Episode 70: On Persistence, Handling Rejection & Flash Fiction with Kerri Lukasavitz (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 70: 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 author Kerri Lukasavitz. You'll learn ...
Watch Kerri Lukasavitz's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only episode.
About Kerri Lukasavitz
Kerri Lukasavitz is the award-winning author of the middle grade/young adult novel series, Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 1 - which won a 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award) and Gray Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 2), with Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 3) underway.
She has a BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and an MA in Creative Writing and Literature from Mount Mary University. She recently won the 2020 Lakefly Writers Contest for Flash Fiction, was a semifinalist in the 2020 Bethlehem Writers Short Story Award, is the recipient of a 2021 residency at Write On Door County, and was the 2019 Hal Prize winner for Nonfiction.
Kerri was born horse crazy, an animal lover, and a book devotee. She owned two ponies as a child, showed in 4H, worked as a show groom, rider, and riding teacher for two hunter/jumper stables, and recently volunteered at a therapy stable.
She lives with her husband on her family’s Wisconsin farm where she grew up surrounded by her family of six, an assortment of beloved pets, and the natural beauty of the Kettle Moraine.
Kerri Lukasavitz Interview Excerpt
Carly: Talk to us about your Oak Lane Stable Adventures book series.
Kerri: Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 1) started out as a 20 page homework assignment when I was a graduate student pursuing a degree in creative writing. I wasn't even sure how to start a novel, but I was told to write about something I was familiar with.
After spending close to 25 years working with horses, mostly the hunter/jumper circuit, I found the inspiration for the novel based on my life around riding stables. I was born passionate about horses and will always be passionate about horses, so it seemed like the perfect subject for the book.
The novel takes place the summer before 8th grade. 12-year-old Cassie is determined to finally get her own horse, except things don't go as she plans. I had fun writing in all of the challenges she and her two best friends, Ingrid and Allison, face as they prepare for a show in July. Of course, there has to be drama from the sassy antagonist, Lisa, who is Cassie's classmate and riding rival since 3rd grade.
Throw in a secret crush, a major love disaster, and tension between friends, and you have a pile of subplots all waiting to be unraveled along with the main plot of maybe owning the mystery horse by the end.
Even though I wrote the book, I still tear up at two points in the story - both of them remind me of similar events I experienced as a show groom.
Also, Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 1 of the Oak Lane Stable Adventure series) was a 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winner for New Author.
Kerri: Gray Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 2) starts about 7 months after the events in Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 1). 13-year-old Cassie enters the world of competitive hunter equitation riding and finds it's not always the glamorous place she's imagined it would be.
It took me longer to complete Gray Horse at Oak Lane Stable than it did to finish Mystery Horse at Oak Lane Stable. Both books deal with the realities of stable life, but writing about and including bullying in Gray Horse at Oak Lane Stable wasn't something I found easy to do. I didn't want the characters to be picked on or hurt on any level, except I have to write what wants to come through me and onto the page.
I loved the inclusion of some new characters who add more dimension to the story along with the continued cast of Cassie and her best friends, Ingrid and Allison. The story is full of 8th grade drama and a surprising bittersweet ending, something I knew nothing about until I wrote the whole novel.
I have started Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable, which is the third book. It starts five months from when Grey Horse at Oak Lane Stable stops.
Carly: Letters of rejection are not uncommon in our industry. It happens to everyone, but you showed incredible persistence in getting your book series published. Talk to us about handling rejection and persistence in your author career.
Kerri: It's very frustrating. It's something you question. The hardest part about being an author is dealing with the frustrations. When you are first getting into being a writer, you have that inspiration. You want to just do all this writing. When you start getting into more of the business aspect of it, and really learning about what you need to do in order to be an author, those rejections can be frustrating at first.
I didn't ever have a bad rejection. I always had people who would tell me that it wasn't something they were doing right now. You learn to get very thick-skinned and strong. You have to be persistent with writing. At the time that I was trying to get the book published, I was still writing smaller pieces, so that I was always writing and doing something. I would send those smaller pieces to contests.
You have to keep going. You just have to keep just pushing, trying, and doing what you can to be around other writers. Try conferences and courses. Keep building your skill sets.
Carly: You write flash fiction. Would you share with us what flash fiction is and how you how you got into it?
Kerri: I got into it because there was a contest that I wanted to enter. When I started out in graduate school, I had a creative nonfiction class. The professor gave us a word limit. It taught us about getting things done clean, neatly, and to the point in 600 words or 500 words. This was non-fiction.
When I started doing flash fiction, it was fun, but I had to be very aware that I only had 750 words. You have to tell an entire story in 750 words or 500 words or sometimes 250 words. With flash fiction, instead of having this entire big book, you have just three pages or four pages or whatever to get that story down. It has to be clean. It has to be tight. It has to be strong, otherwise it's not going to hold people's attention.
Connect with Kerri Lukasavitz
Books by Kerri Lukasavitz
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About Your Host & Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
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!