Episode 29: On Developing a Book Series, Author Partnership & Delivery of a Newfoundland Pony with Laura Hargis (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 29: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet the Horsey Holiday Book Series Author Laura Hargis. You'll learn ...
Watch Laura Hargis' Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Author Laura Hargis
Laura has been riding horses since she was about 2 years old. As a child, she didn't play with dolls, she played with Breyer horses! She still has most of those horses (her collection is rather impressive). Laura started writing in 1990.
Then, in 2008, her first story, A Friesian Christmas, came to her in the middle of the night. It's about a Friesian horse who pulls Santa's Sleigh. She shared the story with friends and family every year at Christmas. Then in 2016, Laura had it illustrated and published, so she could share her story with everyone.
That was the start of the Horsey Holiday Series. The second book, A Shetland Thanksgiving, is all about a Shetland pony who finds his forever girl on Thanksgiving. This story is actually based on a true story! The third book, A Belgian Valentine, is about a carriage horse (a Belgian) in the big city, who decides to play matchmaker for his person.
Laura is currently working on more of the Horsey Holiday Series, as well as other writing projects. She is a member of Authors with Altitude - a fantastic group of writers who partner with each other to promote their books.
She lives in Colorado with her husband, her Newfoundland Pony Maude, and her Beagle Belle. When she's not writing fiction, she works as an ISO auditor and technical writer for the medical device world.
Laura Hargis Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: Tell us how your love affair with horses began.
Laura: I was born with it, we joke that it was because I was born at a hospital ‘across the street’ from the Santa Anita Race track, so the first words I heard were “And there off!”
Carly: Tell us about your furry friends.
Laura: Currently I have a Beagle named Belle, and I puppy sit my ‘grandpuppy’, a year old miniature Australian Shepherd named Jack. However, I now have an 8 year old Newfoundland Pony mare named Maudie! Newfoundlands are very rare – there are only about 450 registered in the world.
Carly: Do you have any stories that people would find interesting or entertaining about your writing or your horse background?
Laura: There is a part in ‘A Shetland Thanksgiving” that is based on a true story. The pony in A Shetland Thanksgiving was based off my first pony, Commanche. When I was little, I decided that I was going to ‘drive’ my pony to the corner store. So I took several lead ropes from the tack room and tied them all over the pony for a harness, then tied them to my little red wagon, and off we went! It was about a mile from our house to the store – and by the time I got back home, all the rubber had been worn off the tires of the wagon.
Carly: What compelled you to become a writer of children’s horse books?
Laura: Truthfully, they didn’t start out as ‘children’s’ books. I’d meant them to be a holiday book that you would bring out to display, and read, for the holidays. But when the first one came out, everyone said, ‘wow, what a great children’s book’, so I said, sure…I get adults that do buy them for the holiday aspect, or they say ‘oh! So and so has that breed, I should get one for them!’
Carly: Tell us about your Horsey Holiday Book Series.
Laura: It all started with ‘A Friesian Christmas’, which is about the night, Santa asks a Friesian Horse to pull his sleigh. It is a little like Rudolph’s story, where all the horses laugh at a Friesian in the Wyoming territory (before it was a state) but afterwards, they don’t all love him, they don’t believe him because they don’t remember Santa coming through. But he knows what he did, and he realizes that he can be proud of what he can do, even if it isn’t what the others can do.
Book 2, ‘A Shetland Thanksgiving’ is about a pony who finds his forever girl, on Thanksgiving. And what Thanksgiving is all about.
Book 3, ‘A Belgian Valentine’ is about a Belgian carriage horse, “in the big city”, who plays matchmaker for his person on Valentine’s day.
Book 4, ‘An Irish Draught St. Patrick’s Day’, is about an Irish Draught Police Horse who has to find a little lost girl during the big St Patrick’s Day parade…and he gets the help of a Leprechaun.
Book 5, 'A Percheron Memorial Day’, and it is about a young, fun loving Percheron who learns all about responsibility, when he goes to Arlington National Cemetery to be part of the caisson processions of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The old Guard).
I have many others planned, such as “A Quarter Horse 4th”, ‘An Arabian Halloween’, ‘A long Eared Easter’ (this will be about a Donkey, a Mule and a Rabbit), ‘A Mini Mardi Gras’, ‘An Icelandic Jolabokaflod’ or Icelandic Yule Book Flood.
Carly: How did you go about finding an illustrator for your wonderful children’s books? What do aspiring children’s book authors need to know about working with an illustrator?
Laura: For the first book, I had to have Dianne Dakowicz because she is an amazing artist, and she is so well known in the Friesian world. She has done all of my business logos as well. However, not being a book illustrator, she is not set up to do this on a regular basis. So I found another artist, local to me, who illustrated the other books.
I did look at various children’s illustrator’s websites, but no one had the ‘style’ of animal I was looking for. I know there are a few illustrators that will work as a ‘partner’ and share in the sales, but most you have to buy the illustrations from them. Make sure you have a contract in place, and you get what you want as far as the illustrations go.
Carly: Walk us through the process of formatting the interior of children’s books. Did you work with a designer?
Laura: I actually don’t do the formatting. I have another author friend who does my formatting. I send her, again, what I see the book layout to be, and she puts it together in a format for publishing.
Carly: How did you come up with the idea for your covers?
Laura: I tell my illustrator what I am thinking of for the cover, then we work together on ideas together. I then get with my layout artist, who helps me to pick a font for the cover that works.
Carly: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
Laura: How to draw! Seriously, doing illustrated children’s books, when you are not an artist is difficult, and takes away some of the profits from sales.
Carly: How do you reach your readers?
Laura: I do a big Christmas Craft show every year with a few other author friends (that is where Authors with Altitude comes from, we are all from Colorado and live at altitude!), as well as word of mouth. I also put my books at the local restaurant in town during the books particular holiday.
Carly: Do you have any writing rituals or routines?
Laura: Basically, I sit down when the muse strikes me. Unfortunately, when I’m working in the technical world (which I have to do to pay the bills) the fantasy doesn’t come easy. So, I read – a lot. I’ve always like to read, but reading books that are basically in the same genre as what I’m writing, helps me to get focused and ideas.
As far as the children’s books, I have always been fascinated with the old folklore books that are extremely well illustrated, so I collect those, and when I need inspiration for the Horsey Holidays, I go through those.
Carly: What is the hardest part about being an author?
Laura: If you are not doing it full time, finding the time, and mindset, to write!
Carly: What is the best part about being an author?
Laura: Saying “That’s my book!” when I see it on Amazon, or people ask me about it.
Carly: What advice would you give an aspiring author of children’s books?
Laura: Either get to know someone really well who can draw, or learn to draw yourself. Aside from that, your books should have a good message for the kids, or adults, reading them. And to only do this if you have a wonderful partner who is willing to support you in all you do. (and yes, I do)
Carly: What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time before you published your first book?
Laura: Think long and hard before doing this! Other than that, enjoy what you do, because it comes out in your work.
Carly: What makes you feel inspired or like your best self?
Laura: Knowing that people like the books, and they all want to offer up ideas on new ones. When I ask ‘well, what do you see happening there?’ and they give me some ideas, then the inspiration comes and off I go!
Carly: Is there anything I should have asked, but didn’t?
Laura: I am working on other books, and do have a story in a ‘Ghost Hunting Critter’s’ anthology book, about a demon hunting donkey. I will continue to write as the inspiration hits me, and if anyone has any horsey holiday ideas – let me know!
Connect with Laura Hargis
Facebook: Authors with Altitude Group Page
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Hargis/
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About Podcast Host & Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!