difficult for them. The story recovers with a happy ending and leads to the sequel, Starting Over.

Starting Over begins with a rambunctious new puppy, and moves through his first eight-months. Trina, has a dream to be a rider on a college team, and juggles her responsibilities with working at the barn and training her pup. When a new girl, Morgan, interferes with the barn’s happy atmosphere, Trina decides to explore why she is so unhappy and suffers the consequences from getting involved.

Even as I get entrenched in writing stories, I make time during my week to mentor children and adults in reading. It is a thrill to uncover the person’s reason for not being able to read. When I diagnose dyslexia, I can show the person how to use phonetics to read. It is like putting a puzzle together.

Since I completed Starting Over, I have sent out a number of Advanced Reader Copies and have been getting early reviews. Yes! I have read them on Goodreads and am flattered by the warm reception Starting Over has received. These positive comments have given me the confidence to look forward to writing my next novel.

I am a member of SCBWI and have made many author friends. I love reading middle grade and young adult novels. We support and encourage each other. I can’t list just a few- there are too many wonderful writers.

August 1st, Starting Over will be released. My book launch is August 19th in Greenville, S.C. and we have a pre-order link. Once Starting Over is launched, I will be busy writing For Keeps. I never know how long it will take to complete the first draft, but that is the fun of creating a new story.




Giveaway

Sheri Levy will be awarding a $15 Barking Rain Press GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



About the Author


Sheri S. Levy is the author of an award-winning debut novel in her series, Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training. Seven Days to Goodbye, won in 2015, and her magazine article, Scent with Love, won in 2011, with the Dog Writers Association in the Special Interest category. She is an active member of SCBWI and SIBA.

After a twenty-five-year teaching career in special needs, Sheri remains active with tutoring teens in reading and writing. PAALS, (Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services), has helped with her research on writing about service dogs and how they change lives. Sheri, in turn, shares her book proceeds to support PAALS.org.

Sheri enjoys doing author visits and teaching writing workshops. When she is not writing, she reads, plays with her two dogs, listens to music, and hangs out with her husband and family.

You can find more information on her website. www.sherislevy.com; and

Follow Sheri on Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter.



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