My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Book Trailers—Flippo’s Life!

Flippo's young picture - trailers

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

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

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

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

As you can see, I tackled some fun ones.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure!

His Life Trailer

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

His Amazing Skits Trailer

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

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

His Motto & Travels Trailer

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

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

Finally,

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


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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

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

Book Production · Books · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Interviews—Do Them Successfully!

Women talking on the phone - interviews

“Interview someone.” Yesterday’s assignment for this challenge reminded me of an amazing series of interviews I did. I orchestrated forty hours of interviews from 2017 to 2018 for my fourth book and learned so much. In 2017, a writing project fell into my lap, the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo. He lived in Tucson, Arizona; I live close to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We did a face-to-face interview to start with in October 2017 in Tucson, then one more in March 2018. So, most of those interviews we did over the phone.

Larada & Marshall Flippo
Larada & Marshal Flippo

My Suggestions for successful interviews

  1. Be in a quiet space for the recordings. The second face-to-face interview we did in a restaurant with lots of background noise. Even though I did mosts interviews at home, several had interior background noise from my cat and my husband, but it was mostly undisturbed.
  2. Set a specific time and length of time. Think of the age of the talker and set the length accordingly. Flippo was 90 years old, so we did an hour each week.
  3. Have specific goals and questions prepared ahead of time, but let the person go where he wants. A friend warned me that Flippo might hijack the interview, and he did. But I wouldn’t have gotten those extra captivating stories.
  4. Record the interviews and back up regularly to multiple places. To record, I used an iPad app, VoiceRecorder, and left a copy on my iPad. Then I uploaded the file immediately after the interview to DropBox, an online storage space. I regularly made a backup of that folder on DropBox.
  5. Number and date each recording for later reference.
  6. Take handwritten notes. I filled four steno-pads and numbered the notebooks and dated them, following the numbering system of the recordings. I also noted each time where I was when recording.
  7. Ask questions about spelling and specifics immediately–don’t wait. Flippo passed away before I could get answers to all my questions, so I had to ask his son and ex-wife.
  8. Don’t stop the talker from sharing a memory multiple times because Flippo went deeper and added details each time he recalled it. The meat of the stories and memories is in the details. So when I wrote the book, I laced the details from the multiple renditions together.
  9. Listen to what the talker is saying and not saying. When asked, Flippo avoided his first divorce at first, and I knew this was a key part of his life and painful. When the time was right, his sharing was heartfelt and authentic.
  10. Limit your responses because the focus is on the person interviewed. After transcribing these interviews, I realized I laughed uproariously at Flippo’s stories, and my laughter blocked out his comments that followed. My laughter made some parts difficult to transcribe.
  11. Use a visual aid to stimulate memories, stories, and ideas. Flippo’s ex-wife, Neeca, put together three photo albums/scrapbooks of his calling career during their marriage, and we went through them page by page. He physically had the scrapbooks, and I had a digital copy. They sparked so many stories I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise; he had so many.
  12. Don’t comment–you may have an opinion about what is being said, but refrain from commenting. Your opinion doesn’t matter.
  13. After transcribing interviews, ask questions you have from unclear recordings or information you don’t understand. Flippo died before we finished, so I didn’t have the luxury of asking him. Again, his son and ex-wife helped me out tremendously.

Finally, I know that my advice about interviews is for a biography with multiple interviews. The meat of these suggestions still applies. Enjoy the experience and savor the time someone shared with you—it’s a privilege!

What advice would you give for having a successful interview? Add your comments below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

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

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

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

Who Should Write a Foreword to a Biography?

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

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

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

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

FOREWORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Flippo June 5, 2019

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

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

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


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

~My Agony of Waiting

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Spain · square dance · Writing

What’s Your Passion?

Passion—that activity that motivates me! It energizes me, animates my spirit and lights a fire in my soul. Does it have to be just one? No I have several passions!

During this depressing pandemic, I’ve been denied participation in my deepest passion: dancing, square dancing, round dancing and any other type of dancing there is.

So, what did I do? I’ve reacquainted myself with some of my other passions. Some might call them hobbies, but I like the word passion better because it resounds with emotion.

My personal list of passions/hobbies are:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Knitting
  • Sunbathing

Let’s look at each one.

My passion: Writing

Writing

Yes, I am a writer and have continued my weekly blogs during this crazy time. I featured many poems I wrote about the pandemic, and the poetry writing fed my soul. It provided me a means to process the insanity that hit initially with the shelter-in-place and the cancellation of so many dance events.

Also, I finished my current writing project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. The cancellation of events provided me extra time to add some novelties to the book.

Words and ideas flicker in my mind and must be recorded—definitely a passion for me!

My Passion: Reading

Reading

My husband, Lin, reads a lot, but I’ve felt too busy the last couple years to read during the day and limited my reading to bed time.

In our home, we have an extensive library, so at the beginning of the pandemic, he picked up Shadowlands, the heart-wrenching story of C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Goodman. He always shares about his current book with me, and that interested me. I have been a C. S. Lewis fan for years.

So, when he finished Shadowlands, he jumped into the legendary Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis and read the whole set. After doing some research on the Internet, he came up with a different reading order and read them chronologically instead of using the numbering system they used when they published the set.

Here’s the suggestion:

My Passion: Chronicles of Narnia

Chronological Order

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

At that time, I was finishing up some books we bought on our trip to Spain in late February and early March. Also, I’m a long-time Jodi Picoult fan and wanted to finish leaving time, a fascinating novel with a shocking ending. I had, also, downloaded an e-book off of Kindle on a special, The Victory Garden, so I had that to read. What a delightful read!

After finishing them, I decided I wanted to end the summer with C. S. Lewis, so I started with Shadowland. I wept through the end of that book. Then I started the Chronicles of Narnia, following Lin’s suggested reading order.

What a treat! Originally, I read the Chronicles of Narnia about forty years ago, so with my memory, it has been like reading them for the first time. Right now, I’ve finished The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Currently, I’m reading The Horse and His Boy.

So once again, reading has taken a major place in my day, a long neglected passion with my hectic life prior to the pandemic!

My Passion: Knitting

Knitting

I’ve been a knitter since I was ten years old, and I’ve knitted hundreds of items: sweaters, afghans, dresses, socks, vests, dish clothes and more. I love doing it while we watch TV, and it is a true passion of mine!

So, during this time, I’ve knitted a special baby afghan for a baby born in May, but the majority of my knitting now has been dish clothes. In fact, I’m starting my 17th today. It’s a simple pattern, and I can do it without watching my hands or thinking much. In fact, some people consider knitting a type of meditation, and I would agree with that.

The one knitting project I’ve avoided during this time is a complicated sweater for myself. I’ve made that pattern three other time, but it demands concentration. Every time I look at that knitting bag, I shiver because I want to finish it, but I don’t want to have count every stitch right now—maybe it’s the result of the pandemic and the stress. I don’t know, but I know I will finish it eventually.

And I have many future projects to look forward to because on our travels over the past few years, I’ve bought yarn as a souvenir at various places. From Ireland, I purchased enough beige wool to make an Aran sweater.

On our cruise of the British Isles last summer, I bought smaller amounts at different stops to make a scarf or something small.

I love the rhythmic movement and sound of the needles and the product at the end.

Sunbathing

Sunbathing

For my whole adult life, I have been a sun worshipper, spending countless hours in the sun trying to get a tan. My frequent travel companion during the 80’s and 90’s would scold me for laying in the sun on our trips to Mexico and South America. The crazy part is she would sit in the shade and I’d be full out in the sun, and she always came home with a better tan than me! Probably has to do with my red-haired fair-skinned father!

Often, I burned and took extreme chances with the way I sunbathed: spraying water on myself, using baby oil, and staying out way too long!

In 2001, my ex-husband was diagnosed with melanoma and had surgery. At about the same time, one of my best friends had a reoccurrence of melanoma after twenty years. Shortly, after this, I ended my sunbathing. I finally realized I was flirting with danger for sure.

This summer, my husband has gotten a gorgeous tan working in his garden and showed me the sensible way to get a tan: no long exposure, gradual increase in exposure and thoughtful consideration of how long he was in the sun.

 So, with book in hand, I started sunbathing again. I have used 50 level protection suntan lotion and started out slow and gradually increased my time to thirty minutes on each side—that’s it! I won’t go beyond that.

The sun’s warmth does something to my spirit. Laying outside in Lin’s gorgeous garden, I have time to appreciate the numerous flowers blooming and all the time he’s dedicated to it. (Gardening is his passion!) I have a dedicated reading time, and I’m getting a tan, all at the same time.

When this coronavirus pandemic has subsided, and we dance again, my passion for dancing will be ignited. Until then, these others bless me deeply. Passion, fervor, enthusiasm—we need it in our lives to feed our hearts, our souls and our spirits! How about you? What are your passions?


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

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

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

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, It’s a Thick Book!

“It’s a thick book!” Many have received their copy of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, and this has been one of the major responses. Wow, thick!

Thick book spine of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

Yes, it ended up being thick—Flippo had a rich full life. There’s 592 pages (sixteen pages of front matter), more than 450 pages of memorable pictures and ten appendices. Also, there’s story galore: Flippo told stories about callers and cuers and then callers and cuers told stories about Flippo. Because I felt this was a history book, I included an Index of thirty-seven pages for cross-referencing.

Flippo worried about the size of this book and commented, “It won’t be as big as Bob Osgood’s.” So I worked hard to keep it smaller. Bob Osgood became the leader of square dancing for many years. He published a monthly magazine, Sets in Order, that kept dancers and callers abreast of square dance news in its heyday. This magazine influenced many callers’ careers with articles, advertisements and reviews of newly released songs. He helped Flippo’s career immensely. He also was the mastermind behind, CALLERLAB, the international organization for square dance callers that standardized square dance calls.

As I Saw It, Bob’s biography is 636 pages, so Flippo’s is smaller, by a few pages.

After readers received the book, the other comment I’ve heard with much scrutiny is about something special I added to the title page. Early on when people signed up to pre-order a book, someone asked that Flippo autograph her book. I agreed to do this, and I was certain many people would want his autograph, then he passed away before it was published.

That thought returned to me often as I was transcribing our interviews and putting the book together, then I had a brainstorm. I contacted his son and ex-wife and told them about my plan. I asked if they had a good signature we could use.

His ex-wife found a couple: one on their divorce decree that wasn’t as legible and another one from a card sent at an earlier time in their lives with a clear signature, so she sent it to me. I inserted it on the title page, and it actually looks like he autographed the book, saying, “Love Flip.”

So, no I didn’t forge his name as some have intimated which I would never do. I just thought it was a nice touch when the reader opens the book—a welcome from Flip!

I’d like to end this with a list of books written about square dancing. Some are thick; others aren’t. You can find this list in Appendix J, Additional References in Just Another Square Dance Caller:

  • Betty Casey, Dance Across Texas, University of Texas Press (1985).
    • $24.95 paperback; $7.49 hardback; $11.95 e-book on amazon.com
  • Betty Casey, The Complete Book of Square Dancing [and Round Dancing], University of North Texas Press (2000).
  • Bob Osgood, As I Saw It, Humbug Enterprises (2017).
  • Bob Sumrall, Do-Si-Do, (1949).
  • Jim Mayo, Step by Step Through Modern Square Dance History, (2003).
  • John W. Jones, Square Dance Fundamentals, Jones Street USA, LLC, (1970).
  • Lloyd and Dorothy Shaw, Lloyd Shaw and the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, (2014).
  • Lloyd Shaw, Cowboy Dances, The Caxton Printers, Ltd. (1949).
  • Richard Severance, A Step in Time: The American Square Dance, (2018).

The history of our activity fascinates me. I’m hopeful that Flippo’s biography will join these legendary tomes in your library. Yes, it’s thick but it’s worth it!

Are you a history buff? What history do you enjoy?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready to celebrate! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more! The meeting ID number & the password will be posted on my website on Wednesday, July 28.

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

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

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Do People Avoid the Topic of Death?

Death—a topic most people want to avoid, but lately it’s in the news everyday with the coronavirus updates. Because of so much focus on death lately, I wrote “Are ‘The Dead’ Dead?” this last week and “I Want You Back! Or Do I?” six years ago—two poems very different in topic and tone!

Personally, I’ve not shied away from this topic. Possibly because I was raised in a multi-generational community and saw significant elderly people die like my grandparents and life-long babysitters. I don’t remembering viewing the bodies, just the loss.

In my early twenties, we buried my first husband’s grandfather, a dear man I loved. I remember seeing his lifeless body and a new reality hit me—that was not the man I loved. It was simply the physical shell that housed his fun-loving spirit.

Later, I had the privilege of witnessing the death of my best square dance girlfriend, Kathi Raver. The hospice nurse took the small group of friends and family gathered through the death process which fascinated me.

In 2017, I published a grief and growth memoir talking about my parents’ deaths, and readers recoiled at the title! I knew it wouldn’t be popular, but the response shocked me. Nevertheless, I had to share my process about my losses.

A natural segue for me now, surrounded by the devastating effect of the coronavirus and the mounting death count, I wrote the following poem:

Talking about death
Are “The Dead” Dead?

July 8, 2020

In this coronavirus world,
            We speak
                        So often
                                    Of the dead,
                                                The dying
                                                            Death itself
 
My thoughts linger over
            My dead
                        My family
                                    My friends
 
A thought whispered softly,
            “Speak their names!”
                        Say it
                                    Repeat it
                                                Caress it
 
As I pondered
            This charge,
I realized
            I do this!
I mention my dead
            Their names
Every day
            In my prayers
                        Blessings for where
                                    They are
                        Support for me
                                    Like my personal
                                                A legion of
                                                            Guardian angels
                        Remembrance of
                                    Our connections
 
But the thought persisted,
            “Say their names!”
 
Why?
 
When I say a name
            Of the deceased,
They come to life!
            Memories flood me!
 
I chuckle as
            Dad and I glide
                        Across the wooden dance floor
                                    Doing his step
                                                No one else can imitate!
 
I smell
            Mom’s sweet aroma
                        And
            Giggle with her once more
                        Sitting on the couch
                                    Shoulders touching
            Souls and spirits connected.
 
I laugh out loud
            At Aunt Willie’s
                        Outrageous sense-of-humor
The twinkle in her eyes
            Mischievous and youthful
 
I lean back and marvel
            At Flippo’s memory and
                        Storytelling skills!
He got me again
            And again
                        And again!
 
I hug Scott close to my heart
            My lifelong friend
                        As we reminisced once more
                                    Of
                                                            childhood days
                                                            high school days
Carefree
            And
                        Powerful
 
Say their names
            And they’re no longer died!
They’re alive
            Vibrant
                        Active
                                    In delicious memories
                                                In my heart and soul!
 
Speak their names!
            Don’t Stop

In 2017, I published the following poem in A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. After Mom’s death, I struggled with my loss, yet wondered about wanting her back here. She had polycythyemia vera which morphed into myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia, demanding repeated blood transfusion and a feeding tube.

I Want You Back! Or Do I?

January 27, 2014

I stand at that mysterious wall
between life and eternity
                        and scream,
"I want you back!"
 
I pound my fists.
I scream!
I cry,
but nothing changes.
 
You slipped
through my fingertips.
I grasped.
You were here one second
and
gone the next!
 
Nothing I could do
would hold you.
Where are you now?
Sitting next to Jesus and Dad—
                        smiling
                        youthful
                        relaxed
                        happy!
 
I hope so!
 
I am earth bound—
held in place
            by time and
                        my human existence!
 
I now know more,
realize there's more.
There has to be!
 
A small peephole
opened into eternity
                        at your death bed.
Surprisingly, a small kernel of hope was born that day for me.
 
Life ended here for you
so quickly!
Your shell of a body
lay limp and lifeless
in that hospital bed.
I saw your last breath,
but I also saw something else
                        slight
                        faint
 
Relief for you!
A passing
A knowing
                        that you are gone
                                    from here,
                        but will wait for me
                                    there.
 
In my solemn, desolate space,
I will still cry,
"I want you back!"
 
But today I know
that
I don't want you back—
I want to join you
                        there!

©2017 Larada Horner-Miller

Death is a part of this life, but I wonder—does saying the name of a dead loved one bring them back to life, for just a moment? Are the dead really dead? Are they waiting with open arms to welcome us home?

What do you think?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                    Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                   Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!~Visit my web site for all the information

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

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry

What is the Power of Metaphor?

As a retired English teacher, I love using metaphors in my writing because they come up naturally. I also love the power of metaphor and words; therefore, metaphor ramps up my poetry with imagery and connectedness!

Words create metaphors

What in the world is a metaphor?

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor

So, in two poems I compare serenity with some natural settings I love and wearing an emotional mask as a defense mechanism. Metaphors help readers connect emotionally, sensually and intellectual with the comparison.

See what you think. . .

Serenity is the beach
What Does Serenity Look Like?
 
June 21, 2020
 
In the midst
            Of the coronavirus pandemic
                        Storm,
I wondered,
            “What does serenity
                        look like?”
 
A hazy mountain scene
            Calm and quiet
                        Seated on a rock
                                    Connected to the grandeur
                                                Of Mother Nature
A lazy beach setting
            Reclining in the rhythmic waves
                        Carefree
                                    Undulating with
                                                The timeless rhythm
                                                            Of our world
Our secluded mountain home
            Nestled in piñon pine trees
                        Sweet meditative music
                                    Serenading me
                                                In the background
            Meaningful work
                        Done by Lin and me
                                    Gardening
                                    Writing
                                    Life lived together
 
Serenity’s many faces
            Some fanciful memories
                        Of better times
            One a realistic experience
                        In the here-and-now!
 
Peace reigns in my heart
            When
I stay present
            Seek God
                        Seek truth
                                    Seek myself!
 
A sweet flavor on my tongue
            An aroma of heaven
                        Come down to earth
            A beckoning sound
                        Of my God’s gentle calling
            A touch of my God
                        Through nature
                                    Peace
                                                Silence
                                                            Sound
 
Serenity lights on my shoulder
            Wraps me in a cocoon
                        Of tranquility and goodwill
            Dances my heart
                        To a new rhythm,
                                    A melody of love!
 
Then it’s gone!
            Quickly!
                        Quietly
                                    Without warning
The world roars
            And scares it away!
The coronavirus surges
            And wipes out any remembrance!
                        Cases
                                    Hospitalizations
                                                Deaths
 
Then in the quiet
            The dark
Again, serenity gently returns
            Ready to protect
                        Me once again.
 
I anticipate its return once again!

A couple days ago, I started reading Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making by John Fox. I realized my connection to wearing a mask—I did it for years but a different type. The raging mask war fueled this poem.

A smile can be a mask!
I’ve Worn a Mask for Years!

July 3, 2020

Wearing a mask
            Isn’t a new concept
                        To me
 
For years,
            I wore a mask of
                                    Deception
                                                Pretense
                                                            Illusion
 
Invisible
            Illusive
                        All-encompassing
 
A veneer of acceptance
                        Compliance
                                    Fitting in!
 
You didn’t know
            No one knew me—
                        Only me!
 
I smiled,
            when asked and replied,
I responded,                        
            “I’m fine,"
            while I covered bruises on both arms
                        From my first husband’s attention
                                   The night before!
 
Yes, I smiled a mask
           For you to see.
In my heart, I winced,
           As that invisible mask
                       Suffocated me,
                                   But I continued to smile
                                               To wear it.
I lived in quiet desperation
           Behind that mask.
 
Before recovery,
           I donned it unconsciously
                       Early in the morning
                                   A regular part of
                                                My attire
 
Each night,
            In the loneliness of
                        My room,
I ripped it off,
            Tossed in a corner with all the
                        Other defenses I had learned
                                    Over the years.
 
I hated it!
            It smothered me
                        My truth
                                    My voice
            It hindered me
                        Like fetters
                                    causing me
                                                To stumble and fall.
 
At times,
            The wise seer
                        Looked beyond the smile,
                                    The mask
                                                caught a glance
                                                            of the true Larada
                                                                        and called me forth!
 
That’s exactly what happened in recovery!
 
Today, after years of recovery and healing,
                        My God melted the piles of masks
                                   into a fine powder                 
                                                that blew away
                                                          with the slightest breeze!
 
But now, because of the coronavirus,
        I must wear a mask 
                      proudly!
No refusal
        No explanation
 
Yes, I’m familiar with
            Wearing a hidden mask
                        For years
 
Today it’s visible
            For all to see
It’s not a coping skill any longer
            An invisible shield
                        An emotional blockade
 
Now it’s vital
            lifesaving
                       controversial
                                    appropriate

It’s a message
            To anyone who sees me
That I care
            About you
                        About me
                                    About we!
 
Today I proudly
            Wear a mask
 
How about you?

Metaphors, serenity, masks—tie them all together with imagery and you have poetry. And in poetry, I have found myself. I hope you to do, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                   Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Do You Need a Hug?

Do you need a hug? Has the isolation of sheltering-in-place taken its toll? As a human being, I relish social interaction. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly!

Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people: we hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, we hug at church. My family hugs a lot! I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me! Yes, I agree a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack has zapped me!

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my newest book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. I focused on it and was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production. But the consequences: I felt drained!

Women sitting
Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020
 
I’ve run out
            Empty
                        No More
 
But come back
            Tomorrow
There will be more!
 
More of me
            My humor
            My expertise
            My talents
 
I’ve used up
            Everything today
            Ran desperately out!
I spilled me
            Wide-open
            Nothing left.
 
But I rejuvenate
            Refresh
And start again
            With a full tank!
 
So don’t ask me
            When I’m on empty
                        To give more!
That’s selfish!
 
Ask me about
            The level of
                        Availability
Ask me if I’m full
                        Or empty
Don’t assume!
 
I know me!
            I can tell
                        The meter’s hanging
                                    Dangerously low
                                                Near empty
 
I’m zapped
            Nothing now
                        Today!
 
But come back tomorrow,
            And I’ll have more!
 
More of me
            More joy
                        More compassion
                                    More energy!
Totally more!

I did get the book done, but the publisher has delayed the delivery of the paperback and hardback copies, so I’m waiting impatiently right now. I want to get my book into the hands of readers everywhere!

I currently focus on promoting Flippo’s book on Facebook and have assembled a gigantic database of over 600 square and round dance Facebook pages for groups and clubs with a count of 176,000 contacts. I realize many people “Follow” several Facebook pages, but what an amazing number of dancers!

So at this point, my hugs are of the virtual variety from contacts all over the world.

The coronavirus continues to attack people across the world. Lin and I watch the daily numbers increase and worry about the outcome.

I continue to wrestle with the lack of hugs! I’ve heard it said in my recovery years it takes ten hugs a day to stay centered, so needless to say, I need a hug or ten!

All this combined makes me wonder about the future!


Indefinite Future

April 20, 2020
 
Always
            The future looms
                        In front
                                    Of me
 
Full of intrigue
            Mystery
An unopened present
 
It lures me forward
            Beckoning me
                        To come
                                    To participate
                                                To enjoy
 
As I gaze on
            What’s to come
My heart clenches
            My throat constricts
 
Dread fills every cell!
            What does it hold?
 
The uncertainty now
            2020
Scary
            Horrendous illness
                        Rampant
                                    Across our world
 
Death cries swell
            In volume
Bodies sit in stacks
 
Never have I seen
            Anything of this size
 
So do you plan?
            Will June arrive safely?
                        What about the annual Branson-Trinchera Reunion?
                                    Its 62th event
                        Will July 4th be cancelled?
                        Will our summer be tainted
                                    By the smell of
                                                Rotting corpses?
 
Projection
            Fear
                        Alarm
                                    All color the future!
 
Will we get a respite?
            Will it stop?
                        Will it return
                                    If we open back up?
 
The uncertainty
            The drama
                        The insanity
                                    The horror
                                                Pain
Suffering
 
Can we ever have
            Normal again?

The future holds the key!                                          

Today, the future continues to look dim! Over the last several days, the Covid 19 case world count has been well over 100,000! Several states have seen a surge in cases here in the United States. My husband and I still choose to limit our exposure by staying close to home and only going out for the essentials. We will not participate in any group activities this summer.

Besides the horror of the coronavirus, over the past few weeks, the murder of George Floyd has influenced an awakening for the need for an honest look at racial prejudice in our world. It reminds me of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, but here we are sixty years later with some of the same injustices present. We need a major overhaul.

So, can we return to normal? I doubt if that ever happens. 2020 has been a year of major disasters and major changes. I yearn for a hug from you, a hug from you and a hug from you! The future truly holds the key to a new normal.

Will you participate or hold on to the old?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW. Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                              Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                                    Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                                 Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                              Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                         Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8             Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                   Barnes and Noble Nook (US) – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, 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/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

How Do You Cut Any of Marshall Flippo’s Stories?

Scissors to cut stories

If you knew Marshall Flippo, you know he wiled you with his stories and he had many—not surprising with the longevity of his 91 years! So, after 40+ hours of interviews, stories galore and 258,000+ words, I faced the dilemma of cutting some of his stories as I prepare the manuscript to be published, but which ones?

Early on in this project, Flip told me he wanted to tell stories about his caller/cuer friends and include them in his biography—an interesting reflection of him. He saw himself through his relationships.

So, originally, we made a list of seventy-one names of callers, cuers and dancers, and it was amazing to listen to how he listed them. After Flip identified the names that came to him easily, he geographically traveled the United States and added to the list, saying, “northern California, northern California. Around and Around. I thank I’ll have a funny story for each one of them.”

That was the criteria—a funny story! So he eliminated some of the names based on that criteria.

Next, he moved to those who called frequently at Kirkwood Lodge where he called for six months out of the year for 42 years. Then Flip moved to his home state of Texas to add more names. Next, he went to “around St. Louis, and oh, Memphis, Memphis, Memphis!”

Regularly he instructed me on how the chapters should be set up, “That’s going to be quite a few in a chapter—headline like Gary Shoemake. The next one would be Ken Bower.”

As we progressed down the list, Flip moved west to Reno and Mesa. Then he jumped back east to Chicago, then East Coast, North Carolina, and then down the East Coast, Alabama and Georgia.

At this point he emphasized, “Put Georgia down thar. I have a story about Georgia.” Be ready for this hilarious one included in the book. He returned to Texas and listed his mentors and dear friends there. He headed to East Texas and then New Mexico, over to Arizona. Then he went south and northwest.

Quickly Flip announced, “I’m down in Houston again.” He added from San Antonio, Amarillo, Lubbock. This went on for weeks!

After we compiled this list, we went back through it, and Flip told his stories, crossed off some names and added some. Again, I saw the importance of relationships to this man.

When Flip first stated he had a list of callers he wanted to tell stories about, with a snicker, he added, “I have another list but it’s short: Callers I’ve Slept With!” I gasped when he said that but laughed when he told me the story. You’ll have to look for who that is in his biography.

Always involved in the layout of his biography, Flippo later requested I separate out the stories and have a section at the beginning of the book, “Before Marshall Flippo was born in Tuscola, Texas,” identifying the callers who have passed away and had helped him, so these people and their stories hold a premier place at the beginning of his biography.

So, back to my dilemma of cutting stories—I’m still deciding which stories will be in the book, and which will land up on the website, but it doesn’t matter because if you purchase his biography, you’ll have access to all of them.


~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 OVER 200 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