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.