Custer & His Naked Ladies. #3 in the Turtle Trilogy

finalcustercoverSee the book on Amazon

A modern-day Western novel…
See the book on my website: Janelle Meraz Hooper

PB & Kindle, suitable for New Adult (NA) and up. Amazon and others.

Published by iUniverse.

A few lines from Custer & His Naked Ladies, the third book in my Turtle Trilogy. Glory, all grown up now, lives in Seattle and has unexpectedly been left by her husband. She’s on a commuter plane between Ft. Worth and Lawton—on her way home to see her family…while she’s looking out the plane’s window, she ponders the past… 

Glory looked down at the barren landscape, after recognizing the pain and suffering of the settlers a part of her switched sides…A good example was Cynthia Ann Parker, a settler’s child who was kidnapped by Comanches in 1836 when she was nine-years-old, and later became the mother of Quanah Parker, who grew up to be a great Comanche chief. As a child, she must have been terrified when the Comanches carried her away but years later, when she was “rescued” by the white man, she didn’t want to return to the white settlement. She had become a Comanche heart and soul. She died of a broken heart when she was separated from her Indian family. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone?

Glory had read the stories about the Indian cruelty to the settlers, but little was said about the whites, like Cynthia Ann Parker, who had embraced the Indian way of life.
Still, the pain and suffering of the settlers couldn’t be ignored. Glory couldn’t imagine how she could survive if she were a mother whose child had been ripped away from her and carried off by a band of screaming Indians. Many of them never saw or heard from their child again. They must have spent the rest of their days wondering if it were alive or dead.

Glory looked down at the barren landscape. A part of her switched sides. So, you couldn’t wait to get rid of the Indians and get our land. What have you done with it? Nothing! Except maybe pollute it. Give it back! Glory tried to imagine the plains once again filled with buffalo and other game. Peaceful Indian villages would nestle next to the creeks…yeah, Glory interrupted herself, until a neighboring tribe came and set their teepees on fire…okay…so not all of the Indians’ troubles were caused by the white man.

The drink cart began to move down the aisle. A gray-haired woman on the other side of the plane leaned over the arm of her chair and softly asked Glory, “Pardon me, but I’m from New Jersey and I’m wondering if you’re a real Indian?”

“Funny you should ask. I’m going back home to try and figure that out!”

The woman didn’t know if Glory was being funny or rude. Why shouldn’t she be confused? She was!

“No, really,” Glory continued, “I was part-white and part-Mexican when my mother got remarried to a Comanche Indian when I was eight-years-old. I’m not really sure what I am!”

“I see. Perhaps you should convert to Judaism like me. Then your confusion would be complete.” She looked out her window, “We did our share of wandering in the desert. Of course, we didn’t have RVs,” she joked. Her eyes followed a caravan of recreational vehicles as they moved down the road, red dust billowing behind them.

“That’s not a bad idea. The only problem is I don’t think all of those cultures would fit on my sweatshirt.”

The stewardess came around with cold drinks and the woman struck up a conversation with her.

“Do you have any kosher Coke?” she teased.

“No Ma’am, but I have some kosher Pepsi.”

“That’ll do.”

Custer & His Naked Ladies. Book 3 of the Turtle Trilogy. Paperback and Kindle (etc.). Suitable for New-Adult and up. Published by iUniverse.


 “Janelle  Meraz Hooper has done it again! Custer & His Naked Ladies is filled with quirky and likable characters in a richly detailed setting. Humor, family, and love come shining through. There is a poignant line in the book that has stayed with me, “Old age had crept in and stolen their bodies while they were dancing through life…” These women have danced! VF Gibson, Seattle, WA

“I purchased Custer & His Naked Ladies at your booth on July 4th in Steilacoom and promised I’d let you know what I thought of it. After I finished it my husband decided to read it (We had both enjoyed A Three-Turtle Summer a few years ago)  so I waited to hear his comments. We thoroughly enjoyed the book. We both agreed that you are excellent at spinning a yarn and at painting a verbal picture of people and places. You can quote us on that! P.R., Tacoma

“I just finished reading your book “Custer & His Naked Ladies LOOOOVE it, excellent writing and story. It gave me a nice inside view of the wonderful culture of our American Indians. Good job, Janelle S.Z., Puyallup, WA

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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 New-fangled Thanksgiving Tradition, a short story

Note: this is one of the stories about my family that led up to The Turtle Trilogy, a series I wrote about sisters: A Three-Turtle Summer (the ladies as young wives), As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries (the ladies as mothers), Custer & His Naked Ladies (the ladies as senior citizens). This is the complete version of this story. Happy Thanksgiving!

See my other books and short stories: Janelle Meraz Hooper
A New-Fangled Thanksgiving Tradition
Janelle Meraz Hooper

Thanksgiving dinner was always the same at Mom’s, and that was how we liked it. In a changing world that created new stress by the minute, we could always depend on Mom’s turkey to be perfectly browned, and her cornbread dressing nicely laced with celery, wild pecans, and raisins. Giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas filled in every spare spot on our plate. There were no tortillas on this day—I suspect because there just wasn’t enough free counter space in the kitchen to roll them out. The rolls we ate were the packaged kind that came in a paper tray and were already partially cooked. The cranberry sauce that replaced the normal salsa was canned and always served on our fancy glass tray that had been around since Roosevelt put a turkey in every pot (or was that a chicken?).

Okay, so it wasn’t a gourmet meal, but it was good—and the large family that came to share it thought it was perfect. Almost every time.

But one year, when my mom and her sister were both close to eighty, my aunt arrived from California and brought her new-fangled ideas about tradition with her. Thanksgiving morning, my Aunt Pat got up early and beat my mom to the kitchen, determined to “California-ize” our turkey dinner. The first item on the menu that she changed was the cranberries―she used real ones. Mom was suspicious when she looked at the marble-sized fruit bubbling on the stove with bits of fresh orange peel. She didn’t like the looks of those orange shavings. To her, they looked like something that slipped past the food inspectors. Mom believed cranberry sauce should be pushed out of a can with those little ridges that showed her where to cut the slices. “No one will know what this stuff is,” she worried. “This isn’t what they’re used to. And it smells funny.”

My aunt stood her ground. Resigned to a cranberry failure, Mom went to the living room to relax and read the paper. She didn’t see my aunt pull my mom’s traditional cornbread dressing out of the oven and stir in a bag of fresh spinach. The last thing my aunt did before she left the kitchen was replace the table butter with an unidentified soy product she’d brought in her handbag from Santa Barbara that didn’t look, taste, or smell like butter.

The family was sitting down at the table when Mom pulled the dressing out of the oven and discovered that it’d turned green. Her sister told her it was the latest thing in California, and much healthier. Mom was appalled and predicted, “No one will eat it.”

And they didn’t. That bowl was passed around the table so often it looked like it was in its own special green orbit, and no one would touch it. On one of its last flights around the table, my cousin reluctantly put a spoonful on her toddler’s plate, but the kid broke out in tears, so my cousin took it off and hid it in her napkin. Finally, my aunt mumbled something about taking the dressing to the kitchen to heat it up. It never returned.

The fancy cranberry sauce met much the same fate. When it was passed around the table, everyone would try to get a portion that was not laced with orange peel. No one succeeded. Soon it entered its own orbit, crisscrossing the orbit of the green cornbread dressing. Around and around the table it flew until the contents of the bowl were just a fragrant red blur circling the Planet Table, not unlike the rings around Saturn.

Mom and her sister are both gone now, and I think of them often, especially around the holidays. Looking back, maybe green dressing and orange cranberries wouldn’t have been that awful. I should have at least tasted them. Although, sister rivalry being what it was, I’m sure Mom would have never forgiven me if I had.
It has been years since that dinner, but the saga of the New-Fangled Thanksgiving

Tradition lives on to this day. No one in our family will accept an invitation for Thanksgiving dinner without first inquiring, “What’s in your cranberries—and what color is your cornbread dressing?”

This story was originally published in Free Pecan Pie and Other chick Stories. Available in paperback & ebook. Published by iUniverse.

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