Sarah B interview image

 

Today I am interviewing a talented homeschool graduate, Sarah Brazytis.  Sarah is a home educated graduate, historian and small business owner. She has published various works of history and historical fiction. Her goal is to be as historically accurate as possible and to portray history from a conservative Christian perspective.  She and her mother Cecile co-own and operate a custom clothing shop, Gathering of Goods.  Sarah resides at home with her parents, her two sisters, and three of her four brothers.  Her favorite pastimes are writing, reading, sewing/crocheting and playing the piano.  Visit her website, www.thehomegrownhistorian.yolasite.com, or find her at the store, www.gatheringofgoods.com.

 

Thanks for chatting with me today, Sarah!

You’re welcome!  Thank you so much for having me.

 

First off, if you could tell me a little about yourself, that would be fantastic.

Well, I’m the second eldest of seven children, born and raised in Northeast Ohio.  My mother and I operate an online clothing store, and I write and self publish in my spare time.  I am so grateful to have been raised in a Christian, homeschooling family – what a wonderful way to start out in life!

 

You are a homeschool graduate.  For how many years were you homeschooled?  Was your homeschool experience mainly textbook based or online based — or maybe even a combination of both?

I was homeschooled for all twelve grades.  When my mother started teaching my older brother, they didn’t even offer homeschool textbooks, let alone online homeschool curriculum!  We learned from a variety of Christian school textbooks and other sources, as well as lots of hands-on learning.  Like most homeschoolers, it has been a blessing to enter adulthood with so many multi-generational experiences under my belt!

 

How do you think homeschooling has helped you cultivate your love for writing?

I definitely had a lot more time to read and write than my schooled counterparts!  But besides that, I think the whole nature of home education is to observe and try it yourself – so naturally, that became applied to literature in my case.  I loved to read, and it didn’t take long to think, “I can do that!”

 

How old were you when you first started writing?  When did you realize this was definitely something you had a passion for?

I believe I wrote my first ‘story’ at about eight years old, but I’ve always been a story-teller.  My family says I didn’t ‘play’ as a child, I ‘told stories’ to the other children!  Once I was old enough to put them on paper, I couldn’t seem to stop.  As far back as I can remember I have been in love with words – the sound of them, the feel of them, the way you can use them to make word pictures so others can see what you’re seeing.

Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t think I ever really aspired to publishing until I was well over twenty.  Before that, I just enjoyed it for myself and my family – and went through a lot of notebook paper!

 

How many stories have you written?  Is this the first book you’ve ever published?  At what point in your writing hobby did you realize you wanted to publish your stories?

I have written many stories- that’s my best estimate!  

I currently have six titles published.

I’m not sure when I actually got over my nerves enough to think seriously about publishing, but I know my parents had been encouraging me to try for sometime.  So I took a deep breath – and made the plunge!  

 

Other than writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies and why?

Of course sewing is my livelihood – but it is also one of my favorite things to do!  As a hobby, I especially enjoy making cloth dolls and watching their little personalities emerge as I fill in their faces, hair and clothing details.  I also like to create things with crocheting.  It’s the kind of skill you can take anywhere and use to make anything!  Music has always been a big pastime in our family; I love to play piano, and dabble in guitar and violin, as well.  And any time I can tour a garden, formal or informal, I jump at the chance!

 

Who are some of your writing inspirations?  Can you give me a favorite quote that keeps you motivated? 🙂

Right now, I would have to say I am most inspired by a British writer named Constance Savery(1897-1999).  She wrote many books for children and young people, including my all-time favorite book, “Enemy Brothers.”  I am always encouraged to do better when reading her beautifully crafted works.  I deeply appreciate how she includes lessons in life and Godliness seamlessly without it being conscious.  And is she ever quotable!

 

    “If I had a thousand lives,” says a young Jewish RAF pilot in Enemy Brothers

as he makes plans for peacetime, “I could fill them all.”

 

I completely agree!

 

Say you’re talking to someone new to homeschooling.  What is one tip you would give them?  Perhaps something that has helped you personally?

I know that homeschooling can be tensing and intimidating in the beginning, but it really doesn’t have to be!  So much of what happens in school is actually busywork, not necessity, so we have to rethink and find the true priorities of education that don’t have anything to do with crowd control.  Homeschooling really is going back to the beautiful old ‘3 Rs’:  Reading, Writing and Arithmetic!  With those three, your child can face the world!

As a homeschool graduate, I would have to say that there is one important key to home education that became obvious as our family came to adulthood:  learning to learn.  That’s what homeschooling is all about.  When I graduated, all that changed was that I had no restrictions on what I could study now!  And I think that’s true for many of us.  In our family, almost all in our twenties now, someone is always reading a manual, studying a topic, taking a course or class, or just regaling the family with facts they learned about some random subject.  Learning to learn has influenced our entire lives, far beyond a spelling book or a science project; and we are finding by experience that this is where many public school students are lacking.

 

There are a lot of writers in this world who simply write for their own pleasure or for the pleasure of their immediate families.  What motivated you to make the decision to publish your work?

I still write a lot for the family alone (though my sisters tease me that they will publish all of my works posthumously!), and I’m sure I always will!    

My greatest motivation for publishing was how hard it is to find wholesome literature.  There is a dearth of morally and spiritually sound books out there – I remember even as a young girl becoming discouraged because every book I read was full of disobedient, spoiled, bitter or angry youngsters struggling rebelliously against mom and dad.  This became especially hard because as a Christian homeschooler, Dad and Mother were our friends and confidants, not our enemies.  I don’t think I ever found a book that was simply good, clean and wholesome – one that left you with a happy feeling inside; only those that caused me to be troubled and uneasy.  It is strange that so much young adult fiction tends to be that way, since adults themselves seem perennially drawn to wholesome literature like Jane Austen!  How much more do the young need that kind of writing?

Another reason to write for me is the lack of historically sound books.  The more I studied history, the more I realized how influenced people are by the modern view of the past, including the negative effects of feminism and Darwinism.  My youngest sister(11 years old) has bemoaned to me how she can’t find a historically based book that doesn’t include girls wanting to be boys or angry about being taught to be young ladies, despite the many letters, memoirs and diaries we have read that show quite the opposite.  When this happens it makes me more aware that if we hand literature over to the enemy, we’ve lost the war.  I want to do my part to be strictly historically accurate and to properly show our fore-fathers and mothers as they really were, not as history revisionists would wish us to picture them.

 

What step of the writing and publishing process (inspiration/outlining/writing/editing/publishing/marketing) do you find the most challenging?  How do you approach this step?

Marketing has been the most challenging.  Just having a book on Amazon does not mean publishing success, regardless of the ads and success stories!  I have been able to find sites in the homeschooling world who offer valuable exposure to the right kind of market – like homeschooledauthors.com and homeschoolliterature.com! – and they are a real blessing.  

As far as the actual book-building process, my least favorite job is checking the edited and designed book for errors before sending for my first copy.  It is so nerve-wracking – and you know you’ve probably missed something!

 

Likewise, what step of the writing and publishing process do you find the easiest or most enjoyable?

Writing, of course!  Not that there aren’t challenges, but obviously I am more at home with a spiral notebook and a Zebra pen than working with publishing software!  And I love talking over stories with my family, too, and getting all kinds of great ideas and thoughts from everyone from Dad to the youngest sibling.

 

Can you tell us about one of your favorite homeschool memories?  It could be when something finally clicked, or when you realized all the fun you were having actually counted as school, or anything at all.

Well, I can’t think of a specific time that this happened, because it was more than once.  But it always tickled us when Mother would be on the phone with a new homeschooling mom who was bemoaning how she couldn’t get her children to read even novels – and Mother was trying to motion us to our chores while our noses were stuck in encyclopedias!  Honestly, reading was an epidemic in our house, and it was so hard to imagine a mom trying to make her children read since our mom was always trying to make us stop reading so much!  I think that was around the age when we started to realize that we were different than other children; that what we thought of as a pastime was a chore to them – and an odious one at that.  It made me so thankful to be homeschooled, because we had so much more fun!

 

What has been one of the most positive and rewarding moments in your writing career thus far?

I had given out “The Apprentices” to some adult readers, asking for reviews; but my first review came from a young homeschooled girl who read it before her mom did!  I loved her enthusiastic review and that even such a young student enjoyed my story!

 

What is the approximate reader age-range for your book(s)?  While on that topic, if you could tell us a little about your book(s), that would be great!

My books range from children’s picture books to young adult historical fiction(approximately 10-18, though readers from 8 to adult have enjoyed them!).

These are the six titles that are currently available:

  • Compliments of W. T. Sherman ~ A Southern woman protects her home from marauding Northern troops with a most unlikely weapon!  Nonfiction.
  • The Homegrown Historian  ~ A collection of little known or long forgotten stories.  Nonfiction.
  • My Mother – My Teacher  ~ Subtitled “One daughter’s tribute to a home educating mother”.  Enough said.  Nonfiction.  🙂
  • Our Christmas Bear ~ Two little girls and their widowed mother, alone in the forest since their father and husband was killed in the Civil War, have a strange and unexpected visitor in the dead of a bitter winter.  A retelling of the old fairy tale Snow-White & Rose-Red.  Historical fiction.  Watch for a new edition in bookstores this Christmas!
  • The Curious Little Kitten ~ Little Walnut has his nose in everything.  What happens when he goes exploring alone?  Children’s picture book.
  • The Apprentices ~ Lady Luckley is pleased to hire the Kittredge brothers as matched footmen in her wealthy old household – but is Dunderlee House ready for identical twins?  Historical fiction.

 

Thank you for being with us today, Sarah!  It’s been great getting to know you.  I wish you the best on all your future writing endeavors!

Thank you for interviewing me!  It was a pleasure!
If you’d like to know more about Sarah and her published works, I highly encourage you to visit her website.

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