Courage is being scared to death--but saddling up anyway." --Susan's motto
Susan K. Marlow, mischievious tomboy and dreamer of stars, had a rich childhood that shaped the author she would become. Susan says, "I was nine when I wrote my first 'published" poem. The teacher hung it in the teacher's lounge for everyone to see."
What's really great about this particular Kid Interview is that Susan has photos of some of the most shaping events and impressions from her childhood. She writes historical fiction for kids and if you leave a comment(see the end,) you will be entered to win one of TWO of her titles, autographed with bookmarks! I will draw two names from the comments section on Wednesday,November 28th, and send one copy to each person. So leave a comment! Also, below you can see the books, as well as links to Chapter 1 of both books.
Since I was a teacher,too, one of her books was of special interest to me--a book of writing activities for children, grades 3-7. But because Susan has a degree in elementary education and she loves to teach, she not only knows about kids--she knows how to reach them. Teachers, parents, homeschoolers, and authors who speak to school groups might want to check out her book, Reach for the Stars.
Susan told us, "I taught in Christian schools before I began homeschooling. Right now I'm homeschooling the last of my four children. I teach writing workshops for kids, speak at schools about the writing process, and am a freelance editor. I enjoy my seven grandkids, work in our church's AWANA Bible club, and....write stories, of course."
Let's see what shaped Susan to write stories for kids when she was just a kid:
Susan, 10 months old with her own baby
I wanted to be an astronaut, an astronomer, a marine biologist, a medical technologist, or a nurse--not necessarily in that order. Why isn't "writer" on this list? Honestly, I thought writing stories was something you did as a child; when you grew up you put your imagination away and entered "real life." The hard part was that I couldn't seem to get away from the stories playing in living color in my head, no matter how hard I tried to be an adult. I ended up becoming a teacher, which worked out great. It allowed me to hang out with my peer group--other kids.
Being buried up to our necks in sand
In the water at Juniper Beach
The two weeks our family spent at our beachplace on Camano Island, WA, every summer. I remember catching mud crabs, being buried up to our necks in sand, and my sister and I walking out to the channel when the tide was out. From our cabin's deck, we watched with great expectation as the tide slipped in around the point as a sparkling silver strip. We played tag on the sand cliffs as the sun went down, and searched for agates along the shoreline. No other memory measures up to Juniper Beach.
The Sears telescope I bought with babysitting money
When I saved up my babysitting money and bought myself a deluxe-model, Sears telescope ($79.99). No ordinary telescope this! It had setting circles, with instructions on how to find nearly every object in the sky, using the North Star as a fixed point (if I could only figure out how to use those settings!). I was pretty proud of that telescope, especially when I saw the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn; a comet, sun spots and solar eclipses.
Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
Patience, and learning to keep my mouth shut. I got into so much trouble as a teenager because I knew I was right. It was too bad my folks couldn't figure it out and give in gracefully to my way of looking at things. I was an "Open Mouth--Change Foot" teenager, which resulted in lots of conflict. I was also very quick, which made me impatient with others not quite as on-the-ball as I was.
First Job: Candy-striper and my Candy-striper outfit
My First Job:
Does it count if I didn't get paid? I worked as a candy-striper (teen volunteer) at a hospital that will remain unnamed in this blog. I must have been out of my mind. I do not have good memories of that place, mostly because there wasn't much for me to do. I was bored to death most of the time. I was scared of the patients, and I think the nurses believed I was in the way. However, I did like volunteering in Central Supply, folding towels and chatting with the employees. The good news: I eventually landed a job in the dietary department of the same hospital--my first real paying job. And I decided I definitely did not want to become a nurse.
By now, my "Career Choice List" was (sadly) a lot shorter than before. My marine biology career "drowned" when I took scuba lessons and discovered I didn't like having all that water between me and the surface; astronaut was out because I wore glasses; astronomer was too much math and physics, and not enough "oohing and aahing" at the wonders of outer space. So....I took my parents' advice ("You'd make a great teacher, Susan," they said) and decided to pursue a degree in education. I'm very glad I did. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
For three summers we accompanied my dad to Washington State University in the middle of the wheatfields of Eastern Washington, where he was getting his masters degree in mathematics. Those three summers were total indulgence--exploring cow pastures, sliding down grassy hills on cardboard, and generally experiencing freedom on a scale not possible where we lived in Tacoma. Every Friday or Saturday night we loaded up our Oldsmobile station wagon with sleeping bags and treats and headed to The Big Sky, the drive-in theater outside of town. There I remember seeing the Disney movie, The Three Lives of Thomasina (one of my all-time favorite movies), and West Side Story (a boring movie my folks were enjoying. I fell asleep).
Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Every year my mother took me back-to-school shopping, when I could pick out a first-day-of-school dress. Then we went to lunch. One year I spotted The Dress right away, and after that there was no other. It was orange (my favorite color) and brown, with a white collar. It was more money than my mom wanted to pay, but I wouldn't look at or try on any other dress.
Favorite Childhood Movie:
I loved the Hayley Mills' The Parent Trap. The movie gave this ten-year-old ideas on how to make gooey traps with honey and string, which we attempted to try out on the neighbors. I don't remember how it turned out--which is probably just as well. I also loved The Sound of Music.
Favorite Childhood Book:
As a small child, Mimi the Merry-Go-Round Cat, a Golden Book;
As a middle-grade book lover: Caddie Woodlawn
As a teen: Trixie Belden mystery series
Little Joe Cartwright
It's a toss-up between Little Jo Cartwright and Captain James Kirk. Both had loads of fun while exploring strange, new worlds in the Old West or outer space. When you think about it, there really isn't much difference between a western and a space story. Heroes and villains are universal; danger, adventure, and excitement face both heroes. Unexplored territory waits to be conquered with a Winchester rifle or a phaser.
Feeding Ducks with Grandmother
Favorite Childhood Pets:
Cats, cats, and more cats, although a snake would serve in a pinch. I liked snakes, mostly because I knew girls weren't supposed to like them. I took a perverse pleasure in finding them and chasing people with them. I once chased our junior high youth group leader through the campground with a garter snake. She was an older lady, and it's a wonder she didn't end up in the ER room with a heart attack.
Anything else you'd like readers to know about you as a child that affected the writer you are today:
This may sound odd, but even more than my rich childhood memories, I think being a child during the Golden Age of Television in the 60s influenced the writer I am today. Television was brand new, and the visual imagery seared in my head the ability to "see" my stories playing out as real events. When I wrote stories, I knew nothing about hooks, climaxes, plot, or character development. I wrote my stories as if I were watching an hour-long television story. If you take apart a well-made dramatic episode, it really does have all the elements of a good story. I guess watching TV as a kid was my "writing class" for the future.
Blogs to check out for homeschooling and writing workshop:
Writing Workshop for Kids
Susan's Books! Wholesome Books for Kids
Circle C Adventures:
#1-Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home (Kregel, 2005)
#2- Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision (2007)
#3- Andrea Carter and the Family Secret (2008)
Reach for the Stars, young author's fiction workbook
Click to watch her book trailer
The story behind the book covers:
The girl on the cover of Susan's books("Andrea Carter") has her own story and is a daughter of Susan's homeschooling friend. To see the story of model, Jessica, click here.
The Long Ride Home (Click to read Chapter 1)
Twelve-year-old Andrea Carter can't seem to stay out of trouble. Now her beloved horse, Taffy, is missing and it's Andi's fault. The daring young girl will do anything to find the thief and recover Taffy. But her choices plunge her into danger, and Andi discovers that life on her own in the Old West can be downright terrifying!
Dangerous Decision (Click to read Chapter 1)
Andi nearly tramples her new teacher in a reckless, impromptu horserace down the main street of Fresno, California--not a good way to begin the fall, 1880 school term. Her troubles multiply when she must decide if she should deliberately walk into a dangerous situation to rescue the teacher’s mean-spirited, trouble-making daughter.
Family Secret (coming Feb. 2008)
Strange things are happening on the Circle C. Who is the lifeless man Andi and her friends find lying in the creek? Who is the travel-weary young woman with three unruly children who suddenly show up at the ranch? Why has Andi never been told the secret her older brothers and sisters all know?
Writing Workbook for Kids
This 45-page workbook for budding young authors includes sections on creating your characters, how to "show-don't tell" your characters' emotions, beginnings that "hook" the reader, creating a scene, plotting your story and MUCH MORE! Great for classrooms, individuals, and home-schooled students.
To order Reach for the Stars ($8.00 + $2.50 s/h):
If you are a teacher and would like reproducible Black-line masters for classroom use, the cost is $20.00 + s/h.
For speaking and other school writing events, including an eight-week course in writing for kids, click here.
Do you have kids? Want to learn to draw a horse? Other activities? Click here for cool stuff for kids.
Also, want to know about Fresno, the San Joaquin Valley in California in the 1880s?
Click on this.
Susan and a horse friend
"Courage is being scared to death--but saddling up anyway."
WIN A BOOK--LEAVE A COMMENT
REMEMBER!! if you leave a comment, you will be entered to win one of TWO of her titles, autographed with bookmarks! I will draw two names from the comments section on November 28th, Wednesday, and send one copy to each person chosen. So leave a comment answering this question:
What did Susan buy with her babysitting money that she was so proud to have?
Also, below you can see the books, as well as links to Chapter 1 of both books.
The Long Ride Home
Also, a bonus! If you don't win the books, I have a stack of small book business cards with all the information to pre-order for Susan's book coming out in February 2008, Family Secret, and I'll send you one if you indicate "yes, I want a card" on your comment. I'll need your mailing information, so you must leave an email, and to battle the bottom feeders put into this format:
or email me at crystal.mrsinewa[AT]gmailDOTcom
with When I Was Just a Kid in the subject line.