Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

How Did Flippo’s Biography Begin?

Flippo and Larada at the New Mexico State Festival in 2017
Me with Flippo at the New Mexico State Square Dance Festival, 2017

            So how did this book get started? In reality, I said, “Yes!” In March 2017, a group of square dancers were sitting around after a dance weekend and Flippo’s name and age came up. One enthusiastic fan said, “Someone should write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, looked at me and said, “You’re the writer in the group. What do you think?” Nothing more was said, but the thought tumbled around in my mind.

Lin has a different memory of how this happened, but I’ll stick with my version.

Then we prayerfully considered the possibility.

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

            At that point, I had no definite decision from Flip.

            At the New Mexico Square Dance Festival, May 2017 in Albuquerque, Marshall fulfilled his last calling contract in New Mexico. Early Friday night while a group stood around him, Flippo brought up the topic, “Larada wants to write a book about me.”

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

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

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

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

            Lin and I met Flippo at the Texas Roadhouse for dinner on Friday, October 27, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona to start our research. We were supposed to meet on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, but the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, and Flippo wanted to watch the game, so we changed nights.

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

            The waitress hadn’t taken our orders, and Lin started the questions. Flip immediately jumped into relaying his life with the exact addresses for the multiple homes he lived in Abilene as a child. In fact, he had trouble with only one address. I still wonder why he forgot that one address.

After dinner, we moved from the restaurant to his home to finish the first interview. We muted the TV, and he watched the game over my head as he talked. One minute he’d be sharing his life stories, the next he’d catch me off guard with a comment on a batter, “Knock the hell out of it.”

He amazed me how he could be telling a Navy story about a destroyer tender he was on, then comment on what a player on TV should have done. We took short breaks when the game took its twists and turns. During one break, he lamented, “I can’t get my mind going again.” Lin and I both assured him that his memory was exceptional.

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

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

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

It’s been three years in the making! Lots of hard work, research, emails and phone calls, but it’s coming together and will be out shortly, a true labor of love!


~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~I HAVE 211 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

Are You A Pantser, Plotter or Plantser?

When you write are you pantser, plotter or plantser? If you don’t know what that means, here it is:

Simply put, a plotter is someone who plans out their novel before they write it. A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything, or plan very little. Some people, like me, call themselves “plantsers,” which means they’re in a little of both.”


https://thewritepractice.com/plotters-pantsers/

Normally, I’m a pantser and the story evolves as I’m writing, but I had to be super-organized with this book, so I wrote this outline.  I didn’t write it before interviewing Flippo; I wrote it after we talked and I saw the topics surface, so I guess I’m a plantser!

Here’s the outline for the book I’m writing. It’s organic and changes as I work with the material. The power of the outline is that it gives me direction and an organizational structure to follow—it will fun to see how it finally turns out!

Title: Just Another Square Dance Caller

Subtitle: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

  1. TO THE READER
  2. Prologues
    1. Larada’s
    1. Marshall’s – Blue Star Records, Kirkwood & Neeca
  3. Joke
  4. Callers That Have Passed You Who Helped Flippo

CHILDHOOD  & YOUNG ADULTHOOD SECTION

  1. Childhood & Family
  2. Volunteered for the Navy & War Years
  3. Baseball in the Navy
  4. Early Marriage & Life with Neeca

SQUARE DANCE LIFE SECTION

  1. Square Dance Life
    1. Abilene’s Where It Started
    1. Blue Star Changed Everything
    1. Kirkwood Changed More
      1. John’s birth
    1. Yearly Tours of the United States
      1. Came out of Kirkwood & Neeca organizing – From & to Kirkwood
        1. North
        1. East
        1. South
        1. Home – Christmas
        1. North
        1. West
    1. Yearly Festivals
      1. Asilomar – ahead of and before CALLERLAB
      1. Permian Basin Festival
      1. WASCA
      1. Chula Vista Resort
      1. Others that I will add
    1. CALLERLAB
    1. International Trips & Cruises
      1. Japan – numerous times
      1. Spain
      1. Germany
      1. Caribbean
      1. Hawaii
      1. See Album
    1. Special Weekends
      1. Alaska – 2 events
    1. Recording Companies & Life
      1. Blue Star
      1. Chaparral
      1. Others
    1. Choreography
    1. Tucson Years
  1. End Of An Amazing Career
    1. Celebrations
      1. Chaparral Boys Labor Day, 2016
      1. Farewell to the Road
        1. Abilene, Texas – Wagon Wheel
      1. Houston
      1. Albuquerque
        1. Last contract with ASDC – big celebration
        1. Last NM contract – State Festival – 2016
          1. Agreed for me to write this book
      1. Green Valley, AZ – December 31, 2017
        1. I’m Leaving Here a Better Man
    1. Asilomar Once More
    1. Last CALLERLAB
  • Stories From Callers & Friends About Flippo
  • Stories from Flippo About Callers That Helped Him
  • Letters & Notes from Callers & Dancers
  • Awards
    • Sets In Order Hall of Fame
    • Milestone
    • Texas Hall of Fame
    • Lifetime Achievement
  • Epilogue – Flippo’s Memorial Service

THE BACK MATTER

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Photo Album
  3. Appendices
    1. Appendix A – Chronology of Marshall Flippo’s Life
    1. Appendix B – Recordings
    1. Appendix C – Awards
    1. Appendix D — Reference Books
    1. Appendix E – Glossary of Square Dance Terms
    1. Appendix  F – URL’s of Videos and Audio of Flippo
  4. Copyright Permissions
  5. Endnotes – Any footnotes when I quote a book or web site
  6. Larada’s Reflections – I’m writing this as we talk. I think it will be throughout the book.
  7. About the Author

Flippo and I went over this outline the last time we talked, but he was struggling at that time, so I’m not sure it’s complete. If you’re a Flippo expert, am I missing anything? Let me know.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Writing

A Break From Our Trip & My New Project

Quiet surrounds me. A canopy of a clear blue Colorado sky covers this warm spring day. I’m in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado–the home of my childhood.

Since my mom died five years ago, I visit here monthly to check things out. I forgot to bring my Ireland/England travel journal and hard drive that has my pictures, so I’m going to take a break from the travelogue and update you on my current writing project.

I’m writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. He’s 90 years old and visiting Asilomar, CA this week, the site of his favorite square dance weekend and week that he did for years.

How did this project start? My husband and I remember its inception differently, so I’ll tell you my version.

We were at a square dance festival last year in the early spring–it was Saturday night after a jam-packed two days of dancing. A group of friends enjoyed a leisure time late in the evening and Flippo (that’s what we call him) came up.

Someone said, “Someone needs to write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, leaned my way and stated, “You’re the writer in the group. Why don’t you do it?”

Nothing more was said that night, but the reoccurring thought surfaced regularly. I was coming to the ranch about this time last year alone, so I brought up the idea to Lin and shared my serious consideration of taking on this task. I suggested we both pray about it and when I returned, we would share what had come up.

Again the idea intrigued me–in the last four years, I had self-published four books and three cookbooks, but the topics had been personal for me. I wrote two memoirs, a historical fiction from a story I had heard my childhood and a non-fiction about our family ranch. Could I write about someone else?

When I returned home, Lin and I both agreed it would be a worthwhile project. So Flippo was fulfilling his last contract at the New Mexico Square and Round Dance Festival in mid-May in Albuquerque, so I called him in mid-April to query if he was interested.

His first comment was, “No one would want to read a book about me, but I do have a topic of a book that would sell–all the stories of traveling callers, but it would be X-rated.”

Seriously, Flippo said he would give me his answer at the festival in May. Friday evening during a break, he was surrounded by several local callers and dancers. I didn’t have to bring it up–he did.

“Larada wants to write my biography. Who would want to read it?” He queried. They all raised a hand, and I think it shocked him.

In traditional Flippo flirtatious manner, he said, “OK, come over to my hotel room tonight at 1:30 am and we’ll talk about.” Laughter exploded and then he said, “Yes.”

During the summer, I started gathering resources. I talked to several close caller friends of Flippo’s to start gathering their stories and information about him. In October, I went to Tucson, AZ for a Women Writing the West. Flippo lives in Tucson, so we planned to meet together on Thursday night.

He called and wanted to change nights because the Houston Texans were playing in the World Series and he wanted to watch the baseball game, so we moved it to Friday night. Before interviewing him, I didn’t realize Flippo had a strong connection to baseball–he was so good, that’s what he did in the Navy.

Lin and I met him for dinner, and Lin started him talking immediately. I was going to wait until we moved to his home so I could record it, but he was off and running, so I grabbed my notebook and started writing. He picked a the Texan Steakhouse which had TV multiple screens on every wall, so he could watch the baseball game as we talked.

After dinner, we went to Flippo’s house, turned on the TV and muted it, and he continued our first interview, watching the game. He sent me home with three scrapbooks/photo albums and three photo albums as resources.

Since then we have talked weekly for an hour, and I have recorded each interview. What a delightful experience this has been. The hardest part is transcribing the recordings; we talk for one hour, and that one hour takes three to four hours transcribe.

Flippo’s last calling event was a New Year’s Eve square dance in Green Valley, AZ. Several caller friends encouraged Lin and I to go, so we did. Twenty-five professional callers and friends from all over the United State supported Flippo on this monumental evening of his career. He announced from the stage that I was writing his biography, and the chair-woman of CALLERLAB (the international organization for callers) said to me, “How are you going to edit out the X-rated stuff?”

During the night I watched several of the professional callers’ eyes riveted on their hero on the stage–expressions of respect, love and admiration for their mentor and teacher covered their faces. I also witnessed traces of a deep sadness at the loss of such a great caller and friend. He ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure he selected that carefully.

I’ve spent the last six months doing the work: weekly interviews, research online and reading books. Flippo stands pivotal in the history of square dancing, and I have had confirmation from many callers and square dance historians that this book needed to be written–I’m glad the muses chose me!

I’m collecting data to see if a hard back book is a viable option. Here’s your opportunity to pre-order the book, go here Pre-Order Flippo Book

Visit my web site for information about my other books: Larada’s Web site

Visit my Etsy shop for specials and some great Mother’s Day gift ideas: Larada’s Etsy Shop