Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Gospel Train | Music

I love old spirituals. One of these days, I just might make an entire collection with them. We shall see. ;) Until then, I enjoy arranging them one by one. Here's "The Gospel Train" for early intermediate pianists.

For those pianists out there, here is a sample. This piece is only $.99 at WAJN.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Getting Back into the Swing of Things (sorta...)

This week, I decided to get back onto my old writing schedule (before the craze of summer made me forget it): 100 words a day. I know, one doesn’t make much progress with doing just 100 words, but it gets me on my project working—especially on teaching days like Tuesday where I teach almost solid 10:00-6:00. With "100 words" on my schedule, I added 834 words last week to Journey of Choice. How I see it, that’s 834 words more than if I hadn’t aimed for 100 words a day!

I think that I have worked through all of the backtracking to add some intensity to Nat’s life (since, you know, just being a soldier in the Civil War against his will isn’t enough, right?). This was one of the reasons my word count was so low—when I rewrite, I erase almost as many words as I add. But it’s all for the better and has enriched the story (in my opinion ;) ). This week, I should get to move forward!

There's my writing update. As for researching... GUESS WHAT!!!

I finished the massive 815-page Memoirs of Sherman this past week! I was teasing that after all of that reading, I should get an award, so my little sister decided to draw one for me (there's a glimpse at my fun-loving, teasing family).

That felt like such a nice mile-marker, that I decided to finish reading Arms and Equipment too (actually, I had a Louisiana trip with four hours [one way] in the car). Two research books finished in a week! I'm on a roll! ;) (and no, that's not gonna happen this week)

From Social Media
Since I'm determined not to let you guys miss out any, here's a book I found at an estate sale I went to. At $250, no, I didn't get it. But it was super cool to look at!


Bookmarks! I currently only have bookmarks featuring "Journey to Love" (which is about 1 1/2 years old now), but I'd love to share them! If you live in the United States or Canada, just drop me an email at amandaterobooks (at) gmail (dot) com with your address and I'll send you 3-5 to keep and share.

Finally, my sister did some brain-storming for me. One of the things I'm trying to do is stay regular on social media. Like I say in the video, I'm horrible when it comes to social stuff, even on the computer (writing? Yes. Social promos? Nope! Zilch. Nada.). But her ideas? A lifesaver!!

Now... I have a whole passel of questions for you! :) I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from you all, even though I don't regularly reply--I WILL reply, though, so if you've commented and not seen my reply, check back later!

  • Do you read any books for research? When was the last time you finished one?
  • If you're active on social media, how do you come up with fresh ideas? (or if you're just a blogger...?)
  • Does your family help with or support your business(es)?
  • Do you use bookmarks, dog-ear the page, memorize the page number, or just read straight through? 
  • Have you ever been to an estate sale?
  • Any progress on your projects this week?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Scripture Graphics #54

This Psalm is full of reasons to praise God. For example, He hears us (vs. 1, 6-7), He preserves our soul (vs. 2), He is merciful to us (vs. 3, 5, 13, 15, 16), He is good (vs. 5), He is ready to forgive (vs. 5)…I counted seventeen reasons to praise God in this Psalm alone. 
How many can you find?

If my God is powerful enough to calm the tempest (which can destroy ships), how much more can He calm the raging of my heart, when I trust in Him?

In God, we are fully protected. The latter part really stood out to me: His truth is our shield and buckler. There is protection—coverage, shielding—in God’s truth.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (Psalms 92:1-5)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An Agglomeration of Writing Tools | Wordquill

Today on Wordquill, I'm exploring some of my favorite writing tools!

- - - - -

While it’s true that “all you need to write is pen and paper,” there are many other tools available to the modern writer which helps make our job easier and more fluent. If you look at my writing tools today vs. even a year ago, you’ll see that they have changed. So instead of giving you a run-down of “what I use today,” I’ll just be mentioning some writing tools that have helped me throughout the years. After you read through mine, I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful in the writing tool world!

Continue reading on Wordquill.

Friday, August 25, 2017

First Line Fridays, Review | Beneath Copper Falls

This Friday, I'm featuring a suspense novel. I think I've figured out that I'm not as much for suspense as I thought I was. I just don't care for dwelling on that which is dark--on the sick cruelty of humanity when separated from God. Yeah... have any of you read this book? Did you like it?

Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton

My Review
I'll be honest up front: this is probably the hardest book review I've had to write. As far as writing style and ability, I admire Coble. Her writing style is enjoyable and well-rounded.

Content... since I'm given permission for my honest review, that is what I'll stick with. I know other readers who enjoy suspense may like this book, but it was not for me. So, for you readers who are debating whether or not to read this book, here are my thoughts.

The back cover did not shed light about how dark the content would be. There was no mention of a serial killer (much less one who drowned women), which may have better prepared me for the contents. It's not just that it was a serial killer, but how closely connected the characters were to people who were being killed. And... who the serial killer was. I figured it out about halfway and continued in horror of, "Please be wrong." (I wasn't wrong)

For me, it was too dark without a good balance of light. God was mentioned, as was prayer, but it was more of, "I'll pray for you" and "God has His good will for your life." I found it to be somewhat shallow, and the characters in their everyday lives didn't think much about God.

Another aspect I didn't care for was the romance. I could have read it wrong, but it appeared that one couple lived together before marriage (which is Biblically wrong to do). The romance was more surface-centered and a few things took place that made me cringe (mentions of going too far, being too close, that type of thing).

So, coming from a conservative Christian viewpoint, this is not the type of book I'd like to read again.

*I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and happily provided my honest review*

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Welcome to my Music Studio (free downloads)

I have mentioned teaching occasionally, but it's not something that I have really looked at on this blog. Today, I'd like to give you a glimpse at this year's music studio:

I  haven't had much opportunity to decorate my studio in years passed, because for most of my teaching life, I have either shared my studio with someone else (i.e. I started teaching in my room), or just didn't feel that creative. This year, however, I decided to do something kind of fun--and the kids loved it (which, I'll admit, always feels rewarding!). As you can see, I went for a "back to school" theme (time will tell if I change it up every month or quarter or at all...). I did a fun play on words...

Then I also have some "cheat sheets" up there. The younger me would have frowned on this; after all, they need to KNOW their answers, right? But... I'd rather the student review it 100 times and KNOW it than get frustrated fifty times, because they just can't remember. We'll see if these remain up all year or not.

In addition to all of this, I make my students track down their practice minutes. Their weekly time goal is different, depending on their age and level. This year to keep track for their diligence the entire year, I have created a chart. Each week, I will color in whether they have practiced ALL of their time (four keys), HALF of their time (two keys), a quarter of their time (one key), etc. Here's hoping it's incentive to get those keys colored!

Now, the freebies I mentioned in the title. All of the charts I mentioned are uploaded here (PDFs) for you to have full access to--print and use to your heart's content! And, if you use them, I would love to hear how they worked for you!

If you are new to teaching or are considering teaching and don't know where to start, I published a short book (most people can read it in an hour) to help musicians get started teaching. "Me? Teach Piano?" is only $1.99 for Kindle (though you may also get the paperback for $7.99).

Now that I'm done jabbering, how many music teachers do we have out there? What instruments do you teach? What have you found to be your most helpful teaching tip?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

And Some Weeks, I Really Don't Feel Like a Writer

After last week's fun blog post with an amazing update and all...

This week I began teaching piano/violin again! Which meant writing was out the door. Literally. And music was in the door. In full swing! I'm not complaining, because I love music and have had some fun with my students already (more on that tomorrow). But I have missed writing a little.

I did have an afternoon dedicated to writing. On Thursday, I hosted my first Writing Day with some local homeschool students.

There were five writers who joined us and from what they said, they all had a blast. Which makes me happy! We're already growing our list of participants for next time!

As for how my writing went that day...

Yup. Honestly, those were the words I put in my manuscript (don't worry--I deleted them). The words just would not flow! Which, isn't unusual, as I had about a five-day writing break. I had hoped to get some writing done over the weekend, but for some reason, it felt like all I did was run the roads. Which is okay. That just means that (hopefully) I'm all caught up. ;)

BUT! I do feel like I made progress! I have made it further into the Arms and Equipment of the Civil War book (which is amazingly interesting!). I have shown some self-control in my reading. Some. ;) On Friday night, this was my reading selection.

Like a good girl, I chose the Civil War book and... yeah, read the whole A Fool and His Monet (but that goes into reading posts, not writing posts--and I DID balance it with pages from Arms and Equipment). Back to CW, this one section stood out to me: 

Can't you just envision a story right there?! I don't know if I'll do anything with that interesting piece of history, but it fascinated me.

Oh, and speaking of Civil War books... I got Hoopla (my library online reading database). I have a video of me scrolling through just some of their Civil War options (if it loaded; this is my first time trying to upload a video straight into Blogger). I'm like... :o :o :o :o :o 
No, I won't ever be able to read all of those. Mom said that sometime I need to stop reading and just write. ;)

And there you have it. My non-writing week. ;) Thanks for listening to me jabber.

Before I leave, I challenged my followers in one area last week:

Who is the last author that you read?
What star value would you give the book?
Have you left a review? If you have not...then the challenge is to go and leave that review! :)

Until next week!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Scripture Graphics #53

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name." (Psalms 61:1-5)

I know this is praise of God’s creation, but it struck me in a new way—as God’s time. Do I live as though the day and night are mine, to do as I please, instead of doing what pleases God? Just as God fashioned light and dark, He set the clocks in motion. Am I selfishly hoarding time which should ultimately be spent for His glory?

"For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God." Psalm 78:5-8
There is so much in these verses about duties, penalties, warnings, and commands. God has done His part in providing His Word. He handed the responsibility to fathers to teach their children. Every generation of fathers who neglect this responsibility produces a generation of children who do not hope in God, keep His commands, and remember His works; a generation of stubborn and rebellious people who are not righteous and steadfast in God. Yet, just as Israel could turn back to God, so can wicked generations today: "But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again." (Vs 38-39)

This is a good reminder verse--first, a reminder of Who God is; second, a reminder of His delight to give His children good things (note: what He deems good; not always our perception of good).
"Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase." Psalm 85:12

What is something that stood out to you in the message yesterday?

Friday, August 18, 2017

First Line Fridays and Review | The Wisdom of God

Happy Friday! I get to feature one of my new favorite books today!! As with other similar books, I didn't go with first line, but a favorite quote.

Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read
Iola – Iola Golton
Anna – Cross Romance

My Review
What is wisdom? This book is divided into 23 chapters exploring Biblical wisdom vs. worldly knowledge. It begins with the history of how the Jews perceived wisdom, to how Jesus Christ personified wisdom, to how we are to apply wisdom today.

This was a powerful and convicting read. From all I could tell, it was Biblically accurate, quoted many Scripture verses, and even used some hymns to expound on Biblical truths. There was a strong emphasis on humility, repentance, and salvation.

There are many quotes I appreciated. Here are a few:

"Would the man filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding write cheap poetry? I would certainly hope not!"

"David could sin, but he could also repent." 

"We should not only memorize the Word, which is an excellent thing to do, but also know the difference between truth and error in applying the Word faithfully."

"Obviously there is enticement from sinners. It does not say in Proverbs 1:10, 'If sin entices thee.' It says 'If sinners entice thee.'"

"If that person stands between you and Jesus Christ, that person is not a friend."

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers and happily provided my honest review*

You may get the book here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's That Most-Wonderful Time of the Year...

Okay, so it's just time when musicians start thinking of that most-wonderful time of the year. ;) I'm hoping to stock up on Christmas arrangements at WAJN but I need some suggestions. So...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sometimes, I Feel Like a Writer

Those were my thoughts as I stepped back and looked at my desk on Friday. Coffee, a cute sign (by Par la Grace), Scrivener open (which, btw, I’m now completely sold on!), a stack of research books…I had to take a picture.

This past week has been a good one for me writing-wise. It took me a little while to get back into the flow of writing, but, by God’s help, I made it!

For those who don’t follow me on FaceBook or Instagram (I feel you, because I used to have neither), I don’t want you to miss out on what I give everyone else by means of more daily updates. So here is a quick run-down:

Writing Progress
I added almost 5,000 words to the manuscript Monday-Friday (about 1,000 less than I wrote total in July!). Some of that writing was done in a waiting room as I waited with some friends for their baby boy to be born.

Journey of Choice reached 50,000 words! (my goal is 60k, but I just may surpass that goal, given the way things are moving now)

After reaching chapter 27, I realized I needed to make Nat’s life just a little more miserable, so I went back and added some tension via Second Lieutenant Ward (it’s gonna be great, y’all!)

Research Progress
I got three new Civil War books in! (yeah, I splurged) I'm making progress in listening to Sherman's Memoirs on my Kindle Fire (on Kindle, the book is divided into two segments, and I'm in the 60%'s of book 2). I'm also reading my first K.M. Weiland book, Creating Character Arcs.

I just have to show you the CW book that I’m reading now (one of my new ones, yes). It is so cool!

Since I shared an excerpt with everyone else, here you go (from chapter 20)…
Nat’s mouth went dry as if they had already shoved the gag in. The brawl hadn’t seemed to draw much attention from the company, but being set in the middle of camp, with his body contorted worse than a rat caught in a trap, he would be the gazing stock of all of the men.
“And after that,” Captain Quinn continued, “you’ll fulfill your picket duty.”Nat didn’t fight against the men as they dragged him to the middle of camp. Being bucked and gagged wasn’t the worst thing that had happened in his life. Every second he was subjected to this punishment, though, he’d picture it was Ward there, enduring the same punishment.
The men shoved a dry cloth in his mouth. He clamped down on it, imagining that it was a piece of Ward’s flesh. The second lieutenant was going to escape punishment altogether while he—the low-down private—was disgraced in public.
A coarse rope sliced into Nat’s wrists as the men tied it tightly. One man held his hands while the other one forced his knees up between his arms and shoved a stick to secure his position. Then, the men stepped back.
Nat shifted. The butt of a gun jammed into his back. He clenched the gag even tighter between his teeth and his throat contracted. If he was lucky, he’d only have to endure this punishment for an hour.
He closed his eyes and laid his head on his knees. He braced himself against another blow, but nothing happened. Good. He’d just wait it out. Then tonight, as soon as he was away from camp doing his watch, he’d run.

Some Fun Things
My sister said this made her think of me. ;P Isn't it accurate though?

And then, I was tagged on Instagram to do “10 Things I’d Never Say.” Now, for those of you who know me, I tried my best to do this in a lighthearted manner. My brain automatically went to more theological things like, “I’d never say, ‘You can read enough Bible’ or ‘Prayer isn’t as good as we think it is’ or ‘Christ’s blood isn’t sufficient to save ALL sinners.’” Yeah. Because, by God’s grace, I’d never say something that directly contradicts Scripture. BUT… I tried for fun here. So, just with that in mind…here are ten things I don’t think I’ll ever say in *seriousness* (I like to be sarcastic a lot, so saying things sarcastically doesn’t count).

1) Technology is ridiculous
2) Chocolate is gross
3) I’ve read enough books in my life
4) I love being a social butterfly
5) I will beat you at ANY cost!!
6) You may have all of my books
7) A musician never needs to practice
8) Bribery is okay
9) I love clutter
10) I never think seriously
Boy, it’s hard to think that way. ;) How did I do? Sound like things I’d never say?

What are ten things YOU’D never say?
What progress have you made on your projects this week?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Scripture Graphics #52

Number 52. I suppose this makes a year of sharing Scripture graphics! It has been a personal blessing for me to hear how God has used these posts to come for you on the exact days you need them. He is so faithful to use His Word just when -- and how -- we need it. :) Here's hoping for another year of diligence in sharing!

This kind of makes for a good "catch-up" post. I had found a few graphics that I lost track of my personal thoughts -- or maybe I had my personal thoughts on the graphics but lost track of the exact verse that went with it.

What is your favorite verse?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Scavenger Hunt and Giveaway | Molly Jebber Tour

How many of you like scavenger hunts? I'm happy to be a part of Molly Jebber's bookish-themed scavenger hunt! Hop along for some fun!

Scavenger Hunt Stops
Stop by each blog to collect their special word then input the sentence it creates into the giveaway for NINE extra entries! While you are at each stop, don’t forget to comment to claim your bonus entries in the giveaway (the bonus entries for a comment on a blog can be claimed multiple times but only once in a 24 hour period).

My special word is HAS!

Visit these other blogs to discover their words:
August 9: Quiet Quilter
August 13: Bigreadersite
August 15: Karen Sue Hadley
August 17: cherylbbookblog
August 18: Baker Kella
August 20: The Power of Words

About Molly’s Books:

Change of Heart

A modern new century brings a young Amish woman an unexpected new life—and a chance to discover love’s true way home…
Ohio, 1899. Soft-spoken midwife Becca Yost lived by her Amish faith’s strict rules—until her fiancĂ© jilted her before their entire community. She’s never been away from home, but the bustling Englischer town of Massillon, Ohio, is a welcome unexpected refuge. Especially when she goes to work for Dr. Matt Carrington, who shares her passion for healing those in need. His outgoing spirit and gentle strength show Becca a surprising new world of choices—and irresistible love. But there is one formidable obstacle: Matt’s wealthy mother is determined her son will marry a society woman.
With her newfound resolve challenged, Becca decides that she and Matt must not be destined for each other after all. She accepts that she will have to forge a life alone—until a wrenching crisis and life-changing revelations teach her that true faith lies in all things, especially impossible second chances...

Grace’s Forgiveness

A handsome newcomer with secrets shows a yearning Amish woman a chance at happiness—but their love will need all their courage to keep . . .
Grace Blauch is skilled at midwifery—and crafting quilts that help others pass on messages of enduring family love. But a disfiguring birthmark keeps the young Amish woman from a husband and home of her own—until Mark King arrives from another community. His helpfulness and independent nature earn Grace’s respect. And he finds her outspoken ways and determination to do right irresistibly appealing. Soon Grace is planning a wedding quilt of her very own . . . until her father discovers that Mark’s shunned brother is hiding somewhere in town . . .
Grace can well understand why Mark took such a risk once she hears his wrenching reasons. But she fears even prayer will not convince her father to restore his blessing on their union. She wills herself to face the end of her dreams, but sudden danger and an impossible act of generosity will show her that abiding hope can inspire the most precious of miracles  . . .

Two Suitors for Anna

In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for and a new, very different future…
Since Anna Plank moved to Berlin, Ohio, with her widowed mamm and two schweschders, she’s found a real sense of belonging. As soon as her beloved Noah Schwartz proposes, they’ll begin a new chapter here together. But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves.
Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share…

About Molly:
Molly Jebber’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times has given them a near excellent rating. She’s on RWA’s Honor Roll. She’s a speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, and she offers presentations on writing, publishing, Amish lifestyle and traditions. She has received widespread media coverage, including live interviews, across the United States for her books and speaking engagements.
She’s just signed a new contract for four more Amish books! She loves interacting with her readers. She loves God, her husband, family and friends. She has a hard time saying no to cupcakes, swimming, nine holes of golf, and walks on the beach. Coconut, oatmeal, and onions, on the other hand, are not hard to say no to!

Guest Post from Molly:
Anna and her sisters are hiding a secret. One Anna knows is wrong to keep. The love of her life wants her to leave her family behind and travel with him. Her life is in turmoil, and she isn’t sure which way to turn? What does the future hold for Anna?
Have you read CHANGE OF HEART and GRACE’S FORGIVENESS? The first two books in the Keepsake Pocket Quilt Series? They are available in and online in bookstores.
I love interacting with you, and thank you for participating!

Blog Tour Prize is an Amish/English Basket!
One big item: Brand New Coach Purse!
Each day, visit the designated blog, comment, and your name is entered in the contest for a chance to win!

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