Ashley Gendek of Owensboro has loved to write her whole life. Using inspiration from the world around her as soon as she learned how as a little girl.
"Once I learned how to write, I started keeping a writing notebook and wrote stories about everything—my soccer games, my grandpa’s brand new truck, my older sisters’ phone conversations after listening in on them from a landline in the next room you know, all the super exciting things happening in a 6-8 year old’s life!" Ashley shared. How adorable is that?
Writing has been a constant thread in her life as she had the opportunity to write for her hometown paper while still in high school. She studied English, creative writing, and publishing at Kentucky Wesleyan and then graduate school at DePaul University in Chicago. After moving to Nashville, she began covering sporting events from NFL and NHL games to US Soccer and the Music City Bowl.
In a full circle moment, Ashley moved back to Owensboro to teach writing classes at her alma mater, KWC, where she's been for seven years. She also teaches English at Owensboro Innovation Academy inspiring future generations of writers, "I try to pass along my passion for writing to my students!"
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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Ashley's favorite genre to write is creative nonfiction.  She hadn't considered writing a children's book until her good friend, Logan Porter, reached out to her. The Muhlenberg County Tourism Commission, had a great idea of writing a book to introduce the first three Big Twigs, Oakley, Bobber, and Happy. They are the giant whimsical statues you can visit at Lake Malone State Park.
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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Although it was out of her comfort zone, she didn't want to pass up on such a fun opportunity and a chance to support Lake Malone State Park, the Muhlenberg County Tourism Commission and the Friends of Lake Malone State Park organization. Ashley had a lot of inspiration from her own childhood to help form the story.
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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She shared, "The central idea of the book really focuses on encouraging people to get outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer. I grew up on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee and my parents raised my sisters and I to appreciate being outside and not taking nature for granted. We hiked, we camped, we fished, we boated…and we actually still do all of those things as a family now, even as grown adults."
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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June 29th, there was a huge celebration at Lake Malone for the 100th Anniversary of Kentucky State Parks.  Ashley was there with her sweet family to celebrate and sign copies of her book The Big Twigs and the Bridge to New Friends. Everyone who attended got a free copy of it thanks to the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation’s SOAR program.
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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Ashley said readers are really loving the story, "The book has been a fun way for people to get to know the original three Big Twigs. There are now actually six Big Twigs in all, with the more recent additions of Watson and twin twigs Paige and Annette. I highly encourage everyone to plan a visit to Lake Malone State Park to visit all six Big Twigs and pick up a copy of the book while there!"
Ashley Gendek
Ashley Gendek
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The book is available for purchase in the campground office at Lake Malone State Park. Keep an eye out for it at Windy Hollow Biscuit House. Our friends have a section of books written by local authors and they plan to stock some copies of The Big Twigs and the Bridge to New Friends soon.
Ashley hinted that there may be more to the story up her sleeve, "Who knows, maybe there will be a second book in the future so people can learn more about the newest additions to the Big Twig family!"
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