I’m a professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, where I teach creative writing, women’s memoir, and composition/rhetoric. I have consistently challenged my students to play me in Scrabble, teasing them with the promise of an A if they beat me. So far, no takers. I’ve been playing competitive Scrabble for over fifteen years. I’m an intermediate level player, with no delusions or burning desire to be an expert. My husband, Marty Gabriel, has been a member of the U.S Scrabble team in the past three World Championships, playing with what he terms the Big Dic (the Big Dictionary, or the Collins, which is used in world play and is considerably larger than the Small Dic(tionary), used in North America.) He is also the co-record holder for most seven hundred-point games in club or tournament play. Marty and I have appeared in Scrabylon, Scott M. Petersen’s fine documentary about tournament Scrabble, available on Amazon and from Netflix.
My claim to fame comes not from Scrabble, but from my writing. My short stories and creative nonfiction have been or will be published in the Cream City Review, Pank, Other Voices, Oyez, The New Ohio Review, The Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, The Chicago Reader, Crab Orchard Review, Writing on the Edge, Women and Language, Lituanus, Mattoid, and Fourth River. My essay, “The Lithuanian Dictionary of Depression,” was a finalist in the American Literary Review competition in Creative Nonfiction; the ALR published the piece in its Summer 2010 issue. My memoir, White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010 and is available on Amazon.