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Love Games by MJ Schiller


Occasionally someone will ask me the secret to my twenty-five year marriage and I will look them in the eye and say, “We like to play games with each other.” I suppose you’ve heard you should never play games in a relationship. While that is true, I’m not talking about head games here, I’m talking about fun games.

When we first started dating, the games were, naturally, the dating kind of games, like bowling or miniature golf. Games that both allowed us to get away from the dorms together, and had the added benefit of allowing my husband-to-be the opportunity to court me by paying my way.  In our newlywed days, when money was tight, we would often play cards together, gin rummy, and later two-handed spades. After kids arrived we switched to Bananagrams, which is like Scrabble, without the board, and a game called SkipBo.

We loved our Skipbo. It’s a card game, and, I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I’d probably have to brush up a bit on the rules before I could play it again. We would play Skipbo every night. It went on vacation with us and the Skipbo cards were often the first thing unpacked when we got to our hotel room. We played while the kids swam in the outdoor pool in Nashville. While they swam in the indoor pool in Zanesville, OH and Gettysburg. We often times played on the floor, in the light from the bathroom, while the kids slept in the hotel rooms.

Lately our obsession has been a computer game called Text Twist. You have two minutes to find as many words as you can from six given letters. They give you a list that shows how many three letter words you need, how many four, etc, up to six. Our highest run is fifty-seven straight games without a loss! It is important to us to share time together and this is one way we have chosen to do that. You are working as a team together, so that adds to the closeness.

In my lastest book, the second in my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION, ABANDON ALL HOPE, Chase and Hope also like to play games together. When they are twelve, they play hide-and-seek in a corn maze. When they are teens, there is a wicked game of table tennis. When they first start dating in high school, there is a game of miniature golf. In fact, the final scene in the book has Hope and Chase playing tennis with their kids.

Game playing is a great way to share time together! Do you have any games that you enjoy playing? Either now, or when you were younger? We actually have another couple that every time we get together we play Hearts. It’s like a running game that has lasted…fifteen or more years! Do you enjoy playing games with other people?


If you were interested in finding out more about ABANDON ALL HOPE, here’s a blurb:

It was one of those mornings for newspaper-writer/photographer Hope Creswell.  The alarm clock didn’t go off and she cut her finger on broken glass.  Not one to let such things get her down, Hope headed into her assignment meeting with excitement, only to leave it stunned.  Her new assignment is to trail the sensational rock-star, Chase Hatton, for an article.  Chase Hatton!  No one knows the power that name holds for her.  No one knows of the childhood friendship that blossomed into romance, only to abruptly die on the night of Hope’s senior prom.  No one knows of the ache that still fills her heart.  

What starts out for Chase Hatton as an average publicity trip to Chicago suddenly becomes complicated when his manager tells him that Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning.  He had spent eight years trying to forget Hope, and now she would be in his penthouse in a matter of hours?

When Chase opens the door to his penthouse and finds Hope on the opposite side, his heart begins beating a rhythm the rocker has yet to capture in any of his music.  The smoldering embers of their former romance are fanned by their mere proximity.  Will they both be burned again?  Can Hope ever trust her heart to Chase after what he did?  Can Chase bear to see her walk out on him a second time?  And what about Hope’s boyfriend, Phillip?  Where does he fit into the picture that Hope is developing?

And to give you a little taste for it, here’s a piece of the scene with that table tennis game:

Hope couldn’t remember what they had for dinner that night, only that it was delicious. At the end of the meal, she and Chase escaped to the garage for a game of table tennis. The garage was large, with a low, raftered ceiling holding bikes and boxes, and shelves built into all of the walls along the sides and back. It had a nice, damp, woody scent, albeit somewhat musty. There were center support poles running between the two garage doors, and on one side, a large table tennis table awaited.

                  The game started off friendly, but soon the pair’s natural sense of competition heightened and it escalated into a battle of major proportions. Hope couldn’t help but notice the muscles on Chase’s arms tightening as he played, his skin tanned from hours at the pool. He shook hair out of his eyes with a smile, and she felt her insides melt like the cheese oozing out of a grilled cheese sandwich.

                  Chase found he had his hands full, as the same twist of the wrist that sent a volleyball spinning, also sent a table tennis ball spiraling out of control. Hope had a knack for hitting the ball just close enough to knick the table before it tumbled out of bounds. Add to this the fact that he seemed distracted at times. She served and his reaction was just a tad slow as the ball hit the paddle, sending it into the net.

                  “Ohhh!” he groaned.

                  She grinned. “15-16.” The next serve he didn’t have a chance at.

                  “Geez! What was that?” Chase exclaimed as the ball whizzed past him.

                  “16 all!” Hope began hopping around.

                  “What are you doing?”

                  “My sandal strap came undone.” She set her paddle down and bent to fix it, and he went to retrieve the ball from where it had rolled behind a rake. After he scooped it up, his eyes swept across the floor under the table to where she curled her leg up to fiddle with the buckle. She caught his eye.

                  “Ouch!” he muttered under his breath with a half whistle.


                  They both straightened up, gazing across the table into each other’s eyes.


                  He bounced the ball to her.


                  “Damn straight!” he returned.

                  The battle raged back and forth until Chase stood ready to serve, the score 24-25, in Hope’s favor. Game point. But he wasn’t about to quit.

                  “You stick your tongue out when you’re concentrating.”

                  “I do not!” Hope replied, slightly embarrassed.

                  “Yes, you do. It’s cute.”

                  Hope felt her cheeks get hot. “You’re just trying to distract me,” she rejoined, shifting her feet from side to side like she did on the volleyball court, her paddle poised.

                  “Darned right I am! I can’t let myself get beat by a girl.”

                  Before he had even finished his sentence, Chase tried to zing the ball past her, but Hope’s reactions were too quick. With a flourish, she returned the ball, hitting it off the side of the table for the final time as she scored the winning point. She hooted and hollered, enjoying an elaborate victory dance on her side of the garage. Chase laid both hands on the table, appearing exasperated. Catching his glare, Hope stopped her dancing.

                  “Oh. That wasn’t very sportsmanlike of me was it?” She grinned. “Oh well!” And with that she started dancing triumphantly again.

                  “I’m going to kick your ass!” Chase taunted, coming around the table toward her.

                  “You and what army?” she threw back, skirting around to keep the table between them. Chase faked in one direction and moved in the other, but Hope wasn’t taken in. She laughed and darted about so as not to lose her positioning.




A little more about MJ:


MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.


You can find MJ Schiller at :



You can find Abandon All Hope and MJ's other books at :




10 replies on “Love Games by MJ Schiller”

Great post, Mary!  I'm thrilled to announce that my hubster and I love to go to Disneyland and CA Adventure and… PLAY!  I discovered the "Toy Story" ride at CA Adventure last trip (it is like a fantastic video game), and I adored it so much I put my back out.  LOL!  We're heading back soon, and can you guess what I'm aiming to ride first?  Toy Story!  But this time I will have Motrin and Icy Hot cream and…  🙂

I thought I had spotted a fellow gamester! It is seriously almost a joke with me. We'll go over to some of our friends' houses and I have to restrain myself for the first little while and chat before I burst out with, "Well, are we gonna play a game?" I guess I've never really grown up! I feel it is both a strength and a weakness. Thanks for coming by to play with us today, Deborah!

MJ, we're definitely two peas in a pod!  I'm all about the games–my girlfriends and I go out of town together twice a year and half the time is spent playing games. My husband and I used to play video games (Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 comes to mind) and computer games (You Don't Know Jack was always a favorite), but like you, we've transitioned to more kid-friendly games over the years. 

I've played You Don't Know Jack before! Fun game!  And you reminded me of a time in college when we rented a video game, I think it was Zelda, and we couldn't get this one part in an ice cave. You had to slide down this icy slope and super jump at just the right moment to get on this ledge where there was a door to get out. We played for hours, made the jump, and promptly fell off of the ledge. We played for hours more. My thumbs were aching so much, I went to bed. My husband stayed up until like 4 in the morning and beat it! Obviously back in the days when we got as much sleep as we wanted! Thanks for stopping in, Monica! I appreciate it!


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