Amy is a native of Jonesville, Virginia. She is the editor/author of two books, and several articles and essays.
Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Harvard University Press blog, NPR, Salon.com, Chattahoochee Review, Still, Appalachian Heritage, Blue Ridge Country, Now and Then, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tampa Tribune, Appalachian Voices, Appalachian Journal, and National Writing Project online, among other publications. Her co-edited book, Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community, (now in its second printing) was used as a dialect resource for actors during the filming of Big Stone Gap, a movie adaptation of Adriana Trigiani's novel of the same title; Amy also served as as a dialect consultant on the film's script.
Her essay, "The Rocks," was listed among Notable Essays and Literary Fiction of 2015 in The Best American Essays (Ed. Jonathan Franzen, 2016,) and won the 2015 Lamar York Prize for Creative Nonfiction. She is a recipient of the Jean Ritchie Award in Appalachian Writing by Lincoln Memorial University, the highest monetary award given in Appalachian literature. An excerpt of her unpublished novel won the Jesse Stuart Prize for Young Adult Fiction in 2014 from the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.
She is the founding director of the Appalachian Writing Project, a non-profit organization now entering its thirteenth year in membership with the National Writing Project, which supports rural teachers in their research, writing, and teaching about writing. In 2013, the AWP received the 2013 Helen Lewis Community Service Award, given by the Appalachian Studies Association. She has been a consultant to public schools, colleges, and universities on teaching writing to students with vernacular dialects, particularly students certifying to teach.
She teaches courses in writing pedagogy, Appalachian literature, rhetorical theory, qualitative research, and sociolinguistics at The University of Virginia's College at Wise, where she has been honored with the Harrison Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Harrison Award for Research and Publication. She received her doctorate in English (rhetoric and applied linguistics) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2014, she was one of 12 faculty in Virginia presented with the Outstanding Faculty Award, the state's highest honor for excellence in teaching, service, and research. In 2015, she was awarded the Stephen Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Appalachian Studies Association.
She is founding Co-Director (with Dr. Brian McKnight and Dr. David Rouse) of the Center for Appalachian Studies at UVa.'s College at Wise.