FWM: Amy, before we begin, I have to confess that I already feel old! You're young, energetic, and have already accomplished so much in your life that I feel out of breath just thinking about it! Seriously, though, you burst into FaithWriters almost a year ago like a firecracker. You jumped right into the Writing Challenge (and won a few right off the bat too, if I remember correctly). You probably have the record for the most posts on the FW message boards. You've made a gazillion friends and even started a group book that involves a few of them (more on that later).
But first things, first. Tell us a little about yourself.
AMY: Thank you, Lynda!
I am in my early twenties and live in the Pacific Northwest with my parents. I grew up in a strong Christian home as the youngest of three girls and was homeschooled K-12. I feel so honored to have that heritage!
My whole family has played a big part in my writing, encouraging and supporting me. I began "writing" stories before I could write--Mom would transcribe them. Iíve always had a huge imagination and many were the hours I spent traveling around the world, though in body I was scrubbing floors or washing windows. How much more fun it was to smuggle soap in to Jewish prisoners, than to rub at dirty dishes! When chopping vegetables I became a cook in a wealthy household, making sure to save large scraps for the poor, of course. While raking the grass I was a girl in Old Testament times, gleaning the leftover harvest.
However, I donít know if I would be writing today if it werenít for my mom and a few doctors. We first realized that I had a learning disability when it came time for me to learn to read. I wanted to read so badly, but just couldn't do it. I was finally fitted with specialized eye glasses and was able to learn, but continued to have problems, particularly with spelling and taking tests. If I had been in a regular school system I probably would have been put into special ed. and possibly labeled as dyslexic.
As it was, God had things planned perfectly. When I was around ten years old, Mom "happened" across some literature about a particular eye problem. My symptoms fit it exactly. She showed the information to my eye doctor and again, it just "happened" that this doctor was one of the few who were learning a little about this issue. Among other things, my eyes were taking turns focusing and one of my eyes was turning on and off. This caused words and letters to "jump" around on the page.
I began a vigorous schedule of vision therapy and within a few years my eyes were strengthened and my symptoms dramatically reduced. Mom persistently but patiently began working with me on my spelling. By the time I began high school it was significantly improved.
I remember when I was young, Mom would often encourage me during English assignments, "Just write one sentence, Amy. Just one." Then came, "Just do one paragraph. You can think of one paragraph to write." Next thing we knew it was, "Amy, you really only needed one page, not ten."
FWM: How did you discover FaithWriters and how has it helped you in your writing?
AMY: I first discovered message boarding about a year ago and became involved in writing fan fiction for a Christian television show, "Doc," just for fun. I began getting comments, like, "Wow, you can write." I posted a few of my other stories in an e-book section of a website related to that message board, but the other stories there were not Christian, so I decided to see if I could find a Christian place.
Of course, FaithWriters popped up in the search engine and I checked it out. Interestingly enough, I didnít stay. Though the site offered impressive resources, I took one look at the list of thousands of members and was sure I would be lost in the shuffle.
But a few days later I hadnít found anything else, so I decided I might as well join to have somewhere to post my stories. I started getting comments from complete strangers, saying they were blessed by my writing. Within a week I was hooked!
I joined the message boards and the weekly Challenge right away and found myself in a wonderful community--not at all lost in the shuffle! At the time I was just beginning to climb out of an unusual and severe bout of depression, stemming from chronic health problems, among other things. The people of FaithWriters came along side me, encouraging and uplifting me, praying and playing with me.
Through my life, I have always written, but only in spurts, and rarely following through to actually finish what Iíd started. Since Iíve joined FW, I have entered the weekly challenge nearly every week, as well as doing other writings. The FaithWritersí Challenge showed me that I could write short and to a topic, two things I had been inexperienced doing. I have learned so many things and my writing has grown by leaps and bounds. It was because of FaithWriters that I truly buckled down and became serious about writing, and I have gotten quite a number of short things published through them.
I am enjoying being at the point now where I can begin to give back a little. Iíve been able to judge in the challenge, as well as share some of what I have been taught with the Newbies on the message board.
The FaithWritersí community is close-knit and uplifting, and so willing to share whatever knowledge or resources they have Ö Iíve never met a more giving place. I now have friends all over the world, and some of my closest friends are FaithWriters.
FWM: You go by the screen name, "Sparrow," on FaithWriters. Your blog site is titled, "Sparrow's Flight." Any significance to the name?
AMY: Yes, the name has quite a lot of meaning wrapped up in it. On the personal level, I am slight, chipper, talkative, and love to sing, not to mention that I enjoy bird-watching. I also have big dreams. My blog subtitle is "Where imagination soars and dreams take wing." On a spiritual level, Sparrow signifies the personal love and care God has for His children.
FWM: Your front-page story, "The Planet Next to the Moon," is a recent Challenge entry. It contains a bit of science fiction, as do some of your other writings on the FW site. What do you love about science fiction and is the genre one of your favorites? If not, what type of writing do you enjoy most?
AMY: He he Ö I actually didnít think of "The Planet Next to the Moon" as science fiction, but more of the story of a mother being creative with imagination. However, I do enjoy writing sci-fi. With my big imagination, it really lets me go free.
That said, my favorite genre is fiction based on true stories, such as historical fiction or political and current event fiction. I am currently working on a collection of Biblical fiction short stories. I like to take a Bible story and come at it from a different angle, to really show a picture of what the everyday life of the characters might have been. For my recent "Spring" Challenge entry, I did a Biblical fiction and received comments like, "Wow, I never thought of it that way, but I read the Bible story again and you are right on." What a privilege if I can bring people to a greater understanding of the God of the Bible.
My political and current event fiction deals with topics such as fighting against abortion, supporting the war against terrorism, or encouraging organ donation. My first novel will be, Lord willing, about a young girl waiting for a kidney transplant. This is an issue close to my heart since my mom received a transplant five years ago. I hope to dispel some of the myths that surround organ donation, and show a picture of the wonderful gift it really is.
FWM: You started a Chat-A-Book group book with some other FaithWritersí members. From the title, "Assignment to White Planet 8069," it's obviously a science fiction story as well. What gave you the idea for this type of project and what are your plans for the book?
AMY: One of the most important things a story-teller needs is strong characters. I admire writers who have characters with personalities so strong that when they speak you know which character it is without being told. What better way to get unique characters then to have a different author writing each one?
I wrote a very basic story-line for the beginning of the book, about a group of people being sent to a community in a space station on White Planet. Then I put a call out on the message boards for other authors. We ended up with an awesome group of people! The way the whole project and story fell into place is a clear sign of Godís hand.
Weíve been meeting once a week in a private chat room to "act" out the story, ad lib. We are planning to completely finish the rough draft by the beginning of March. Then I will start the big job of editing it and changing it into a radio drama format, which we hope to market. One of our dreams is to turn it into a screen play in the future.
It will be published under the author group name Peculiar People, and the final title will probably be "Secrets of the Ice". I have other ideas for group books and hope some more will be published under the Peculiar People name. I am looking forward to what God will do!
FWM: On a different note, you are in the process of acquiring a sign language interpreter's license. What a fascinating and admirable goal! Please share with us when you first realized you had a heart for the deaf, how close you are to achieving your license, and what avenues you want to pursue in this area.
AMY: When I was young I remember a deaf woman knocking on our door and handing me a little card with the manual alphabet on it. My friends and sisters and I learned the alphabet and would use it sometimes.
Other than that one instance, there really was nothing in my life to draw me toward this interest. All I can say is that a love for the Deaf and for sign language was something God placed in my heart. Iíve played around with signs through my school years and then later, in the summer of 2004, I flew to the Bill Rice Ranch in Tennessee for a week of Christian sign language training and an interpreterís seminar. It was then I decided I wanted to be an interpreter.
I am attending a community college, this year taking only one or two classes a semester as I finish the prerequisites for the interpreterís program. I hope to enter the two year interpreterís program in the fall of 2006. This semester one of our class projects is a skit, and I was able to write a Christian script for my team to perform. It is so fun to be able to merge two of my gifts and use them to spread the gospel.
There is a nation-wide shortage of sign language interpreters and I really look forward to having a skill that not only will provide an income, but also will be a ministry. I plan on joining the areaís registry of interpreters for the public and also hope to become involved in a church Deaf ministry.
FWM: It sounds like you are a very busy girl and have many aspirations. How do you see yourself, say, five years from now?
AMY: If my dreams keep coming true as rapidly over the next five years as they have over the last year, I canít even imagine where I will be! But, I should be interpreting by then, and I plan to have several books finished (and published, Lord willing).
Of course, perhaps I will have met my husband by then and be in a whole new phase of life Ö But donít worry--Iíll keep writing. ;-)
FWM: Thanks so much, Amy, for letting us get to know you better. I expect weíll be seeing great things from you in the future. Godís best to you in everything you pursue. May all your dreams come true!
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