Meet Marlane Kennedy
I’d love to visit your school! I am more than happy to work with small groups or an auditorium packed full of kids. Even with large groups, I love to involve the kids by asking questions during my presentation and I always save time at the end to answer some of theirs!
Research, Real Life, and Revision
My first two novels, Me and the Pumpkin Queen and The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes, are works of fiction, but that doesn’t mean everything is made up! Research and real life play important roles when creating stories.
I discuss how I was able to write about a subject I knew very little about — giant pumpkin growing — through the use of Internet, books, and working with an expert in the field. I also show how I was able to turn real life events and experiences with a family dog into a novel—by adding conflicts and problems into the mix! Fun and amazing photos from a giant pumpkin patch and Circleville’s Pumpkin Show, along with those of my childhood Saint Bernard are used in this PowerPoint presentation. In addition, volunteer student actors and actresses are brought up for an entertaining and laugh out loud activity that demonstrates the importance of the ideas covered. After the comic relief, it is time to tackle something a bit more serious. Revision. Most students know what it is like to have to have to do rough drafts. It is helpful for them to know that all authors have to go through a similar experience—only instead of teachers we have editors. I share some of my “marked up” pages, showing how revising makes good stories even better!
This presentation plays off the title of my series, Disaster Strikes. But instead of disaster striking, the focus is inspiration! I cover the different ways authors (and students) can become inspired to turn little gems of ideas into full- fledged stories. I talk about my own bumpy journey to become an author, from a reluctant remedial reader in first grade to a full fledged bookworm in fourth grade to a kid with big dreams of writing my own books. It was a dream that took lots of work, rejection, and practice to accomplish! And it took a bit of inspiration, too. I show how as an author I capture ideas and make them grow and how students can do this as well. I also cover the importance of an author being a “troublemaker” because creating problems for your characters is what makes readers want to turn the page! To demonstrate this concept, I end the presentation with a lively interactive skit using student volunteers as troublemakers where we take a boring story and turn it into an exciting one. Kids love volunteering to be troublemakers, especially since this is one instance where it is actually encouraged and a good thing!