The Rule about Playing Scrabble

Scrabble Weather

Back in the day…my husband and I had a rule. We could play Scrabble on any day there was snow on the ground. This meant maybe 250 days out of an average year were fair game for gaming.

We made this rule so as to discipline ourselves during the summer.

Summer…that fleeting, uncertain, golden moment on the north Idaho calendar when you felt your bones begin to thaw…summer was for building. And gardening. And repair and maintenance on the buildings and the garden. No time for Scrabble!

Fast forward a few years to 2013. We moved to the tropics.

Not Scrabble Weather

We took our Scrabble board with us of course, but in the land of perennial summer, we needed a new rule. We decided that any day it rained, we could play Scrabble. For our first four years in the Finally and Completely Thawed latitudes, we lived on Maui. In Kihei, mostly, where it rarely rains. And I mean less than 7 inches per year. Our Scrabble games were few and far between, but that was okay because though there was no building to be done, there was year-round gardening! And snorkeling and scuba and hiking and whale watching and swimming and luaus and island hopping and beach-combing and sunbathing and all manner of after-work-and-on-the-weekends adventuring to do.

Saipan Scrabble Weather

Then we moved further west, to Saipan. Hotter. Wetter. It rains here year-round. In the dry season you might get only a brief shower every couple of days. During the rest of the year, you get real rain almost every day to add up to the average 79 inches per year. Lots and lots of Scrabble days! We love to go adventuring here, too, but when it’s too stinkin’ hot, or we’re too sunburned or tired (we keep getting older!) we can almost always say, “Hey, it’s raining/it rained this morning/this afternoon/during the night, let’s play Scrabble!”

I love that rule.

Not story worthy

I take a picture of every Scrabble game board now, because that is where I got the idea for Montana Rising. I file the pics away in a ‘possible stories’ file. But not all of them—some of the stories that flow into my head from the boards are not ones I want to write. Like this one. Yuck. But the next one might be great!

Wait…is it raining?

Montana Rising: Wordplay is launched!

montana rising bk 1 coverAs of December 12, 2017, Montana Rising: Wordplay is available for sale worldwide on Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Barnes and Noble, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Scribd, 24Symbols, and at other online booksellers. Click the book cover to find your favorite shop.


Montana Rising is a mild-mannered—okay not mild, but at least well-mannered—teacher by day, avid Scrabble player by early evening, and fast asleep by 10pm. Unless she’s up writing a fantastical story using all the words played in a particularly good Scrabble game. But after her granddaughter brings home a frightened friend, Monti’s life starts reading more like a crime drama than a romantic comedy. How will she write her Scrabble story to a satisfying “Happily Ever After” conclusion? And how can she get her own sweet life back when the situation is spiraling dangerously out of control?

The novel includes the story Monti is writing. Both stories explore endurance, perseverance, faith as the bedrock for living, and growing a good marriage even through overwhelming difficulties.



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!

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.

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! 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…