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.