Monday, November 26, 2007

Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids...Susan K. Marlow

Little Susan eating an ice cream cone

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

Childhood Ambition:

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

Fondest Memory:

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

Proudest Moment:

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!)

Childhood Indulgence:

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).

First-Day-of-School Dress

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

Childhood Hero:

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.

Susan K. Marlow today, who still looks youthful!

Blogs to check out for homeschooling and writing workshop:

Suzy's Scribbles

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)

Kregel Publications

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)

Kregel Publications

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)

Kregel Publications
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.

Grades 3-7.

To order Reach for the Stars ($8.00 + $2.50 s/h):

e-mail: susankmarlow[AT]

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."


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

Dangerous Decision

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.


Karen said...

She saved to buy a deluxe-model, Sears telescope ($79.99):)

Yes, I would love a card!

This was one of the best author interviews I have read in quite a while, and I really enjoyed it.

kpuleski {AT} gmail {DOT} com

Carey said...

She bought a Sears Telescope.
Her books look great. She sure sounds like a nice person. Thanks for hosting this great giveaway.

Eden said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Susan. Please count me in for the drawing. Her books look interesting.

Anonymous said...

My answer to the question: She got a telescope from Sears with her babysitting money.

What fun to get to know an author just that much better! I love reading interviews like this. :-)

Anonymous said...

Susan bought a telescope, a fancy one for $79.99.
I think Susan is a great author and my daughter loves her books. But it was very interesting reading all these tidbits about her. Thank you so much for sharing these. :)

Amanda said...

she bought a telescope

Anonymous said...

I really liked the story :) thank you for showing it and for the question she got the telescope to look at stars :) thats really cool I hope I get the books and bookmarks :) LOL

holly K said...

She saved up her money to buy a Sears brand deluxe madel telescope. I enjoyed reading this! My daughter is really into horses and would love to read your books!

Angela said...

A sears telescope!! (neato!)

Ill blog about this too :

Anonymous said...

Susan bought a telescope.

This interview is a wonderful insight into an author who does a great job communicating adventure and values. It helps to know what shaped her as a child.

Anonymous said...

Susan bought a super-duper star-gazin' Sears telescope! I'm sending this telescopic view of Susan's childhood to some of Andi's fans, my nieces and nephews! Susan's books are great gifts!

Anonymous said...

She saved her baby sitting money to buy a deluxe-model, Sears telescope that cost her ($79.99).

It was great to see all the pictures and hear all about her favorite childhood memories. It was a great time to be a kid and to be able to use our imaginations.

Imagination seems to be lost in our society of cell phones and video games. It was fun to go back in time with Susan to a simpler, more carefree time. I really enjoyed reading the interview and it gives me ideas to use with my second grade class!

Anonymous said...

"Suzy Scribbles" bought a Sears telescope with her babysitting money!

I am currently taking her "Reach for the Stars" writing class on my blog. The assignments are a lot of fun!


Anonymous said...

Susan saved her babysitting money to buy a deluxe telescope from Sears for $79.99! I loved the interview, and my favorite photo was the one in the first day of school dress... adorable!
I hope I win those books! My daughter would love them. She is 8, totally into horses, and like Susan, her #1 wished for item this Christmas is a telescope! I would love to win and give the books to her for Christmas! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Crystal, for turning a few pictures and some simple answers into a delightful look into my past. You did a fantastic job with this!

Cherie J said...

The answer is a deluxe-model, Sears telescope which cost her $79.99. Thanks for this wonderful look into Susan Marlow's childhood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Crystal for writing such a great story of our daughter, Susan. There are many more VERY interesting things about Susan..But moms don't usually tell All! (She really is a delightful daughter, and we are very proud of her)

Debbie Yates said...

She bought a Sears telescope...the interview is awesome- such great insight into a geat author - thank you - God bless-

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

She bought a telescope from Sears.

I'd love a chance to win a book for my nieces!

LivingforGod said...

Susan bought a deluxe-model, Sears telescope with her baby-sitting money.

I really enjoyed reading this post. My daughter loves Susan's books. I hope to win one to give to our niece :).

Anonymous said...

Susan.........I never would have pegged you as a cat person! Now guinea pigs.....those are pets!! walk1969

Anonymous said...

She saved her babysitting money and bought herself a deluxe-model, Sears telescope ($79.99).

My children love her books, I love Reach for the Stars and all her great insights.

Thank you for the interview, it was great!


Audra Marie said...

What a neat interview! I love all the pictures.

She saved her babysitting money to buy herself a deluxe-model, Sears telescope.

herwittywords (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

It was great to read about Susan. Now I can see where her wonderful writing comes from. Thank you so much for sharing.
Please count me in for the drawing.

Miralee Ferrell said...

What a fun interview of a very fun person! Little Joe was one of my hero's from my childhood, too and I read Trixie Belden and other old authors. I'd love to win a book and give to a pre-teen girl I have in mind, but if not, I may just buy one! Miralee

Miralee Ferrell said...

What a fun interview of a very fun person! Little Joe was one of my hero's from my childhood, too and I read Trixie Belden and other old authors. I'd love to win a book and give to a pre-teen girl I have in mind, but if not, I may just buy one! Miralee

Oh..and Susan bought a Sears telescope with her babysitting! That's something I would've loved to have had, but never purchased.

Anonymous said...

She saved her babysitting money and bought a deluxe-model, Sears telescope ($79.99). Please enter me.

Anonymous said...

Susan bought a Sears telescope with her babysiting money. Great interview and great pictures. Susan came and did a wonderful power point presentation for our homeschooling group. Her books are fun and she is an inspiration to young writers.

Anonymous said...

This is Aunt Mary. She saved her babysitting money and purchased a deluxe model telescope from Sears.
Keep up the good work.We are proud of you and your accomplishments.The pictures brought back memories of the past. You are still a "child at heart".

Anonymous said...

Hello! Please enter me in your two drawings. Your favorite bible story growing up is Esther. My favorite bible story is Noah's Ark. I can't imagine all the fun with the animals piled up in the ark! God Bless!
Kyndra Watkins