I’m a book designer. I started designing books over ten years ago when my husband Ed, an author who has published with Skinner House and Berkley, asked me to format several of his unpublished manuscripts and prepare them for publication. We began with Lulu.com, an online publication and printing service. It was the only one we had heard of. The books I created were professionally produced with high quality components. Soon after that, we discovered Create Space. My hobby became my free-lance business—Publishista®. I now work with Ingram Spark, Kindle Direct Publishing (previously Create Space), Lightning Source, Nook Press, and Smashwords.
I’m a storyteller. I began telling stories when I was little, and I think I drove my parents crazy. I’d stand on the hump of the family Oldsmobile with my elbows planted on the back of their seat and go on and on, regaling them with adventure after adventure. When I ended one story, I’d say, “And then . . .” and start up again. I give my parents credit. They never told me to shut up.
I’m a writer. My slice-of-life storytelling draws inspiration from rich experiences with diverse cultures, quirky personalities, and unusual encounters while living, working, and raising a family in New York, Delaware, Vermont, Ontario, Quebec, Ohio, and Illinois.
I’m a former teacher. I taught the art of writing to Chicagoland middle-schoolers, whose curiosity, energy, and enthusiasm for life gave me insight into the dreams of the sometimes disregarded. At the middle school where I taught, there is an Ellie Searl Writing Award given at the end of the year to the most talented writing student at each grade level. I am humbled by this tribute to my passion for writing.
I’m from the Adirondacks. I grew up in Westport, NY, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, on Lake Champlain, where Thomas Lee invented the Adirondack chair in 1903. I think it's that chair that shaped my spirit and saved me from the jitters so many city people seem to have. It's impossible to sink into an Adirondack chair without sinking into a meditative state. I particularly liked to sit at the edge of the lake and watch the sun rise over the Green Mountains. Magnificent country. When I was young, I couldn’t wait to get out of the backwoods and live in the city, where I’d be with-it and sophisticated. Now that I don’t care so much about being with-it and sophisticated, I’d like to go back home.
I’ve moved. Frequently. And have had lots of jobs. While my husband was pursuing his post-graduate degrees and establishing his career, my family moved over twelve times, and I worked where we landed—in Wilmington, DE, Burlington, VT, Ottawa, ON, Montreal, QC, Syracuse, NY, and Youngstown, OH (where I thought I would die of ugly fever but worked toward a master’s degree instead). I’ve held jobs as an elementary teacher, reform school childcare worker, group home parent, orthodontist's chair assistant, instructional supervisor, guidance counselor, middle school English and literature teacher, English as a foreign language teacher, Kindergarten assistant, apartment and condominium rental and sales agent, gem and jewelry salesperson, receptionist, and a multi-grade teacher at a private school/daycare center in Chicago, owned by a family that also owned a shady towing service on the North Side.
When we lived in in the Chicago area, I liked the excitement and activity of the city, but I didn’t like the flat landscape, even though it provided longer sunsets and lots of corn. My husband Ed and I currently live in Chadds Ford, PA, at the edge of the Delaware Arc. We’re surrounded by Revolutionary War Battlegrounds, Dupont history, old stone buildings, miles and miles of stone walls, horse trails, and rolling hillsides. Our daughter Katie lives in Brea, CA, with her husband Mike and their two children, Brett and Bridget.
Whenever possible, I visit my hometown to play in the Adirondacks and walk the shores of Lake Champlain.
What does all this have to do with book design?
“Experience seeps into the imagination and makes the creative spirit explode with novelties—like rice noodles hitting hot oil.” Ellie Searl