As a retired pet groomer of thirty-seven years and nature traveller, Kathryn Lentz has rescued dozens of dogs and cats and dedicated her time to learning more about animals and nature, which inspired her debut children’s book: Gramps the Awesome Otter. Her recent children’s book, Millie the Marvelous Mini, is all about a miniature horse who helps little boys and girls with their therapy plans. Through delightful rhymes and cute illustrations, children learn all the ways mini horses can help assist them in their everyday lives.
I’m excited to feature a fellow self-published author and nature enthusiast, Kathryn Lentz, in today’s Q&A blog.
Q: With an established career in the pet industry, how did the pivot into writing come about?
I began writing children’s stories about animals over twenty years ago. I had the ideas but not the time to more than occasionally share teachable moments, given the opportunity. It has become a natural transition to incorporate my experiences and lifelong love of animals and nature into stories that I'd put aside for so long.
Q: As a nature enthusiast, I imagine you feel inspired through visual scenery. How do you take that inspiration and translate it into words on a page? Or does your writing stem from a different type of inspiration?
My inspiration can be explained in one word: awareness. May I give you an example? Watching a backyard sparrow’s habits and writing a fun story so children become aware that even this common little bird no one pays attention to, has importance and relevance in nature.
Q: The concept of Millie the Marvelous Mini is beautiful. In a world that often feels stressful, I appreciate a story that educates little readers on ways that mini horses can help them cope in their everyday lives. How did this idea come about?
Thank you for the kind words. Horses have been a part of my family’s day-to-day life. My daughter had the opportunity to volunteer with an equine assist therapeutic organization. It gave me the chance to see how remarkable this partnership is.
Q: I love the added facts and photography in the back of the book. What facts might surprise readers the most about mini horses like Millie? Are there any misconceptions about mini horses or therapy animals?
Miniature horses are actually a breed of horses. A mini in a therapy program must be patient, gentle, and fearless. They walk into buildings, up and down stairs, and even ride in airplanes. They are also very intelligent! I’m not sure about misconceptions, but there are many people who don’t know minis exist and are assist animals.
Q: What advice would you give parents, caregivers and educators who want to learn more about therapy animals after reading your book?
The best advice I can offer is to find an organization near you and make an appointment to visit. Staff and volunteers will welcome you. See for yourself the absolute joy when a mini says hello to a child, or a rider is able to ride his/her horse partner farther today than the last time. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be excited to get involved.
Q: As a fellow self-published author, I know the personal imprint that goes into every word, every illustration and the overall intention of the story. What is your hope for what little readers take away from Millie the Marvelous Mini?
My wish is that Millie is read over and over. I hope the older aged children will want to learn more about minis. I would love this book to create conversation between adult and child.
Q: Going back to the self-publishing comment, I’m curious what led you down that path versus traditional publishing.
I wanted to have the book done in the direction I chose, not handing my work over to someone else to make decisions about content, illustrations, and even if it would be published.
Q: What advice would you give to any aspiring children’s book authors that you’ve learned along the way?
I knew nothing when I started. I also did not have any “book people” to personally turn to for help. I went online and read so many different views and opinions that my head was spinning. It was almost over before it started. I did my research and found the right professional team—and a professional team is a must!
Q: As a book lover myself, I always like to ask what’s currently on your reading list, and if you have a favourite children’s book(s) from childhood.
My current list is Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mystery series. I also love to read through all my copies of James Herriot’s books. Childhood book influences include,
The Pokey Little Puppy and Misty of Chincoteague.
Q: What’s coming up next for you and where can we follow your author journey?
More stories! Millie was just published this month, and I am taking a break for a bit.
I will continue to do more photography and incorporate photos with new characters for future stories.
I do post photography and updates on…