Thursday, June 30, 2016

Claire Banschbach | Author Interview and Book Review

This week I have both an interview and book review. If you like non-magical fantasy, check out Claire's Rise of Aredor series!

1) In a nutshell, what do you write​?​
I write fantasy/adventure books, mostly for teenagers. But I want anyone of all ages to be able to enjoy my stories. Mainly I want to write clean adventure stories that are worth reading.

2) What spurred on the desire for writing​?​
Basically I had an entire book in my head for almost five years. These characters were always there and I enjoyed hanging out with them. Then one day, I decided to pick up a notebook and a pen to see if I could get it all on paper. Once I discovered how much fun writing and letting myself brainstorm new stories was, I never stopped.

3) How do you balance writing with living -- or is writing your full-time job?
I’m currently in Physical Therapy school, which takes up most of my time. So during semesters, I don’t get to do a lot of writing since I’m always studying for something. During breaks is when most of my writing gets done. But I have a weekly serial story I publish on my blog, so that makes me write something at least once a week.

4) Who do you hope to reach with your writing?
Anyone and everyone! I know it’s something authors say a lot, but it really is true – if my stories can impact at least one person’s life, then that will make me happy.

5) If someone asked you for your best writing tip, what would it be?
Don’t force yourself to write. I’m not a big proponent of the whole “you must write every day or so to break out of a slump” thing. If you don’t want to write, then don’t. It’s my thought that your writing will be better when you actually want to do it. And maybe that’s just the lazy person in me talking. ;)

6) ​What are three things that you greatly enjoy doing?
1. Reading. Obviously.
2. Horseback riding. I started lessons when I was 12, but it’s been a while since I’ve
been on a horse due to school and everything. :(
3. Hiking. It’s something I don’t get to do very often, but I love it!

7) You created your own world for "The Rise of Aredor" series. How did you go about doing that?
Landscape wise, I took some inspiration from a few other books and the rest was just countryside that I personally like. Culture wise, Lawhead’s Arthur and Robin Hood books helped me develop a fascination for ancient Welsh culture which inspired Aredor. I’ve always loved anything Irish or Scottish (I used to Irish dance) which inspired Braeton. As for Calorin, some people have noticed that the name resembles a Narnian country which indeed did inspire it, but I also think that Arabic culture is fascinating as well. So with that long winded answer, I basically took elements of cultures that fascinate me and used them as a basis to construct my world.

8) What was the thing you enjoyed most about writing "The Rise of Aredor" series?
Since Corin is the main character, he’s obviously my favorite. But I love his and Aiden’s friendship, so basically any scene with them together, no matter the situation, was always a blast to write.

9) What was the hardest thing about writing "The Rise of Aredor?"
The girls. Weird answer I know, but I tend to find that writing guys is easier than girls. Odder still since I only have one brother and six sisters, so I don’t have a lot of experience with the male persona. Anyway, out of the three main female characters in the series it was a bit more difficult to construct individual characters and not have them quite so cardboardy.

10) How are your other books different from "The Rise of Aredor?"
The new series I’m working on right now is a little different in the fact that it’s magical fantasy. With most of my other books I’ve started to include more noticeable religious overtones, something that The Rise of Aredor series does not really contain as far as giving a message of faith. It’s been fun but challenging so far to work it in.


Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. An avid reader of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many other adventure novels, Claire was prompted to begin writing her own fantasy novel at seventeen after several years of daydreaming.

She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire partakes in the joys of watching the Boston Red Sox, Aggie football, and playing volleyball. She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing. 

She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech Health Science Center.

Connect with Claire:

20512334Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor's shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin's former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin's path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

This book is divided into two segments or "books" (Book One: The Phoenix Guard, Book Two: Hawk Uprising), basically defining two parts of Corin's (or Hadmid's) life.

I couldn't really discover a plot for the first part of the book -- it seemed like the story was being driven from event to event, told in an overview sort of way. I didn't really get "into" the characters. However, when it came to the second book, I thoroughly enjoyed it! There was definitely a strong plot as Corin set to work at finding his family and summing up the courage of the Aredorians. In some ways it made me think of Robin Hood.

There were a few things that I either missed or they weren't there -- for example, who was the inside informant of Lord Rishdah?

What I liked:
- I appreciated the "no magic" in this book!
- It was very clean as far as no morally compromising situations (really, no romance at all), no bad words; there weren't any scenes that made me feel uncomfortable
- Karif. You'll have to read the book to find out who Karif is. ;)
- The humor. Ah! I did laugh a few times throughout this book!
- I didn't find it extremely gruesome, though about 90% of the book was descriptions of war and fighting. There were tortures, but they were mentioned, not detailed.

What I didn't like:
- I can't call this a Christian book. The higher powers of Zayd and Lleu is mentioned. Hope of earning a place in Lleu's halls.
- I'm not big on dreams, and there were two scenes: one where Hamid dreamed that a dead friend warned him of upcoming danger, another where a wounded man dreamed that he talked with a messenger from Lleu then was healed. Those were just a little weird to me.
- From a fictional point of view, I enjoyed it. They seemed to always get the inside scoop, always be one step ahead, always have mistakes turn into victory, etc. (exception at the climax, of course) If I wanted to read a story where the good guys always managed to be smarter and more skilled than the bad guys, this was it. But if you like realistic stories (which, I tend to...), too many good things happen to make it believable.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading The Wildcat of Braeton in the next month or so!!!

*I received this book from the author in exchange of my honest review*

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jesus Paid it All | Music Video

"Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe..."

Another piano solo from WAJN.

Sheet music available here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Historical Hints

Historical fiction. It has to be my favorite genre! Not only do I enjoy reading it, I also enjoy writing it. And as I have read and written it, there have been a lot of things that I've noticed. Sometimes it is simple things that will make or break your story.

1800 - You have this kid who says cool.
Actually, it wouldn't be a kid at all -- it would be a child. And "cool" is totally out of his century.

1750 - All of the families have 2-3 children.
Depending on the culture, some of the families would have had 2-3 children, but that was probably due to deaths of children (during childbirth, as infants). Otherwise, if you're speaking English culture, families would have had larger families.

1550 - "I'm just kidding."
What? Your character is having a baby goat? Nay. He would be in jest.

980 - "This is my dad."
The first known use of "dad" is 15th century (how do I know that? Simple online search). He would most likely be "Father."

How does your character dress? How do they speak? How do they interact with others? What do they call their grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles? How do they spend their days? What is their occupation? The answers to all of these questions help set the tone of your historical fiction novel.

What is the terrain? What do the houses look like? Are the streets crowded and dirty or clean and free of clutter? The more you describe, the more the reader "feels at home" in your story.

What did they eat? Did they have crackers then? Soup? Bread bowls? Salads? Dressing? You could omit these details, or you could do a little research and make your story authentic.

She looked around the parlor.
What did she see? Were there couches (or were they called sofas or settees)? Did the windows have curtains or drapes? What were the colors? The ambience?  Going from the parlor, what is in the kitchen? A butter churn? What about the barn? Are the walls lined with tack?

Things to Remember
Don't assume. Do not assume that a published fictional book is accurate. It might be a good place to start with research, but don't use it as the encyclopedia.

Research pays off. But be sure that you're researching in the right places. The internet has great sources and the library has great books, but anyone today can have a website or publish a book. Check your information -- if you find 2-3 places that say the same thing, chances are you're pretty accurate. And remember: the best place to find solid information is in original documents, newspapers, etc.

Read books that were published in your era. If you're writing in the 19th century, you have a world of books you can obtain that were written in the 19th century! And who would better know their century than those authors?

Writing historical fiction is the best tool to learning history -- and you will unearth some pretty amazing treasures as you research! Don't let the magnitude of work discourage you from writing. Learn as you go, and be willing to test your historical authenticity.

What makes a historical fiction novel authentic to you? 
What hints do you have for writing historical fiction?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Whose Doctrine?

"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." John 7:16

We would do well to test the doctrines to which we cling. It is easy to get swept into the doctrine of men and then cling to it with a vice-grip, not even weighing it against God's Word to see if the doctrine is of God. A good test is to consider verse 18 of this passage, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." 

Whose glory are we seeking? When someone contradicts a doctrine (or belief, conviction) that we cling to, what is our reaction? Are we grieved because such does not glorify God -- or merely upset and try to prove that our way is right? 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kellyn Roth | Author Interview

Today is the start of a fun weekly event on my blog: author interviews!! Some of these authors, I have just discovered and haven't read their books yet (like Kellyn), others, I have already read their books, and am sure you'd enjoy them as well.

1) In a nutshell, what do you write​?​
I'd say I write historical fiction with a dash of Christianity. I like the idea of writing romance, but have a terrible fear of it ending up sounding corny. Overdone romance is one of my biggest pet-peeves, and I certainly don't want to write it! I guess I'll just have to make sure someone with more common sense than me reads it if I end up writing more romance-y novels. I've always dabbled in fantasy and steampunk ... but nothing has been good enough to publish as-of-yet. Oh, and I wrote a couple contemporary pony stories a while back that I might rewrite should my adoration of books about horses return. I doubt it, though. ;)

2) What spurred on the desire for writing
"The voices in my head" is my stock answer for when people ask me this. But, really, I don't know. I've been writing ever since I could talk ... poetry, songs, short stories, little bits of prose ... and I've never stopped. I always loved words and characters. My love for plots came later as I began to read, and I started wanting to make my own. Though for the longest time I had no writerly aspirations.

3) How do you balance writing with living -- or is writing your full-time job?

Well, I have a pretty relaxed schedule. I'm homeschooled, and I have an average of 2.5 things to do a week during the school year (not counting church). During the summer, it's a lot less. I usually am able to find a couple hours to write every day.

4) Who do you hope to reach with your writing?
At the moment, I'm writing for upper middle grade and young adult readers, although I think some adults might be interested, too ... it really depends on the person. However, I'd like to write for adults in the future (once I am one myself) and smaller children. I've always adored kids (I kind of am one myself still), and I really want to write interesting books for them. Also, I'd like to write light, happy books that a mom could spend an afternoon reading while her toddler naps. I know this sounds shallow, but my main goal isn't to touch people or bring them to God or anything like that ... it's just to make them happy and give them entertainment,  and perhaps to spark their imaginations a little (which is a goal a bit more worthy). And ... that sounds like just Disney ... But, you know, Disney's great, and I have no objections to touching people in my own way like old Walt did.

5) If someone asked you for your best writing tip, what would it be?
Well, I don't know. I'm a rookie writer myself ... I don't think I have any great advice to share with the world. :) How about, um ... show, don't tell! (wow, the was cliché!)

​6) What are three things that you greatly enjoy doing?
Um, let me see, sky-diving, shooting baby deer, and ... ok, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I'm terrified of heights, and I like Bambi just as much as the next girl. Three things I enjoy doing ... let me see ... horseback-riding, swimming, and reading (which is kind of a given). :)

Links and Books
My website: (which I almost never update ... and on which the formatting is off)

About the Author
Kellyn Roth lives with her parents, two little brothers, incredibly needy cat, and faithful border collie Gidget on a ranch in the country. She has been reading obsessively since she was seven, writing poetry and short stories since she was eight, and writing novels since she was ten. Her goal is to write historical fiction novels (which slight branches out into other genres) with Christian themes. Her debut novel, The Dressmaker's Secret, can be found on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Doxology and Fairest Lord Jesus | Music Video

One of the age-old favorites is the Doxology, or “Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow.” WAJN now has an arrangement of this timeless piece coupled with “Fairest Lord Jesus.” This intermediate level piece is suitable for a 1-2 minute offertory.

Find out more information on the sheet music here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Getting the Keys in the Ignition (Starting Your Story)

You have an idea. And it really is a great idea. A fantastic idea. But first, you have to get past that blank page. You have to somehow get the key in the ignition and start this story -- get the story engine revved and moving

Many would-be writers stop right there. If this describes you, then get your pen out and just start writing! Guess what the first draft of a story is called? Wow, you're smart: a first draft! It means this isn't the finished product. Some writers go through ten, twelve, twenty drafts before their story hits the public. What do you have to worry about now? Not about getting your story perfect. And not about getting that "gripping first line" perfect. You have to start your story. Get your ideas on paper.

Those of you in the "would-be-writer" group, you may stop reading the article and get to work. ;)

Now, some of you are here and all of your stories start with "Once upon a time" or "The sun rose in the sky" or another cliché idea -- anything to get you to the story. If your rough draft is finished, congratulations! You started and finished a story! But. You cannot leave your beginning like that. The first sentence of your story will either engage your reader, or turn them away. It is extremely important! Because of this, 99% of the time, the beginning of your story will need to be changed. For the fun of it, I asked a writer's group that I'm in, "How many of you changed your first sentence, paragraph, or even chapter, after rough draft?" Guess the answers I got? "A hundred times!" - "Oh yeah, over and over!" Several of them said they cut the first chapter completely out -- one of them even cut out the first two chapters. They realized that it wasn't necessary to the plot they had.

Some of you might be at loss with what to do for a new beginning of your story. I wish I had easy answers, but as I'm still working on crafting the beginnings of my stories, I can only give you some tips and ideas.
     - Write something that will hook your reader in the first sentence or two ("The sun rose in the sky" isn't very gripping. But what about, "Sarah refused to acknowledge that morning had finally come"?)
     - Choose an interesting first scene (start in the middle of your story -- Prince Reginald just discovering that he wasn't really the prince is more interesting than describing the back story of his life as a prince, which might not be relevant to the tale you're telling)
     - Raise questions about your character and his/her goals (In the examples above, why did Sarah dread this morning? If Prince Reginald wasn't the real prince, who was? and why did he live as if he was the prince for so long?)

Two things stop your story and make readers groan:
     - Information dump ("Sandra had grey eyes, sandy-brown hair, she was thirteen, had seven siblings who were ages ___. Her parents were both alive and loved the family and they lived happily together in Texas with their dogs, cats, cows, and rabbits." -- instead, weave this information throughout the story)
     - Back story (where you explain why your character is here and detail their past life after you've already started the story moving forward. Immediately going into back story instead of pushing the story forward to the future takes careful skill and purpose)

Thinking about the beginning of your story might be tedious and frustrating, but it is worth it!

I leave you with an assignment: go to your bookshelf and pull out ten books. How many of them entice you with the first sentence? How many take a paragraph? How many are just a little dull? Why? Use these observations as a key to start the engine in your own story.


What are some of your favorite story beginnings? What are some things you do when mastering your story's beginning? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Trusting Without Feeling

So often, we want to see God at work. To feel Him working. But, we don't have to see evidence to know that He is there, working in hearts and lives.

"Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him: But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:8-10)

Sometimes, we just have to trust the promises of God's Word, even if we feel nothing. As the next verses in this passage indicate, we must continue in God's way and commandments even if we "feel" no change.

"My foot hath held his steps, His way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." (Job 23:11-12)

Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Silent Blade | Cover Design

Have you ever had those times when you just wanted to do something, so randomly prayed, "Lord, I realize I don't have to do this, but it'd be nice if..." That was me a few weeks ago. Since all of my writing projects are in the baby-stages of planning and writing, I've not had a reason to do one of my favorite hobbies: book cover designing. So, I prayed that, if the Lord saw fit, He'd bless me with the opportunity to design a book cover for someone.

Not even a week after that, I beta-read a book by a Goodreads friend, The Silent Blade. Long story short, we ended up discussing covers and such and she hired me to design her cover! I had so much fun going back and forth, getting to know Jesseca and what she liked, AND finding out that a church-member had a sword for me to photograph! (you never know what happens when you post on FaceBook, "Does anyone have...?") I am very grateful that the Lord allowed me to come up with a cover that Jesseca loves. That makes it completely worth it for me!

Okay, okay, some of you probably skimmed over all of that so you could see the cover (because, after all, if you're like me, looking at covers is one of the best things ever!). Here it is!

And the full cover:

For those of you who love reading, The Silent Blade will be releasing on July 22, 2016. I may post about it on my blog, but in case not, Jesseca surely will post about it on her blog, so follow her there!

What's a prayer that God answered for you recently?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Giveaway Winners!

The fun time has come for drawing the giveaway winners for "Surrender" and "The Solid Rock!" While I greatly wish everyone could have won, the winners are ...

Jewels for Surrender
Rebekah E. for The Solid Rock

Congratulations! I'll be sending an email your way!!!!

The "S" Word (a New Age of Story Telling) | Guest Post

By Hope Pennigton

And by the "S" word I mean "Social" of course. What were you thinking?

Writers tend to be rather hermity kind of folk in an endearing poetic kind of way. They like to think. To study. To read. To be introverted and in libraries, in the rain, with tea.

Unfortunately if you're the most amazing, brilliant, best writer in the universe and you're keeping it in your cosy poetic library or under your bed amidst My Little Pony coloring books it's not gonna become a best seller.

In today's writing world sadly and regrettably being social is a part of being a writer.

Now don't start hyperventilating. *hands a paper bag* This can actually be a lot of fun.

First of all, getting in social group online or in person can kind of be like going to ComicCon or hanging out in your favorite book because your ideal readers and partners are the people who get you, who get your writing and your outlook and want you to succeed.

If there are no preexsisting groups for your niche, create one! Be the leader in that step-into-the-world-of-authors-hanging-out movement.

Most people won't even know they needed or wanted a social life that promotes their creativity until they've been a part of a good one.

And as you step from your house into a group of humans remember: at the end of the day you're awesome and epic no matter how anyone else sees you or your work.

So go make friends and colleagues!

It can really be a lot more fun then you thought.

If you have tips or thoughts on socializing in the author world let us know in the comments below! :)


About Hope:
Hope Pennington is a nerdy homeschooled grad who loves writing, reading and imagining she's in the TARDIS with the Doctor. Jesus is her best friend and she loves Starbucks too.

Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and her Blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget! WAJN's giveaway for the CD/Paperback Surrender is ending tonight! ENTER HERE.

And, if you've already entered, you can still share again for another entry!

Another thank-you to all of the bloggers who participated in this release and giveaway. Stop by their blogs -- they all have great posts!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Come Thou Fount | Music Video

One of my favorite hymns is now up on WAJN as an intermediate piano solo arrangement. 

If you’re interested in purchasing this sheet music, check it out here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Understanding Exposure | Book Review

If there was one book that I would feel pretty confident in handing to an upcoming photographer, this would be it. Peterson's Learning to See Creatively was good, but it didn't really teach a person how to use their camera. I have a fairly good working knowledge of exposure (thanks to my photographer brother), so most of what Peterson explained I somewhat knew (some of it, I need much more work on). He definitely goes into depth with explaining the triangle of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. This isn't a book that people new to camera terms can pick up and understand in a day. Some of it will take processing and hands-on exercising.

Sometimes, Peterson went into too much "layman explanation" for me. Since I understand ISO and since I prefer technical explanations, I found his "worker bees" analogy to be confusing, but new photographers may find it helpful.

Again, Peterson is not my preferred photographic style, but his explanations work for any style. And though he's a Nikon user (I'm Canon all the way), he presented the information in such a way that either camera users can find it helpful.

There were a few pictures I decided to edit because there was a little more skin showing than I prefer, but it was only 3-4 images. Also, there were a few times Peterson used words that I prefer not to.

*I received this book in exchange of my honest review from Blogging for Books*

About the Book
Understanding Exposure has taught generations of photographers how to shoot the images they want by demystifying the complex concepts of exposure in photography. In this newly updated edition, veteran photographer Bryan Peterson explains the fundamentals of light, aperture, and shutter speed and how they interact with and influence one another. With an emphasis on finding the right exposure even in tricky situations, Understanding Exposure shows you how to get (or lose) sharpness and contrast in images, freeze action, and take the best meter readings, while also exploring filters, flash, and light. With all new images, as well as an expanded section on flash, tips for using colored gels, and advice on shooting star trails, this revised edition will clarify exposure for photographers of all levels.

Photo of Bryan Peterson
About the Author
BRYAN PETERSON is a professional photographer, an internationally known instructor, and the best-selling author of Understanding Exposure,Understanding Shutter SpeedLearning to See CreativelyUnderstanding Digital Photography, and Beyond Portraiture. In addition, he is the founder of the online photography school The Perfect Picture School of Photography ( He lives in Chicago.

Buy the book on Amazon

Friday, June 10, 2016

Faith Blum Cover Reveal and Scavenger Hunt!

Who doesn't like a scavenger hunt? I suppose it depends on the kind of scavenger hunt, but Faith Blum is with us today to reveal the covers for her three upcoming novellas.

Each novella will be published this summer. One on June 26th, one on July 26th, and the last one on August 26th. To reveal the covers, Ihave a scavenger hunt set up. I have a few clues for you and then once you find the covers, you can fill out the form below to enter a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Each cover you find will get you four extra entries. Entries will be closed on June 10th and the winner announced on June 11th.

First, here are the descriptions of each book:

Just a Closer Walk

Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?

Just As I Am

Eve and Evangeline Collins are adventurous twins who decide to take a risk and head west as mail order brides. Their parents are less than pleased, but do nothing to stop them. Eve and Eva don’t realize their danger until they stop just outside Cheyenne. Will they ever see their family again?

Blessed Assurance

Adelaide lost her parents a year before and now a rich man in town is making unwanted advances toward her. Desperate, she writes to two men and quickly accepts the one from Cheyenne, Wyoming. On the final leg of her journey, in a stagecoach with four other mail order brides, her suspicions are confirmed. Will she ever find a man she can truly trust?


Each cover is hidden in a blog post on Faith's blog. Here are some clues to help you find the posts:

Clue #1: Agencies, mysteries, and westerns. Where might this cover be?

Clue #2: The ides of March. A holiday, a bird, or perhaps a plane. Can the cover be there?

Clue #3: A light or six and you may find the third and final cover.

In case the form below doesn't show up for some reason, please use this link to enter the giveaway.

Tour Schedule

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Weekend Deal

In honor of "Surrender's" release this weekend!

If you buy a copy of "Surrender" (print or digital), you can choose one of the arrangements on WAJN for free (piano music singles, digital download)!

Surrender - Release Day!!!

It is finally release day! I must admit, releasing a piano book feels so much different than releasing a fictional book. Both are amazingly fun, but I'm super excited for the opportunity God has given me to share my music with other musicians!

There's several fun things related to Surrender's release and I hope you can participate in some of it. First off, tonight (7 p.m. Central time) we're having a FaceBook party with some giveaways and that type of fun stuff. You may join the party here.

Secondly, I'm having two giveaways for this release. If you're not a pianist, don't worry: you can still participate! I'll be giving away a physical copy of my piano solo CD, The Solid Rock, as well as a print copy of Surrender (for all of you musicians ;)). Giveaways open to U.S. Residents only (unless you would like a digital copy of Surrender, in which case, feel free to enter away!)

And, if you don't want to wait and see if you won the giveaway to listen to some music, you can listen to all of the songs from Surrender on YouTube.

About the Book
Level: Late-intermediate/Early Advanced
Pages: 37

For more information on the book and to see samples, visit here.

Be sure to hop by the other great blogs that are featuring Surrender on their blogs this month!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Give me Jesus | Music Video

If we were to sum up our heart's desire in one phrase, what would it be? Would it be, "Give me Jesus?" or would something else -- something temporal -- take His place?

For information about the sheet music, visit With a Joyful Noise.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Sing the Mighty Power of God | Music Video

A newer song on WAJN, I Sing the Mighty Power of God for early advanced pianists. Guess what? It’s on WAJN for free, so you can hop over and download a copy!
If you’re not an advanced pianist, then you can still enjoy it by listening to the video.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender | Book Review

25891581MY REVIEW
"A suggestion from most people is a suggestion, but a suggestion from the king is a command."

When Lord Thornbeck is commanded to find a wife, he balks at it, not wanting the traditional marriage of rank. He is persuaded to invite ten ladies to his castle so that he can test their character and determine which one is fit to be a margrave's wife.

The real Lady Dorothea has run off with her lover knight, and Dorothea's father, the Lord Plimmwald, is determined to gain Lord Thornbeck's favor. His believes his only option is to send Dorothea's lady maid as Dorothea, so Avelina assumes the role of lady for two weeks, given the instructions to gain Thornbeck as an ally, but not as a husband.

Given this premise, the main theme of the book is romance ... and as I prefer romance only in small doses, it just wasn't for me. I enjoyed Avelina's friendship with Magdalen. And the first half of the book, as Avelina was adapting to a new life was interesting. I loved the setting ... like a lot. Dickerson does a good job capturing the era.

It was pretty much predictable and, having read one other Dickerson book ("The Golden Braid"), I found the main plot line basically the same: *mild spoiler ahead* girl falls in love with man above her rank, girl gets in trouble and he rescues her various times, there is treachery, the girl and guy end up alone, she now saves his life, etc. *end of spoiler* I could easily get this book mixed up with "The Golden Braid" because of the similarities.

What brings my rating down: as in "The Golden Braid," there was a scene in which the hero and heroine were thrown into an "avoidable" but compromiseable situation. Of course, both were of strong, moral, upright character so even though they cuddled for warmth, nothing happened. I just don't see the wisdom in this type of scenario being held up to young ladies.

Also, the spiritual plot was sadly lacking. Pretty much the only prayer was for God to help the situations go how the characters deemed best. There was being open about telling God their feelings because He already knows everything ... but even that seemed very self-centered. The strongest spiritual quote in the book was, "Do you think a God who sent His Son to be born in a lowly stable to poor people, announced to shepherds in a field, could care about gold and ivory and jewels? Perhaps God cares about our hearts, not our wealth." Overall, it had a Catholic feel with praying to the saints, confessing sins to the priest, etc. (which would be accurate to the time period).

*I received this book in exchange of my honest review from LitFuse Publicity Group*

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

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The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My God, I Love Thee | Music Video

Last Tuesday, I had a music recital for my students. As has become the tradition, I'll finish the recital with my own piece (after all, if I have to make all of my students play, why don't I play myself? ;)). This is one of the newer advanced arrangements that the Lord allowed me to complete. The message of this song is amazing! Lyrics below the video.

(note: this arrangement is available for purchase on

My God, I Love Thee
Words: attributed to Francis Xavier

My God, I love Thee, not because
I hope for heav’n thereby,
Nor yet for fear that loving not
I might forever die;
But for that Thou didst all mankind
Upon the cross embrace;
For us didst bear
the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace;

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E’en death itself, and all for man,
Who was Thine enemy.
Then why, most loving
Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of
winning heav’n,
Nor any fear of hell;

Not with the hope of
gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward,
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!
E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Solely because Thou art my God
And my eternal King!

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