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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

ℚ Starting Over: Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training [2] - Sheri S. Levy

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Starting Over (, Barking Rain Press, 206 pages), a Contemporary Young Adult Novel, book two in the Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training series.

“Levy is on sure ground in this enjoyable page-turner for young adults. Readers see the world through the eyes of Trina Ryan, a freckle-faced redhead with a big heart for horses, service dogs, and people in need. Trina learns some of life’s most important lessons: that people are not always what they seem, growing up involves tough choices, and a first crush can be more exciting than she ever dreamed. Poignant, fun, and adventuresome.” — Peggy Jo Shaw, award-winning journalist, PR specialist, and book author/editor

“Starting Over is a book you’ll want to give your daughter. A story about best friends, boyfriends, enemies, and how to handle them all. Throw in horses and puppies, and you have the perfect mix for an entertaining, self-evolving read.” — C. Hope Clark, author, Carolina Slade Mysteries and Edisto Island Mysteries

|| Synopsis || Teaser: Excerpt || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||


A very warm welcome back to Sheri Levy; thank you for coming back to BooksChatter!

What compelled you to write this particular story?

"Starting Over, the sequel to Seven Days to Goodbye, will be launched August 1st, 2017. Trina, a puppy raiser for service dogs, has chosen to train another service pup. After training her first puppy, Sydney, to be a companion for someone with autism, Trina realizes this her special way of helping others."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"During fifth grade, I had vocalized to my parents I wanted to teach. I’m not sure where that desire came from, but it stayed with me. I married before I had finished my college education and worked during the day with mentally handicapped children. I continued classes twice a week until I had graduated and earned three teaching credentials. When my children attended school, I began teaching a multi–handicapped class.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart about helping others. My years of experiences in teaching special needs has given me interesting themes to write. I have stories stored in my brain about dysfunctional families, and children abandoned to live in group homes.

Every summer, I would bring home a needy child for a day at the pool, or to go on an outing, or to play at home with my own children. My husband would smile and say, “Most people bring home stray animals, you are always bringing home stray children.” My children enjoyed the attention they received from my older students and never knew anything different."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book?
"After I wrote my first draft of Starting Over, my critique group encouraged me to polish this story. It continues the plot of Seven Days to Goodbye, but Trina matures, and finds new, stressful conflicts. My new character needs a caring-friend, and it was fun to write about the intense training of a puppy, an innocent romance, creating friendships between three different personalities, love, loss, and letting go of dreams. The reviews from my advanced reader copies have surprised me. Their comments were almost identical on what kept them reading the story, and what they liked."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Starting Over - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"When I saw my cover for the first time, I was blown-away. I had nothing to do with the concept of the cover. The first chapter sets up the story problem, and the illustrator, Sara Gracia, created the perfect idea on the theme of the story.  Who can’t resist such an adorable puppy?  And why is a black horse in the background?"
Why should we read Starting Over and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"Starting Over, a contemporary young-adult novel, is unique because of its believable teen issues, and the importance of training service dogs for people with special needs. Readers from age ten to adult will be able to relate to the stresses of growing up, making life choices, first-love crushes, and learning how to get along with people who come from different back grounds."
Can you tell us something quirky about Starting Over, its story and characters?
"I purposely have used special names in my novels and familiar settings. Only the people named know our connections. Using those names made it easier for me to write with emotion. This my way of showing my love and gratitude to friends that have impacted my life."
If you could / wished to turn Starting Over and the Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"If I could turn my novel series into a movie, I’d want Seven Days to Goodbye set on Edisto Beach. Starting Over takes place in my wooded, neighborhood where residents have five to twenty acres of pasture land for their horses. But I could not offer any suggestions about actors or directors. I read more than watch television."
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
"As a writer, my biggest challenge has been to follow my instincts and to stay confident about what I want to write. I had an idea with Starting Over, and I pushed myself to complete this story. It helped having my critique group evaluating and pointing me in the right direction, and having a wonderful editor polishing my sentences. I am thrilled to say; my early reviews have been very positive and have flattered me."
What is in store next?
"The next novel in the Trina Ryan Novels is called For Keeps. I have written half of the story, and know the direction and the ending of this story. Once Starting Over is published August 1st, and I have my book launch, August 19th at Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC., I look forward to getting lost in my next story."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I am writing this series because of my love of dogs and wanting others to understand people with different backgrounds and special needs. If I had the chance to meet Temple Grandin, a person with autism and a professor at Colorado State University, I’d be beyond thrilled.


She has done so much in educating society about autism. She has a number of books published and a wonderful movie, Temple Grandin, created from Thinking  in Pictures, about her life. If you get a chance to watch this movie, you will understand autism."


Thank you sharing it all with us! We hope you are having a great tour and a fantastic book launch!

Starting Over
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