Montana Rising book cover ready to go! And a taste of the story…

montana rising bk 1 coverI have the final cover from my designer, my brother Gregory Parker.

One day at least a hundred years ago, Greg and I sat down with the WWU college catalog, and brainstormed about what he wanted to be when he grew up (at least, that’s how I remember it!). He has gone global since then, and I am honored that he shares his beautiful talent with me.

I love the cover, it fits my story so well! I’m hoping to have the book out in time for Christmas. Here’s a taste…

Montana Rising, Book One: Wordplay is the story of sixty-something Monti, who is really Montana Eloise Rising, named for her birthplace and her great-grandmother. Monti and her husband, retired colonel Kit Rising, enjoy a retirement made anything but retiring by their granddaughter Noelle, a star student at the college where Monti teaches.

Noelle brings home strays; girls in trouble, boys at odds with the world, elderly people lost and adrift. The strays come and go, sometimes staying in the Risings’ guest room for a while, always taking up residence in their hearts as they share their home, the wisdom of their years, and their love for God. They try to help untangle their visitors’ problems, but sometimes the Risings get tangled in the problems themselves!

Monti and Kit cultivate a keen competition in their ongoing private Scrabble tournament. Occasionally, when the completed game board displays a particularly promising array of words, Monti snaps a picture of them and builds a story around them. Her current saga, starring Bo and Anisette, is a medieval magical fantasy about love that endures through astounding difficulties. Bo and Anisette’s story is included in the main novel as Monti completes each chapter.

This is the first book in a series about the Rising family’s adventures, and another of Monti’s ‘Scrabble stories’ will be included in each book.

Pre-ordering information available soon!

Let’s sing that again!

What do I love to help people with? I love to reveal to people the beautiful music hidden in their souls.

When a shy teen reluctantly shows up for a choir rehearsal (I may have bribed him), accepts a sheaf of sheet music with bewilderment written all over his face, and barely makes a sound for the whole hour and a half, I’m giddy with hope.

I’ve directed volunteer choirs for nearly my entire adult life, skipping a couple years here and there.  I especially enjoy enticing unsuspecting nascent singers who’ve never thought they could hold a tune, or learn harmony, or enjoy choir music or even be accepted in such a group…and then seeing their surprise and pleasure at what they can do.  I love to decode the mathematically elegant written language of music for those who have never encountered it, or who thought it more foreign than Chinese. It gives me great joy to encourage and watch a quiet, tentative singer grow. I smile as she finds her voice and eventually rejoice as she belts out the top notes of a solo with confidence and skill.

Even better is  the opening up of hearts when a choir accepts a newbie and loves them as family. Because a choir is a family. You don’t work hard to make beautiful music together week after week without some serious bonds being formed! More experienced singers point out what page we’re on,  or ask to have that bit over again please (for the newbie’s benefit but don’t tell them that!).  Choir members pray for each other, cry with each other through bad times, rejoice in each other’s happy happenings. The best choirs don’t fuss too much about perfection in their fellow singers. I aim for it as director, but not at the expense of the joy of learning the music and the plain old fun of hearing it sound better and better until we’re all amazed at what we did together.  The joy is the thing, not perfection.

And the joy can be exquisite. When the music you are singing exalts God, your heart exalts God. This is a novel experience for some folks. Occasionally a new singer meets God  for the first time while singing praises to Him. Not just a generic god either, but the God of the Bible, who is Love and  who died so we could live and be loved forever. This is the sweetest joy of all: to experience welcoming a person not only into the loving family of a choir, but into the crazy, eternal, globe-spanning, supernaturally loving family of God. 

Yeah, I love to direct choirs.

windbent tree

Why Write a Blog When your Brain is Mush?

I am writing this blog because I have stories. I’m writing to capture things I am loath to lose.  Elusive flashes of beauty. Fragments of wisdom. Fleeting ideas, impressions, plans. And stories.

I am writing to pin to digital paper what I learn about things that please me, things that puzzle me, things that threaten to take me down. I’m writing to fight back against the challenges I face daily. They’re not gigantic challenges compared to the burdens that others bear, but they do make me weary. At intervals they make me want to give up, but giving up is not in the plan.

I’m reasonably sure my brain isn’t working as well now as it did back in my summa cum laude days. Years of chronic pain, endless attempts to knock that pain back a bit and function…these have taken their toll.

But my life overflows with blessings. I have faith, hope and lots of love. I have built my house upon the Rock and the Rock is solid regardless of how creaky the cottage dug into it.

I have people to love, I have work to do, I have adventures to live.

Plus, I have stories.

At home in Saipan

LauLau Bay from our balconyA whirlwind month we have just had! My husband accepted a job transfer from Hawaii to Saipan at the end of December. He had to report for work in just over a month. We came on mission to help plant a church, and God got us here far sooner than we’d been planning!
We did not hire a moving company, but sold off or gave away everything that wouldn’t fit in a box, and mailed 78 parcels to ourselves. At the outset this seemed a simple proposition, as we’d done the same thing moving from Idaho to Hawaii four years ago. However, this time each box had to be measured, weighed, and labeled with a detailed customs form. But this tedious process turned out to have a bright silver lining, in that as we went I numbered the boxes and made a detailed list of the contents of each one. We’ve been referring to that list ever since!

Everything else involved in setting up our life here has been packed with unexpected challenges, made easier by the lovely people, without exception friendly and willing to help far beyond what I’d grown to expect in mainland USA.

I’ll offer some insights on moving across the ocean soon. For now, I’m happy to share the view out my third-floor balcony window.

one tiny step: choosing my author photo

It’s more like a teeny-tiny baby step, perhaps. But with mush-for-brains at the end of my work day, it feels like a significant accomplishment to get this done! Montana Rising, Wordplay, must have a little picture on the back and here it is. Thanks to my hubby Zack for taking a zillion pics for me to choose from.  What do you thinbest-2016-author-pick? I realize God is going pretty heavy on the platinum highlights in the front these days, but that’s how it grows.

Next up, the author bio, in several different lengths. Nothing teeny-tiny about that task! First, think of me as she…and go from there.

 

Cruising the book aisles at Target

I live on an island, and I work at home. So I don’t visit many bookstores, though I spend an unconscionable amount of time on Amazon.com! But on many a Saturday, I trek to my local Target store to buy hamburger buns and ketchup and LoveCrunch Dark Chocolate granola, and weave through the accessories section to see if there are any purses on clearance that I can’t resist.

No purses on clearance today, dang it. But I did spend a little time cruising the book aisles, and it was depressing. I mean, weight on your chest, darkness at the edge of your vision depressing.

Trying to figure that out.

My two primary theories–wait, I guess that would have to be my primary and secondary theories…are these:

  • I’m in the midst of indie-publishing my first novel, and the competition, even at just one box store that doesn’t really focus on books, is voluminous and very, very shiny. How can I find a place in this polished and crowded market?
  • The books are dark. Many are evil, scary, mean and hopeless, and/or blasphemous, shallow, pornographic or otherwise worthless. Is this really what Americans want to read?

It’s discouraging. I don’t know whether my story will flop, because it’s full of hope and humor and faith, or whether it will be a welcome bright spot because it’s full of hope and humor and faith.

img_4675Not that there aren’t some hopeful and meaning-filled books on the shelves, of course. There are, and if you want to you can buy cookbooks full of healthy recipes, classic children’s stories, volumes of local history, a bright purple Bible, or a copy of Da Jesus Book, which is the New Testament in Hawaiian pidgin. I did snag one of those, and hubby and I plan to read it aloud to each other over the course of 2017.

I don’t fully understand the dark feeling that my cruise through the books provoked in me. I didn’t like it. I need to ponder it. I need to invite my Creator to search my heart and see if there is any grievous way in me connected to competition, envy, greed, or pride. Because whether my book flops or shines is largely irrelevant. That I please my Jesus and become more like him, this is what matters, only and always.

I think a few minutes meditating on Psalm 139 might help…

Today’s Milestone: ordered proofs of Montana Rising

I still can’t quite believe I get to mark that off my list.

I’ve been writing this story since…at least 2010? That’s the oldest file I can find, but I’ve changed computers and software so many times I could have started even before that. It’s beginning to feel real…

Milestone
Photo by J’Ram DJ

My plan was to use my proofs as ARCs for my beta readers. But, I was only allowed to order five copies. This means I’ll have only four to share out and those are instantly gone (if only I could remember who I’ve promised one to, besides my mom). I’ll shift to ebooks for betas. I hope my Maui Christian Writers sweeties will be okay with that!

Anyone reading this who has already successfully navigated this journey is probably shaking her head at the mistakes I’m making, but oh well! The advice on how to publish as an Indie Author is many things, including overwhelming, conflicting, vague, inapplicable, indecipherable, expensive, outdated and–occasionally–helpful. And like me, it’s scattered. So far, there has not been anything remotely efficient about the whole thing. But I am learning everyday and loving the adventure!

Now back to CreateSpace to look at marketing channels, and then to my Amazon Success ToolKit, bring the laundry in off the link, send a note to my brother (who is designing my cover, thanks ever so much, Greg!), think about dinner, work on the blog…I’d better go make a list.

Book Review: All our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong TodaysAll Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you write a time-travel story unlike any other time-travel story? I have no idea, but Elan Mastai has done it! Make sure when you pick this up that you have significant reading time in your schedule, because you won’t be able to put it down until you bash through to the end. No use trying to figure out how it’s all going to work ahead of time, because you’ll never get close. Tom Barren is a terrific character, in all his complexities and screw ups, and if you don’t grow in your understanding of ego, family dynamics, and true love, you weren’t paying attention. Recommended. (Language and sexual content not suitable for kids.)

View all my reviews

Haiku from Hawaii

Web surfing today, unable not to click on any of the hyperlinks in Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint.

One click took me to Orna Ross’s blog, where one of her recent posts describes how she writes haiku and posts them on Instagram. I don’t quite do Instagram yet, so…here’s mine for today:

pau hana pool

Swimming pool
Soaking away the day’s heat
Pau hana

 

(Pau hana means work is done in Hawaiian.)

Thanks for the inspiration, Orna!