Christmas · Christmas · Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Great Book News: An Award & #1 in Three Categories!

News - Great Book News

I’ve had great book news recently. This week, two of my books have received critical acclaim. All my hard work pays off.

Great Book News #1

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? won the 2023 New Mexico/Arizona book award in the category of Self Help/Guide. This book was also a finalist in the health category. Last year, it also won the 2022 New Mexico/Arizona book award in the category of Body, Mind & Spirit (health/humor).

This blog became the foundation for that book—the inspiration because I wrote the core in this blog during the pandemic. It saved my sanity as I processed what I went through during the pandemic. I wrote in poetry and prose format. The reader has a choice: read it from cover-to-cover, or the chapters stand independently. Each chapter begins with a thought-provoking photo and quote. Then the chapter ends with a reflection question to ponder. Read, reflect and respond—so we can move on to better, not bitter.

For those interested in buying this award-winning book, choose of one the links below:

You can also buy it from me and get your own autographed copy. Contact me at for the details.

More Book News

My newest book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir, hit #1 on Amazon in three e-book categories:

  • Christmas (Kindle Store)
  • US Historical Biographies
  • Christian Inspiration

Again, some of my blog posts make up a foundational part of the book with many additional snippets of my Christmas memories.

I love Christmas and this seemed like the next nature book for me to write. The hard part—editing, revising and creating it in July! I put on Christmas music and enjoyed the season out of the season!

My E-book of Hair on Fire

Yes, I got the e-book published before we went to Germany and Austria—Bavaria (more about Germany starting next week). Being super-organized, I had to set up all the promotions before we left, so I had busy days ahead of that trip. 2916 readers from nine countries downloaded my new e-book from: USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, Mexico, France, and Italy. Those numbers pushed it to #1 in the three categories.

My Paperback of Hair on Fire

So, while we were in Germany, I finally got the final cover, so I uploaded it one night. I proofed the book online, but there was an issue. It said that the trim size (size of the book) didn’t match something, so they adjusted it by resizing it. I knew the trim size of the interior of the book and the cover matched so it could have been an international issue. That night I order a “proof” copy and it arrived on Thursday, the day after we got home.

Oh, no! The text was like shrunk to the center of the page, leaving a large margin all the way around. I spent several hours proofreading it that day, and I realized the “proof” didn’t have the Table of Contents! Oh, no, again! In my rush before we left, I had not selected the Table of Contents to be printed in the print copy of my book. I fixed that easily.

But I had another issue—the cover fit a book of 230 pages. After adding the Table of Contents and fixing a layout problem, I had 224—fewer pages! Now, how did that happen? So, I spent several hours going through and enlarging pictures and doing what I could to rearrange parts! Finally, I ended up with 230 pages, so I uploaded the revision, ran it through the Previewer online and published it.

The print copies will be here on Tuesday, October 2, so I’m excited.

On Thursday, when I opened the package with the “proof” copy, I got all choked up! The first time I see my book in print seems surreal! My words, my stories, my poems! What an emotional experience.

So, I will spend the next two months promoting it before Christmas and I will have a book launch sometime soon. Listen for the details.


My seventh book published! Great book news this week about two of my books! Life is good!

If you’re interested, catch the e-book at this discounted price of $1.99 for a limited time at:

You have a choice for the paperback: either buy an autographed copy from me at


Go to Amazon. The price is the same: $15.00.

Because this book would make a great Christmas gift for everyone in your family, keep tuned in. I’m going to have some great prices for the purchase of three books or five books. Buying five copies will be the best price!

Christmas · Christmas · family · Holidays · Memoirs · My Thoughts

Sample a Slice of my New Book!

Slice of pie & coffee - Sample

Sample, sample, sample! Here’s another chapter of my new book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir.

Chapter 8: What Are Your Christmas Traditions?

Three Children Anticipating Christmas - Sample

In my country childhood, we had many Christmas traditions: the fun and adventure of cutting down a tree from our ranch, hilarious Christmas programs at the church and school, and fun-filled Christmas caroling around our small town. Our family dominated this holiday’s focus.

My dad’s parents lived just across town, so most of my childhood Christmas Eves were spent at their house.

Christmas at the Horners’

It was a big affair,
     especially when Granddad got all
     sixteen grandchildren together.
That meant a holiday house full.

Each year, my Christmas outfit was always special.
One year
     a white dress with a gathered skirt,
     trimmed in red,
     made by Mom.

Grandma, decked out in her festive apron,
      worried over the meal.
She made the best mashed potatoes,
     smothered in butter.
Granddad’s job came after dinner.

The table was set on the porch so
     we could all fit,
          a long line of smiles and laughter.

For those of us who knew the tradition,
     anticipation set in.
We tried to hurry the process,
     with no success.

Finally, after a leisurely cup of coffee and a cigarette,
     Granddad would disappear to the front door.

His shout rang through the whole house!
     It had begun.

“I just saw Santa Claus fly over. Come quick.”

Santa flying over the moon

We’d race to the front door,
he would race to the back door.

“No, no, he’s out here now. Come this way.”

We’d race to the back door.
This would go on for
     what seemed like eternity,
     and I never did see Santa, a reindeer,
          or his sleigh.
               I was always a second too late!
But this also meant that it was time
     to open our gifts that had mysteriously spilled out from
          under the Christmas tree.

A traditional Christmas with the Horners meant
     aunts and uncles,
     sometimes great aunts
          from Tulsa, Oklahoma,
     good food,
     lots of laughter,
     traditions that filled my heart with joy and
          family connection!

Larada Horner-Miller, This Tumbleweed Landed (2014): 67-68.

What was your favorite Christmas tradition?

Sample and savor this precious memory of mine! What was a special childhood tradition you enjoyed at Christmas? Tell me about it!

Buy your copy and some for gifts on Amazon!

Cats · My Books · My Thoughts

Two Updates: My Miracle Cat & My New Book!

Two updates on two important features of my life. We thought our cat, Jesse, was gone twice in the last few weeks, but he’s the miracle cat for sure. Also, I’ve turned the corner on my new book! I will release it in e-book format in the next couple weeks and the paperback at the end of September!

Two Updates: Jesse, the Miracle Cat

Jesse has lived for twenty years, which is equivalent to 96 years old in people years. He has feline diabetes, and I used to give him three units of insulin twice a day.

On Thursday, August 24, something happened; we think he had a seizure. For the last couple of years, we have had problems with Jesse vomiting, but it increased. To keep track of how often he vomits, I have kept track of it. However, this day was horrible, and it got worse.  

First, Jesse vomited in the hallway on a towel I had put down because the had vomited there before. I cleaned it up, but left the towel until the carpet dried. He had one episode in the kitchen, peeing on the carpet in the living room and liquid coming out of him. He howled, an eerie sound from the depth of his being. Then I took himself outside on the patio, and that’s where he had something like an epileptic episode. He had tremors. His eyes glazed over, and I had to hold him so he wouldn’t hurt himself because he was rolling around. He lost control of his bowels. He howled again! I shed lots of tears. Then he came out of it for a few days, but again it changed.

Then Jesse had two consecutive days, vomiting twice each day, so on Tuesday, August 29, I called the vet and took him in. They decided to keep him over night, and the vet talked to me about the possibility of euthanizing him. I decided I had to do at least one more thing: a night in the hospital might help.

And it did. They fed him intravenously and did numerous tests. Several problems arose for him besides the diabetes: pancreatitis, low potassium, and low red blood count. That’s a lot!

After a restless night, Wednesday morning, we took his insulin up to the hospital. At this point, we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. At Lin’s suggestion the night before, I had prepared myself that he was dead, but Lin kept a positive mindset. He was alive! Later Wednesday afternoon, the vet decided one more night in the hospital, so I picked him up about 5:00 PM on Thursday. The tech then gave me some changes for him: one unit of insulin once a day and wet cat food for diabetic cats. ONE UNIT! I thought that was a mistake, but she repeated it then and when I called to check Friday morning. So the over-dosage of insulin possibly could have caused all the vomiting. Oh, diabetic cats are a mystery for sure! Lots of tears shed again!

When we got home, Jesse was weak, yet looked a lot better than when I took him in. I had to get a shot for him and give it to him on Friday for the low blood count. He has eaten like a starving maniac! So, maybe the dry cat food for diabetic cats was part of the problem, too! Who knows?

Needless to say, he is doing great! Yesterday I spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon outside, and he joined me—Lin’s garden is his favorite place on earth! I’ll keep you posted on his recovery!

Two Updates: My New Book

I said I had two updates, so here’s the second one. It might appear odd, but I’m working on a Christmas book now. Sales statistics show people buy Christmas books starting in September and I’m running behind schedule.

So here’s cover and subtitle reveal for you! The title came easily; I’ve labored considerably over the subtitle. Last week, I surveyed my book coach and his group, and they were split! They felt either would work! For the last few days, I did a survey on Facebook and came up with one a little ahead of the other. So here’s the winner:

As a self-published author, I have the opportunity to do all the legwork behind the scene of creating the book. Yes, I write it, but I also design the interior in different formats: paperback and e-book. I also organize all the launch promotions and do all the marketing. What a daunting task, but this time, I have had the help of Derek Doepker, my book coach, and his coaching group.

Finally, these two updates stirred my life up this week. Hopefully Jesse stays well and continues to improve, and I finish all the needed tasks to get my book finished, uploaded and available to you, the readers!

Grab my e-book at the book launch price of $1.99 for a limited time:

My Thoughts · Technology · Writing

Moving Parts of Publishing an E-book!

Moving parts

Moving parts of publishing an e-book—so many for sure! My new e-book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir, has made it through the ringer, available now! This week I struggled with the process and succeeded. Let me share it with you!

Eagerly on Monday, first, I created the new e-book space on KDP, an affiliate of Amazon. I filled in all the required information, which I prepared for a couple of days ahead of time. Lots of research goes into launching a new book for keywords and categories. When a customer searches on Amazon, their search engines use keywords and book categories to find the book—super important for the sales of a book!

Then I uploaded the manuscript to KDP, excited I was finally there. Anticipation about this day had hovered over me for weeks. KDP has an online previewer, thank God! First, I realized I had the Copyright page in the wrong place—after the Table of Contents, not before it. So, in Vellum, the program I use to create my books, I moved it forward one page, but then had to upload the document again. Whew! All these moving parts!

Then, I have several pictures in the book and the placement in Vellum wasn’t true to size. So, I resized and resized and resized, going back and forth several times between KDP and Vellum. Finally, it looked good.

On Tuesday morning, I asked my book coach and group about using my ex-husband’s name in my book. None of what I wrote about him was derogatory, but I have become super cautious about using people’s names.

The solutions they offered: change his name or call him and ask permission. I haven’t talked to him in over forty years, so calling was out of the question. My husband, Lin, had offered the same advice while we discussed this in the hot tub on Monday night.

So somehow, while I was resizing the pictures, I forgot about changing his name in the revisions Tuesday night. Good thing I brought it up to my book coach.

On Wednesday morning, I knew I had to change my first husband’s name. I researched safe names to use for men characters in a book and came up with Alex. Lin came upstairs to my computer, and I told him what I was doing. He came up with a great idea: use a Christmas name. So, I researched Christmas names: Joseph, Nicholas, Rudolph, etc. Our decision: Rudolph!

So that ended the saga! I uploaded the new version of the e-book on Wednesday afternoon and it was ready for purchase shortly!

Finally, I’m waiting for the final cover of the print copy with the description, my picture and brief biography and the ISBN number. Hopefully, it will go smoothly! You never know! Moving parts!!

Did you know all the moving parts of publishing a book? If so, what was your experience?

~Jump in on my Book Launch special next week. From Wednesday, September 13 – Sunday, September 17, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir will be FREE on Amazon. Click here!

Download new launch: Hair on Fire. Moving parts
Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

A Negative Comment About the Flippo Book! What?

A negative comment about the Flippo book I wrote—what? Yes, and I’m proud of how I handled it!

Last week, at Hot August Nights Plus Square Dance Weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a woman hung around my book table Saturday afternoon, especially looking at the table with the biography I wrote about Marshall Flippo.  So, I walked over to see if she had bought his biography.

When asked if she bought it, she replied, “Yes.” Nothing more.

So I asked her eagerly, “What did you think?” I’ve had such a great response from readers in the square dance world, I wasn’t prepared.

“It wasn’t written very well.”

Surprised, I said, “I’m the author.” She stared at me, unblinking, like I was from another planet. That shocked me she didn’t know I wrote the book. My picture is on the book—I haven’t changed that much since 2020. I have an unusual name—come on! Her partner joined us and I asked him if he had bought a copy. He had helped me with information on one specific event in the book.

He said, “Not yet,” which surprised me.

I said, “Well, your partner has.”

Then he said, “I’ll read hers.”

As this conversation continued with no more reference about the Flippo book, I stayed calm and collected which is unusual for me. Usually, I react—get defensive, get angry— but I didn’t. I listened to my internal dialogue: “Look at the cover. Look at the book awards.” But then I realized I didn’t need to defend it. I watched her stand there, offering no explanation, so, I circled back to the book.

“So, what was wrong with Flippo’s biography?” I asked sincerely wanting her feedback.

“It was in pieces—scattered” is all she said—nothing more. I waited for her explanation. She looked away and had nothing else to say. We danced together for the rest of the weekend and I quickly forgot this incident. But on Tuesday morning, I retold it to my book coaching group, and it generated a lot of discussion. My book coach shared his wisdom, “Take neither the positive 5-star review or the negative 1-star review to heart. Stay somewhere in the middle.”

As a writer, I know not everyone will like my books. I’ve written six books in a variety of genres on less popular topics like country living, grief and losing your parents, surviving the pandemic and the biography of a square dance caller. These are not hot topics—no sex, drug and rock ‘n roll, yet I’m proud of each book.

A friend of ours told Lin I should write more steamy books and they’d sell better—sorry, folks! Not my topic!

So, the take away from this incident for me:

  • I kept my composure when she made her comment and then asked a probing question to try to get clarifying information to help me as a writer.
  • When I first released the Flippo book in 2020, someone emailed there were too many typo errors in it and she wouldn’t buy it. I had worked hard on it for three years. I had it professional edited, and this comment crushed me, so I didn’t respond. With some distance and time from it, I realized she probably had just thumbed through it and didn’t realize I had used Flippo’s Texas accent in his responses, so it would like look words were spelled incorrectly. But since then, I have lost her email, so I couldn’t explain or ask her any questions. I just reacted—hurt!
  • I realized how blessed I’ve been over the last nine years to receive so much positive feedback about each of my books

Obviously, this isn’t the first negative I’ve gotten nor will it be the last, but I felt it worthy to write about.

For readers, I have some suggestions:

  • Review any book you read and you don’t have to give every book a 5-star review
  • Email the author with your thoughts about the positives and negatives so we can have a personal exchange and possibly grow from the experience

Yes, everyone has a right to their opinion. I love each of my books in a different way—they’re my babies—yet the Flippo biography has a special place in my heart. I felt it a privilege to spend the hours interviewing Flip and then felt proud of the job I did in writing it. By writing it, I recorded and honored his place in square dance history.

In fact, if you are one of the people who reviewed this book on Amazon, thanks so much. If you bought it and haven’t reviewed it, now is the time to do so!

News, News, News!

Pre-order my new book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir, ahead of the Christmas rush. To be released in September for your early shopping pleasure!

Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?:

Get your free 50-minute audio recording of Flippo! Click here for easy access!

Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

We Danced the Weekend Away!

We danced the weekend away at the 17th Annual Hot August Nights! Thanks to a fantastic staff who kept our feet moving: Mike & Lisa Seastrom, caller and Mitchell & Chelsea Thompson, cuer.

Friday, August 18, 2023

We started dancing Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM with an hour “Welcome Dance.” People have just arrived from travels far and near and five squares jumped onto the floor to get their feet wet!

Our annual Friday Night Beach Party had beach balls sailing around the dance hall. Instead of traditional square dance attire, dancers wore anything appropriate for the beach. The relaxed but fun-loving atmosphere set the tone for the weekend. Mike’s high energy calling and songs kept the dancers hopping and Mitchell’s cuing had the round dancers enjoying every song. We ended the night with the traditional root beer floats and lots of casual conversation, a time to get acquainted with dancers you met on the dance floor.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

On Saturday morning, the round dancers came out for the round dance workshop to learn a level four cha-cha that kept us moving.

Then Mitchell and Chelsea offered an introduction to rounds, and the dancers learned how to waltz.

For lunch, a group of dancers went to Millie’s Restaurant close by to visit and enjoy their delicious food. We had the pleasure of talking about square and rounding in Colorado with Mitchell & Chelsea—always a treat to hear what’s happening in other areas.

Then Saturday afternoon we featured square dancing: singing calls, a Plus workshop and then high energy. Whew! My feet ached afterwards, but my heart sang!

Saturday night dancers donned traditional square dance outfits. Our committee wore our gorgeous Hot August Nights outfits.

A few women from the Hot August Nights Committee
A few women from the Hot August Nights Committee

The fun continued with great square and round dancing. We added a new feature to our evening: Mitchell and Chelsea danced a beautiful demonstration for the enjoyment of the crowd! What a beautiful job they did!

Sunday, August 20, 2023

On Sunday morning, we ended the event with a Trail Out dance and had five squares again of hardy dancers. Traditional on Sunday, we scatter promenade and lots of shenanigans happen. The tradition continued, and we danced to the end!

When the event ended, I received lots of hugs and farewells and thanks for a great weekend. That always makes it worth all the hard work. The committee quickly cleaned up and then had a feedback meeting with Mike and Lisa Seastrom joining us. We considered what went well, what we need to improve on and how to improve. We so appreciate everyone’s input, especially Mike and Lisa.

The Hot August Nights Committee & Mike & Lisa Seastrom at Fuddruckers.
The Hot August Nights Committee & Mike & Lisa Seastrom at Fuddruckers.

To end the festive weekend, part of committee and Mike and Lisa headed to Fuddruckers for lunch. During lunch, we enjoyed a heady conversation about square dancing and promoting squares. Again, I appreciated the opportunity to talk about our activity with a national caller.


As always, one highlight of the weekend is the people who attend. We had dancers/friends from Mississippi and Virginia.

Square Dance Friends from Mississippi! We Danced!
Square Dance Friends from Mississippi!

We had the short and the tall.

The short and the tall! We danced
The short and the tall!

And especially we had Freddie Franks, one of the three original couples who started Hot August Nights in 2007. She lost her husband, Bill, less than a year ago, and it was so good to give her a hug.

Freddi, Lin and Larada! We danced!
Freddi, Lin and Larada!

Tonight, I’m tired but satisfied. After the pandemic, our attendance has gone down. In 2019, we had twenty-two squares on the floor for Saturday night. In 2022, we had about the same as this year. This year we had ten squares that filled the Albuquerque Square Dance Center with energy and laughter.

And what a committee we have! We worked together smooth like silk, according to Mike Seastrom. It is sheer pleasure to work with this group!

What a success we had! We danced the weekend away! It isn’t always about the head count, but about the laughter and joy on the dancers’ faces. We look forward to next year—we will grow and get it back to where it was!

News, News, News!

Pre-order my new book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir, ahead of the Christmas rush. To be released in September for your early shopping pleasure!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme. We Danced
Take a trip & my book with you!

Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. We danced.
Relax outside with Flippo!

Get your free 50-minute audio recording of Flippo! Click here for easy access!

haiku · My Thoughts · poetry

A Hummingbird Party: Let’s Attend!


A hummingbird party continues to rage at our house on the deck where the feeders are. The birds arrived late this summer—first or second week of July. We lamented over their absence in June, but they’re here now and chugging the nectar Lin puts out daily! And what a stunning spectacle!

Our hummingbirds at three feeders - day of leading meditation
Hummingbird Party

On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, I selected our deck to lead a meditation group I’m in. Why the deck? So the participants could see the massive amount of hummingbirds we have and join the party. Those tiny birdy rebel-rousers came out in full force.

Our group time together began with: I read my favorite poet, Mary Oliver’s poem, Hummingbirds, for the inspiration part of our time.


By Mary Oliver

The female, and two chicks,
each no bigger than my thumb,

in their pale-green dresses;
then they rose, tiny fireworks,
into the leaves
and hovered;

then they sat down,
each one with dainty, charcoal feet –
each one on a slender branch –
and looked at me.

I had meant no harm,
I had simply
climbed the tree
for something to do

on a summer day,
not knowing they were there,
ready to burst the ledges
of their mossy nest

and to fly, for the first time,
in their sea-green helmets,
with brisk, metallic tails –
each tulled wing,

with every dollop of flight,
drawing a perfect wheel
across the air.
Then, with a series of jerks,

they paused in front of me
and, dark-eyed, stared –
as though I were a flower –
and then,

like three tosses of silvery water,
they were gone.
in the crown of the tree,

I went to China,
I went to Prague;
I died, and was born in the spring;
I found you, and loved you, again.

Later the darkness fell
and the solid moon
like a white pond rose.
But I wasn’t in any hurry.

Likely I visited all
the shimmering, heart-stabbing
questions without answers
before I climbed down.

At first, my reading of the poem featuring them chased off all of those hummers. They flee from any sound we make. During the meditation part and the quiet, they came back in full force—dipping and diving. One vied for a position near the feeder, then another ran him off—probably an ornery rufous. I love the collective sound they make—probably their wings flapping, “10-15 times a second. Hummingbirds can fly forward, backward, and even upside down.”

Is all the sound from their wings flapping or do they sing? “While most birdwatchers can identify a Hummingbird by the furious buzzing of their wings, they also have a series of calls, songs, and vocalizations to communicate with each other.”

The herd of hummingbirds and Oliver’s poem inspired me to write the following haikus about hummingbirds and tree climbing:

My Haikus

You are the Lord of

The dainty hummingbird gift!

They make me laugh so!

Climb a tree at my

Age? Why not? Discover life!

Nature heals my heart!

Come and sit on our

Deck to see hummingbirds feed.

Sweet nectar lures them.

I can visit the

Whole world, sitting in a tree.

My deep concerns melt.

Clouds hang over the

Sandias. Hummingbirds dance.

  1. A picturesque scene!
  2. New Mexico True!

(I had trouble deciding on the third line. Which do you like?)

Jesus orchestrates

The hummingbirds’ migration.

Thanks for stopping here!

The thirsty crowd has

Arrived! Hummingbirds party!

Be quiet and watch!

Yes, living in the mountains has many blessings, but these fanciful little hummingbirds have to be the best. They continue to come—hopefully for the rest of August. Yesterday, Lin prepared two gallons of nectar which according to some formula he uses, means he fed 1000 hummingbirds yesterday—wow! Also, he only plants flowers and plants in his garden like penstemons, to feed and attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies!

Finally, yes, when they gather to party and drink the nectar, the hummingbirds disturb the quiet, but naturally. As I sit and type this, those hungry little lovelies gather at the feeders I can see. Two feeders need filling, but there are ten spread out on the deck, and Lin has a schedule of keeping them full.

Hummingbird feedings I see from my laptop

I love to sit outside and watch their maneuvers and marvel at their speed and antics. Do hummingbirds party at your house? Do you feed any? many? Let me know! Join the hummingbird party!

I’d like to leave you with a treat—a video Lin took last week! Let the party begin!

Hummingbirds Party!

News, News, News!

Pre-order my new book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir, ahead of the Christmas rush. To be released in September for your early shopping pleasure!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - hummingbird
Vacation with my book and heal!

Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flipp meme - Hummingbird
Find some shade with a cold drink & enjoy Flippo!

Get your free 50-minute audio recording of Flippo! Click here for easy access!

Dancing · My Thoughts · square dance

Two Weekends of Dancing: Tired Feet!

Tired Feet - Two weekends

Two weekends of dancing: I love it. Today my feet hurt and my lips curl into a smile, remembering the fun we had at USA West Square Dance Convention and Hi Country Weekend. Both offered lots of dancing and both differed, but rewarded us in a variety of ways.

First of the Two Weekend Dance Events: USA West, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From July 26-29, 2023, 450 dancers came from all over the USA and other countries to enjoy USA West. This square and round dance festival began in 1997 in Denver, Colorado. It occurs anytime the National Square Dance Convention is east of the Mississippi. Since 1997, it has been held every year except three years—one year was for COVID.

This year, Albuquerque’s own Randy and Lorraine Pratt organized this event and did a great job.

During the convention, I sold my books and had a significant response. While selling them, I rekindled relationships with many dancers I hadn’t seen in years. What a splendid chance to see friend/dancers!

During USA West, the day began at 10:00 AM and ended at 10:00 PM, with After Parties that lasted until 11:00 PM or later. You can see that many square and round dancers love to party!

Each of the four evenings, we danced the night away to the possibility of 38 callers and 21 cuers from all over the country and Canada. We followed one caller we love around from hall to hall. That’s the option you have at a big event like this.

Often, we found our favorite high energy dancers and danced a fun square.

Also, we thoroughly enjoyed several exhibition groups that performed:

  • California Heritage Dancers
  • River City Riders
  • High Country Dancers
  • The Colorado Dancers

A couple of these groups highlighted the history of square dancing. One group, the River City Riders, had a fun presentation, with the dancers appearing to be horseback.

After so much dancing, we ended the weekend with tired feet and happy hearts! We thoroughly enjoyed the first of the two weekend dance events. USA West was a smashing success, yet we wanted more!

Second of the Two Weekend Dance Events: Hi Country Weekend, Pueblo, Colorado

At the USA West Trail-In dance on Wednesday, the Hi Country Weekend organizers asked if we planned to attend their dance coming up. They regularly attend our festival, Hot August Nights, and one said, “You know, we support you regularly.”

So, on August 3, 2023, Thursday afternoon, Lin and I headed north with a detour to Branson, Colorado, to spend a night there and saw my brother. That evening, we put a window air conditioner in my house in Branson. Afterwards Lin and I visited our 94-year-old friend who always is a joy to see.

Then, on Friday, August 4, we drove to Trinidad and met my brother for lunch and shopped around Trinidad. Afterwards, away we went to Pueblo for Hi Country Weekend for the weekend. Each evening had a different theme: Hawaiian Friday night and Cowboy on Saturday.

Each evening started with thirty minutes of round dancing, then thirty minutes of Plus dancing. The rest of the evening they had SSD (Social Square Dancing) dancing, with Plus dancing and rounds sprinkled throughout. So see—the focus was SSD dancing.

I really enjoyed their unique vision for a festival with the focus on SSD dancing. SSD is a relatively new program that focuses on the most popular fifty Mainstream calls. An entire weekend dedicated to a beginner level of dancing! Never once during the weekend was I bored as an experienced dancer. How about that! Other event planners should take note!

Unlike USA West, this event had two featured callers: Joe Saltel and Mike Hogan and a cuer: Peter and Chama Gomez. What a talented staff! The callers mixed up the SSD program so well, I never felt bored. This part of Colorado has several new SSD dancers that had a blast at their first festival.

Friday night we attended the “After Party” in one of the committee’s hotel room, overflowing with food and drinks and dancers. One tradition of this group is a “Bed Picture.” They get as many people as possible onto the bed in one of their hotel rooms for a selfie and they post the picture on Facebook. Their record is 24 people, but we only got 17! I always laugh as we jam as many people as possible on a hotel bed.

On Saturday morning, we took part in a challenging Plus workshop and then headed out to get gas and wash the car. We returned to the dance hall for a delicious barbecue lunch. Peter and Chama had a great workshop on Saturday afternoon, focusing on lower level round dances and then a jive workshop. We thoroughly enjoyed Peter’s excellent cuing and his hilarious sense of humor all weekend.

What a wonderful group of dancers come from southern Colorado—so warm and welcoming. Plus, high energy who thoroughly enjoy dancing and each other.  

The second festival of our two weekend spree has left me exhausted and satisfied!


Two weekends of amazing dancing! Two weekends in a row—fantastic for those of us who love to dance! Each satisfied my dance needs, and each made my heart smile! In two weeks, we host our dance festival, Hot August Nights, in Albuquerque! So, yes, more dancing, more laughter and more friends in our near future!

Do you square dance? Dance of any kind? Do you dance this often, two weekends in a row?

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Pre-order my new book, Hair on Fire: A Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir, ahead of the Christmas rush. To be released in September for your early shopping pleasure!

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Book Production · Books · Christmas · Memories · My Thoughts

Revising my Christmas book in July: Imagine That!

Christmas in July - revising

Revising my Christmas book in July seems absurd, but I have been. You see—to get a book out for the holiday season, now is the time! I have been working on it for a couple of months! Here’s what’s happening!

Last year, I researched popular e-book genres and found out that travel books and Christmas books were on the list. I thought, “Wow! I have both hidden away!” Then I let it go!

So in the early spring of this year, I researched the best time to publish a Christmas book on one of my favorite writing/publishing apps, Publisher Rocket. I thought it would be October or November, giving me plenty of time to get it finished. No, I found out I needed to get it out into the hands of holiday readers by August/September (see chart below).

This app has guided me in a variety of ways as a self-publisher, and I respect Dave Chesson, who created this app and this helpful website:

So, with this in mind, I moved forward, contacting my editor I’ve used for my last three books. But I didn’t hear from her, and I was still suffering from neuralgia from the shingles I had in April 2022. Being on pain medicine for the neuralgia fogged my brain and my ambition, so I let it slip by for a month or two.

When I finally heard from my editor, physically I felt better, so I created a timeline with her: I sent my manuscript off to her on June 19, 2023. She sent back her critiqued version on July 12. Then I read her email comments and highlighted specific suggestions. After that, I went through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, enjoying her comments and accepting her revisions.

She suggested I write a couple of adult Christmas memories because I had just a few in the manuscript. That spurred me on to write four new chapters, enjoying the remembrances. Then I sent it back to her and am waiting for her final comments.

During this time my editor had my manuscript, I focused on the book cover and description. I paid 100 Covers to do the cover (see cover, but title isn’t exact).

Hair on Fire cover - revising

I paid Bryan Cohen’s Best Page Forward to do the description. Gladly, I have finals for both of them. I need to tweak both before finalizing them.

I have wrestled with the title using a website, my book coach, and coaching group to help me. This is my title and subtitle so far: Hair on Fire: My Heartwarming & Humorous Christmas Memoir.

But here are other options for the subtitle. What do you think?

  • A Christmas Memoir
  • A Heartwarming Christmas Memoir
  • A Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir
  • A Joyful, Heartwarming and Humorous Christmas Memoir
  • Hair on Fire: A Head-Warming Christmas Tale

Now I am waiting, waiting, waiting for my editor’s final response. Then I complete my editor’s suggested revisions in August. I love this back-and-forth process. She assured me it would be back by August 8-10. When the manuscript looks exactly the way I want it to, then I use Vellum, a Mac app, to create the interior of the book. Finally, I upload it to Amazon and various other e-book distributors.

Holding the proof copy in my hands always gives me such a warm sensation—I almost have to pinch myself to see if it’s a dream. If it looks good, it’s available to buy.

Here’s your chance to pre-order this book,

Finally, I love revising my Christmas book—rereading those precious memories touches my heart each time. When you get your copy, I hope it touches yours.

Have you ever thought of writing a book? Which subtitle did you like the best? Let me know!

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Blogging · My Thoughts

400 Blog Posts, 10 Years Later: Wow!

400 blog posts: that’s incredible! That means approximately 400,000 words I’ve written over the last ten years! That’s a lot of words, so let’s look at what all that means.

During the first three years, I didn’t have a weekly commitment to writing a post, but in 2018, I became more regular. Also, I didn’t include photos then either. From the very beginning, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the topics for the year and an extra sheet for possible future topics. I also have recorded the number of visitors and views for the month and the monthly average—as a tech person, I’ve always loved statistics.

Over the years, my topics varied from book business topics like marketing or any of my six books or audiobook or three cookbooks. I love to write about our travels and the unique experiences I have had. I also like to write about life and its happenings. One of my favorite life topics is pets, especially my dear cat Jesse and people love to read about him.


I self-published my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, and studied all I could about self-publishing. In my research, I found blogs mentioned repeatedly, so I thought I should jump in. So, on May 6, 2014, I started with, “Meet Larada Today!” That year I wrote sporadically six times, jumping from the end of May to August to October, November and December. I wrote two posts in May, then one in each of those four months. Not too consistent. All posts talked about my book and book publication. That’s what I thought I should write about to get more followers interested in the same topics as me.

My most popular post was “Meet Larada Today!” with 29 views.


I wrote more consistently—sixteen blog posts which ended up being about once a month. Again, most topics addressed book issues, but my personal life seeped in. I featured my new book, When Will Papa Get Home? and the first of my three cookbooks, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook, Volume 1, which I had published the previous year.

My most popular post was “From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook” with 24 views.


I reverted to 2014’s pace and only wrote six posts. I let the first of the year escape and started in May, then dropped off until November. Then I wrote the rest of my posts in November and December. Here’s where my topic choice changed drastically—these posts talk about my life mostly with a couple of writing ideas. Because of my inconsistency, I didn’t write about the next cookbook I published the previous year, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook, Volume 2.

My most popular post was “Are A Lot of People Bibliophobic Today?” with 107 views, a noted increase!


Something happened and had more of a commitment to writing regularly. I wrote twenty-two posts which average out to be a little less than every other week, but the topic changed again. The first part of the year I wrote about my writing business mostly, but the last part I wrote about our trip to England and Ireland. For the trip section, I described each travel day in a separate post, so that encouraged me to write weekly to cover the trip. I neglected to write about my third cookbook, From Grannie’s Kitchen Cookbook, Volume 3, that was published the previous year.

My most popular post was “Day 3–4 Kissing a Stone and on to Killarney” with 171 views, growing more so!


I continued the England and Ireland trip’s daily description and started a system that year of writing weekly. This year I wrote fifty-four posts—my best year so far! So I expanded my topics coming up with regular yearly topics like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I also added a major topic that has become a focus: square dancing! I added so much about square dancing because I was interviewing Marshall Flippo in preparation to write his biography.

My most popular post was “Day 3-4 Kissing a Stone and on to Killarney” with 811 views, what an increase! Funny that this was the top post for two years!


I had my largest year so far of writing blog posts—sixty-six posts! A couple of life events caused this increase. I continued interviewing Marshall, but he died this year. I wrote about that. Also, this year we went on a British Isles cruise, so I had lots of travel stories to share. During the holidays, I wrote two posts weekly as well.

My most popular post was “Why Knit?” with 1939 views. What an increase about a topic I love!


The pandemic hit and I wrote sixty-four posts. During the first part of the year, I shared about our trip to Costa Rica. Then I used my blog to deal with my feelings during the pandemic but those posts were delayed about a month because of another trip, our trip to Spain. We came home March 8, 2020 and the virus exploded there on the March 9. I spent the rest of the year’s blog mostly on the pandemic and, these posts inspired my last book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? which I published in 2021. in 2020, I published the Flippo book: Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. I sent up a monthly schedule to write something interesting about Flippo, his biography or something about his life. I continued that practice in 2021 and part of 2022 but not as consistently.

My most popular post was “Extreme Costa Rica: Mawamba and Our Animal Adventure” with 1811 views. The number stayed high!


I joined a Blog Challenge in November to blog daily! What a feat that was! I ended up writing eighty posts that year, my best year so far! I learned a lot from the challenge because part of my commitment was to visit other bloggers in the challenge, so I incorporated several features I saw on other blogs. I prepared for the challenge by creating a spreadsheet for promoting my books and poetry.

My most popular post was “Haunted by a Favorite Poem of Mine” with 827 views, a decrease and I wonder why?


Finally, I had the rhythm and regular weekly habit of writing my blog post down. This year I wrote fifty-seven posts. I had to write about the war in Ukraine and my feelings about it. On April 4, 2022, I broke out with shingles on the right side of my forehead, eyelid, cheek and my scalp which altered my writing life totally, except for my blog. I consistently did my weekly blog post throughout 2022, as I dealt with neuralgia which is unbelievable nerve pain. I continued writing about Flippo, the usual holidays and haikus slipped into many posts. In the fall, we did two cruises, but I only wrote about the first one. Lin and I came home in early December from the second one with COVID which hampered my writing again. But again, I wrote my weekly blog post.

My most popular post was “Looking Back—Hot August Nights 2022” with 2312 views. The best! And about my favorite square and round dance festival!


So far this year, I have written thirty blog posts. I tried a couple of different focuses this year. In March for Women’s History Month, I wrote about women in my life. What a joy that was! I interviewed a 94-year-old friend, and it has been one of the most popular posts this year (412 views). Then in April, I focused on National Poetry Month, highlighting my poetry and some of my favorite poets. You can see one of my poetry blog posts has the most popular views for the year. In May, we went to Scotland, so once again, I focused on the stories from that trip, grouping three days together in one post.

My most popular post is “Another Instance for Poetry: Square Dance!” with 596 views, a major decrease!

So, these 400,000 words in my 400 blog posts, in book language, equal 5-6 full-length books! That’s an amazing figure for sure. Each week, I look forward to sitting in front of my computer and sharing my thoughts with you! That’s why I do it!

A question for you—have you read them all?

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Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?:

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Take your iPad and Flippo outside for a summer reading day!

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