Take-A-Break SHORTS!

Yippee! I got all the current batch of Take-A-Break Shorts! uploaded to Kindle and they’re coming LIVE as we speak! They’re a great variety, why not try one?

Soon I think I’ll put some together in a print book too; I love print books.

Next will be more in the Otto & Sock series about the Mennonite guy and his mod girlfriend and how they manage staying together on spaceships roaming the solar system!

 

Oh, I have bee mulling ideas about historical fiction featuring Ma as she was growing up in the South Carolina barrier islands. She used to tell me wild stories about her and her brother Joe! I’m sure she would not mind me embellishing…lots. We’ll see, there’s so much to do!

Wow, if you get any of the Elise t’Hoot series be sure to start with The Might of Defiance about how Elise gets from Earth to communing with weird aliens far our into the galaxy.

Shameless promotion I know, but gee whiz I’m so proud of them all!

And The Winner is!

An Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure – Where Do You Stand?

  • Tolerance toward strangers versus Kill’em!
  • ‘Love your Neighbor’ no matter how distant versus ‘Hate the Sumbitches!’
  • Do you prefer characters who behave like real people? Like when there’s a crisis with plans and solutions being bandied and they turn to you for your erudite opinion…and you’re thinking of which color of M&Ms you like best?
  • Nearly all reputable scientists agree that human-caused Climate Change is a real danger with Big Oil pulling the strings. Think of the situation 100 years from now:
    • As Greenland and the Arctic melt, sea levels will rise to the point the mega-cities on the coasts of every continent will be underwater, no more Bangladesh…or Bronx.
    • In the US it is easy to imagine the millions of coastal HAVES will push out the Midwestern HAVE NOTS. So where will the Have Nots go? Rafts on the high seas?
    • Is it not reasonable to think the US government would go authoritarian to combat the chaos and maintain order? And extend borders from Pole to Pole for more natural resources national security?
    • If NASA stays on track, we sure could have colony planets light years away. Where better to send the poor, the displaced and the ‘malcontents’? “Out of sight…”
  • Finally, Elise t’Hoot is an illegal refugee going to college in Kentucky. Her scholarships are pulled so she needs cash for tuition. One thing leads to another. Such a girl CAN save not only this world, but others way out there as well. Perseverance, smarts, tolerance, faith in the power of love, and the gut feeling that her terrifying experiences like gang rape, family deaths and mass starvation need not be perpetuated because of caste or color, or what planet, they’re from – these are what make her strong.

Forget the label “Sci-Fi”, this series is about looking around without denial. The Earth is in dire straits with fossil fuels as the main cause and will get worse in the coming decades. Nobody you see or hear news about is worth more or less than you. Some people are capable of amazing generosity and love while some are capable of monstrous evil and outright depravity. A skinny illegal girl with pain and flaws CAN make a heap big difference to the ‘system’.

Disclaimer: The Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure is a true adventure with a wide variety of characters with wildly differing viewpoints. The winding and intertwining stories move fast and offer lots of surprises. There is technical wonder, winning and losing, suspense, violence and pity, even some well spaced-out romance (pun intended). Elise believes much as the author does, but she’s not so pedantic and most of the characters disagree a little or lots, sometimes with gunshots. They have their own problems and beliefs, you know? The environment of the colony planet of Tenembras is harsh enough to polarize the population with regard to aliens. That would be non-Humans, not just those considered to be sub-Humans. Couldn’t happen on Earth…

The Might of Defiance, Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure Book One by Mary Ellen Wall

Available quite soon at Amazon and other outlets for not much $$$ at all.

Only nine more volumes to go! If you’ve read this far you really must give the books a try J.

Help Me Choose?

I’m getting my dear Science Fiction series back on track and want to make sure I have a good cover.

It’s the next century. A Dutch illegal girl who needs college money signs on a military ship to colony planets where climate refugees and dissenters are sent. Book One is where they stop over to clean-up an old Dutch exploration ship’s mess. Little do they know the Dutch ship crashed into an alien’s ship…

The following books of the Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure series tell how she and the tree-like aliens transform the ragged, neglected colonies – and much, much more. Especially after they make friends with an alien AI.

Might of Defiance Fractal Cover

The rest of the series for the TOP choice has all the same background and different colors on the title parts.

For the BOTTOM cover, each book had a different NASA starry background.

The Might of Defiance print.jpeg

SO WHICH COVER DO YOU LIKE BETTER?

Just leave a comment either way! And THANK YOU!

Crazy Maniac About BOOKS!

Since I was a we little tyke, I’ve devoured books (I even ate part of one about the 3 Little Kittens). We didn’t have that many around the house so I read Mama’s few (Gone with the Wind and such) including the full set of Golden Encyclopedias. What an education for a single-digit kid!

The Bookmobile stopped by the shopping center we walked to for groceries (Winn-Dixie) and I really had to beg ’em to give me a library card. Oooh, how I treasured that card. They limited me to 3 books for a while, but extended it all the way to 10 after noting my care and fervency. Andre Norton and Arthur C Clarke were early favorites, and cook books – I started cooking all kinds of goodies. History and science were my absolute favorites, and I have the firm belief the Bookmobilers stocked more just for me.

The biggest shock about being on a ship far out to sea in the USNavy was being BOOKLESS but for the few I brought with me. Back in port: Buy more books NOW.  I don’t want to neglect the wonder of libraries, it’s just that the school libraries were substandard and the Louisville Free Public Library was way too far away to walk or bike. Yeah, the bus. The bus costs cash and transfers were daunting for a lone youngster.

Now:

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That’s over 7000 books in my cabin library! Plus a few hundred more elsewhere. And I write some as well! What else can I do but make an attempt sort a few out (including – sigh – duplicates)?

TA DA! a few years ago I started a BOOKSTORE! Old Lady Who? is named after Mama who adored Jimmyold lady who Rogers, the Blue Yodeler. It’s an Independent Bookstore among the thousands on Abe Books. I found myself amazed when I realized I hadn’t told any of you about it! Need a book? Give Abe Books a look and maybe do a search for Old Lady Who? I put one of these stickers on each order.

So, problem solved, right? Sell them until I have room to walk.  Of course not. Don’t worry, if I need therapy for this obsession, I’ll buy a BOOK on it!

book order

Cats with Clothespins

t'Hoot Book ListLest you think my writing muse escaped to the hinterland, I assure you folks I have been diligently working on the word. The stories that have been eating up my time are the ones I trying to publish! I’ve written a series of ten books about space and an exile planet and aliens and  about how a furtive refugee becomes a real leader. All hinges on the first one getting all the way through the process.

This time I’m attempting to run my own publishing imprint, with my own cover design and everything. You see with my last book, I farmed out nearly everything. The covers for those books are beyond sorry. Those first books were not a waste of thousands of bucks (not totally anyway) because I learned much in many areas. I thought I was doing pretty well this time.

These books are much tighter and better edited than the last ones. Instead of 500 brick-weight pages, these are about 250 pages each, more straightforward. I designed several covers and settled on one for the series that I think is striking. I bought interior format and cover templates ; that’s my words and design on their layouts. I bought my own ISBNs.Might of Defiance cover

You cannot snap your fingers and make an EPUB or MOBI file for an eBook. It took time to research programs, get one, find out it wouldn’t do what I needed, get another one, learn it, go to Amazon and get the book for it, yippee I have an EPUB and MOBI file! Oh the cover template is a Word file… it took a while to figure out how to turn that into a jpg.

Somehow using high resolution pictures and a bona fide professional template I still got the low-res gavel ponding when I submitted my print cover to the printer/distributer. I spent some more time on the cover and resubmitted it. I set off the ‘it’s too big’ siren. They said use OUR template. I downloaded it. It’s a PDF and I can’t do anything magic with a PDF unless I spend more cash every month as it’s a stupid subscription. That’s like a cow with the milking machine always hooked up and sucking. Poor cow – MOO.

I fixed the spine width and resubmitted the cover; the cover should be perfectly sized now. Three days later, SIRENS. “Your file is 12×15 and it should be 6×9!” Please account for the cover being on a 12 x 15 white page. I verified I signed up for print and the standard 6 x 9 with the typical front and back. I asked via customer service what the hay? A week later, no response except for another copy of the PDF template I cannot use.

Frustrated, I left that for a weekend and started putting the next volume into the Barto short legstemplate. It took all weekend. Using a template does not mean the works will trot into place into the correct spot all on their own like obedient little doggies. It’s more like cats with pinchy clothespins on their tails. Put you hand in there and see feel what you get.

Enough! I just wished to explain my bloggish absence! Perhaps next week I’ll have a spiffy new book to wave around with a cheesy grin. I did go to Wisconsin last month and came back with a couple pounds of white and orange parcels of wonder.  I have the cheese, will I have the published books?

A Life of an Obscure Self-Published Book

Mack sat quietly on the shelf day after day with his 19 copies. The Word Master, the man who had spent long nights to move the words  from his mind to a page Mack carried had lain inert for several cycles of sun reaching and retracting across the wooden floor.

Soon after, others arrived and saw the Word Master in the chair. They shuffled around, never thinking to choose a book to read. A big man, aggression clear in his black eyes held a box to our shelf and scowled. What reason would he have to make such unkind faces at us? If only he would touch one of us, we could connect with him, teach him things.

The horrid man raised a mighty paw and swept all 20 copies into a box. No reverent touch, he seemed afraid to make much contact at all. Jumbled with his brothers in the corrugated coffin, Mack thought back to the Word Master’s prophecy: “No one will read these, I wasted by life. I should take them to the dump and jump in 201402 Dump 264with them.” The kind Word Master would caress each spine; Mack loved his calloused fingers tracing the letters A. Macquarie. As the oaf handled the box as if to bust each book into pulp, Mack felt the communal consensus. They and the Word Master were headed for the dump.

A stranger grabbed a brother and shook him, frightening Mack. Why had the oaf brought them to this disorderly cavern? He heard a woman say, “This not a set of encyclopedias, this is what Abel had left over from peddling this science stuff to the schools in the lower 48.” She dropped the copy carelessly, making the covers pop apart and the pages splay and curl as in death.

“I gotta get to work. Do something with them, okay?”

The woman calmed the situation somewhat by lifting and examining the covers of each of us. She stacked us neatly in the box and carried us to a far part of the cavern, to a door with ‘Goodwill’ written in red on it.

“Hey, you have room for this one more box?”

The door vanished upward with a rumble, then rumbled back down with a loud click. Rough motion and new noises. Mack and his brothers went for a long ride.

St Vincent Donation 11062014 003Mack had thought the previous room a cavern, but this immense space dwarfed it. People and machines roamed here and there, busy like the tiny black ants the Word Master would mash with his bare feet. Why someone thought he and his kin should travel with toasters and bundles of multicolored cloth items, he could not say. They all arrived at a smaller area and were handled without any attempt at comprehension yet again. Oh no, a shelf should not be alive! How long would they languish in the alcove of mites and tiny spiders?

The odd woman drove a chair, amazing. He could see it because she held him her dainty hand. She riffled his pages. She read the page with the proud proclamation that Abel Macquarie had written those words in 2000. Mack reveled; it was first time any of his words had been read! Then GLORY! She put the box on her lap, took us to a person standing AND PAID MONEY. The Word Cabin June 2015 065Master said he’d not sold one copy, not one red cent. Now 20 copies sold at once!

The sweet woman took us to her cabin and the wooden floors made us all so homesick. What had they done with the Word Master? As he wondered, she began wiping each of our covers and placing us on a crowded shelf.

The heady hope and excitement ebbed. Day after day passed with the sun filling the room and leaving the room.

She woke him by wiping his covers again, and flashing him with something. She opened the cover and made tapping noises on the brightly lit tray on her table. Warily, he was determined not to fall for the siren call again. As giddy as we all had been, she never had the need to consult his graphs, and never became a treasured READER. She placed him back on the shelf to wait in limbo.

One sunny day as she tapped away at the bright tray, she clapped her little hands. Her chair whirred and she laid out papers and odd things. She took me from the shelf and wrapped me in the paper. NOBODY COULD SEE ME! How would anybody ever read me if they could not see me? What had I done to deserve being bound this way? Darkness, noises, thumping and bumping, despair!

The lady that ripped the paper away riveted his attention. She had the same energetic, probing aura the Word Master had. She bathed his fiber soul in joy with the words, “Permafrost Cores and Analyses from 1949 to 1999! EXACTLY what I needed!”

 

A Cabin-ette?

Instead of cleaning up the cabin as I planned to do and really intended to do, I have been writing more Otto Socks blueOtto and Socks stories. It’s slow going, especially when I deviate from the outline for the series. How can I not let the characters do what they want? I can’t force them, bend them to my will. Now I have to see if I can merge then latest one back into the outlined sequence.

With that frustration, I went out to enjoy the sunshine. I looked up the ridge behind the house and the image of a tiny cabin part way up popped into my head. I pictured the wide steps leading up to it. How would I get electricity up there? With juice, I could move my audio recording up there and Ma’s radio would never interfere again! I am on the edge of phone reception that far up (not at the cabin!) and could do even better with a 4G antenna for Download 090915 054WiFi! Then I could have internet, which I need to upload books to Abe Books. Did I mention I have a storefront there? ‘Old Lady Who?’ is the name, and is something I can do with a few hundred of my excess books. It would be great for uploading manuscripts, voiceover recordings, looking up references and tutorials!Science Books

Glancing back at the cabin, I noted the front gutter and the facing board it is hooked to are falling off. I am plagued by big fat boring bees. The well needs a protective shed, and has needed it for a couple decades. I looked back up the hill and the mini-cabin, the steps and the antenna had vanished. The concrete barrier to keep the ridge from encroaching on the back porch collapsed. I can’t turn on the front porch light because it trips the freezer circuit. The garage doors don’t work without brute force.

I wonder how much it would cost to build that little cabin-ette studio marvel?

 

Dynamite That Word Dam!

I could stand it no more! The quiet, patient laptop won me over Saturday. I made a pot of inky coffee and made a batch of oatmeal cookies so I could be up there in Sci-Fi land for the long haul. The cookies were made with very expired flour, expirOtto Socks anded oats, expired eggs, elderly, rock-hard sugar and crystallized sorghum in lieu of the brown sugar I didn’t have. They turned out fine and went upstairs with me to the writing closet. That was after I’d guzzled a cup and a half of the black brain-cleaner. With the coffee cup topped off, I fired up the computer and opened “Otto and Socks – Mama’s Big Fat Clue” and read through what I already had.

Then I stared at the screen. The term ‘writer’s block’ wafted through my head…NO! I am stronger willed than that and shall never succumb to a word-dam. I gulped some more java and imagined it etching big gaping holes in the word-dam, eroding it until it washed completely away.

I had the loose draft and had used it as an outline before. This time, I saw the great insufficiency of the draft; it didn’t account for the actual characters! Pfft! Write, write, slurp, write, gnaw, hours went by. I only wrote six pages in that multi-hour span, but they were so satisfying. That included two rounds of editing, and changing the title to “Otto and Socks – Mama’s Fat Packet of Clues”. Of course, that could change again, who knows.

I have over a dozen stories drafted that follow that story arc with the same main characters. I naturally would prefer to compile them into a single, cohesive novel. Yet the desire to try something different, to accept the Cats at My Deskchallenge of writing succinct stories instead of sprawling sagas, is very appealing to me. The main driver isn’t wanting to try the art form, per se, it is more related to how I present what I wrote to the world. Short stories will be much easier to record. They’d be short enough to post. Maybe. Dunno, they may morph into a contiguous book after all. My wild ideas that seem so cool and innovative at the cabin pale a bit by the time they reach the outer planets.

An example is the idea to take my five published Elise t’Hoot novels (and the last one not published yet) and split them Tenembrasinto at least two books each. A 400 page book is $15, and nobody wants to pay $15 for a paperback by an unknown author. I even thought up new titles and World of Our Ownimagined new covers. Download 090915 078I only went for the 400 page thing originally because I wanted to hook up with Baen Books and that was their requirement. Then picture a big BOXED SET!

Distant Trees

After reality sank in, I wanted the rest to match. Hmmm, most have a good division point, but they would need a bit of rewrite to have then each stand alone. NeighborsSince they’re self-published, I can do what I want with them. I think they would be much more accessible and easier to work with. At least I thought all that was fabulous this weekend. Now I’m very hesitant to mess with projects I completed when I have so many in queue, wanting me to hurry it up.

A Reader from Sentience to Senility

Mouse readingFrom the time I was a wee tot, I have loved BOOKS. Sure, at first I actually ate them, leaving slobbery gnawed scallops in the covers of my Little Golden Books. When I started READING them, I was so sad I’d eaten Mama Cat’s head (The Three little Kittens). You know, the three little kittens lost their mittens and they began to cry, “Oh Mother dear, we sadly fear….” Yup, I ate Mama’s head so she couldn’t hear them cry.

The funnies in the Courier-Journal newspaper were great to learn on because they were illustrated. Peanuts was good because Schultz used a good variety of words. Andy was a bald kid who never spoke – phooey! Beetle Baily was okay, and it was funny all the ways the Sarge would yell at Beetle. I remember I would cheat and sneak at look at the puzzle answers, then pretend I’d solved it myself. When I could really solve it myself, it was too elementary and I found harder puzzles.Science Books

Ma had a small plant stand with a bookshelf underneath. The only books I remember being there at this moment were Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell) and The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck). Other kids were watching Spot Run, Run Spot Run while I was reading about Scarlett making a dress from her curtains. Gosh, I thought that was neat. Not our curtains, though, they were from the Dollar Store. Dad was on a minesweeper in the Korean War, so I thought the Chinese were bad because of some of the things I’d heard about the war. Ms. Buck showed me another side of China, something much more human than a gun.

Such a marvel is a Bookmobile! Ma and I walked to the grocery every week and I convinced her to visit the Bookmobile that parked in the broad parking lot between W. T. Grants and Woolco Department Store. I got books on her card until the driver finally said I could get my very own. Victory! The first book I ever checked out using my own card was The Jargoon Pard by Andre Norton. Wow! I got the limit every week and read them all.

Ship BooksI still have the first set of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien) I got, paperbacks. Then I got a book club set in hardback. That edition has what I believe is a typo, where Gollum has a griping hand. Come on, it has to be a gripping hand! About ten years ago I got a Folio Socity set; posh, precious, read multiple times.  I also have the calendars, Leaf By Niggle, the elven lore books, the commentaries, all I could find. Then everything by C. S. Lewis: All seven Narnia stories in boxed paperback , in hardback and in Spanish, plus Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, The Screwtape Letters…get an author I like and I must acquire them all! Very frustrating about Dune. I had all of the original books by Frank Herbert. Then his son and another guy started making more. And more. And more? The idea of it being a franchise mill wars with my desire to have ‘the whole set’.

I have two sets of Encyclopedia Britannicas, one is from a guy’s trunk 30 years ago, paid him $200 (they were recent then). I have about 50 books on sewing and textile crafts. I have all David Brin , Arthur C. Clarke, Greg Benford and Ben Bova ever wrote as well as all of Richard Adams, Anne McCaffery and Ursula K. LeGuin. I have four feet of shelf space for Physics, six for Navy, andScience Books another eight feet for repair-fix it-construct it-design it books. There are about 200 cookbooks in the kitchen, all cooking methods and many ethnicities. That doesn’t count the 30 or so on growing and using fruit.

All together, that makes about 5000 total now on all subjects in all genres and I still devour books.

 

 

I Have A Few Books

Ship BooksBread cookbooksI cannot seem to take a picture aound the cabin that does not include BOOKS. I’ve been obsessed with 071415 022books since I chewed up my Little Golden Books so long ago. I take a shot of a dress I made and there are a few hundred fiction books to keep it in style.

Cookbooks? How could I not have more cookbooks than I could ever consult?

BWBooks Order 122915
Buy Books By the Box

 

If you ever need a reference on Mesoamerical cultures, I got ’em.

Indian Books

 

Are we travelling somewhere? I cannot plan a trip without getting a country Insight Guide and  a Lonely Planet Guide, and maybe some city or feature specific ones too.

 

Travel Books 2 Travel books 1

Language books with scrabbleYou’d want to know the languages there, wouldn’t you?

 

And how about some cultural and geographic background? Or some fiction based on whatever locale? Or even something on the

Science Booksexploits of that country’s most famed paleontologists or physicists?Dinosaur

 

Lab Dog by Keeping Watch

3 sheep on books

 

 

 

 

Gargoyle Winged
My Library Guardian
Laptop with Ale
As if there aren’t enough, I must MAKE MORE BOOKS!