Defy Limits! Be More BMX!
Told by a careers advisor that girls like me don’t become writers, my school visits and events focus on encouraging others to smash stereotypes and defy the limits put on them by adopting a BMX mindset.
To get a feel for my events, check out this photostream of my #BeMoreBMX assembly at St Oswald’s. I can’t bring a BMXer – St Oswald’s were lucky enough to have their very own – but I do promise flying teabags, bouncing eyeballs and lots of empowering fun!
An Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Met University, Outreach Tutor for The Portico Library and Writer in Residence at Writing on the Wall, I have extensive experience of delivering both virtual and in-person events to children and adults. Contact me to discuss your needs or choose from one of the sample workshops below.
BE MORE BMX – Core Presentation – 45 minute Assembly Plus Q and A and Opportunity for Book Signing
With their resilience, determination and a culture of mutual support, there is a lot we can learn from BMXers. With reference to my own childhood and the limitations others attempted to place on me because of my background, I explore why I wrote a book about BMX and how adopting an extreme sports mindset can help us achieve our ambitions and defy expectations.
Despite the serious subject matter, this is a fun, interactive presentation that can be tailored for different audiences. Expect flying teabags, jaw-dropping BMX video clips and lots of laughs.
Themes: challenging stereotypes, resilience, developing confidence and self belief.
Marie is such an outstanding writer and practitioner who is passionate about sharing her creativity with pupils of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, including those who have EAL and SEN. Feedback from teachers and pupils has been overwhelmingly positive and is a testimony to Marie’s ability to engage and inspire the next generation of creative writers.
Claudia Conerney, Schools Liaison Coordinator, MMU.
KS2 Creative Writing Workshop – Princess BMX Character Mash (45-60 mins)
Princess BMX is all about challenging expectations. This is true of the supporting characters too: a masculine fairy godfather who loves nothing better than his wife’s home cooked squirrel; a tiny, cantankerous unicorn with bucked teeth; and a dragon who breathes sherbet rather than fire, are just some of the ways the author mixes things up.
With reference to Princess BMX, and using a Top Trumps style format, children will create their own unique characters. After illustrating their character, they’ll highlight their unique traits and qualities and give them a problem – the key driver of any character-led story – before sending them off on their own adventure. Can be adapted to also cover story arc and plot development.
KS2 Creative Writing Workshop – Through the Portal (45-60 mins)
Like any classic fairy tale, Princess BMX is set in a strange magical world with a number of distinct features. With an emphasis on descriptive writing, children will be challenged to travel through the portal and create their own fantasy world:
• We’ll start by discussing the classic building blocks of a portal story. Then inspired by classic fantasy worlds and Marie’s sketches of Princess BMX’s Biscotti, pupils will step through the portal and map out their own fantasy world.
• After thinking more about its landscape and inhabitants, they’ll write a story opening, describing the geography, animals and magical creatures that inhabit the world they’ve created.
For older year groups, the workshop can be adapted to include the classic elements of a fairy tale plot, with participants leaving with a plotting tool to further develop their story.
Book Cover Design Workshop – Years 5-7
Focusing on book covers, this workshop offers a different approach to exploring text. The session starts by taking a look at the jacket design of some recent publications, with Marie sharing exclusive author and illustrator insight into these covers and the process of book jacket design. The children will then design a book cover for a novel of their choice. With particular emphasis on how their cover relates to plot and themes, they’ll then write a short reflective piece about their design. If preferred, younger children can write a book blurb or short synopsis instead.
VIRTUAL VISITS MENU – Schools and Children’s Book Festivals
Marie, Thank you so much for today’s virtual assembly. We LOVED it! The inspirational advice, breathtaking videos, fun quiz…the list goes on. We are all going to try and #BeMoreBMX
Faye Cooper, Adlingnton Primary
|Skype /Zoom Chat |
|I offer a limited number of free 15 minute Q and A sessions to schools that would otherwise be unable to afford author visits or who have used Princess BMX in the classroom.|
#BeMoreBMX assembly style presentation with reading and Q & A
With themes of resilience, smashing stereotypes and developing a positive attitude, my assembly style presentation will leave children rearing to defy the limits others place on them and #BeMoreBMX. Includes a look at my own writing journey and of course some extreme sporting video clips!
A range of Princess BMX resources are available to schools to support the visit.
While no limit on numbers, given the event is streamed via your preferred platform, schools will need to be mindful of logistics and the specific needs of pupils.
£100 for a 60-minute session
Through the Portal – travel through the portal and build your own fantasy world.
Both workshops include drawing and writing exercises and are appropriately scaffolded so as to appeal to even the most reluctant writers. Follow-up activities will be provided so that the children can turn the activity into a full short story. £75 for a 45-minute session or £100 for 60 minutes
|Session tailored to school requirements||Let’s chat about fee and your requirements!|
Secondary Creative Writing Enrichment
In 2017, working under the direction of the Director Manchester Children’s Book Festival, I set up and managed Manchester Mets first ever Writing and Talking Saturday Club, a creative writing enrichment programme for young writers aged 13-16. I have also delivered a range of secondary school-based creative writing outreach for both the University and the Portico Library. Please contact me for further details of my workshops offer.
It was the ideal balance of learning activities and confidence building. The pupils felt that spending the morning with you had been a ‘treat’. It was a welcome change from the usual classroom setting and helped the disadvantaged cohort develop their literacy skills. To the pupils, it felt like special treatment, in the most positive sense.
Jane Hesketh, Audenshaw Secondary School
Conferences, Bookshops and Festivals
I have chaired or participated in a wide range of literary festivals and conferences, including the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Liverpool Festival of Reading and Aye Write Festival.
As an Associate Lecturer at MMU, I taught creative writing students from foundation up to and including MFA level as well as delivering a range of secondary outreach.
Just when I thought she’d shown us everything, this year Marie took to the MCBF performance space at the Bigger Book Bash and engaged children in stories of Princess BMX, complete with party games, flying tea bags, bouncing eyeballs and unicorn hobby horses. Completely bonkers but a consummate professional, not a bad mix in my book.
Kaye Tew Director of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival
The workshops listed in the section above can be adapted for a range of settings and the assembly presentation also makes an excellent festival event.
For adult audiences, I offer an alternative #BeMoreBMX presentation which has a greater emphasis on my writing journey, explores the similarities between the writing and extreme sporting mindset and offers tips for developing resilience and staying the course. I also offer an extensive range of adult workshops. Please contact me for further details.
Booking and Fees
My author visits are competitively priced and include a free book signing. Occasional discounts are available for local schools – please ask when making your enquiry.
FULL DAY – £400 plus travel and accommodation expenses where applicable.
A full day would typically include:
- #BeMoreBMX school assembly
- Up to 3 class workshops
- Book signing
HALF DAY – £250 plus travel and accommodation expenses where applicable.
A half-day would typically include:
- #BeMoreBMX school assembly (no maximum number of children)
- 1 class workshop
- Book signing
One Hour Session with Book Signing- £175 incl travel – local only.
Please use the contact form or e-mail email@example.com to discuss your requirements. Please note I ask schools to work with a local bookseller to facilitate the book signing. If you need help with this just let me know and I’ll be happy to recommend someone.
Fees for virtual visits are contained within the virtual events summary.
I’ve worked with Marie in a number of ways over the years I’ve known her. She is always positive and easy to work with and her events are always well organised and lots of fun. In her role as ARA at SCBWI, we partnered on events and projects aimed at supporting the adult writing community, helping us to broaden our festival offer. When I was asked to set up the first Manchester Writing & Talking Saturday Club, I knew Marie would be the perfect person to help. I’d seen her deliver workshops with school groups before and knew she would be the perfect person to inspire our young writers. The ethos of Saturday Club is about writers at different stages of their careers sharing knowledge and helping each other to develop their craft, Marie did this brilliantly, creating workshops weekly and really relating to the young people who came and kept coming throughout the 12 weeks.
Kaye Tew Director of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival