Blogging · Goals · Gratitude · My Books · My Thoughts · poetry

A Challenge for Thirty Days! Whew!

Man in rapids in a kayak - challenge

The Ultimate Blog Challenge, Day 30, is today and I have mixed feelings about its ending. I finished the challenge of writing a blog post every day in November, missing only one day—the first day because I didn’t know about it. A friend in my writing practice group told me about it long, long ago on November 2. So, I started that day and continued successfully until I had network issues one day and had to publish two blog posts the next day. The challenge also asked us to post links on our Facebook and Twitter pages, adding the hashtag #blogboost on Twitter. The next step: post on The Ultimate Blog Challenge Facebook page. Finally, read, comment and post on Twitter 1 – 2 other blogs in the Challenge.

What did I learn in this challenge?

I truly enjoyed writing a blog post every day. Because I had returned to Natalie Goldberg’s writing practice every day in March 2021, it came easier. I outlined topic themes for the four weeks at the beginning:

  1. Writing help—SWAG, doing successful interviews, how I select my blog topics and the value of writing groups
  2. Back Stories for each of my six books and three cookbooks—there’s always a story behind the story
  3. My poetry—I found a sketchbook/journal with several poems I had forgotten about and shared them
  4. Gratitude list & things I was grateful for—I shared about my recovery, key people from my life and my dear pets
  5. I chose two suggested prompts from the Ultimate Blog Challenge & then wrote about my newest adventure: audiobooks

Being organized at the beginning with this outline made the writing every day easy. I didn’t have to search for topics. Being new to this, I didn’t realize topics were provided every day. Also, I created a blog post page with the social media icons in it for each day to make life easier. Normally in my weekly blog posts, I love to add a couple pictures, but I found a wonderful plugin that reduces the size of the picture tremendously and that helps because I have a horribly slow network, and it made my life much easier.

My big take-away: I relearned how much I love to write and share my voice with the world.

What did I enjoy?

I thoroughly enjoyed my topics, especially my gratitude week. Coincidentally or not, the day I planned to write about my dear friend Kathi Raver Miller was the anniversary of her death. I savored each word.

Also, I took pleasure in reading the wonderful posts by the other participants. I learned so much and saw how others handled the challenge. Every blog post I read entertained, educated or consoled me! You can’t beat that!

What was a hassle?

I do my blog in wordpress.com, and it has so many helpful hints which have made me a better writer. But every day I went through the list of suggestions to tailor that post to have both green light (good) in SEO (Search engine optimization) and Readability. In the past, frequently, I have had problems with the Readability score because I write complex sentences. It suggests writing shorter sentences, so I worked hard this month and ended up with a lot of green lights for Readability—yahooo!

Also, my brother visited us for Thanksgiving, so I worked super hard Wednesday night and did two—for Wednesday and Thanksgiving. So, I all I had to do on the holiday after gorging on our delicious meal and watching nonstop football was clean it up and publish it and then do the required assignments!

Would I do it again?

Again, I have mixed feelings about it. It took a lot of work to do it, but the regularity of writing significant pieces every day rewarded me deeply. Yes, I think I would.

Finally,

do + dooubt - challenge

I never once doubted I would finish the challenge. I’m just that type of person. I love a wonderful challenge and couple that with one of my passions and it’s a win-win situation for sure!

What did you think? Did you like it? What was your favorite blog post of mine?


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

STILL AVAILABLE! Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! If you liked my blog posts, you’ll love my books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

My Books · My Thoughts

Audiobooks: My New Adventure!

Girl listening to audiobooks

Audiobooks? Do you listen to them? Seven years ago, after I published my first book, my cousin asked me if I had thought about producing an audiobook—that she would love to hear my words in my voice. I bought a mic and played with it, but I realized I needed more instruction. Then I got busy with writing five more books, and I forgot about audiobooks..

For the last couple years, I’ve heard repeatedly I needed to have my books in audiobook format! So, I jumped in!

Here’s Some Interesting Audiobooks Statistics:

More than 45 percent of American adults responding to recent annual surveys now claim to have listened to an audiobook at some point in their lives. . .”

https://www.statista.com/topics/3296/audiobooks/#dossierKeyfigures

“In 2020, the association’s report says, more than 71,000 audiobooks were published in the United States, up 39 percent over 2019.”

My New Effort

So, in December 2020, I bought a video training program to learn how to do audiobooks, Audiobooks Made Easy, by Derek Doepker. Excited, I viewed the first couple of videos. One of them identified what equipment I needed, so I bought it all immediately:

  • Microphone
  • Microphone stand
  • Music Stand
  • Pop filter
  • Ear phones
  • 2 TB external hard drive to save to because my laptop has limited space

The boxes came in and I gathered them together in a pile in our walk-in closet. Then my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? took over my life! Every time I walked by the stack of tech supplies, I winced and thought, “I have to do the training so I can get going on my audiobooks.” But I had no extra time.

Then this summer, Lin, my husband, gingerly asked one day, “When are you going to use that stuff?”

Embarrassed, I defended my time commitments with my new book and then promoting it and promoting my other books.

He encouraged me, saying, “I was just wondering.”

That became the impetus to get me going. I set up a schedule to finish the training and wrapped it up.

I had been mulling over in my mind where to record. We have a large walk-in closet off of our bedroom, so the back end became LHM Recording Studio (Lin’s name suggestion). I had 3 seven foot poles I used in a Native American unit as a teacher to make a lifesize teepee for students to read inside. Remembering them, we used one to hang up a quilt to cut down the size of the space.

Quilt I hung to record audiobooks
LHM Studio

Next, I recorded several two-minute samples to send to Derek to see how my sound was. Yes, I said several, because it was a learning curve. After a couple of samples, Derek suggested I review the videos on editing, so I did, and it helped tremendously.

As I continued, I had an embarrassing moment. The microphone has a blue light that comes on whenever I plugged it into my laptop. Because of the blue light, I thought it was on. I had never checked to see if it was on. No, it wasn’t! How it recorded any sound was mind boggling, but it did faintly.

Then when I set up my pop filter in front of my mic, I followed the picture on the box of the pop filter. It had the mic pointed straight up, so that’s what I did. I took pictures and sent them to Derek. He questioned why I had the mic pointing up instead of towards my mouth!!

Larada recording audiobooks wrong
See mic pointed straight up instead of towards my mouth!

Finally,

I sent a sample to Derek, and he gave me the go-ahead! Yahoooo!

I plan to finish Let Me Tell You a Story, using a schedule of two chapters a day. Then I will record my current book and hopefully do a couple more of them. Two of my books—A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir and Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo is too long for the audiobook format.

Another great resource: Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasts and Voice Technologies by Joanna Penn.

What’s your thoughts? Would you be interested in one of my audiobooks? Let me know!


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

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

Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sales Ad

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

My Books · My Thoughts · poetry · Writing

Future Possibilities & Poetry

what's possible? possibilities

Possibilities? As I face the future as a writer, I wonder about posts I read online, about authors needing inspiration. I don’t have that problem. I have five or six books lined up in the future. Three or four of them are poetry books! These pieces whisper to me often in the dark of night, begging me to breathe life into them.

I also have a couple of short stories I’ve played with, and I have a delightful collection of Christmas memories.

As a self-published author, I do all the work, so I have kept busy promoting my books, especially my last two. I’ve concentrated on my book business the last couple months, wanting to expand possibilities. I recently realized I need to focus on my e-book sales online and boost that in all the different formats.

So, along that line, I just finished training to create audiobooks, so that’s my next venture. The training is Audiobooks Made Easy by Derek I bought the training last December then got busy finishing up my new book. I started the training immediately last year. I bought all the supplies suggested: specialized mike for audiobooks, sheet music stand, recording microphone stand, ear phones and pop filter. Sadly, they have gathered dust in my walk-in closet (where I plan to record) until now, but I plan to start recording this week.

My plan is to start with my shortest book, Let Me Tell You a Story, to learn the process. Then I plan to record my current book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?. Then I plan to continue with This Tumbleweed Landed and When Will Papa Get Home? Right now, I doubt if I will record my two longer books: A Time to Grow Up and Just Another Square Dance Caller.

Future possibilites

Future Possibilities—My Line-up of Books:

  • Three or four poetry books
    • Watch a Poet Grow: Where It All Began #1—my early poetry
    • Watch a Poet Grow: Look at Life Look #2—my later poetry
    • Watch A Poet Grow: Haikuin’ Life #3—haikus about my daily life
    • Watch a Poet Grow: The Death of a Marriage #4—poetry record of my third divorce
  • I Said, “Yes!”—how to write a biography or memoir
  • Eye Witness to Life—a fiction I wrote in 2016 during NaNoWriMo
  • This Tumbleweed Landed #2—continuation of my first poetry book

How about some Cinquains?

“The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines.”

https://poets.org/glossary/cinquain

In 2002, I took a poetry class from the University of New Mexico’s Continuing Education, and I wrote the following cinquains. They are cinquains loosely-defined but have no rhyming pattern.

Sunshine

light playing on

my skin, a reminder

that life will go on no matter!

I shine!

Cooking

fresh food ready

green cut aroma fills

the room and the space in my heart.

Refresh!

Land where?                                           

A tumbleweed

bounces against barbed

wire fence, gets caught for a moment!

Now gone!

My words 

my life caught in

a box, limited yet

real! I want to communicate.

Let’s talk!

Music

touches the deep.

I move to the beat. My

soul reacts to the sound and moves!

How come?

Playful

childlike laughter,

like bells ringing in the

chapel — angels swinging their wings

out loud.

Life force

Sensual light

burns deeply in my heart,

ignites with any willing soul

Alive!

Of what 

are my dreams made?

Fluff, a sprig of cedar,

Flesh and bone and sawdust sprinkled!

Gone soon!


As you can see, I’m not done! As I referenced yesterday, I’m a Baby Boomer with a purpose! I love having future possibilities to look forward to—that’s the only way I can live!

Finally

This week, look for poetry—a variety of it, ranging from my early poetry to some of my recent haikus. Recently, after my walks, I have recorded a couple of haikus that came to me as I enjoyed being out in nature. I believe in possibilities, and I see them everyday all around me.

What are your future projects? Do you plan ahead? Share your thoughts below!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - possibilities

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

family · My Books · My Thoughts

One Cookbook or More?

My Cookbook Series
My Cookbook Series

After Mom died in 2013, I wanted to make a cookbook of all of her delicious, time-tested recipes. The plan grew from one into three. This happened, but you need to know—I’m not the cook Mom was! She was fabulous and loved every minute.

Over her 84 years of life, Mom collected recipes. She tried them, graded them, and wrote them out in her delicate cursive handwriting. And she tried many of them out on us, her family. So, after she died, I wanted to honor her by making a cookbook.

After listening to my creative idea and the volume of recipes, a discerning friend suggested a series. So, I went with her suggestion. I created the series, From Grannie’s Kitchen, Volume 1, 2 and 3. I chose “Grannie” as a part of the title because she so loved being a grandmother, and she welcomed everyone into her home and especially her kitchen.

From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook – Pies, Cakes & Christmas Candy

From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Pies, Cakes & Christmas Candy, Volume 1

In December 2014, I published volume 1, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Pies, Cakes & Christmas Candy. It took me more than a year and a half to do this. My grief overwhelmed me often, but a visit to her kitchen and her recipes became a healing respite. Originally, I created them for family Christmas gifts in the years after her death. I never planned to sell them, but my family encouraged me, so I have made them available to you.

Each of the covers has a fun picture of Mom in one of her favorite settings. On the cover, Mom dances at the Dog Bar in Cuchara, Colorado on the fourth of July, wearing a patriotic hat and beads.

In this cookbook:

  • Enjoy a delicious pie recipe from Germany dated before 1951
  • Sample mouthwatering Christmas goodies
From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Beverages, Cookies, Meats, Vegetables, Mis. & Records of a Rancher’s Wife, Volume 2

From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Beverages, Cookies, Meats, Vegetables, Mis. & Records of a Rancher’s Wife, Volume 2

In 2015, I published volume 2, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Beverages, Cookies, Meats, Vegetables, Mis. & Records of a Rancher’s Wife. On the cover, Mom wears a Mexican sombrero at one of the Branson-Trinchera reunions. She always took part fully.

In this cookbook:

  • Savor good home cooking
  • Laugh at Mom’s rancher’s wife records of her enormous meals she prepared for the ranchers who helped Dad with branding and shipping.
From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Casseroles, Mexican Dishes, Relish, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts, Volume 3

From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Casseroles, Mexican Dishes, Relish, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts, Volume 3

To end the series, in 2016, I published volume 3, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook—Casseroles, Mexican Dishes, Relish, Sandwiches, Salads & Desserts. On the cover, Mom sets at the AT&T Stadium in San Francisco when we saw a Giants’ game. She dons a panda bear hat that Giants’ fans wore to honor their third baseman, Pablo Sandoval. My brother loves the Giants and bought her the panda hat.

In this cookbook:

  • Sample spicy Mexican Dishes
  • End your meal with a yummy dessert

What makes these cookbooks unique?

Peanut Brittle Recipe card from cookbook

I scanned Mom’s recipe cards, so the recipes are in her handwriting, with smears and stains from years of use. Often she identified who gave her the recipe and then rated it. Each cookbook is full color and a beautiful book of 20 pages of her great recipes, which makes it more costly to print. I picked out three fun-filled and outrageous pictures of Mom for the covers. Each cookbook focuses on a couple of themes.

Today I keep all three cookbooks on my counter in the kitchen and use them regularly.

What do you think? Do you have family recipes that need to be shared? How have you shared them? Share your ideas below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

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

Coronavirus · My Books · My Thoughts

A Baby Boomer with a Purpose!

Older woman looking at a computer - baby boomer

Yes, I am a Baby Boomer, and I just published my sixth book about my experience with the coronavirus pandemic. I’m 68 years old. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, I froze in place, having just arrived home from a trip to Spain. We left Madrid on March 8, 2020, and they had 500 coronavirus cases when we left. On March 9, when we got home, the number count had exploded to 1500 cases! We were sure we would get it, but we didn’t.

Now I could have binge watched every TV show and movie I’ve seen in my life to fill the time, but I faced my fears generated by the insanity of the times and wrote. I wrote poetry and wrote more. Then I shared that poetry in my weekly blogs in the face of this worldwide storm. Several of my readers emailed me, thanking me for putting into words the exact feelings and emotions they were having.

So, as it continued, and I chronicled my experiences, my blog posts became a snapshot of my experience, and I realized I had the roots of a book—a self-help, spiritual/religious memoir journal to console others and show them they were not alone.

But I had another book waiting in the wings—I Said “Yes!”—how to write a biography/memoir after writing Marshall Flippo’s biography and my two memoirs. The coronavirus book sideswiped me. But I had to write it!

You would think a Baby Boomer who’s 68 years old doesn’t have much to say, but I do. I have a purpose in life, and it came through with this book. I want others to feel they had a friend, a companion who walked through what they did and came out better.

During my life, I’ve seen people go through many trials—heartbreaks that could destroy a person. Some came through it bitter; some better! Add to my desire to help, I saw so many people enraged by the pandemic and the restrictions, yet they didn’t have a way to process their pain. My book offered the opportunity to reflect on their experience and respond.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? cover - baby boomers

The Book Format

So, my blog posts inspired this book. I wrote it in poetry and prose format, interspersing those two forms throughout. I divided it up into thirty-one chapters and started each chapter off with a reflective picture and a mindful quote. Then I ended the chapter with a thought-provoking question/prompt. I want the reader to read, reflect and respond, so the book could be used like a journal.

The title Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? came from my involvement in the recovery world. I have heard repeatedly in the rooms “You either become bitter or better.” So, I saw that same opportunity in facing how the pandemic affected me.

Book Blurbs

Because I originally thought of it as a spiritual/religious self-help book, my marketing agent suggested I give counselors or therapist Advance Reader Copies. So at first, I asked a psychotherapist and a Christian life coach to do the honors. Then I asked a Jesuit priest I’ve known for years in the recovery world. After that I asked the Episcopal bishop of our diocese in New Mexico. All of them said yes and offered kind words I included in the front of the book.

Sample (Not formatted correctly)

Chapter Two

TODAY I BREATHED—IT IS A MONTH!

 “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure…”

Oprah Winfrey

Today I Breathed—It is a Month!

April 8, 2020

Hallelujah!


We made it!

Thirty-one days away

From Madrid

The airport


Now I remember some workers with mask on—

Did they know?


A bustling restaurant downtown

Jovial waiters served our meal.

From Toledo

Crowded busy

Shoulder-to-shoulder

Naïve about the possibility

Lunch in a crowded café

Again, our meal served.

Thirty-one days passed

With

Self-conscious

 Staring

How do I feel now?

How about now?

NOW!

Repeatedly

Habitually I shallow breathe

As it is!

But this last month


I unconsciously held my breath,

Worried,

Afraid

Apprehensive

From being in a hot spot

And not even knowing!

A cough,

Oh, no!

Am I sick?


Is it the virus?

Is it psychosomatic?

I feared the worst,


but it didn’t happen!

I breathed deeply

For the first time

In a month.

Exhale!

Inhale!

Exhale!

Rhythm

Relief

Neither of us got sick!!

Today I believe strongly I’m okay

We dodged a bullet!

Today my husband kissed me

Hugged me

For the first time

In a month!

I ached


For his touch

His lips!

Thirty-one days behind us.

Safe so far,

But still vigilant!


YOUR REFLECTIONS:

A month into the coronavirus pandemic: Where were you? What were you doing? What feelings raged?


As we face reality today, the pandemic still rages. New Mexico just recorded 1761 cases today, the largest number since January 7, 2021. A friend who works at the biggest hospital in Albuquerque told me yesterday they have no room there for anyone except coronavirus cases, so they’re referring non-COVID patients elsewhere. Is the subject of my book still reliant? I would say so.

Finally, I am a Baby Boomer with a purpose. When you read this book, I want you to receive solace deep in your spirit and soul. As you look back with reflection and care, I pray you can look forward with anticipation and hope.

Email me at larada@icloud.com and I will send you the first two chapters for FREE!

What are your thoughts?

Coronavirus Reflections: Biter or Better? meme

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

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · Patriotism · square dance

My Fifth Book: Flippo’s Veteran Story & More!

A young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor - fith book
Young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor

My fifth book was a book project that fell into my lap! How à propos—today being Veteran’s Day, and writing about Marshall Flippo’s biography who served in World War II.

How My Fifth Book Started

Marshall Flippo, an icon in the square dance world, was nearing ninety years old. In March 2017, a group of square dancers were sitting around after a dance weekend and Flippo’s name and age came up. One enthusiastic fan said, “Someone should write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, looked at me and said, “You’re the writer in the group. What do you think?” Nothing more was said, but the thought tumbled around in my mind. We prayerfully considered the possibility, and I decided to run it by Flippo.

In April, I called Flippo and proposed the project to him, and his swift response showed his quick wit. “Larada, no one would want to buy a book about me. But I do have a book you should write: a collection of stories of all the thangs that happen to traveling callers over the years. Wait a minute—that would be R-rated.” Another Flippoism!

At that point, he gave me no definite answer.

At the New Mexico Square Dance Festival, in May in Albuquerque, Marshall fulfilled his last calling contract in New Mexico because he was retiring. Early Friday night, while a group stood around him before the dance, Flippo brought up the topic.

“Larada wants to write a book about me.”

He continued with a humble air, “Who would want to buy that book?”

“I would,” said a longtime friend and caller, Greg Tillery.

“Me, too,” replied Jim Martel, another local caller.

“Put me on the list—I want a copy!” Ted Clements, a caller from southern New Mexico, chimed in. The chorus continued and everyone standing there raised their hands. Flippo turned to me and said, “Come over to my hotel room about 1:30 a.m. and we’ll talk about it.” The group laughed at his flirtatious nature, but he agreed to do it that weekend.

Later that year, I planned a trip to Tucson, Arizona, in October for the Women Writing the West conference. Lin and I met Flippo at the Texas Roadhouse there for dinner on Friday, October 27, 2017, to start our research. We planned to meet on Wednesday, October 25, but the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Flippo, an avid fan, wanted to watch the game, so we changed nights.

When we met, he immediately started with a saucy story. “Mama said, ‘If you play with it, it will fall off.’ Ninety years later, it still hasn’t.” I had to grab my notepad and start taking notes.

The waitress hadn’t taken our orders, and Lin started the questions. Flip immediately jumped into relaying his life with the exact addresses of the multiple homes he lived in Abilene, Texas, as a child. In fact, he had trouble with only one address. I still wonder why he forgot that specific address. But he had also picked a restaurant that had TVs 360 degrees around us, and he watched the World Series out of the corner of his eye.

After dinner, we moved from the restaurant to his home to finish the first interview. We muted the TV, and he watched the game over my head as he talked. One minute he’d be sharing his life stories, the next he’d catch me off guard with a comment on a batter, “Knock the hell out of it.” He amazed me how he could be telling a Navy story about a destroyer tender he was on, then comment on what a player on TV should have done. We took brief breaks when the game took its twists and turns. During one break, he lamented, “I can’t get my mind going again.” Lin and I both assured him that his memory was exceptional.

Within that short evening, he covered many of the major topics of his life: his childhood and family, his Navy experiences during World War II and afterwards, and he ended the night with how he met Neeca, his first wife. With the flair of a master storyteller, Flippo gestured his hands like when an umpire signals the runner is safe and said, “Let’s leave it.” We watched the rest of the baseball game together.

He sent me home with seven photo albums busting at the seams with memorabilia, precious stories, and the assurance that we had embarked on an adventure.

During the next year, we spent many hours together talking over the phone, and we had one more face-to-face opportunity to compile this document. As you can imagine, it was a delightful, fun adventure.

Flippo’s Naval Career

Flippo referenced his naval service several times during our interviews. As a patriotic seventeen-year-old lad from west Texas, his life changed forever the moment he volunteered. Because the war ended soon after he enlisted, his service time took a unique twist—he played baseball for DesPac. Destroyers of the Pacific baseball team took two guys off of all the destroyers who had baseball teams and formed a team. This tells me he was an exceptional baseball player.

So, you can see where his interest in the World Series came that night we talked in Tucson.

Flippo led a large life, calling square dances all over the United States and the world. I Said “Yes!” to the project of a lifetime I will never forget. Grab the book—hardback, paperback and/or one of the popular e-book formats—to see the full extent of his amazing life.

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - fifth book

How about writing a biography, autobiography or memoir? What family stories need to be told? Leave your comments below. I’d be interested in your thoughts!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? fifth book

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

Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Writer/Author, Promoter—Which One Am I?

Inspired writer in a meadow

Writer/Author, promoter—roles I have to play as I self-publish yet another book! But which am I? As I pondered each one of these, I wondered, “can I do it all?”

Just last week, I released my current book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?—my sixth book. Several blog posts I wrote last year during the pandemic inspired this book. I had originally planned to just publish the posts with no revisions, but my editor said I couldn’t do that—that people wouldn’t buy what I gave away free. So, with her help, I enlarged the chapters, added a quote at the beginning of each chapter and sprinkled relevant photos throughout the book, and now it’s done.

As my promotional list grew and grew for my new book that faces a controversial topic, I wondered about each role and how I’ve learned to do each.

Yes, I am a writer and an author. In fact, that’s my favorite part of the process. Each book I’ve written has offered me a delightful experience in the writing process.

Collage of all of my six books - writer

I wrote the poetry and prose in This Tumbleweed Landed when I took part in the Rio Grande Writing Project in 1992, and I put it aside for twenty-one years. Often it spoke to me from its secluded place, but I was too busy living to do anything with it. Then I retired after Mom died, and I had plenty of time to dust it off and work on it. Originally, I wanted the book to be short poetry vignettes about the people, places and activities in my small country town, but after attending a writing workshop in December 2013, I added prose I had written about my country life that enhanced the book. In 2014, I received the boxes of my books. I will never forget opening the box of books and seeing my words in print for the first time—unimaginable!

I wrote When Will Papa Get Home? years ago, when the creatives juices flowed like never before and have never after. On a visit home to our family ranch, I found a blue marble at the Philly Place, an old homestead, and I wondered whose it was. As a teacher, I was on summer break and I had brought a clunky Apple 2E computer home to use. I went home to Denver, and wrote day and night, consumed with the story, letting it unravel as it would. I did not know the ending.

Again, I put this one away for twenty or more years. When I finally pulled it out and revised it, it needed more “meat.” I totally enjoyed researching homesteading in Colorado in the early part of the 20th century and details about life then. The creative process took over again, and I got lost in the words, the revisions, the possibilities, and I saw it in print in 2015.

It took me four years finally to write A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. Mom died in 2013, and I published this book in 2017. I turned to poetry to deal with my grief, so I filled this book with reflective poetry and prose about both of my parents’ deaths. It deeply healed my heart.

In 2017, I started the biggest writing project of my life—Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. I recorded forty hours of interviews with Flippo. After transcribing those interviews, I faced 258,000 words, so I had the daunting task of cutting, cutting, cutting. I also had to do research and make sure his memories of World War II were factual, and they were!

Flippo wanted to tell stories about sixty plus callers and cuers he had worked with, so I added a chapter of favorite stories from callers and cuers about him. What a mammoth task this was, but I feel I created not only a wonderful biography but a history book about square dancing.

Even though I work across several genres, I love the writing piece! I’ve written and self-published six books now (that’s shocking to me) and three cookbooks. I took each project all the way through the process and actually published them, so that’s much more than being a writer or an author. Whew!

Now we come to the promoter’s part. I have been a promoter for years in the square and round dance world. Because of my computer skills, I’ve created hundreds of flyers, emails and events on Facebook. My love affair with Desktop Publishing goes way back—my masters’ degree is in technology, and that’s where I learned many of my computer skills preparing lesson worksheets and projects for my students. Early on I bought an education bundle of Adobe programs and became familiar with Photoshop and its capabilities.

Now, as I face the following list of promotions, I muse over what I have to do to advertise my new creation:

CREATIONS

  • Create iBook
  • Create Nook  
  • Create Kobo 
  • Create page on website
  • Add thumbnail to sidebar in website
  • Order proof copy from KDP
  • Order 25 paperbacks

PROMOTIONS

  • Create ad on Kobo for September 9 – 19, 2021 for Australia & New Zealand at discounted price
  • Create a new Kindle Countdown Deal – September 21 – 28 – 9:00 am, starting at $1.99
  • Posted on bookois.com & upgraded to Gold at $50
  • Created new release on Kobo
  • Listed on Alignable
  • Buy 15 Kindle e-books for giveaways
  • Use Buffer to send out weekly emails to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram
  • Add book & e-book to my Etsy Shop
  • Create giveaway on Goodreads
  • Create giveaway on Librarything 
  • Create ad on BookBub when I have e-book listed on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble & iBook
  • Create ad on Amazon
  • Email two lists I have
  • Create campaign on MailChimp
  • Have Launch Party
  • Post on Facebook pages
  • Connect with guy on Instagram who messaged me about this book a couple months ago
  • Email Sue Ready to post review on Amazon
  • Email ARC readers to post review 
  • Search for spiritual/religious book Facebook pages
  • Amazon-30 days after launch important for rating
  • Add to Reedsy Discovery
  • Send paperbacks to 4 ARC Blurb readers
  • Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Online Book club listing – https://onlinebookclub.org/submit-book.php – Requested review bit won’t be available for 2-3 months
  • Get Kindle link to Fiverr promoter

Yes, the promotional part of this job seems overwhelming. But after seven years, I’ve found the places I need to focus on. What’s time sensitive is that some of these tasks depend on the completion of one before the other. For example, I have created e-books at Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, but I had trouble with the iBook e-book, and I need links to all four popular e-book formats for the BookBub ad.

Many years ago, I created my first e-book on iBook when I was a support staff for Albuquerque Public Schools. This time, it took hunting for the correct app to upload the file—I had an outdated one. Also, I had trouble with the app accepting my password for my Apple ID which was bizarre. I use that Apple ID all the time, but finally it accepted it. So, I’m waiting, but the minute I get the okay for my iBook, I’ll launch that ad on BookBub.

As I look to this next week, I will attack this list, promoting my new book as many ways as I can. Writer/author and promoter—I have to do all these jobs to make my book a success.

Do you struggle with writer/author and promoter roles? Do you like one of the roles over the other? (Scroll down below my promotions and make a comment.) I’d love to hear from you.


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? ad - writer

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is now available:

Just Another Square Dance Caller
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Self-Publishing—How Difficult is it?

Woman looking at books—self-publishing

As a self-publishing author, I usually do most of the tasks to publish a book. It isn’t easy, but I love it. I write the book. Next, I have always hired a professional editor because I know it’s impossible for me to distance myself enough from my work and not make mistakes. Because of my computer skills, I love laying out the cover, and I have done four of my six books. In self-publishing A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, I paid someone to do the cover, but I suggested the total layout and added to it.

Also, I do the interior layout with Vellum, a Mac program that creates the print version and four e-book formats. I also enjoy this part because it lets me express myself creatively in how the book’s interior looks.

See how my current book has gone! My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? has been hanging on the edge of being published for several weeks. After reading and studying many marketing books, I decided this time I would pay to have the cover done, and that’s been the hold-up. They asked me to send all the parts for the cover in one email and here’s what they required:

  1. Trim size/page size (5X8, 6X9, etc.)

2. Paper type (cream or white)

3. Exact page count of your fully finished formatted manuscript (to determine spine width)

4. Back cover text (the book description usually works for this)

5. Short author bio and picture (this is optional, and please make sure any picture you send for the back cover has a resolution of 300dpi or higher)

6. Your publishing venue (Ingram Spark, KDP, both… if Ingram Spark, please also send the ISBN)

6.5. If you want an Ingram Spark hardcover, would it be a case laminate, dust jacket, or jacketed case laminate?

Normally, when self-publishing, I do everything for the book and am in total control. Then I have total control of the timing. The book cover company I hired for this book finished the e-book cover about three weeks ago, and I liked it.

Then I had a delay with the book description for the back cover of the book which I never write. With my first book, someone advised me to never write my own book description—that I was too close to the work. So, I always hire someone to do it. Recently I was traveling, and she was too, so we had delays because of that. Then she missed the meaning of the book at first, so we had several rewrites. So, this delay held up the cover getting done. Finally, she got the message from the book and wrote an acceptable description.

Then, off to the book cover layout company with all 6.5 items listed above. I provided pictures I wanted used, so I created a Drop Box shared folder. When they did the first paperback cover, the front was easy—it was the e-book cover. They had lots of trouble with the back cover.

I shared a picture with them in Drop Box of Lin’s gorgeous garden for the back cover because I loved the whole idea that so many people adopted gardening and an appreciation of nature during the pandemic. This book addresses a hard topic, so I wanted that positive result reflected in the cover.

After waiting and waiting, I emailed the representative of the company, and he said he emailed it to me three days before—I never received it. So, he resent it. First cover they sent me to approve had no picture on the back cover—it was a bland back cover with only the book description, my picture and a super-short bio.

Then, we started the revision process that took several days—much longer than necessary. When they added the garden picture to the back cover, they overlaid a green shade over it, so you couldn’t see the garden clearly.

So, I asked them to fix that, and they did after several days. Finally, they sent me three choices. Here are two of them. My husband, Lin liked one; I liked the other. Help me select the cover for this book by responding in the Comments section below.

TWO BOOK COVER CHOICES

Choice #1 has the green overlay of the garden. Choice #2 has a colored picture in the background of the Lin’s garden. Vote for one!

Choice #1 – Green overlay
Choice #2 – No green overlay—Colorful

In my future of self-publishing, I don’t know if I will hire someone else to do the cover. If I don’t, I would avoid the frustration of working with an outsider and the expense. But I like the two choices provided for this book, because it looks professional and they did creative things I would not have! What a dilemma!

Are you self-published? How do you handle the stress of self-publishing? AND BE SURE TO VOTE ON WHICH BOOK COVER I SHOULD USE—#1 OR #2? (Scroll below to the Comment area and respond about which cover you liked and your self-publishing experiences.)


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

~Pre-Order My New Book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? To be released in Augusthttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdJNjMivaCzk2YcNWHGMoxG4FPsfVEqEQEzYbcYr4tX9cDPVQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Flippo in the sand—self-publsihing
Flip for Flippo!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

Who Should Write a Foreword to a Biography?

For quite a while, I wondered who Flippo would choose to write the Foreword to his biography. Before he died, I asked him a couple times who he wanted to write it. Each time we broached the topic, he lamented over the fact Betty Casey and J. C. Wilson, his two mentors from the Abilene, Texas area, were dead because they were his first choice. He made no decision before his death. I ended up with the perfect person: John Flippo, his son.

During our conversations, he kept evading the question. I would repeat, “Flip, who do you want to write the Foreword to this book?” Names came up, and his lack of commitment spoke volumes—so many had died already. So, we made no decision before his death.

After he died, I continued to muse over this vital part of the book. My husband, Lin, suggested John Flippo, his son. Immediately, I knew in my heart and soul I had found the right person, so I asked him, and John humbly agreed to write it. Any time Flippo talked of John, his voice softened, and his deep fatherly love shone through, using words like “my best friend“ and “good man.” What powerful words to describe the love and respect Flip had for his son.

In reading John’s Foreword, his words speak reciprocally of his father. Enjoy what John wrote:

FOREWORD

I remember my first-grade teacher going around the room and asking each of us what our fathers did for a living. There were lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, and the like, but when she got to me, I proclaimed my dad was a square dance ca!ler! The whole room busted out laughing.

Restraining her own giggles, the teacher informed me that square dancing was a hobby, not something someone did for a living, but I insisted, with only a hint of doubt in my young voice. She asked where he went in the mornings and what kind of uniform he wore. He wore a bolo tie and cowboy boots, but I was certain that if I mentioned that, I would have been laughed at again.

Being a square dance caller was the only job I knew my dad to have. He was one of the best in the world, but of course he would never say that. People who danced to his calls always made a point to tell me how much he meant to them and how much they loved him.

I never cared for school and didn’t plan on taking any more, so when I graduated high school, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, shortly after, my mom told me that instead of just working at our resort, Kirkwood Lodge, I was going to need to go out and get a real job. This was a responsibility I had never considered, nor thought to consider.

Noticing I was reeling from the revelation, my mom suggested that I go on tour with my dad. She has always been there to rescue me when needed. Going on tour seemed to me a great deal better than getting a real job or going to more school. The plan was to do three months out east, come home for Christmas, and finish with three months out west. Dad made room in the car for my boom box and a few dozen t-shirts, and we were off.

Dad loved everything about touring, and we loved being on the road. We reveled in making good time on a trip (we took this very seriously), getting “smokie” and “statie” reports from the CB radio, finding the cheapest motels in the best locations, and finding the best coffee and breakfast in town. The only thing he didn’t like was doing laundry. He taught me how to do it, and it was clear this was my main purpose in being on the trip. I am still using those skills today at FlipBack, our boutique resale store.

Dad made a point to introduce me right away at the dances. I was shy and tended to mumble, but no one cared about that. I was Marshall Flippo’s son, and that made me royalty and an instant friend of anyone that knew my dad. We both had great memories of that tour. I got to see another side of my dad, and I learned more on that trip than I could have ever learned in school.

When my dad told me Larada was planning on writing a book about him, I was ecstatic. I had always thought his life would make a great book, and I was immediately on board. He was a little harder to sell. He didn’t want the cover to mention square dancing, or have a picture of him on it, and he figured the book would be better if he didn’t talk about himself. Fortunately, Larada won him over. I could tell, the more they worked together, he began to look forward to their weekly interviews. He would even take notes during the week of things he wanted to go over or something he thought might be interesting. I hope you enjoy this book as much as he and Larada did in putting it together.

John Flippo June 5, 2019

When I read this Foreword for the first time, I choked up—what a precious tribute to Flippo from his loving son.

In 2021, I plan to feature monthly an excerpt from the book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, for your reading enjoyment.

In conclusion, if asked to write a Foreword for your dad or mom’s biography, how would it sound? How about if your children wrote yours, how would they describe your relationship? Something to think about.


Here’s a chance to see my blog posts from the last two weeks:

~My Agony of Waiting

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Larada’s Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books for a Valentine’s Day discount of 25% off select books and bundles:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 Enter the $400 Valentine Giveaway & WIN a $400 Amazon eCard! Only One Lucky Winner – Why not YOU? ~> http://ow.ly/L7Vn50DkYGN

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Coronavirus · Goals · Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts

What Does 2021 Hold For Us?

2021
Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels

2021 is here! Yahoo! Happy New Year! Whew! I thought it would never come! Closing 2020 with a quiet bang, I look to opening up 2021 with enthusiastic gusto!

But like so many others, I reminisced about meaningful past New Year’s Eves, and one repeatedly came to mind. In 2017 many square dance callers and dancers met in Green Valley, Arizona to witness Marshall Flippo call at his last square dance on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Flippo’s Last Dance 2017

Many national callers came out to see their mentor and friend end a 60 year+ career. Numerous dancers traveled from far and wide to hear Flippo call one last time. I felt the magic in the air that night—sadness mixed with deep love and appreciation. I will never forget that evening nor my dear friends in attendance.

This year, we celebrated a quiet one. We watched “Bells of St. Mary” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman and cried at the ending even though we had seen it before. After the movie, we prepped an elk roast and vegetables to cook in the crockpot overnight for our New Year’s Day dinner. Then we ended the year watching the celebration on the plaza in Santa Fe, NM—what a New Mexican party it was. I loved that they sang, “Las Mañanitas!” to bring in the new year!

So, let’s talk about this new year. 2021 is an empty book, a new chapter, today a blank page in my life! What will I do in 2021 with still so much uncertainty? Yes, we have the vaccine, but not many people have been inoculated yet. So, we need to be cautious and use those familiar safety suggestions:

  • Masks
  • Social distancing
  • Wash, wash, wash our hands

That just reminded me of a hilarious experience Lin and I had on cruises we have taken. Greeting us at the door of any restaurant onboard, two ship employees sprayed our hands with sanitizer and sang, “Washy, washy.” What made this so hilarious was the enthusiasm they did their task with—smiles and pure joy! I wish most Americans handled all the safety suggestions with such joy and enthusiasm!

So, as I ponder 2021, I think about a day in this year as being a blank page—the nemesis of many writers. I love the sight of a clean page, a new year, a new beginning. I choose what’s written there. I choose my attitude with which I face each day. I choose to be positive and proactive.

So, I spent part of yesterday and today reading book marketing ideas to prepare for this new year as an author. I jotted down several new ideas to incorporate into my plan for 2021. I also thought about how I want my life to be different, especially incorporating what I learned in my solitude in 2020.

2021 Goals
A Word Cloud of My 2021 Goals

So, here’s my list (more than book marketing stuff):

  • Publish a new book, Bitter or Better: My Year’s Coronavirus Journey
  • Do my daily Quiet time
  • Dance
  • Attend recovery meetings
  • Dance
  • Promote my books, especially the Flippo book at dance events
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Spend time outside in nature
  • Dance
  • Connect face-to-face or virtually with family and friends
  • Dance
  • Recreational Reading
  • Dance
  • Visit our family ranch in Colorado
  • Dance

As you can see, dancing tops my list of activities I want to add back this year.

As I face 2021, a year with possibilities, adventures and people, I wonder. I know I thought 2020 had all those possibilities. Will this year be different or more of the same? I’m sure the first part will feel very similar to 2020, but hopefully mid-year 2021 will take a turn towards normalcy.

What do you think?

I do want to end with some 2020 humor. This was shared our Next Door app before the end of the year, and I thought it was hilarious:

2020 – A YEAR IN REVIEW!!! I hope everyone can get a chuckle from this!

  1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
  2. I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone He asked me what I was wearing.
  3. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.
  4. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 5. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. I came into my house & told my cat. We laughed a lot.
  5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.
  6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
  7. This virus has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel sports, shut down all bars & keep men at home!
  8. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 10. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.
  9. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the Backyard. I’m getting tired of the Living Room.
  10. Appropriate analogy. “The curve is flattening so we can start lifting restrictions now” is like saying: “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent, so we can take it off now.”
  11. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask & asking for money.
  12. The spread of COVID-19 is based on 2 things:
    1. How dense the population is;
    1. How dense the population is.

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft