Coronavirus · My Books · My Thoughts

COVID-19 Pandemic: Tough Topic #2—Denial?

Stop COVID-19

Has the COVID-19 pandemic faded from our memories? Have we faced all of its losses and grieved? Or have we denied its impact and moved on? If I move on from a tragedy and haven’t dealt with it, I may carry some of it with me.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? book cover-COVID-19

My book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? offers the possibility of facing what this horrible pandemic was to you by reading my experience, reflecting on what you dealt with, and responding to some probing questions to put it all to rest.

NEWS UPDATE: I won the 2022 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for the Body, Mind & Spirit category!

As we look back, we all lost two years of our lives—for me, it was dancing, traveling and seeing my family. Many suffered severe anxiety and depression.

These charts show the mental effect COVID-19 pandemic had on many people.

I structured my book in small chapters. Each begins with a captivating picture and quote. Then I share my thoughts and experience on that topic. Afterwards, I end each chapter with a reflection question. So, the reader has choices in how to use it: read it from cover to cover, peruse the Table of Contents and select a topic that jumps out at you, and/or use it as a journal.

Excerpt from Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Addressing COVID-19

An excerpt from my book might whet your appetite. I titled chapter twelve, “I’m Suffering.” The quote by Nichiren starts the chapter: “If you light a lantern for another, it will also brighten your own way…”

“The isolation of sheltering-in-place has begun to take its toll on me—basically interacting personally with no one except my husband since March 8th. As an extrovert, I relish social interaction. Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people. We hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, and we hug at church. My family hugs a lot, also. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly.

I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me. Yes, I agree the restrictions are a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack of a normal staple has zapped me.

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, and though I was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production, it drained me. Hugs from a variety of people and interaction with dear friends are how I would normally replenish myself after a grueling workday, but there was no safe way to do that.

Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020 

I’ve run out, 
Empty, 
No More,
Barely running on fumes. 

But come back 
Tomorrow. 
There will be more! 

More of me 
My humor 
My expertise 
My talents. 

I’ve used up
Everything today,
Ran desperately scarce! 

I spilled me 
Wide-open, 
Nothing left.
 
But daily I rejuvenate 
Refresh 
In my Quiet Time 
With God 
And start again 
With a full tank! 

So, don’t ask me
When I’m on empty 
To give more! 
That’s selfish! 

Ask me about
My availability. 
Ask me if I’m full 
Or empty. 
Don’t assume! 

I know me! 
I can tell 
The meter’s hanging 
Dangerously low, 
Near empty. 

I’m zapped, 
Nothing now, 
Today! 

But come back tomorrow, 
And I’ll have more! 

More of me 
More joy 
More compassion 
More energy! 
Totally more! 

Larada Horner-Miller, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, (2021): 95-99.

Finally,

When you finish, I hope you have reconciled the lost years and feel deeply better about how you handled it. In recovery, we say, “Denial is not a river in Egypt!” Face it, feel it and heal it!

Do you have a residual effects from the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, how have you dealt with them?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? COVID-19
Read, reflect and respond!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. COVID-19
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Grief · Memoirs · My Books · My Thoughts · poetry · Spirituality

Afraid of Tough Topics—Not Me!

We'll get through it! Tough Topic

Am I afraid of tough topics? Not at all! Two of my books touch very heavy subjects: death and the coronavirus pandemic, and I felt compelled to write them, no matter what the consequences. A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir addressed the death of my parents and my growth. Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? dealt with my experience with the coronavirus pandemic—another difficult concern.

Tough Topic #1—Death

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir

A Time to Grow Up book cover. Tough Topic

When my father died in 1996, my mother told me, “Everyone grieves in their own way.”

I took these words to heart when Mom passed away in 2013. I discovered that writing poetry was the best way of working through my fresh grief. Eventually, I penned dozens of intimate, heartfelt poems about my parents’ lives and legacies and my deep sorrow and gradual recovery and growth. Yes, it was a grief memoir but a growth memoir, as well.

I discussed the emotional challenges of caring for my parents at the end of their lives. My words will strike a chord with any worried caretaker or child watching over ailing but fiercely independent loved ones.

As I explored the nuances of bereavement through my poetry, I provided inspiration and comfort for readers coping with the same burdens. While many of my poems explore the depths of my anguish, others exude humor and warmth—a reminder that there is still always light in the world.

Besides my poems, I included biographical sketches about my mother and father, as well as appendices that provide coping tips, suggested activities, and resources for others dealing with intense bereavement. These appendices offer a world of resources for anyone who has lost a parent or both.

This book received several awards:

  • 2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: E-book Nonfiction and E-book Cover
  • 2018 Book Excellence Awards “Finalist” in the Memoir category
  • 2018 Independent Press Awards “Distinguished Favorites” in the Memoir category
  • 2017 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing ”Official Selection” in the Biography|Autobiography|Memoir category.
  • 2017 New Mexico-Arizona book awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: Biography (Other) and E-book Nonfiction.
Tough Topic #2—Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Tough Topic

I invite you to read, reflect and respond to the global pandemic of 2020 and successive months. I encouraged readers to think about how the pandemic affected them and how they adapted. The book is intended to be used as a journal, a safe keeping place to revisit 2020. I viewed the forced shelter in place as an opportunity for spiritual discoveries and renewed spiritual growth. The book incorporates what I learned during my year and more of solitude, a transformative process leading me to find a reconnection with my “God.” I struggled spiritually and emotionally. My emotions ran deep from fear, struggle, and despair going deeper into her faith, ultimately making me a better, not a bitter person. 

Themed chapters with poetry and prose add depth to the book. I divided the book into chapters with content developed from my blog over the years. Each chapter begins with a carefully chosen thought provoking quote complementing the theme. My prose and poetry are creative and soul-stirring. Both are extensions of the chapter’s theme. Many of the poems deal with the anxiety and depict the universal struggles of uncertainty during this time. Readers will find them inspirational and comforting. Reflective questions at the end of each chapter encourage reader participation to share their personal thoughts and stories as well as process hidden fears and concerns during time spent in quarantine. 

I felt this book offered a soulful looking back at this worldwide pandemic and then a step into the future, clear of the spiritual cobwebs of that experience.

Someone consoling someone else. Tough Topics
We can face tough topics together!
Finally,

But do readers want to read books about such tough topics? It seems the world’s fascination focuses on lesser topics of importance, a means of escape. Are these too scary? Too personal? Too intimate? Is it denial? Is there a major fear of feelings, tears and loss?

Hopefully, you will take this opportunity to delve into one or both tough topics with me through reading my books and then grow spiritually. I offer them to console your wounded or broken heart. The choice is yours. We can face tough topics together, survive and grow!


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme Tough Topic
Read, reflect and respond!

~I’m not afraid of tough subjects like the coronavirus. Yes, I get people are tired of hearing about it, but. . . 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

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. Tough Topic
Grab a drink & read!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Are You a History Buff?

Collage - history pictures

History fascinates me—I love to read about what has happened in the past with well-known characters and events. When I wrote Marshall Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, I knew without a doubt; it stands as a history book of square dancing and so much more.

When I first interviewed Flippo, I heard stories about his growing up in west Texas in Abilene. He enjoyed his teachers and his education and had a favorite story about ink wells and the ink used in them. Family meant the world to Flippo.

World War II

Marshall Flippo in the Navy. History
Marshall Flippo in the Navy

Laced into those first few interviews, Flippo identified his patriotism with World War II raging in the background of his teen years. His older sister, Helen June, had already enlisted, so it seem natural for him to join up, but he was only seventeen years old. That felt so young as he described the process.

When I referenced his enlisting in the navy, I had a major misunderstanding about that event. Originally, I thought he said they had faked his enlistment papers, but he vehemently corrected me. His dad had to sign for him; patriotism ran strong in the whole family.

So, World War II became a significant topic in his biography, with him spending four years in the navy. He spent two years at the end of the war, going to Japan twice. He described being onboard ship, observing Iwo Jima as an eyewitness.

When Flippo described his last two years in the navy, I laughed out loud in amazement. No one could have guessed what he did those last two years. He enjoyed a dream post—playing baseball for the navy overseas and then in San Diego, California.

Square Dance Caller Career

After the service, Flippo returned to Abilene, Texas, married Neeca and embarked on a career that would change his life forever—square dance calling. He stood as a bridge in the history of square dance calling between an influencer like Dr. Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw, the person credited for the square dance explosion in the late 30s and 40s, and all those who followed him. Flip never met or trained under Lloyd Shaw, but Bob Osgood and Betty Casey did and, in mentoring Flippo, Shaw’s influence carried over to him through those two people. Learned more about Lloyd Shaw at https://squaredancehistory.org/exhibits/show/lloyd-shaw

With his career spanning sixty years, he followed those influencers and became a mentor to many callers over the years, carrying on Shaw’s legacy. As one of the original eleven founding fathers, Flippo helped start CALLERLAB, the international organization for callers that changed the direction of square dancing in the 70s. He continued attending this annual convention throughout his career, going to his last one in 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I spent 4-5 hours with him, interviewing him for his biography.

In organizing this book, Flippo immediately let me know he wanted to tell stories about callers and cuers who influenced him. He so much wanted to honor those who were deceased; we created a tribute to them at the beginning of the book. Then the book ends with stories he told about other callers and cuers. I added stories callers wanted to tell on Flippo. Flippo’s humility prevailed throughout the book, and I had to ruin him in, reminding him this book was supposed to be about him!

Sadly, Flippo died in 2018 before we finished what he wanted to share. When he passed away, I had 258,000 words to transcribe from his interviews—so much information. Flippo totally involved himself in the production of his biography. Before he passed, Flip commented about the thickness of Bob Osgood’s biography, As I See It. We saw it at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque. He demanded his biography not be that thick, so I found the word count of Bob’s biography and made sure Flippo’s was less!

However, yes, this book is thick, but the following features liven it up.

Added features to this book—

  • Footnotes explaining square dance terminology—interactive in the e-book formats
  • Period pictures of Flippo, callers, cuers and dancers from Neeca’s three scrapbook/photo albums
  • Pictures from a war book about his time on the USS Lander Flippo referenced often
  • An Index at the end of the book, simply because of my commitment for it to be a history book. I wanted readers easily to cross-reference any topic identified in the book.
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A–Chronology of Marshall Flippo’s Life
    • Appendix B–Itinerary of USS Lander (one of the destroyer tenders Flippo was assigned to)
    • Appendix C–More Burma-Shave Jingles
    • Appendix D–International Tours
    • Appendix E–Chek-A-Kaller Legend
    • Appendix F–Flippo’s Recordings & Reviews
    • Appendix G–List of Callers who Attended Flippo’s Last Night, December 31, 2017
    • Appendix H–Festus Article & Letter
    • Appendix I–Glossary of Square Dance & Round Dance Terms
    • Appendix J–Additional References: books, URLs, Marshall Flippo Song Bytes, News & Websites
  • Additional resources on my website for those who buy the book in the “Members Only” section

Finally,

If you’re a square dancer, this book has so much information for you about the activity we love and the inside story of Flippo’s life. If you’re not a square dancer, the historical aspect might capture your heart about a time in our history rich with stories and people of a time gone by.

Do you like history? Do you like stories about World War II? About life in the 20s in Texas? Let me know what you think in the Comments section.


Favorite child - Happy Father's Day

~Need a Father’s Day gift for your dad or granddad? How about a bundle of my books about ranch life? Go to my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% discounts on three bundles!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? 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

My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Book Trailers—Flippo’s Life!

Flippo's young picture - trailers

Book Trailers—a promotional idea I enjoy! I created three book trailers of Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. What a blast that was!

I formatted each trailer the same: I used one of his singing calls for audio background and highlighted many pictures gleaned from the three scrapbooks Neeca made for Flippo.

I focused on major areas of Flippo’s expansive life:

  1. His life
  2. Amazing skits
  3. His Motto & travels

As you can see, I tackled some fun ones.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure!

His Life Trailer

I start with him growing up a Texan, then the Texan becomes a sailor. After the Navy, Flippo came back to Abilene, and to the love of his life, Neeca. He started square dance calling after a few pitfalls. His hit song, “The Auctioneer,” skyrocketed his career. The music background is a clip of “The Auctioneer.”

His Amazing Skits Trailer

At a square dance weekend or during a square dance week, after the evening dance came a fun-filled event, the afterparty. At an afterparty, callers organized skits to entertain the dancers.

Anyone who saw Flippo in one of his amazing skits will never forget it. At Kirkwood with Melton Luttrell, Gary Shoemake and Frank Lane, the shy Flippo entertained everyone with his antics. Also at Asilomar, he teamed up with Frank Lane, and I’m sure many others. At Paris, Texas, he shared the stage with Ken Bower, Mike Bramlett and Justin Russell. The music background is “It Do Feel Good.”

His Motto & Travels Trailer

Flippo repeated his motto often to me, “I was at the right place at the right time.” This attitude sent him traveling around the United States and the world. After traveling during his Navy career, Flippo loved to travel as a square dance caller and the dance world loved him. His extensive tour plan took him all over the United States for six months of the year. Then he added world travel when he could. Flippo traveled to Spain, Morocco, Majorca, England and Germany. He returned to Japan where he continued his love affair started with his Navy career at the end of World War II. The music background is “Sing, Sing a Song.”

Trailers summarize a book’s message and speak to the visual majority of people in the world today. In book marketing today, trailers lead the list of promotional ideas. The message of Flippo’s book was so large I had to do three! And I could probably do more.

Finally,

Do you enjoy book trailers? Make sure you liked my trailers on my YouTube channel.


~Valentine’s Day Special at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 40% off of “This Tumbleweed Landed” paperback until February 16, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

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

Audiobooks · Books · My Books · My Thoughts

My Adventure Continues—Audiobook!

A young man joins me on my adventure!

My new adventure has taken over! On November 29, 2021, in my blog post, “Audiobooks—My New Adventure,” I alerted you about my new adventure of recording audiobooks. I don’t know if you’re a consumer of audiobooks, but this market is growing like crazy, so I’m jumping in with both feet!

Two months later, I have recorded and released my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story, the nonfiction booklet of how my granddad put our ranch together during the depression when many others were losing theirs. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and what a pleasure it was to reread this little gem!

Why I picked this one to be my first?

After finishing the audiobook training, I started with the shortest book I had, so this one won! It’s more the size of a chapbook. I didn’t want to do one of my sizeable books, in case the process became too difficult, but it was a breeze, thanks to good training I received.

What was the process like on this new adventure?

At first, I didn’t know whether to record everything and then take the audio through the editing and adding the effects process on Audacity, the app suggested. So, at first, I did a couple of recording and then did the editing and adding the effects. But I realized, once I started recording and got into “the zone,” I didn’t want to stop.

So, then I changed my plan—I finished recording the rest of the book and did the editing and adding effects. As I focused on the editing, I became more proficient at finding the places where I breathed and deleted them more easily.

I had such great instructions on doing the effects in Audacity. It really became a checklist of twelve steps to do for each recording, and it went quickly. I just wanted to make sure I did each step, so I took it slowly and methodically.

As a final run-through, I sat with the book in hand and listened to the audio to make sure it matched the book. It did!

How to get my audiobook out to the world?

My training taught me to put it out to two sites: acx.com and findawayvoices.com, and it warned me it could take three to four weeks for publication.

First, I tried acx.com, an affiliate of Amazon, and I had trouble because my book didn’t come up in my list of books. I spent several days and emails before that problem got solved—I could use the ASIN number (Amazon Standard Identification Number) off of the Amazon.com listing.

Each site had a different setup for uploading the files. Because we have a horrible internet connection, I saved each chapter as a file. You could save it as one file if you have a fast speed connection.

Each site warned the files had to be uploaded in the order you wanted them to be on the audiobook. I liked findawayvoices.com’s set-up for uploading because their system stopped any chance of uploading the files out of order.

For acx.com, it took about a week and a half to two weeks to go live! And how excited I was! I’m still waiting for any distributors from findawayvoices.com to go live.

What is my current audiobook project?

At the beginning of the year, I made a schedule for recording my books:

  • Let Me Tell You a Story—January
  • Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?—February

I was right on schedule for February, but recording Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? has gone much quicker than I thought it would. Today I finished recording Chapter 25, Christmas 2020 with Charles Dickens, so I’m way early. Last Wednesday, I recorded nine chapters! I couldn’t believe it!  

Since I have thirty-one chapters in the book, I only need six more chapters, Appendix A and the closing credits to finish the recording. I plan to finish the recording on Monday or Tuesday of this week. Then I can easily finish the editing and adding effects by the end of the month.

What are my future plans for this adventure?

Here’s the rest of the schedule I made earlier:

  • When Will Papa Get Home?—March
  • This Tumbleweed Landed—April

With my speed of recording so far and the length of both books, I might record both books in March. I don’t want to rush, but I do want to get as much done before the heat of the summer hits. I can’t stand recording when it’s hot outside in my closed in little recording studio (really our walk-in closet)!

What about my two longer books?

In my November 29, 2021 blog post, I wrote, “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 are too long for the audiobook format.”

I’ve rethought that stance. A writing friend suggested I do a set for my longer books. What do you think? Would you buy an audiobook set of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, specifically?

What have I learned about this adventure?

Both the audiobook training, Audiobooks Made Easy, by Derek Doepker, and Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasts and Voice Technologies by Joanna Penn helped me initially. But here are some tips I learned in the actually recording:

  • Take off anything that can make noise while recording. The earphones fit snugly over my ears, so I took off earrings and the chain I use for my reading glasses.
  • Drink room-temperature water before recording. I drank some ice-cold water once and my voice crackled.
  • Use your laptop or iPad instead of paper to read from. When I first recorded, I printed up pages of my script. Then, when I shuffled through the papers, it added a noise I could easily eliminate.
  • Have a file system for your recording files. I created three folders for raw audio files: original recordings, and duplicated edited files, and effects files. Then I created another file for the mp3s to be uploaded to the different sites for distribution.
  • Use an external hard drive. My laptop has limited storage space, so I bought a 2 terabytes external hard drive and save to it.
  • Wear supportive shoes. After standing still in the same place for nearly an hour, I realized good shoes helped how I felt afterwards.
  • If you are going to offer a .pdf for your audiobook buyer, make sure you have the URL correct before recording. For my first book, I posted on my website all the pictures that were in the book so the buyer could go there and see the visuals included in the book. For the Coronavirus Reflections book, I have created a personal reflection journal the consumer can download to respond on.

Finally,

Elderly woman joins me on the my adventure

I love adventures and this is one for sure. I hope to have four of my six books on audiobooks by this summer, and then hopefully the other two finished by the end of 2020. Do you buy audiobooks? Audiobooks are for any age! If you’d like to sample my first audiobook, you can at https://laradasbooks.com/sample-my-audiobook/


~Valentine’s Day Special at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 40% “This Tumbleweed Landed” paperback until February 16, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Bette? 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

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 are 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