Thank you so much for having me! :-)
Well, I was homeschooled my entire life, and it was such a blessing! I really enjoyed my schooling experience, and got to focus a lot on my writing, which I'll tell you more about in a little bit. I still live at home with my family. I have two little brothers who are seventeen and eight, and they make life so fun and exciting. My father runs a software business out of the basement of our house, and my mom helps him and still homeschools my brothers. I stay very busy helping them and living life to the fullest!
Besides writing, I also love music, particularly playing piano and singing. I've been a piano teacher for seven years now, and I'm the vice-president of a local piano teachers' association. So writing and music are technically my "jobs." I also love acting, and have been involved in a local Christian theatre group for fifteen years now! I help teach classes there and play the piano for plays. I really enjoy reading, playing pick-up sports (soccer and ultimate frisbee are my favorite!), spending time with friends, and watching my brothers play football. Finally,I have a little dogged named Sophie who is my writing buddy.
Everyone’s homeshooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
Something that was really unique about my homeschooling experience was how much my parents focused on the "non-academic" side of homeschooling. Yes, I did my math and my science and my writing and my history. But my parents allowed and encouraged time to pursue my dreams and goals. I studied under many piano teachers in an attempt to learn more about how to teach myself, and started teaching piano when I was fourteen years old. When I started working on my book, my dad made that part of my schooling. There's no better way to learn applied english than to write a book! :-) They also taught me how to run a household and manage money and run a business, which are all incredibly useful things that I am using today in my piano teaching business and in my writing and speaking. I'm so thankful that my parents allowed me to pursue my dreams and goals and get a jump-start on finding God's plan for my life.
How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
Homeschooling gave me the freedom to work on my book for my english assignments instead of working through a whole curriculum and then having to find spare moments to write. My parents also had me read a lot, and they read a lot of books to me and my little brothers. Many people say that you can't be a writer unless you're a reader, and that's so true! Even today, I listen to many books on audio and I'm always so inspired to write more and to improve in my skills, particularly with my description and writing style.
What caused you to start writing?
I've always liked stories since I can remember. When I was little, I told myself stories all the time and had imaginary friends. As I grew older, I stopped telling myself stories because too many people caught me talking to myself and it was kind of awkward. :-) But then I started to write them down. I have many friends who are interested in writing, and we kept each other energized to write down our crazy ideas and start to turn them into short stories or books. I believe I already mentioned that my dad was an inspiration to me because he had published a book. Even though it was a technical book, I still thought that it was really cool.
As I continued to get older and get started on my book, I also began to see the need for well-written Christian books. So many books out there that are labeled "Christian" don't really seem to be Christian at all. They're full of romance, drama, disrespect and disobedience to parents. Many of them barely even mention God or the things of God. Or there are books that go to the opposite extreme and the characters are so perfect and the message is so preachy that it's almost a turn-off. It's hard to relate to perfect characters because you can't understand them and you can't learn from their struggles because they are nonexistent. I knew that there had to be a happy medium. There had to be books out there that had real people striving to live for Christ. Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to find many books that are well-written and truly encouraging to children and young adults in particular. So, I decided to write one, and hopefully inspire others to take back the medium of writing and write their books for God's glory. That's been one of my main goals and desires that has really driven me to write and challenge others to write, too.
What inspired A Cry from Egypt?
There's actually a kind of funny story behind "A Cry From Egypt." My dad put together my history curriculum, and I was studying Ancient Egypt. He told me to write a short historical fiction story based in Ancient Egypt. The idea came to me to write a story about a young Israelite girl who saw the ten plagues happen to the Egyptians. My first draft of the story was twenty-five pages long. For all of you writers out there, you know that that is not a short story. :-) My dad really enjoyed what I had written, and told me that if I worked hard at it that one day it might make a good book. So, I did! And seven years later, it was published!
Would you give us a synopsis?
Here's the synopsis on the back of the book:
"Girls, get back!" Ezra shouted. His face was pale, but his eyes kindled with indignation as he stood in front of the girls protectively. Ezra dropped the pitchers in the sand and his hand flashed to a dagger, concealed under his tunic. Jarah's eyes grew wide. he could be killed for carrying a dagger!
Jarah was a slave in Egypt. It was a dangerous place to be. The work was exhausting and her family was torn between the gods of the Egyptians and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And her brother... would his Ada be given in marriage to an Egyptian in the palace? Would they ever be free?
Adventure, excitement, love, and faith come together when Jarah and her family find themselves at the culmination of four hundred years of history.
Who will enjoy A Cry from Egypt?
I wrote "A Cry From Egypt" for children between the ages of eight to sixteen. However, many families have used it as a family read-aloud, and toddlers all the way up to parents have enjoyed it! Several homeschool curriculums (Tapestry of Grace, Cornerstone Curriculum, and Biblioplan) have my book listed as a required family re-aloud! So really, it's fun for the whole family. Many of my college-aged friends have enjoyed it, too.
What was the easiest part of blending a fictional and the biblical story What was the hardest part?
The easiest parts were what God had already written out for me. The scene when the Nile River turns to blood didn't change much from it's original draft. God told me what Moses said and what happened, and that's what I wrote. I loved pouring into the details in Exodus to try to make the book come alive. It was fun to picture myself in Jarah's shoes, watching hail rain down on the Egyptians or being surrounded by the plague of darkness. That part was the easiest and the fun part.
The hard part was not adding to the Biblical account, and making sure my subplots and my characters own stories didn't take away from what the Bible said to be true. Jarah and her friend Ada, a servant in the palace, show and tell us almost everything. But the times when Jarah and Ada see Moses and Aaron I had to tread very, very carefully. I didn't want to add emotions or words that God didn't intend for Moses and Aaron to say.
Do you plan to write more books?
Actually, I'm almost ready to send my second books to my publishers right now! This book is a continuation of "A Cry From Egypt" and the second book of "The Promised Land" series. The current title is "A Stand at Sinai," but I'm not sure if it'll change during the editing and publishing process. This book follows Jarah and her friends and family from the Red Sea all the way to Mount Sinai! It's a lot longer and has a lot more action and excitement in it. I've really enjoyed working on it!
Do you have any final thoughts?
I would just encourage you to make sure that everything you do, whether it be writing or something else, do it for the glory of God. There's nothing more fulfilling than bringing glory to His name, and I know that He will bless you for it. Don't be afraid to be bold and share God's truth with the world. When I've shared scripture or scriptural truth with people through my speaking and writing, it's amazing how God can use it to convict and change hearts. Don't ever underestimate the power of the written word and how it can be used for God's kingdom! Happy writing! :-)
Hope is giving away a copy of A Cry From Egypt. Enter to win below.