haiku · My Thoughts · New Mexico · poetry

“Haikuing” Through Life

Writing in a journal—haikuing

“Haikuing” through life helps me make sense of this life we’re leading in an economy of words. Yes, life’s topics inspire me to write haikus, a three-line poem with Japanese origin broken up into syllable counts: 1st line–5 syllables, 2nd line–7 syllables, 3rd line–5 syllables.

Haikuing” While Walking

In 2021, I walked regularly and composed haikus as I walked. Nature inspired the topics easily.

bird birds usa raven. Haikuing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
July 15, 2021
Raucous cawing of
Black birds circling above
Noisy neighborhood
July 20, 2021
See your essential
“Spiritual beingness” now
Do not dread your death!


To be present now
I must ground me to something
Earth, please touch my feet.
white cumulus clouds. Haikuing
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com
July 27, 2021
Cloudy skies, humid
New Mexico greens up with
July rains. So fresh!


The desert greens up
With abundant July rains.
Wet, not hot, this year!
August 11, 2021
I turned sixty-eight.
Is that old now? I wonder.
Hell, no! I’m not old.
woman and dog walking at woods. Haikuing
Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Pexels.com
August 17, 2021
Walking frees my heart
And soul to connect with my
World and God as one!


Puffy white clouds hang
Suspended against blue skies.
Are they cotton balls?
August 18, 2021
Tomatoes, green now
Tomorrow ripe, red and ready.
Joy and juicy now!


One small chunky start
Cucumbers ready to burst
My mouth savors them!


You can’t eat flowers,
But they feed my soul daily.
God’s heavenly fare.


God speaks through flowers.
Multi-colored—see a splash
Of diversity!

Finally,

I write free verse poetry too, but I have always had a love affair with haikus. When I taught poetry to middle schoolers, they wrote wonderful, meaningful haikus. Recently, after attending Natalie Goldberg’s “The Way of Writing” class in 2021 and reading her book, Three Simple Lines, that fire re-ignited in me, and I have fanned the flame regularly to keep them coming.

How about you—do you do “haikuing” through life? Do you like haikus? Do you write them? If so, share one!


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. I’M SO EXCITED!

~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 Marshal Flippo meme
A pair of glasses, your iPhone & Flippo!

~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

haiku · My Thoughts · poetry

July Comes to End­ With Haiku

Woman reading poetry in July

July is ending, and I can’t believe it. I’m going to Denver with my brother to see the Rockies play the LA Dodgers on Sunday and to the Broncos Training camp on Monday morning, so this will be a shorter blog post, featuring some of my haikus.

During my walks in 2021, these haikus came to me. I’d count out the syllable as I walked (1st line—5 syllables; 2nd line—7 syllables; 3rd line—5 syllables). Then I repeated them several times so I wouldn’t forget them before jotting them down when I got home. The subjects varied—usually the day and what was going on generated it.

So, enjoy!

March 29

Woman walking alone - July

Now I walk alone

Not a tragedy at all.

My best companion!

April 3

Good Friday has come.

The world awaits Easter Day.

Jesus is alive!


Repeat their dear names

Out loud, often with respect.

Keeps them present here.

April 7

A sad hollow space

In my heart. No room for him.

Abuser died—gone!

April 19

Cataracts, oh my!

Slowly my vision changed, but

Surgery clears it!

April 29

Dare to love deeply!

One more loss added today!

Open heart once more!

May 24

Black bird - July

Blackbirds above—caw!

My walk companions now.

I prefer your view!


Finally,

The structure and limitations of haiku force me to think about my word choice, making the verse crisp. Then the punch or twist at the end sometimes comes as a surprise.

July ending had nothing to do with my haikus’ subjects. I’ll share my July haikus in another post.

Do you read poetry? Do you like haikus? What is your favorite form of poetry?


~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!

~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

~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!

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

Albuquerque · haiku · My Thoughts

ABQ Zoo & Haikus—I’m Concerned!

We visited the ABQ zoo on Thursday, July 14, 2022, an all-day affair. We left home before about 8:45 am and arrived there before 9:00 am. Here’s what we saw, and I wrote more haikus but took mostly pictures.

Map of Albuquerque Zoo
Map of Albuquerque Zoo

It felt so good to be back near my beloved Washington middle school, La Washa, where I taught for eight and one-half years. When I taught there, we visited the zoo annually with our students because it was within walking distance. However, it has grown so much; I felt lost most of the day.

During our visit, I found a common theme for the haikus I wrote fed by repeated signs at animal cages of species being endangered. There are seven levels of endangered species. The Red List has seven levels of conservation: least concern, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild, and extinct. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/endangered-species

7 Levels of endangered species

So, in viewing all these precious animals and the thought of losing them for future generations, I ended up writing about the crisis we face with endangered species:

My Haikus

Wild animals

In our ABQ zoo park

Making me aware!


Many are at risk.

Mankind’s disloyalty to

God’s priceless creatures.


Endangered species

Way too many in the zoo

Please stop the killing!


So, I’ve chosen today to do a photo collection of the animals we enjoyed so much.

Finally, I’ll end with a video that’s deceiving. As we left the lions earlier in the day, a volunteer told us to come back about 4:30 pm because they roar every day. Throughout the day, we heard people say you could hear the lion’s roar all over the zoo. How exciting! So we extended our time there and returned.

Sadly to say, in this visit, we didn’t see the polar bears. Lin kept saying, “Where can they be hiding the polar bears?”

I said, “In the freezer!” With it being a hot day over 90 degrees, they may have been somewhere cool. We also missed the penguin exhibit by just a few minutes. We plan to start our next visit with these two favorites.

I had my iPad all set up to videotape this notable event. At 4:30 pm, we settled ourselves at the lion’s habitat with several people who we had passed on the information. As if on a schedule, the male lion stirred—his massive mane flowing. Lin commented he did not know a lion’s mane was so massive.

Then a door opened on the wall inside the habitat. First, the female lion entered, then the male followed, so I thought we missed it. But immediately the roaring began, so I videotaped it, but the video shows the platform where I thought they would be. You know—like The Lion King!

As we walked through this beautiful park, the Albuquerque’s zoo, nestled among old stately Cottonwood trees, has an allure to it—a tranquil place to enjoy a day.

Stately cottonwood tree at the Albuquerque zoo

Finally, we enjoyed our visit and plan another one in a month. I hate the stark truth of the demise of so many of our animals around the globe. Have you ever thought about this growing concern? Hopefully, you have now.

Now what to do?


~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!

~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

Albuquerque · haiku · My Thoughts · Writing

ABQ Biopark & Haiku—Great Mixture!

Yes, I wrote haikus at the Albuquerque Biopark on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Lin and I thought we’d get there on the 4th of July, specifically to see the Botanical Garden, but we didn’t make it. We have annual passes we don’t use enough, so we went on the 5th.

To provide enough time to see everything, we arrived about 9:45 AM and found the Biopark was not too busy. We hadn’t been there in a couple years, so naive, we went in the first place we saw. At first, it didn’t seem right, then pretty quickly, we realized we had mistakenly entered the Aquarium, so we continued and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Biopark’s Aquarium

As a teacher, we took our students to the Aquarium, but that was fifteen years ago. What changes they have made! First, I missed the stingray pool when you first enter and then when you’re down below; I remember eels in the enclosure that goes over your head. That used to freak me out!

Going down under, we enjoyed the big tank where we saw sharks, stingrays, and a variety of fish. It felt like a life-size aquarium. They provide seating—I could sit there for hours!

Lunch Break

When we finished at the Biopark’s Aquarium, we decided on an early lunch or a late breakfast at the Shark Reef Café. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast burrito smothered in green chili. As we sat and watched a variety of fish swim in front of us, the haikus started.

Are you suspended?

Floating in the water now

Supported by God!


A Stingray swims by

looking like he smiles, but

it’s his underside.


In the form of a 

fish, my God swims by smiling. 

HIs eyes reveal joy!

Biopark’s Botanical Garden

After finishing that scrumptious burrito, we felt rejuvenated and entered the Botanical Garden, our original destination. Lin has a gorgeous garden, so he had been expecting new discoveries on this trip.


A cacophony 

Of fish, flowers and people.

God’s celebration!

The Botanical Garden has thirteen sections:

Because of my battle with post-herpetic neuralgia after shingles, I still don’t have my regular stamina, so Lin went to the Rio Grande Heritage Farm, and I sat and wrote:


I sit and wait in

A cool spot. Fatigue comes soon.

Neuralgia remains. 


I am not old yet.

Shingles changed my life so much. 

Now I watch, silent. 


Children grace this place. 

A little girl sings her song. 

Inspired by God!  

Butterfly Pavilion

One of my favorite sections, the Butterfly Pavilion, featured one of my favorite creatures. We saw beautiful butterflies flying around and enjoying the delicious nectar of a variety of plants. Lin and I circled the whole enclosure and visited with the butterfly expert there. Lin asked about a butterfly I photographed in his garden during the week, and he identified it for us, a swallowtail. Then I asked about the coloring of a monarch. Next, the expert whipped out his well-worn book and showed us the monarch.

Then I had an unusual experience. A monarch landed on the brim of my hat in the front. The expert exclaimed, “That’s a good omen!” As soon as he said that, another butterfly, but not a monarch, landed on my brim in the back. Lin photographed the monarch on the front, but the butterfly in the back flew off before he caught it.

A monarch landed

On my hat­. Good omen!

Sheer joy I couldn’t see!

Normally,

I take lots of pictures anywhere I go, but I took limited photos this time—the ones featured in this blog like this amazing brightly colored insect attached to a piece of grass.

Insect on a blade of grass - Biopark

Instead of taking tons of pictures, I wrote haikus! How can you not write a haiku after seeing the Aquarium or the Botanical Garden?

Also, here’s a suggestion when you go to the Albuquerque Biopark’s Botanical Garden or any botanical garden anywhere. Lin had an app on his iPhone named PictureThis which has a yearly subscription, but he had some issues with it. So, he switched to Seek by iNaturalist, and he reminded me I told him about it. It’s free. I had a blast using Seek on different plants to identify them—it was so easy!

Finally,

The Aquarium, Botanical Garden and Zoo make up the Biopark in Albuquerque. We have plans to visit the zoo this Thursday. Do you regularly visit your zoo, botanical garden or aquarium in your city? Tell me about yours and your experience!



~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!

~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

~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

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 · Blogs · My Thoughts

Eight Years of Blogging—So What?

Eight years of blogging

Eight years of blogging brings up some interesting insights. I love to look back over the previous year and compare it to past years and see what’s happened.

First, a big thank you to all my readers. I think of you every Sunday as I write my blog. The topic percolates during the week, and I have kept a list of topics and tried to keep up with my schedule, but serendipities make me veer off the path. I keep an imaginary snapshot of my readers in mind as I write and I write to you!

During 2021, I addressed the following topics:

  • Marshall Flippo—monthly
  • My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?
  • Square dancing
  • My life during this continued pandemic
  • My poetry
  • Holidays

During the year, I posted regularly about Flippo, and I continued to address my experience in the limitations of the coronavirus pandemic. In my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, I included the inspiration of these posts. In looking at my statistics, I realized how often I wrote about holidays. I love writing about any current holiday, featuring all major holidays and my experiences, traditions and beliefs.

On November 2, 2021, a writing friend told me about the Ultimate Blog Challenge, an opportunity to write a blog post every day during the month of November, so I succeeded but missed the first day. What a challenge that was! This challenge increased the “Likes” and comments on my blog posts, which has historically been a problem area for my blogs. I thoroughly enjoyed it and came up with an outline of what I would write about each week:

  • 1—A variety of writing topics
  • 2—Where my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? came from
  • 3—Gratitude topics for Thanksgiving week
  • 4—Feature some of my poetry and future poetry books
  • 5—Daily topics suggested by Paul Taubman, the organizer of the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Visitors vs. Views Stats

I watch these two statistics regularly and am happy to see an increase in visitors vs. views from 78% to 83% this last year. What does that mean?

Views and Visitors

The two main units of traffic measurement are views and visitors:

~A view is counted when a visitor loads or reloads a page.

~A visitor is counted when we see a user or browser for the first time in a selected time frame.

visitor is an individual looking at your site. A visitor can view many different pages of your site or view the same page multiple times. Therefore, the views number is typically higher than the visitors number.


https://wordpress.com/support/stats/#views-and-visitors

The significant growth of 5% tells me that visitors saw something they wanted to view in my blogs. Significant movement. But my total numbers decreased this year from last year. Last year’s high in views happened because of the pandemic and people being home more than this year. Also, Facebook changed their ads, making it hard to advertise to the world market, which limited the exposure I had enjoyed in previous years.

The good news about this year is the difference between my visitors this year was less than one thousand. I got all this data off of wordpress.com where I have my website and blog, but the numbers off of the Facebook ads surpass these numbers. With my Facebook ads, I reached 1,594,301 people and 44,836 clicked on the blog post, which doesn’t match my numbers from WordPress, so I’m not sure about that, but those are outrageous numbers to ponder!

Here’s how many posts I have published in eight years:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 54
  • 2019 – 66
  • 2020 – 64
  • 2021 – 80

For a total of 315 posts in eight years! Each post is about 750–1000 words, so that’s over 236,250 words! Wow! That’s a lot of words!

My Audience Spans the World in eight years!

I continue to touch a worldwide audience, which is shocking to me! In 2019, visitors came from 154 different countries to my blog. My audience expanded to 176 countries in 2020! In 2021, 171 countries visited my blog, decreasing from the previous year. Facebook changed its selection of “Worldwide” for ads, so I’m sure this affected the number of countries who saw my advertisement.

The United States continued to be my biggest market, followed by these countries with the most to least visits: Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Ireland, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, China, Mongolia, Venezuela, Turkey, Canada, Libya, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Laos, United Kingdom, Bolivia, Peru, Cambodia, Brazil, Colombia, Armenia, Germany, Lebanon, Bhutan, Somalia, Albania, Sweden, France, Ecuador, Australia, Belgium, Vietnam, Tunisia, Netherlands, South Africa, Japan, Romania, Morocco, Ethiopia, Hong Kong SAR China, Switzerland, Palestinian Territories, Guyana, Serbia, Suriname, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Denmark, Yemen, Taiwan, Argentina, Nicaragua, Haiti, Guinea, Jordan, Timor-Leste, Paraguay, Spain, Fiji, Guatemala, Ukraine, Comoros, Honduras, Malaysia, Italy, Azerbaijan, El Salvador, Macedonia, Georgia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Maldives, Israel, Senegal, Russia, New Zealand, Uganda, Madagascar, Moldova, Burkina Faso, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Eritrea, Trinidad & Tobago, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, 95 Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Mali, South Korea, Liberia, Croatia, Portugal, Samoa, Norway, Austria, Greece, Mauritius, Malta, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Congo – Brazzaville, Kosovo, Chile, Tonga, Micronesia, American Samoa, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Belize, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Bahrain, Montenegro, Zambia, Andorra, Belarus, Burundi, Swaziland, Puerto Rico, Cote d’lvoire, Lesotho, Uzbekistan, Luxembourg, Finland, Tajikistan, Cameroon, Oman, Réunion, Guam, Gambia, Botswana, Norfolk Island, Panama, Congo – Kinshasa, Curacao, Cyprus, Jersey, St. Lucia, Qatar, Papua New Guinea, Chad, Palau, Lithuania, Aruba, Slovenia, Northern Mariana Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Slovakia, Isle of Man.

Top Five Favorite posts:

The top five favorite posts of 2021 cover a variety of topics.

  • Haunted by a Favorite Poem
  • Vaccinated: Short, Sweet & to the Point
  • Writing Groups—A Best Kept Secret for Writers?
  • Will Square Dancing Survive the Pandemic?
  • Is a Nativity Set Important?

So, I’d like to share the take-aways from this in-depth look at my blogging history:

  • I continue to love writing my weekly blog.
  • Potential readers moved from just visiting my blog to viewing it. I like that.
  • I continue to have a worldwide audience.

Future Plans

I plan to be more selective about my topics this year. In the past, I wrote about whatever came up, and I will continue to address current events, but I have five areas I will focus on:

  1. Writing—my current project and writing topics
  2. Flippo & square dancing
  3. Poetry
  4. Baby boomer topics
  5. Holidays

If we return to traveling, I will add that specific topic because my readers love my travel tales.

Finally

After eight years of blogging, I’m proud of my results. Suggest any topics you’d like to hear about. Regular readers, please “like” my blog post, then leave me a comment. How about—read, reflect and respond! Then we could truly be an international community!


~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

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

My Thoughts · Writing

Writing Groups—A Best Kept Secret for Writers?

Writing groups

Are writing groups one of the best kept secret in the writing world? Not for me! Currently, I take part in two groups, each one focusing on a unique part of writing.

East Mountain Writing Group

In 2016, I joined the East Mountain Writing group. This group has played a key role in my preparation for the publishing of my last three books. Presently we have four in our group, but we have had six. We meet monthly for a couple of hours and submit work to be critiqued. These in-depth critiques substantially breathed life into many of my submissions, which later became my published books.

I can’t compliment this writing group enough because of their dedication to specificity. Each time they critiqued my work, I always looked forward to their comments because I knew my writing will improve. Also, I have the privilege of reading and critiquing their amazing work.

Over the years, our socializing time has grown because we’ve become deeply acquainted with each other’s lives. Because of our longevity, our familiarity with each other’s work causes check-ups on long-term projects. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop us from meeting. Immediately, we jumped on the Zoom wagon for our meetings.

Colorado Writing Practice Group

In March and April 2021, I took part in Natalie Goldberg’s “The Way of Writing” class, focusing on her “writing practice.” In 1986, Natalie’s book, Writing Down the Bones, began a new practice for writers, a ten-minute timed writing practice that changed the writing world. I used this book and her idea when I taught writing to my sixth-grade language arts classes, but got away from it.

Fast forward to this year—during her class, Natalie suggested we join a writing group that focused on writing practice. So, using Zoom, I joined one in Colorado and one in New Mexico, but the New Mexico group didn’t continue.

The Colorado group started out small, with just a couple of us. Then we had some writers join and leave, but currently we have five committed members. We meet weekly at 4:00 PM MST for an hour.

This is how this group differs: our faithful leader comes up with two thought-provoking writing prompts, and we do “writing practice.” The rules are simple:

1. Keep your hand moving. 2. Don’t cross out. 3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. 4. Lose control. 5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical. 6. Go for the jugular.

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (1986): 8.

In 1990, Natalie added a couple more rules:

1. Be specific. 2. You are free to write the worst junk in America.

Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life (1990): 3-4.

After we have done the timed writings, then we each read our writing. How it differs is the response of the listeners: all we do is listen and thank the writer—no comment, no critique! So, you might wonder about the benefit of this writing group. We’ve met weekly since March, so we’ve become familiar with each other’s’ voices, and I can see how each writer has grown as a writer during our time together. When I write, I know beforehand that I can write “the worst junk in America,” so I can risk going deeper, being authentic! My writing has improved because of this group and this discipline.

Finally

Each writing group offers something different. Each one feeds my writer’s soul distinctly. If you haven’t joined a writing group, find one that meets your needs and then commit to attend regularly.

Are you in a writing group? If so, how does it help you? Share your comments below (Scroll down)!


Starting on November 2, I joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge, a challenge to write a blog post every day of November. For the first week, I focused on writing topics.

Last Week’s Ultimate Blog Challenge Posts:

Recent Weekly Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? ad

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo
Add Flippo’s biography to your own personal library

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging · Blogs · My Thoughts · Travel · Writing

Blog Topics—How Do I Decide?

Blog Topics—make your choice

My blog topics are up for grabs—I never run out of ideas. So how do I handle them? How do I manage them? Here’s the system I’ve used for seven years, and it seems to work well.

Normally, I write ideas on posits and scraps of paper scattered everywhere around my computer on my desk, but I knew I had to handle this differently, so I did. For my blog topics and dates, I create a database for the upcoming year that becomes my blogging calendar. I usually write my blog weekly on Sunday afternoon and post it that night, so that’s the date I have in the date column.

My Blog Topic Calendar

Then I create the following columns:

  • Date to post blog
  • Title of post
  • Facebook Ad–Check button
  • Cost for ad
  • Two Results columns for Facebook Ads
    • People Reached
    • Clicks
  • Notes

At the first of the year, I enter topics that go with specific holidays and personal dates like birthdays and anniversaries. Also, in my first blog each year, I have done a statistical analysis of my blog for the previous year—that may be more for me than for my readers, but the data shocks me each year. The readers get to see the worldwide neighborhood they are in when they read my blog.

Specific Topics

In 2020, I published a biography of a world famous square dance caller, so I dedicate the first Sunday each month to a topic about him. I identified the specific area of his so I wouldn’t duplicate.

Also in 2020, I wrote many posts about my experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Then those posts became the inspiration for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, so I often write about current events.

What topics do I write about?

Most bloggers pick a specific area of interest and write about that. I wish I could do that, but I have such a variety, I can’t. I’m an author and writer, but I’m a square dancer. I have strong connections to country living, growing up in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado, and now am co-owner of a ranch there. So, I have to talk about the current drought.

So, my blog topics jump all over the place because I have a rich full life and many interests. During my daily walk, driving to town or watching TV, an idea springs up, and I grab my iPad and add it to my calendar. Right now, I have half of the topics for 2022 already identified.

One Big Change


I need to change the day I write my weekly blog post though. I’m a Bronco fan, having grown up in Colorado, so I have a crunch on my writing time every Sunday, and I don’t like that. But it’s a habit of seven years, and it’s hard to break!

When I travel, I write several posts in one day and then schedule them to publish weekly. That’s what I should do all the time—take a day and write several posts. But I percolate my topics for days, sometimes changing the whole gist of it after going over it for days. So, that won’t work.

How do you select your blog topics? How do you manage them? Let me know in a comment below.

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Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Book Promotion · Books · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

SWAG Strategies for Book Promotions

Money & books

I’m sure you’ve heard the term SWAG and loosely know what it means—cool stuff given away for free to promote something. People love free stuff, and it’s a great way to advertise your books and reward your current readers or future readers. So, SWAG works well with book promotions, but it must relate to your book somehow: the cover, characters in the book or the setting.

Here’s where the term SWAG originated:

The freebie swag, sometimes also spelled schwag, dates back to the 1960s and was used to describe promotional items. 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/what-does-swag-mean

When I first started my book business in 2014, I started with bookmarks for SWAG.

Bookmarks

A key SWAG item for authors is a bookmark, so I have created bookmarks for each book and given them away for free anywhere I can. I also include all of my bookmarks in any book order. I order them from overnightprints.com and have been happy with everyone. Most are two-sided which you pay extra for, but the newest one is only one-sided.

In 2020, I released the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo. I created a book pre-order system and had a monthly drawing for SWAG—items I purchased with his picture on them. Now that sounds expensive, but it wasn’t.

Inexpensive SWAG Sources:

I used two online photo companies:

I have bought from each of these fantastic companies regularly for several years, so the SWAG for Flippo’s book promotions cost me nothing but the shipping. Weekly I get advertisement from them, and often they offered several items for free—my cost, the shipping. So, I waited until one company offered the suitable items for free and ordered them. I stockpiled several for the Zoom Launch Party and gave them as door prizes.

Look at a sampling of some I bought:

SWAG Samples
Samples

I also made book bags, spiral notebooks, and coffee mugs. The most popular were the deck of cards and the coasters. In reality, the choices are limitless. If you do not receive emails from these companies, sign up for one or the other (or both if you create photo gifts). You’ll probably need to buy something to receive the emails with the free promotions.

Ultimately, the recipient of the SWAG connects it to your book and might encourage a sale or two. That’s its main purpose: advertisement for your book.

What do you do for SWAG? Share your ideas in the Comment section below.

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com