Tell us a little about your background.
At the early age of nine, I fell in love with baton twirling and competed across the United States. Soon, I was qualified to teach twirling. These experiences led me to the idea of teaching children with special needs. After I married, I worked as an aide with all ages of severely, mentally handicapped children, and continued attending college at night. When my children entered school, I took my first job teaching a Multi-Handicapped class with all types of learning difficulties and emotional issues.
After adopting a neighbor’s German Shepherd, dogs became an important part of my life. Over the years, I have loved a white German Shepherd; my first, red-merle Australian Shepherd, Sydney; a rescued black Labrador; and to date, three more Aussies.
As I approached retirement, the desire of writing returned from my childhood. I took an online writing class, joined SCBWI, enrolled in other classes, wrote and rewrote about my favorite subject; dogs and their wild adventures.
Are any of the characters based on real people or dogs?
Yes. My first novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, is based on special adult friendships, my favorite beach, and the idea of training an Aussie, like my Sydney, as a service dog. By adding teens as the main characters, I created a YA book. Every morning as I walked my dogs, ideas would develop. To add authenticity, I researched PAALS, a service dog kennel, in Columbia, SC. Their work is incredible and I am proud to be a part of their fund raising.
I must say, creating the story seemed easy. I knew my setting from vacationing on Edisto Beach and the characters from a blend of friends and their children. The hardest part was creating an intriguing plot. After completing the novel and many revisions, I had an enlightening critique by Kirby Larson, author of an award winning series, Hattie Big Sky. In just a few words, she showed me how to find the emotional plot. I entered my first pages in a critique sessions with Martina Boone’s and Jan Lewis’s, YA Adventures in Publishing Blog, received wonderful suggestions, worked on the pitch, fine-tuned the first pages and plot, and won more critiques.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a writer and what keeps you motivated?
Probably, my biggest distraction is living close to my grandchildren. I have given myself permission to work on a flexible time schedule. Two days a week, I have obligations and write in the afternoon or evening. If it hadn’t been for my friends and critique group supporting me, I might have given up. Since I’m under a contract, it has given me a goal and a purpose.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
If there’s anything I learned right away, it would be two things. 1. Keep writing! 2. Join a supportive critique group! If you are meant to write, nothing will deter you from trying. Having supportive writing friends makes the experience less daunting. I could never have accomplished my goals if it wasn’t for getting tons of encouragement and having a determined nature.
Read the synopsis to Seven Days to Goodbye on my website www.sherislevy.com.
Read the award winning, magazine article, Scent with Love on my website.