Monday, February 19, 2018

Those Times When I Can Write

It's difficult finding time to write when you're an adult. When I'm working at the library 17 hours a week, teaching 5 1/2 hours a week plus prep, practicing piano a minimum of 45 minutes a day, trying to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week, recording an audio book of Creighton Hill, keeping the basement clean, doing dishes and cooking when it's my turn, leading Bible study once a month, keeping up with my blog, occasionally feeding my imagination with good books, trying not to lose touch with all my gets really hard to find time to write. And it's harder when writing doesn't always come easy.

I've made it no secret over the past several years that writing has been a struggle for me. I'm glad to say that the last couple of times I've sat down to write have been better. I'm rediscovering the way words work. (Can you believe I'd forgotten? I don't think having my primary story intake be in a visual medium was helpful.) It's slow progress, but my imagination is gradually waking back up. I'm inching back towards writing stories again. I'm inching back towards being able to dream and imagine.

But unfortunately, the above-mentioned adult busyness makes it very difficult to find time to devote to writing. I don't think my boss would be happy if I called in to tell him I wasn't coming to work because I have a chapter that needs writing. I don't think my students or their parents would be happy if they showed up for lessons and I was immersed in writing and refused to stop. No one in my family would be happy if there was no dinner because I was writing instead.

It's a difficult balancing act, especially when writing isn't my top priority. Unfortunately, the things that pay and keep the house going tend to be more important. But I can still find time here and there. Once I get the casserole in the oven, sometimes I sit down at the kitchen table and write. If I manage to get my other at-home work done early, I can squeeze in some writing time. It's not much, it's slow going, I'm not sure the end of June is a realistic deadline for draft 1, and I'm not even 100% sure where I'm going with this book, but I love it anyway.

I love that it's a low pressure project. I'm taking a break from my big projects (i.e. Espionage sequel and Cassie story) to have fun with a story. I don't have a purpose for writing it other than just to write a good story. The theme will come in time. I don't have a clue what the word count will be, what every plot point is, or if the midpoint will fall at the 50% mark, and that's okay. It's fluid, I just focus on what the next step is, it could be really great or really terrible, and it doesn't matter. Again, I'm not that far. I mostly just know the basic premise. But after all that I've been through writing-wise these last few years, I need a project like this. And if I find time to write between jobs and cooking and piano practice, it's going to be good for my imagination.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Piano Method Books

This week, I'm talking about my experience with different piano methods. Have you used Bastiens Piano Basics or Edna Mae Burnam's Step by Step?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Worth of a King

I have a brand new cover to show you! It's for The Worth of a King by Kendra E. Ardnek. I haven't read much of the book, but I'm signed up to beta read, and I know it's going to be awesome. After all, it's going to have Amber and Granite before Amber went all evil.

First, the description: 

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.

Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.

Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.

The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

Read the first chapter here!

Coming August 27!

Doesn't it look cool?

I also have a snippet to share with you.

     Instead of stating their reason for coming, Christa had a question of her own. “I thought that Jerolin was working with the blacksmith now.”
     One of the young men looked up and settled a glare on Delaney. “I am,” he admitted. “Garen gave me the day off today so I decided to help out here with the big order.” This must have been Jerolin.
     “You’re helping?” Christa giggled. “It looks like you spilled a book.”
     “Three would be more accurate,” said the other young man – Adrian, by process of elimination. “It’ll take hours to sort it back out. We were just debating…” he trailed off as he looked up and noticed the guests. “Oh.”

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon

Other Blogs in the Cover Reveal:
Dreams and Dragons
Unicorn Quester
Kiri Liz
Read, Write, Laugh, Dance
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings
Books, Baking, and Cowgirl Boots
Jenelle Schmidt
Reality Reflected
Jessica Greyson
The Music of a Story
The Flowering Vales
The Rambling Rose
Written Rest
The Labyrinth
Bible and Books
Jaye L. Knight

Monday, February 5, 2018

Wonder Review'My name is August.
I won't describe to you what I look like.
Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'

Ten-year-old August Pullman wants to be ordinary. He does ordinary things. He eats ice-cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, he has been home-schooled by his parents his entire life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, Auggie's parents are sending him to a real school. Can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches, Wonder is a frank, funny, astonishingly moving debut to be read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.


I laughed, I moved me, Bob.

This book is so good. It's so powerful and amazing, and I can't wait to see the movie. Hopefully it holds up.

Before I get into what I loved, I want to mention my three criticisms. Yup, three. 1) It's not 100% supportive of homeschooling. Basically, Auggie was homeschooled because of his weak immune system, not for any philosophical reason, so while they don't look down on homeschooling, they still act like a brick-and-mortar school is the ideal form of education. 2) Summer (one of Auggie's friends) believes in reincarnation. It's one conversation, and Auggie doesn't ever appear to believe in it, but I still didn't like that. 3) Justin, you're in high school! Use your capitals and quotation marks! I'm not sure why R.J. Palacio decided to write Justin's part without capitals or quotation marks. Maybe it's a "cool kid" thing. I wouldn't know. I'm not cool and never will be. It made the grammar Nazi inside me cringe, and caused Justin's section to be the only one where I looked ahead to see where it ended. I cared about Justin's POV, but really? USE CAPITALS!

Other than those three things, THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING AND I CAN'T LOVE IT ENOUGH.

This is the story of Auggie Pullman, a 5th grader with a severe facial deformity, and all the lives he touches. He faces bullying, he faces the involuntary horror of practically everyone who sees him, he faces betrayal, he faces the ordinary hardships that come when your beloved dog gets old and sick, he faces the normal difficulties of middle school, complicated by his face. It made me angry when kids played "Plague" refusing to touch him. It made me hopping mad when the kids at the camp out called him an orc. And yet there's so much good. So much he overcomes. So much reconciliation and forgiveness. So much that changes for the better when Auggie is just himself.

Outside of Auggie, I think I loved Via the best. She made me want to cry. She's had it rough. By default, her own emotional needs often get neglected because Auggie just requires more attention. Yet she doesn't complain. When things are rough for her, she thinks of all Auggie has been through and determines she has no right to complain about what she's going through. When she doesn't want to deal with the way people react to Auggie, she feels terrible. She's had to put up with a lot, being the child who doesn't need as much care. And through it all, she dearly loves her little brother. She loves her parents. She's devoted to her family. She even wants to be a geneticist so she can study why Auggie's face happened. And she's dear to my heart.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has challenges. Everyone has their rough patches. Some people's struggles may be better hidden than Auggie's, but everyone has them, and that's what Wonder shows us. It's a bigger story than just a book about a kid with a severe facial abnormality. It's about kindness. Kindness to all. Pulling together and supporting each other. Friendship. Loyalty.

As Mr. Tushman says at the end, "If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than necessary—the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every one of you, the face of God."

"When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

My first vlog is here! I talk about one of my all time favorite books: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Comment below on how you feel about The Chronicles of Narnia and whether or not you feel like Disney did a good job on the movies.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What Is Your Life Goal?

I want to write a bestselling book.

I want to have a successful music studio.

I want to see my books made into faithful movies.

I want to get married and raise a family.

But what if?

What if I never hit any kind of amazing sales ranking on Amazon?

What if I never get any more music students or have to stop teaching altogether?

What if my books never attract enough attention for anyone even to consider a film adaptation?

What if I never get married?

What if I do get married, but can't have children?

Would my life then be, as Anne would say, "a perfect graveyard of buried hopes"?

It shouldn't be.

Via Pinterest

It's not bad to want to be successful as a writer and music teacher. It's not bad to desire to be a wife and mother. I would go so far as to say that in many cases those are all very good desires. But if those are my end goals, I've got a problem. If my goals are ends in themselves, I'll always come up empty.

If I'm going to continue as a writer, I need to do it because that's how God wants me to serve Him.

If I'm going to continue teaching music, I need to do it because that's how God wants me to serve Him.

If I'm going to get married and raise a family, I need to do it because God has no longer called me to serve Him as a single person.

And if He stops calling me to the things He's called me to now, I can't hold onto them. I have to let them go and serve Him in my new calling.

So if you want to be a writer, don't do it because you like to write. Do it because that's how God calls you to serve Him.

If you want to be a lawyer, don't do it because you like the law. Do it because that's how God calls you to serve Him.

If you want to work at Hobby Lobby, don't do it because you love retail and crafts. Do it because that's how God calls you to serve Him.

If you want to be a wife and mother, don't do it because you're in love and can't wait to have kids. Do it because that's how God calls you to serve Him.

God calls us all to different things. God places us all in different circumstances throughout our lives. God calls us to serve Him in different ways in every season of our lives. We can't hold onto our plans because that's what we want to do. We can't sit around waiting for that next season of life because that's the one we want the most. We have to serve God now, in every season, in every circumstance, in every way He places before us.

And that should be our life goal.

Via Pinterest

Monday, January 15, 2018

Update of Randomness

So life is busy, and my brain isn't really doing a good job of being profound at the moment, so I'm going to be fun instead and tell you however many random things pop into my mind.

My dog likes milk. A long time ago, I started giving her a little of my milk in her dog food, but stopped when it stopped interesting her. Lately, she's remembered about it, and barks at me when I've finished eating my breakfast until I give her milk. She also takes a joint supplement (which we squirt down her throat and then give her a treat afterwards) which she WILL NOT let us forget.

We're putting in a state park-like trail through the woods in our backyard. It's cool. I'm just not looking forward to the snakes in the summer.

Weather is crazy. Normally, GA winter temperatures are in the 50s, maybe 40s (at least, that's how it was growing up). This winter, it's been below freezing A LOT...except last week, where we had several days of 50s and 60s, only to drop drastically again.

I'm getting a sort of Wrinkle in Time/Wind in the Door vibe out of the beginning of my latest book, Acktorek. I'm still not very far yet, so I don't know how it'll turn out, but I really like my MC Emma Edsel.

I'm taking piano again, which is awesome. I just need to find a way to keep improving my violin skills.

I made groundhogs at the library. It was a lot of fun, especially on a slow Saturday. Except that I messed up the text on the speech bubbles and had to redo it on Monday before I put them up.

I finally started playing around with my digital recorder to figure out how to get the best audio quality, and I think I might have it figured out.

I'm doing ballet for exercise. I know, I'm weird. I found barre exercises on YouTube, and I'm doing them a few times a week to get back in shape. Being sore for days after a practice dance isn't okay, and neither is being in pain at Disney World because you're not used to so much walking.

Teaching is awesome. My students are fantastic, and I'm not stressed so much about keeping ahead of my most advanced piano students now that I have a teacher myself.

Adult life is too busy. Having several jobs and volunteer commitments is too crazy, but I make it work. Sort of, anyway. And this is why I'm not in college. Where would I fit it in? Besides the fact that saving money is more worthwhile to me long term than paying for a degree I'm not intending to use.

And life is an adventure. There are ups and downs, happiness and struggle, good and bad, but if you live life to bring glory to God, it's all worth it.