Sarah, welcome to Homeschool Authors. Â Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sarah Ellen Brown. I am 17 years old and looking forward to graduating from Homeschool highschool next spring. I'm hoping to take Elementary Education in college, and my ultimate goal is to someday be a wife and mother and a homeschooling mom someday. I live in the Minnesota countryside with my family (parents and two older brothers). Some of my interests, besides writing, include animals (mainly horses and dogs), playing flute and piano, singing, cooking, sewing, photography, blogging, etc.
What was your favorite part of being homeschooled?
The wonderful opportunities I've had that I wouldn't have had otherwise, and the valuable, valuable lessons I've learned from those experiences. Opportunities toÂ babysit anytime during the school year and learn child-rearing skills, to hold a secretarial/bookkeepingÂ job to earn some money and gain experience handling customers andÂ finances, to do PSEO (Post Secondary EnrollmentÂ Options--basically early college classes)Â and get about a year off myÂ future college education, to go calpourtering and spreading the gospel, to raise and sell a litter of puppies and learn about marketing and profit and loss and the responsiblity of having pets, and, most of all, the opportunity to write and publish books for the glory of God. Other side benefits include much more freetime, a better understanding of your school lessons, more excelled learning, learning at my own pace, the opportunity to make my mother and siblings my best friends, and many more!
What kind of pets did you have growing up?
We had horses until I was about six, we've always had a cat or two and raised kittens, and when I was younger we also had chickens and goats. When I was getting older, circumstances led to us having to get rid of our chickens, horses, and goats. But we kept our cats and our family dog. Later,Â after our family dog passed away and I was in my teens,Â we got Shasta Daisy, our Border Collie, and have raised puppies since then. So, we've never really lived on an actual farm, but I've always grown up with some kind of animals--and I'm so glad that I've been blessed with that!
What made you want to write books?
I guess I just have a passion for writing. It wasn't always this way. When I was really little, I was sure I was going to be a nurse. Later I wanted to be a school teacher (I still would like to do that!), and still later I wanted to be an artist and illustrator. I don't remember ever saying, "I want to be a writer some day!" when I was younger. But I always did enjoy writing. I printed a short book of poetry that I gave to friends and family when I was about 11 years old. I won a storywriting contest around that same time with a true story about my mother when she was growing up. And then when I was about 9 or 10 I wrote, The Life Story of Puff Ball Brown....
What inspired Learning Lessons From Furry Friends?
The little 15-some page booklet titled The Life Story of Puff Ball Brown was about my kitty, Puff, and the "adventures" of her life with our family. I actually wrote it out of sheer boredom during a very long car trip in an old notebook. I even drew some cute little sketches to go with the story. I then stapled the pages together, and voila!--my very first book! :-) My oldest brother loves cats, so for Christmas one year, I typed up the story onto the computer, drew some colorful pictures with my computer's painting program, printed out my brother's Christmas present. He loved it! And it was around that time that I decided to send my little story to a publisher. I was astonished when they loved it and accepted it for publication! I was 11 years old. But, due to not having enough money to publish then, I had to stuff my story in a drawer and forget about it.
But I didn't really forget about it. We have raised kittens ever since before I was born. So I got the idea to rewrite The Life Story... and added to Puff's story all of our experiences raising kittens, and also added lots of educational tidbits. In 2008 we got a dog and had a litter of puppies with her! So I wrote another another booklet about raising puppies and the lessons knowledge about dogs that we gained from that. I titled the puppy book: Tails and Paws, and the kitten book: Whiskers and Claws. I wanted them to be like sequels. With great hopes I sent Tails and Pawsto a different publisher to see what they would think of my story. I was heartbroken when they rejected it. I was 13 or 14 at the time. I let my two books sit quietly for a time.
But I couldn't seem to forget about them. It was then that I got the idea (and I know it was from the Lord) to consolidate the two books into one book, to break apart the individual stories into chapters, and to add to each chapter a spiritual lesson that could be learned from the situation. For example, with the story of our kitten by one naughty act being locked in a dresser drawer while we were on vacation for three days--when we finally came home and rescued her--brought to mind the lesson of Christ suffering for our sins, but how he rose triumphant on the third day. I tried to impress upon my readers that someone always has to suffer when we make naughty mistakes.
I was 16 years old when I joyously typed the last word of my new book: Learning Lessons from Furry Friends. I had been working on it on and off for over 5 years. But where to send it? Well, where else than to the same publisher that had wanted to publish The Life Story.... It was such an answer to prayer when I heard back from them about a month or two later, saying that they had accepted my book for they're highest level of publication!
God is so good! He knew my story wasn't ready when I first sent it in at age 11. At that time it was just a fun and silly little humorous story, with no spiritual applications. But He gave me the hope through it's acceptance then, even if I wan't able to publish it right away, that I could be published author some day. And then He gave me the ideas of how to change it, add to it, and make it what He wanted it to be! My first book, Learning Lessons from Furry Friends, came out in November of 2011--not because I am some amazing writer, but because I have a God who hears and answers prayers, and allows dreams to come true in a way that is pleasing in His sight!
What is it about?
Learning Lessons from Furry Friends will introduce readers to the Brown family's many pets, including Blackie, Smudge, Puff, Tiree, Shasta, and many more. Children will learn about caring for pets, raising puppies and kittens, and dealing with the sorrows and the happy times of having animals. They will learn about instincts, how many months dogs and cats are pregnant, when kittens' and puppies' eyes open after birth, when kittens and puppies should be fed their first meal of solid food, and much more. But, most importantly, this book will answer questions like, "Why do our pets have to suffer?" "If God is loving, why is there so much pain in the world?" "Will my pet be in heaven?" "How do I give my heart to Jesus?" and others.
Who will enjoy this book?
This book is written mainly for children, but anyone who loves animals would enjoy it. And really, who isn't a child enough at heart to enjoy reading animals stories! :-)
Do you plan to write more books?
Definitely! I already have written another story, which has been accepted for publication by the same publisher as my first book, and it should come out by the end of 2012. It is another children's based on a true story about a missionary's dog and the concepts of salvation. It is a very touching story titled The Prodigal Pup. Look for it before the end of this year! Other titles that I am either in the process of writing or else am planning are as follows: Dear Diary: A Quest for True Love* (for teenage girls), Home 'Tweet Home, and The Lamb and THE LAMB. I have also been seriously considering doing a Learning Lessons from Furry Friends II, but we'll see how the Lord leads.
*NOTE: These titles are subject to change at any time!* :-)
Do you have any final thoughts?
I tell people I have four "loves." I love writing, I love animals, I love children, and I love the Lord. I have combined all those passions into writing children's books about animals that will tell them of Jesus' love for them. It is my greatest goal to reach children, youth, and adults with the message of salvation, to lead them to Christ,, and bring glory and honor to His name!