A Three-Turtle Summer, #1 in my Turtle Trilogy


#1 in my Turtle Trilogy
suitable for most NA and adults
Amazon and others, PB & Kindle.
Published by iUniverse.

See this book on Amazon

See all of my books and stories: Janelle Meraz Hooper

Read the book- Amazon and other Internet bookstores. Published by iUniverse. 

Janelle Meraz Hooper gives us more than a story. She gives us a cast of hilarious and memorable characters in a vividly drawn scene. Libroseninguana.com

 Light-hearted writing, deep and disturbing content, October 31, 2013 by James R. Muri
This review is from: A Three-Turtle Summer (Paperback) 4 stars
Janelle – our author – has written a novel that disguises years of horror and despair behind cozy country anecdotes, dialogue, and situations. To me, this reads like a psychological thriller / chiller, made all the more so by the calm and carefree rhetorical style used throughout.

To some this would be disconcerting; to me, Janelle has produced a piece of genuine art. If you’re looking for warm fuzzies in a story, the only warm fuzzy you’ll find in this one is basic survival and triumph. I found it impossible to put down. I was struck – to keep hammering on this – by how deeply contrasted the prose and peril were. Excellent read, excellent work, Janelle.

By Marmalade on May 3, 2014 5 stars
This is a gripping story of domestic abuse fueled by the high level of racism existing in Oklahoma in the late forties. It documents the cruelties suffered by the Hispanic, Japanese and African American of that era.

Grace, the youngest daughter of a close-knit Hispanic family, lives in constant terror of being assaulted by her bigoted, mean-spirited husband, Dwayne. She suffers her beatings in silence fearing he will take her daughter, Glory, away from her. Grace is a talented seamstress and with the help of her family devises a plan to be free of her abuser while he is away on military leave.

The characters are fleshed out and the action is fast paced and full of suspense. This is a terrific read that offers hope to the victims of abuse and racism. Well done.

2002 Bold Media 1st place fiction award

Next: As Brown AS I Want: The Indianhead Diaries

Custer & His Naked Ladies

(All books stand alone)

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Excerpt, A Three-Turtle Summer


My website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

See the book on Amazon

A Three-Turtle Summer

The first book in my Turtle Trilogy

Grace has to dump a man who is meaner than a rattlesnake and dumber than adobe…

Fort Sill, Oklahoma, July, 1949
It was too hot to play cards, especially if someone were keeping score, and Vera was.
Ay, carumba! You can’t stand to go two hours without beating someone at something can you?” Grace Tyler playfully pouted.

Vera ignored her little sister, and began shuffling cards as she gleefully announced, “Senoras, the game is canasta, and we’re going to play according to Hoyle.” She began to deal the cards like a Las Vegas gambler while Pauline laughed and pointed at her mother, a notorious and frequent card-cheater.

Everyone was hot, but in her long-sleeved shirt and long skirt, Grace was sweltering. Sweat beaded up on her forehead and neck and she kept stretching her legs out because the backs of her knees stuck to her skirt.

“Gracie, for God’s sake, go put some shorts on,” Vera said.

Grace ignored her sister, pulled her shirt away from her perspiring chest and asked,

“Anyone want more iced tea before Vera whips the pants off of us?”

Momma and Pauline both nodded and Grace poured tea over fresh ice cubes while Vera got a tablet and pencil out of her purse.

The room was almost silent as each woman arranged her hand. Only Momma barely tapped her foot and softly sang a song from her childhood under her breath:

“The fair senorita with the rose in her hair …
worked in the cantina but she didn’t care …
played cards with the men and took all their loot … awh-ha!
went to the store and bought brand new boots … ”

“Awh-Haaa!” Grace’s five-year-old daughter Glory joined in.

Paperback, Kindle (etc.) Suitable for adults. Bold Media 1st place award winner, novel category. iUniverse.

Book 2 of the Turtle Trilogy: As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries. iUniverse.

Book 3 of the Turtle Trilogy: Custer & His Naked Ladies. iUniverse. 

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A few lines from As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries

browncover-pix3from Walt this oneAs Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries
The Adventures of Little Paintbrush and Snake Belt

My website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

See:  As Brown As I Want on Amazon

A few lines from As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries: The 2nd book in my Turtle Trilogy. Participant in the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. Published by iUniverse.

A fictional autobiography/black comedy about a little girl straddling two worlds between a murderous white father and a Hispanic family who loves powwows…

…Ruth, one of Mom’s Comanche friends, has invited us to a big powwow where they put up tepees and camp out for days. Mom says we’ll all go for one night and sleep in Ruth’s mom’s tepee. We can’t stay longer because Mom has some shirts to finish for a band down in Texas. Besides, at powwows, she has to pass for Indian.

       She only knows one Indian word Ruth taught her that’s supposed to fit in anywhere, but Mom says she starts to feel uncomfortable after the thirty-second “Huh!”

       Carlos and I think that’s real funny because Mom says “Huh?” all the time anyway because she can’t hear. Carlos and I don’t know any Indian words, so we’re not supposed to talk to any grownup Indians at the powwow.

       We’ve been going to these powwows for years, since Mom is such good friends with Ruth and her mother, Mildred. Sometimes, we’ll be out driving in the country in Mildred’s old Hudson when another car will pass us in a cloud of red dust. When they realize they’ve passed Mildred, they’ll slam on the brakes and spin around right in the middle of the road to chase us down and tell us there’s a powwow somewhere or other. Lots of times, we’ve left for the dance right from that very spot. When you’re with Mildred, you never know where you’ll end up but, wherever it is, you know it’ll be fun, and if Mildred’s cooking, you know you’ll eat well. She always carries a couple of wrought iron skillets in the trunk of her car, in case someone gets hungry...

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Happy Caesar Chavez Day!

Happy Caesar Chavez Day!

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See my books and stories! Janelle Meraz Hooper

   What was a Chicano? That day, someone in my third grade had called me one, but I’d never heard the word before. What did it mean? My best guess was that it was some kind of Catholic. I tried to think: was there a Chicano bead on my rosary? Which one could it be?

   I wondered about this strange new word all the way home. Gramma was in the kitchen pulling a pan of bread pudding out of the oven when I walked through the door. The smell of cinnamon and raisins wafting through the air didn’t deter me from asking her, “Gramma, what’s a Chicano?”  She was quick with her answer, “a Chicano is a Mexican who doesn’t work,” she said with disgust in her voice as she handed me a plate with a slice of bread pudding. Her underlying message, one that I picked up on immediately, was: a Chicano is a troublemaker. We don’t have any in this house. Here, everybody works.

  This was in the 1950s. I remembered that I’d seen gramma watching the news on her tiny black and white television set. There were many stories about the farm laborers in California marching and demanding better pay and more humane treatment. Gramma would clinch her fists and mutter at the man who seemed to be making all the trouble, “Ain’t you got no shame?”   

  As the matriarch of a large family, she was fearful about the impact of the marches on us, even if they were in California and we were in Oklahoma. When I was a baby, the Klu Klux Clan had thrown a rock through her window when they were marching to colored town. At the time, she was alone with a houseful of kids because grandpa was off working somewhere. Their torches and robes had given her the fright of her life. Ever since then, our family had kept a low profile in the community; gramma liked to say we kept our nose to the grindstone and didn’t cause any trouble. I knew no one in our house would be marching anywhere. Ever.

   So, I wasn’t a Chicano. But what was I? I often wondered. Some called me a Mexican. Some said we were Spanish. Nowadays, I have even more choices: my mother’s side of the family calls me white, like my father. My dad’s side of the family calls me Spanish, like my mother. My government calls me Hispanic or Latino. The forms I fill out give me two choices: White-Hispanic or Hispanic-White. It amuses me that my government can’t make up its mind which comes first.

   To me, I’m just me, an American. I like to think I can fit in anywhere, even in a Chicano protest if I should ever find myself in California. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that the man who had my gramma so upset was Caesar Chavez. He became an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO), a Latino civil rights group. In 1962, he left CSO and founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Delores Huerta. Soon after that, Chavez and the NFWA led the famous strike of the California grape pickers that lasted five years. Five years! Pretty good for a man who “had no shame”.  I was too young to understand what he stood for back then, but I know now. Caesar Chavez Day is March 31st. Maybe I’ll look around and see if there are any festivities remembering what he did for all farm laborers. I ain’t got no shame, either.

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Custer and His Naked Ladies, excerpt

finalcustercoverCuster and His Naked Ladies

A modern-day Western

Amazon and other Internet bookstores

Paperback and Kindle

an excerpt

Janelle Meraz Hooper

1.      Dumped 

      Glory was on her way to join her husband on a NOAA research vessel when she tried to call him to say she was running late. That was when she discovered he wasn’t on the ship; without telling her, he’d pulled out of the offshore project days before. With that failed phone call, all of her recent, uncomfortable inklings fell into place. Her marriage was over. He just hadn’t gotten around to telling her yet.

That was how she ended up at Sea-Tac Airport, halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, with her hair in braids, wearing a pink Where’s the Powwow? sweatshirt. She carried only her wallet, a camera, and a faded blue gym bag. The bag was filled with the same kinds of clothes she was wearing, a few books, and a photo of her husband. The photo—frame and all—she chucked into a trash barrel outside the airport. She would have liked to toss it out of the airplane, but she was pretty sure it would make the stewards cranky if she opened the emergency exit at 35,000 feet.   

            Her original destination, the research vessel, was scheduled to drop anchor over the undersea volcanoes off the coast of Washington State. The scientists on the ship were to study the marine life that thrived in the hot water that spewed out of the craters.

            After the research trip, she and her husband, Rick, were to take a much-needed vacation to Mexico and reconnect. They hadn’t had any identifiable problems, but her husband had been moody and refused to talk about it. Glory had hoped he would open up after a few days rest on a hot sandy beach with a Margarita in his hand. Rick hadn’t been in favor of the vacation, but Glory had insisted. Finally, he had thrown up his hands and given up.

Before the research trip, he had convinced her to put all of their things in storage because they didn’t know if they’d be back in Seattle when the project was over. There was no use, he’d said, in paying rent while they were gone.

It made sense.

Sort of.  

But why hadn’t she been suspicious when he’d insisted on putting all of his things into separate marked boxes? How dumb was she? The dirty rat! And what would she have done on the research ship without him for three weeks? Her specialty was in freshwater turtles; there would be no real work for her there. No paycheck. He was the specialist in coastal underwater volcanoes. He belonged there. She would have been nothing more than a guest with no way off the boat. Her cheeks burned at the embarrassment she felt. What was he thinking?

Her new destination was her mother’s in Oklahoma. Getting a last minute ticket was expensive, and Glory was thankful for her credit cards. No one ever went to Oklahoma unless they had to, and airline tickets to the Sooner State were never a bargain. Glory handed the woman at the check-in counter her credit card and mumbled a quote from a rich friend, “All it takes is money.” The woman briefly looked up, then, expressionless, continued adding up the full fare charges on her keyboard.

On her way to the airplane boarding area, over and over, Glory thought, this isn’t the way normal, educated people get divorced.

I’ve been dumped!

With no explanation.

No discussion.


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