Published by Barking Rain PressDate Published:August 26th 2014
After Trina's beloved dog dies, she swears she'll never get another one. But then she learns about service dogs, and realizes that if she becomes a Puppy Raiser, she could train puppy after puppy and never worry about them dying. But like all great ideas, this one has a serious flaw: her first service puppy must be returned to his kennel at the end of their week-long summer vacation... and saying goodbye to Sydney is going to be much tougher than she ever imagined. Trina's last week with Sydney is made that much harder by her newly strained friendship with her best friend, Sarah, who's become so over-the-top boy crazy that she's almost like a stranger. Sarah is determined to have them hang out with every boy at the beach, but when a boy named Chase takes an interest in Sydney and Trina, it puts an even bigger strain on the friendship. It's hard enough to deal with loosing Sydney, but now she may lose her best friend, too. And even if she manages to patch things up with Sarah-and figures out what to do about Chase-she still must face a daunting decision: is she strong enough to take on another service puppy?
Sydney climbed on my lap and licked the corners of my eyes. I buried my face in his soft fur and scratched under his chin. He leaned into my hand as I whispered, “We’ll have fun with or without Sarah. We just have to.”
Staring through the side window, a deep-blue summer sky flickered between pine trees covered in kudzu. Sarah’s car passed on the right. I turned the other way.
Off the freeway, we headed east and then south down a two lane road through sleepy little towns one after the other. Twenty minutes later, I leaned forward between the front seats, “Wow. Look.”
Branches from gigantic live oak trees slanted towards the middle of the street. The trees looked as though they were trying to touch each other and some did. They reminded me of my cozy canopy bed where Sarah and I had spent many nights, giggling and whispering. But this canopy was made of tree limbs in different shades of green, dripping with grayish, Spanish moss. The moss hung like ghostly long arms swinging in the wind.
“This is kind of spooky beautiful. It’s like being in a green tunnel.” I cracked my window.
A whiff of salty ocean filled the car. Sydney lifted his head as the trees whizzed by. His nose twitched. “We’re getting close, Syd.” He squeezed into the same space with me and gazed out the front window.
Suddenly, the trees disappeared. The cloudless sky stretched with no end in sight. Pelicans flew in an upside down, V formation. On both sides of the road, squiggly tidal creeks flowed through green marshlands. White birds with skinny legs stood statue-still in the shimmering water. This was a place I’d only seen in postcards.
Pelicans flew in an upside down, V formation. On both sides of the road, squiggly tidal creeks flowed through green marshlands. White birds with skinny legs stood statue-still in the shimmering water. This was a place I’d only seen in postcards.
When I retired, words bounced around in my mind while I walked my dogs every morning. Memories of my first dogs and best friends who had moved over the rainbow, spoke to me. Then an idea blossomed about a way to create a story about my friends, and turn it into a young adult novel.
My favorite place to vacation was on Edisto Island, a small, quiet spot below Charleston. My husband and I spent long weekends with our best friends, their dog, Darby, and our dogs, Sydney and Jake. I wrote about the old house we stayed in, roaches and all. The ocean came to life as I used pelicans, dolphins, sea gulls, and a Loggerhead turtle as characters. We rented a boat to explore Pelican Island and spent the day swimming and picnicking. The two families had a teen girl, Trina and Sarah, who were best friends.
Of course, teens can change overnight. The day of Trina and Sarah’s beach trip, Trina discovers Sarah’s new personality. Creating conflicts in the story and finding an emotional way to solve the problem is the fun part of writing.
As soon as I completed Seven Days to Goodbye, I began brainstorming the sequel, Starting Over. The ideas for this story came from teaching students who had dysfunctional families and watching teens struggle to find their goals and decide to be their true self. My daughter rode horses in horse shows. As a spectator, I saw the terrible competitive personality, and the opposite. Some riders made their horse part of their team and rode as one.
Trina in Starting Over, is challenged by an unhappy rider and finds herself wanting to discover why this new girl is so angry. When she decides to get involved, Trina suffers the consequences. She learns from others what is really important and discovers her real desires.
My biggest influences to my writing is from other writers. I love to read beach stories, dramas that revolve around family issues, stories with animals, and coming-of- age real-to- life stories. As I read, I see how those authors spin their tale and catch my attention
My best advice for new writers is to read, take notes on what you like about what you are reading. But I encourage any writer to be a part of a critique group. My wonderful group meets once a month. We hash out new ideas, and support each other. When you get discouraged, your critique group can keep you motivated, and not let you give up. It is also critical to have new sets of eyes reading your pages. After you have written your last words, you are too close to the story to be able to see the mistakes. As a group, we brainstorm on ‘what-if’s’, fill empty plot holes and help withediting. It definitey takes a village to write a polished the story.