In the last seven years, I’ve self-published six books and three cookbooks. From where did the ideas come? What’s the back story of each? During this week, I will share each back story, so get ready!
The list of my books:
- This Tumbleweed Landed, 2014
- When Will Papa Get Home?, 2015
- Let Me Tell You a Story, 2016
- A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, 2017
- Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, 2020
- Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, 2021
The list of my cookbook series:
- From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook – Pies, Cakes & Christmas Candy, Volume 1, 2014
- From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook – Beverages, Cookies, Meats, Vegetables, Mis. & Records of a Rancher’s Wife, Volume 2, 2015
- From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook – Casseroles, Mexican Dishes, Relish, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts, Volume 3, 2016
All of my books come from my life, except for the biography of Marshall Flippo.
This Tumbleweed Landed Back Story
In 1992, I wrote most of this book in a professional development class for teachers, The National Writing Project. The leader shared a variety of children’s picture books with our class as writing prompts. One book caught my eye, Cynthia Rylant’s Waiting to Waltz, A Childhood. This book’s format opened the door for me for my book. She wrote short vignettes, poetry about people, places and experiences in her hometown of Beaver. The dancing title attracted me to her book, also.
After reading it, I went home and wrote forty-seven poems about my childhood reminisces of living in a rural town in southeastern Colorado during the fifties and sixties. When organizing the book, I divided it up into eight sections:
- The Horners Danced!
- Mud Pies and Makeup
- The telephone’s Impact
- My Favorite Places
- The Ranch
- Neighbors and Kin
- Saturday Night
- Summer Time—Work and Fun
To following Cynthia’s model of having an illustrator, I asked a lifelong friend, J. R. Gilstrap to illustrate it. He created four drawings that captured the essence of the book.
Sadly, I put it away for twenty-one years, busy with life, teaching and traveling. My mom died in March 2013, and I retired, and I needed something to replace the hours I spent caring for her in her last days. I turned to this dear old friend and revived it. Visiting my childhood memories soothed my broken heart and helped me heal.
In December 2013, I attended the Black Mesa Writing Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a snowy weekend, changing the direction of my book completely. Before this workshop, it was a collection of poetry only. One workshop teacher suggested expanding the vision of my current project. She offered, “Think differently about it. Do a paradigm shift.”
As I pondered her suggestion, I thought the only way to expand it was to add prose. So, I started the book with a piece of prose explaining the origin of the book’s title. After several relocations in my life, my old cowboy dad said, “A tumbleweed has to land somewhere. Where are you going to land?” Thus, my title!
Thinking about this change, I remembered I had written several essays in that same professional development workshop about my country living, so I added:
- The First Time—helping on the ranch
- My Sore Bottom—horseback riding
- The Sting of the Rind—watermelon rind fight
After publishing this book, I had a funny thing happen. One poem in the book, “Saturday Night and Lawrence Welk” referenced Cissy King, who was a dancer on his show. She was one of my childhood heroines! I found out she lived in Albuquerque, and a friend gave her a copy of my book. After reading my book, she signed the page under the poem and sent it to me. It’s a veritable treasure of mine to this day!
Each book has a story behind it, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. What are your thoughts about the back story to my first book? Be sure and leave a comment below.
Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com