Sprenkil Doodles

I’m at the end of the query list for The Sprenkil Adventures, and while part of me is disappointed that I haven’t more to show for my efforts than a few dozen rejection letters, I blink and realize I actually HAVE a few dozen rejection letters. Which means I’ve been doing something, and there is definitely something to be said for trying.

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I’m not giving up, not yet. I’m taking a hard look at the manuscript and revising it further. I’m determined to get it under 1000 words, because I feel this needs to be a true picture book.

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I’m also going to pursue the smallish list of agents who only want author/ illustrators. I’ve dismissed it from the beginning because my drawing chops haven’t been used since 2002, but the other day I started doodling for inspiration and the thought hit me I’d be a fool to explore all other options but this one.

So I’m going for it!

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A while ago I posted a recounting of saving a hummingbird. You can look in the near future for other true animal accounts to appear on the blog! There are many tales from my childhood on the Blue Star Ranch involving llamas, cats, iguanas, chickens, and maybe the occasional snake, just to name a few.

We’re not only about horses here (although we do love them an awful lot)!

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Well, Sprenkil made it to the moon.

africa-16831_640Now I just need to get him and Kathi home in one piece!

The initial edit of “Sprenkil Goes to the Moon” is almost done, and my goodness it looks better already! The first drafts always leave me a little appalled. (I wrote that? Seriously? What was my tea-sloshed brain thinking?)

Once the second edit is done, it will be a matter of polishing up, which means I can start thinking about the next book in The Sprenkil Adventures: “Sprenkil Visits the Zoo”. Now, this story is important because it introduces a new horse. She’s a very special horse because she’s a rescue horse.

Here’s where my readers will come in, because I have yet to write her specific history. I don’t know what breed of horse she is, and I don’t know what exactly her troubles are. Once I’m actively working on this, I will be polling you for ideas!

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This morning I received my 4th rejection letter! This is actually exciting because I’m now averaging slightly more than 1 rejection a week. Given the general 4-6 week turnover rate, I’m also a little surprised, but definitely not complaining!

Attitude

Flying horse! (in space)

No, not talking about the constellation. I’m referring to book #2 in The Sprenkil Adventures: Sprenkil Goes to the Moon!

When I was 8, I loved more than just horses. I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved space, I loved NASA. It made perfect sense to me at the time to combine my two interests into one story, and to this day the original tale of Sprenkil on the moon makes me laugh more than the others due to its sheer absurdity.

I’m not sure readers are interested in sheer absurdity, however, and since I’m trying to bring some realism to my whimsy, I recently took to researching the current state of space exploration. (As one of my writing instructors said, “NEVER write about something you know nothing about.”)

What a cool age we are living in! Between NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Boeing, there are all kinds of exciting things afoot! Reusable rockets, private spacecraft, more planned missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond…

…I almost want to be an astronaut again.

List of Space Missions to Watch for 2016

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The first draft of Sprenkil Goes to the Moon is done! Onward to the first edit. Then the second. Then maybe it’ll be ready for the Beta Reading Team.

Lastly, I have updated the About Page, Twitter, and Facebook to include an author photo.

Why animal tracks?

Animal-Illuminerade-Figurer-Woodland-Rabbit-3-1000x699One of the elements in My Horse Sprenkil is Kathi discovering woodland nature, specifically identifying animal tracks. I could have picked any number of woodland aspects to include, so why critter tracks?

It goes back to 2010, when my family moved to a rural, wooded, and mountainous area. I knew very little about tracks, but I quickly realized that it would be advantageous for me to educate myself (and my little ones).

Animal-Jardine-Puma-1000x611During the snow-fallen winters, it was grand fun following the rabbit and deer tracks around the yard with the kids. I secretly giggled every time a skittering of mouse prints darted across my path, and the dog took particular interest in the coyote trails, which remained long after their midnight chorus ceased.

When 4 sets of bear tracks appeared at the top of our long driveway, recognizing tracks became less about entertainment and more about awareness.

When the cougar tracks appeared 10 feet from the house, awareness took over completely for a while.Animal-Deer-Educational-plate-Male

One time I went for a walk with the faithful dog and discovered a track I’d never seen before. It was a very distinct, “Wait, what’s that?” moment. It turned out to belong to an elk, and in the 4 years we lived there, that was the only evidence of them I ever saw.

Learning about animal tracks resulted in a much greater awareness of my surroundings, and having that now allows me to see all kinds of things I would otherwise have missed.

Do you have a tracking story? I’d love to hear about it!

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If you are interested in learning more about tracking, here are a couple resources I’ve compiled: Continue reading

Sprenkil and magical realism

“…I saw another reflection in the water. It looked like a white flying horse!

I stood quickly to my feet and looked up, my eyes getting wider and wider as the horse flew closer and closer. He circled in the air like the eagle, and then in one graceful dive he landed on the other side of the pond.” (My Horse Sprenkil)

One of the comments I received during the “test reading” phase of My Horse Sprenkil mentioned the simple acceptance of a flying horse in an otherwise real world. The young protagonist is practical and sometimes literal, yet she has no trouble believing that the horse she meets really exists.

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By LJP at age 8

For a time I contemplated trying to explain Sprenkil’s presence, but I realized doing so would shift the project more towards fantasy, which I don’t want. I don’t want magic. I don’t want to dampen the sense of “this could actually happen.”

A related anecdote: I remember watching Toy Story in theaters with my family. I remember being awed and impressed by the movie, and at the end when Buzz and Woody free themselves from the rocket and sail back to Andy, I cheered to myself because yay! They made it!

You know what my mom was thinking at that moment? “That could never happen.” She laughed about it coming out of the theater, because of course nothing in the movie could actually happen. It wasn’t until that point, though, that her mind actively told her this.

It is excellent story telling when you can keep your readers and viewers accepting and believing your words, even when they don’t match the real world. Part of the success in that, though, is not thinking about it too much.

And so I decided not to think too much about why Sprenkil is in the mountains, where he came from, or why he has wings. He just is, and he just does. Kathi accepts it, and her family accepts it.

It remains to be seen if all the other upcoming characters accept it too.

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Guess what? The first batch of query letters is out! Now begins the waiting game.

While I wait, I’m hard at work on the second adventure Sprenkil Goes to the Moon. A horse in space. What could possibly go wrong?

Click here to read more about The Sprenkil Adventures.

 

 

 

Sprenkil’s Beginning

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(by LJP at age 8)

“Mom, can you read the Sprenkil stories?”

 

This is the question that leads me to hope that Sprenkil might find a publisher. I hear it daily from most of my children (ages 4, 5, and 7), and if the 6 month old could talk I’d probably hear it from her, too.

When I first sat down to re-write the stories (originally created as an 8 year old), I settled on two aspects that I wanted to make the focus: the horses (and Kathi’s interaction with them) and the land around the family’s farm house.

Sprenkil had to be special, and so I thought to fashion the “updated” Sprenkil after one of the most special horses I know–the Lipizzaner. To my mind, you can’t get any closer to a flying horse than a Lipizzaner performing the Airs Above the Ground.

The area around Kathi’s house had to be equally special, since it provides the setting for most of the adventures. One of my favorite childhood memories is camping in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, so what better way to showcase its beauty than to make it Sprenkil’s home?

My intent with the adventures is to incorporate in each book an element of nature learning, or at least nature awareness.* For example, Kathi’s ability to identify animal tracks in My Horse Sprenkil leads to her discovery of the pond where she meets Sprenkil (and the animal she was tracking).

 

 

*Understandably, this intent might have to adapt a little for Sprenkil Goes to the Moon.

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(by LJP at age 8)