Seven Days to Goodbye & Starting Over
by Sheri S. Levy
GENRE: Young Adult- coming of age
Thirteen year old, Trina has chosen to raise service dogs and have puppy after puppy. But during her seven day beach vacation, Trina struggles with having to return Sydney at the end of the week and worrying about her best friend changing into a stranger. To complicate the week, Sydney, meets a young boy with autism and the girls meet his two older brothers. Tension is raised over the guys, and Trina fears she’ll lose more than her service dog. Will Trina’s lose her best friend, also?
Uh, oh. The wind lifted the Frisbee into the air. It looked as if the disc had sprouted wings, and disappeared up and over the jetty. Sydney halted, staring at me. He was used to chasing his toy. His eyes asked for permission as his body quivered pent-up energy. Letting him struggle for a minute, I giggled and said, “Okay, Syd. Find Frisbee.”
I did a slow jog towards the rocks and seconds later, Sarah called, “Wait for me.” I did a slow jog towards the rocks and seconds later, Sarah called, “Wait for me.”
I turned around and stopped. “Wow, you’re joining me! Come on. I’ve got to
find Syd’s Frisbee. It’s on the other side.”
We climbed over the jetty. The dogs used their four-legged drive and moved much faster than Sarah or me. When we reached the top of the mound, Sydney stood a distance away with his Frisbee at his feet, leaning close to a small boy. The boy continued to pat the sand in his bucket and turn it upside down, making a row of mounds.
My heart did a triple beat in quarter time. I started running. Sydney’s stub wiggled and jiggled as soon as the boy’s sandy hands rubbed his back.
“I’m sorry,” I said running ahead. I bent, face to face with the boy. “I hope he didn’t scare you.”
The boy never looked at me, only at Sydney and back to the sand. He said in a monotone voice, “Doggy, doggy.”
Sarah meandered up to us. I panted in fast spurts. Worried about the boy and Sydney, I never noticed the rest of the group. A little ways from the small boy, two guys around our age worked on a fort or it could have been a sand castle. The one who seemed to be the oldest, stood. He had long legs and was much taller than I expected. Using his hand, he shoved his longish brown bangs out of his eyes.
Oh, Sarah had definitely noticed. She smiled, pushed loose hair back into her braid and pulled her bathing suit in place.
I rolled my eyes. Okay. Here she goes.
Sheri S. Levy: Why I Write the Kinds of Books I Do
My favorite authors write contemporary novels with settings that create an image in my head, especially when the story takes place on the beach. I am pulled into stories which offer layers of interpersonal relationships, including issues of saving the environment, endangered species, and giving hope to people who need an extra hand. And to capture my heart, the plot should include a romantic affair.
While teaching special needs students, I discovered children living in unstable environments, children without support, and adults who cared too much. I read to my students every day. If the story had any type of animal character, the children identified with their problem. They related to abuse, loneliness, love, and comradery. Sometimes, a child would open-up to me after I read. We’d have a discussion in a round-about way, and sometimes I uncovered issues that were holding them back from learning.
Over the years, I collected many memories. When I decided to write, my experiences flew onto the computer, but with newly invented characters. It is true about being careful with what you say or do when you are around an author. I can watch people and get ideas on actions or dialogue.
Seven Days to Goodbye let me reminiscence about my days on Edisto Island. My husband and I spent long weekends with our very close friends in a timeworn house on the island. Our friends owned a black and white Springer Spaniel, and we had a red-merle Aussie and a Black lab. The antiquated house environment brought many laughs and repulsive bugs.
After retiring, I walked my dogs every morning. During these relaxing moments, my thoughts gelled and my story grew. After completing a draft of what I first called, Dog Days of Summer, I had a critique from an author who writes about dogs and heartfelt stories. She advised me to omit my Lab. This added a stronger, emotional impact to the story’s ending.
Even though my memories included the four of us on the beach, I turned the characters into teens. It was fun using the issues of growing up at different speeds, and being able to include autism from my experiences. I became involved with a local service dog organization and did all of my research with PAALS, (Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services). Their clients with autism, mobility issues, and PTSD shared how their dog impacted their lives, and let me create situations in my stories that mimicked their real world.
Seven Days to Goodbye, is set on Edisto Beach, South Carolina. The two best friends, Trina and Sarah, are on a week’s vacation and seem to have grown apart overnight. While Trina walks her trained service dog, Sydney, he makes a magical connection with Logan, a young boy with autism and throughout the week, encourages him to talk. Trina is the first to meet Logan’s older brothers, and Sarah gets jealous. The plot is layered with personal changes, and hope for the brother with autism. Since teens are interested in romance, an innocent attraction with the guys and girls, bring in some fun and varying emotions.
Since I tend to read dramatic, or complicated love stories, I forced myself to change genres occasionally, and have enjoyed reading cozy mysteries. Those plots helped me add a little mystery to my sequel, Starting Over, due July 18, 2017.
Once again, memories helped write this next story. I never rode, but my daughter competed in Eventing. She trained in dressage, cross country jumping, and stadium jumping.
The sequel continues with the same characters, the boy-girl issues grow stronger, and introduces a new character who has an unhappy family life. Trina dreams of being on a riding team and tries to perfect her riding skills with the barn’s schooling horse. Besides training her service dog, she works at the barn next door to help pay for her lessons. The new girl has never cared for her own horse and expects Trina to cater to her every need. The carefree mood at the barn slips away until Trina decides enough is enough. She uncovers why the new girl is so angry and attempts to help, but gets pulled into her problems and suffers the consequences.
Training service dogs, guy troubles, and horseback riding becomes a crucial part of the entire series. The girls find their dreams and goals are changing. Will they be brave enough to Start Over?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.
ISBN: 978-1-935460-74-9 EBook- 978-1-935460-75-6
Sheri S Levy will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.