Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Introducing Sheri Levy and Seven Days to Goodbye

Thanks to the many folks who left comments on last week's blog and entered the giveaway. Sandra Warren, a fellow SCBWI-Carolinas writer, won the copy of Chris Woodworth's book, Ivy in the Shadows. Look for more giveaways in the upcoming weeks. Today I welcome Sheri Levy, another SCBWI-Carolinas member. Sheri talks about her forthcoming debut young adult novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, which will be released in late summer.

Carol Can you tell us about your book? I know you love all things canine, so I suspect there is a dog in the story!
Sheri with Slater and Mulligan


Sheri You are right. My dog journey began in 1977 with adopting a neighbor’s German Shepherd and then moved on to other breeds. Each new dog brought real life situations for my writing. Sydney, the dog character in my first novel, was our first Australian Shepherd and my soul mate.

Carol In what ways have your experiences with dogs influenced your writing?

Sheri Every morning I walked Sydney and Jake, an adopted black Lab. I focused on their facial expressions, body language, and goofy traits and knew them inside and out. They traveled with us to Edisto Beach and around the US for a month. My first draft actually included both dogs, but after a fabulous critique from Kirby Larson, she showed me how Jake took away from the emotional plot.

Carol  I'm a big Kirby Larson fan! I'm sure her critique was very helpful. Please share more about Seven Days to Goodbye.

Sheri The book is aimed towards fourth to eighth grade readers and takes place over a week-long vacation on Edisto Beach. My characters Trina and Sarah meet Chase and Peyton, and their seven-year-old autistic brother, Logan. Trina, a Puppy Raiser, has seven days before she must return her first service dog to the kennel to be matched with his forever companion. Themes in the book include watching friends change before your eyes, dreams, meeting guys, overcoming fears, and wanting to become independent. The beach environment creates adventures with Loggerhead turtles, birds, and boating.

Carol That’s a lot in one book! I can see why it got snapped up! Please share some of your writing journey.

Sheri After retiring as a special education teacher, writing was at the top of my “To Do” list, along with traveling. Learning to write a novel required a lot of time and more education. I attended SCBWI conferences, took classes, joined critique groups, and read many books. After numerous years of working and reworking on my first novel, I put it in a drawer, and began another. 

Having an article published with Clubhouse Magazine in 2010, "Scent with Love," and winning The Special Interest Award with the Dog Writers Association encouraged me to keep writing. The story is on my website. I started a second novel and after many revisions, began getting positive feedback from critiques, queries, and contests. I made it into the top 25 contestants in one Pitch Contest, and was a runner up for another Pitch & First 250 Word Contest, winning a five page agent critique. With each success, I gained confidence and began querying agents and publishers.

Carol How did you find your publisher?

Sheri I read online that Barking Rain Press was taking submissions for for two more days. After researching it, I spent hours readying my query and putting together a marketing plan. I hit "send" minutes before midnight of the closing day. It wasn’t long before BRP requested the whole manuscript, and then I waited. In September of 2013, a long, over-due response came in an email. My eyes hit the name of Barking Rain Press and my stomach lurched to my throat. I scanned the email again, not believing what I had read. The publisher, Sheri Gormely had said she loved my wonderful story and wanted to offer me a contract! I caught my breath, read the email to my husband, Murphy, who broke out into a giant grin. Then I re-read the email.

Carol Then what happened?

Sberi After rewriting the novel for the eighth time with the changes Sheri G. wanted, I began work with my editor, Cindy Koepp in November. I knew the novel needed a new name. Many friends sent great ideas on Facebook, but Murphy came up with the final name, Seven Days to Goodbye.
Sheri and Murphy on one of their traveling adventures.
Destination: Antigua Island

Carol What a great name for your book! Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Sheri I always share my first experience of not knowing anything about writing and being convinced I had the perfect picture book! I even had it critiqued at my first conference. Blonnie Wyche was so kind. She encouraged me to read writing books, take classes and most of all, keep writing. If I had given up with the many rejections I received as a beginner, I wouldn’t be writing this post and starting a new life adventure.

Carol Blonnie was also a great encouragement to me. What was in your marketing plan? Did your publisher give you feedback on what she liked about it?

Sheri My feedback was the contract offer. The plan may have helped sell the book, but primarily I think she wanted to see if I had plans to promote the book. A big part of publishing, is promoting and creating interest in the book.

Sheri lives with her husband Murphy and her two Australian Shepherds, Slater and Mulligan in South Carolina. She has done agility and training with her dogs and mentors students in reading and writing.


23 comments:

Gretchen Griffith said...

Great post, Carol. I enjoyed reading about Sheri's journey to publishing. Wonderful news! I'm looking forward to reading it, Sheri.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Gretchen. It's fun to see our fellow Carolinians' publishing successes!

sheri levy said...

Thanks Carol for posting my about new adventure. And thank you Gretchen for reading it and joining me on Facebook. Now I can keep up with you!

Carol Baldwin said...

My pleasure, Sheri!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Congrats to Sandra on winning Ivy In The Shadows.

And to you, Sheri on the book sale. Seven Days to Goodbye sounds terrific.

Really enjoyed the interview!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Congratulations, Sheri. I am so excited and happy for you. It is wonderful that you not only worked with special needs kids you helped create a story that will mean a bunch to all.

Joan

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

I haven't read a good dog story in a long while and this one sounds like a winner, Sheri. Thanks for the post, Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joyce, Joan, & LInda. Isn't it cool to have another Carolina girl join the publishing world?

Rosi said...

Great to read about Sheri's journey. There is hope! Thanks for posting this.

Linda A. said...

Carol and Sheri,
Terrific interview and blog post. I enjoyed reading the story of Sheri's journey. Nice to see Blonnie credited too.

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes, Rosi, other writers journeys encourage us. And yes, Linda, Blonnie was good at that!

Chris Woodworth said...

Hi Sheri. It's good to catch up with you on the progress of this book! Stay in touch.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Chris!

sheri levy said...

Hi Joyce, Congrats on winning Chris's book. I had my fingers crossed, but I purchased it for my car trip and will enjoy reading it on vacation. Thanks for reading the interview. Hope to see you in Sept.

sheri levy said...

Hi Joan, So good to hear from you.Hope you are bsuy writing!Yes,I have always enjoyed working with special children and it's fun writing about something you know and love.

sheri levy said...

Hi Linda, I'm looking forward to reading yours also. Sounds like we're in the same spot with revisions and other stuff. I was so surprised on how sad I was when I revisions were over and I had to relinguish my control. We'll compare notes in Sept!

sheri levy said...

Hi Rosie, Thanks for reading it! It was fun writing something new and posting...

sheri levy said...

Hi Linda, Thanks for reading my post. I have a funny story to go with Blonne's critique which I'll save for when we're all together.

sheri levy said...

Hi Chris, It is so nice to hear from you. I have sent emails, but I'm sure they must have gone to spam! I look forward to chatting again.Want to hear what you've been up to??

sheri levy said...

Hi Carol, Thank you so much for doing this. What a nice way to get to visit with others I don't get to see except at the SCBWI conference. Thank you all.

Rebecca Petruck said...

It's always fun to hear about an author's journey to publication--especially a friend from SCBWI Carolinas! Thanks for hosting this interview!

Carol Baldwin said...

I agree, Rebecca. thanks for stopping by!

sheri levy said...

Hi Rebecca, Thanks for reposting on twitter. I have to learn how to use twitter, among other things!! Let me know where to send a book for your contest. See you in Sept.