About author

Laurel lives and breathes and shivers and writes and publishes in the highest incorporated town in the U.S.! She's the author of several books, all available on Amazon.

Demonstrably Dangerous Dogs

Ranger: “They just hate me because I’m beautiful.”

It is with anger, growing frustration and rising blood pressure that I’m distracted from writing what I enjoy writing to compose this rant against irresponsible dog owners. I am so, so, SO sick of having to defend myself and my dog from almost routine incidents involving loose, aggressive dogs.

Just yesterday I delivered a stern written warning to an aggressive dog owner whose dog finally escaped its yard and attacked my dog, and this morning, while walking with my friend along a route we’ve taken several times each week for the past several years, an unsecured Rottweiler ran from its yard and charged us. I think the only thing stopping it from inflicting damage was the atmosphere of noise and confusion that ensued as its owners, a witness, and we—its target—all erupted in shouting from different directions. The same dog had apparently attacked another person two weeks prior.

I had my pepper spray at the ready as the dog circled us at close distance, and fortunately, the dog owners secured it before it made contact.

And then they apologized, right?

Hell, no. They acted belligerently, yelling at us for our reaction to the incident, telling us their dog is “friendly,” and walking away after being told to stay until the police arrived.

A well-meaning witness to the whole event suggested that we consider taking a different route for our morning walks. My emphatic “No!” was perhaps delivered too strongly—he was simply offering a solution—but his solution suggests that I remain a frightened victim. His solution suggests that unrestrained, aggressive dogs should be given control of their territory and beyond. It suggests that law-breakers should be allowed to continue breaking the law.

And it suggests I should just deal with the physical and emotional damage I endure after coming down from a spike of fight-or-flight adrenaline to my system.

To all those suggestions, I scream “NO!”

“It’s because your dog’s a German Shepherd,” we’ve heard from past aggressive dog owners after their off-leash dogs have charged us, as if owning a German Shepherd is a valid excuse for their dogs to attack. I suppose that was a similar excuse used by the owners of three different loose dogs who charged my friends as they walked their 14-pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel around the Fish Hatchery recently. I suppose it was because my friends’ dog was too cute.

There’s been talk for years of sterner dog control ordinances, but if we’re all going to continue to avoid the law-breakers, to walk a different route, to veer into the street rather than stay on a sidewalk by a fence we know won’t contain an aggressive dog, to give someone “one more chance” before filing a report, what good will come of sterner laws?

I’m disgusted. I’m disgusted because this is not the first time I’ve been angry enough to write about dog attacks (see Going To The Dogs), and even as I write this—my heart still pounding too hard—I question what impact it will make.

Why, Leadvillians? Why do we keep making excuses? Why do we keep believing it will never happen again? Why do we even consider changing our route? Aren’t we smarter than dogs yet? Evidently, we’re not.

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I sent this letter to our local paper’s editor today. I know this issue is not exclusive to our quirky little town, so I have to wonder why we (humans) can’t seem to figure out how not to continually be victimized by them (demonstrably dangerous dogs and their generally aggressive owners).

Clearly, it’s never appropriate to blame the dog. Some people believe there are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. But bad dog owners can create bad dogs and allow them to behave aggressively around people and other animals. This is bad.

I believe my rights as a law-abiding individual trump (and how I hate to use that word anymore) those of law-breakers and animals. I’m not sure how I’ll respond to the next attack, but it won’t be pretty. For years now I’ve been holding Ranger back and pulling him away from attacking dogs, not wanting him to engage in a fight, not wanting him to experience what it might feel like to sink his teeth into a combatant, not wanting to “ruin” him.

I’m not going to hold him back anymore.

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If you like my writing, you might enjoy my other publications. Check them out here!

 

Hunting and Love?

In my new book Hunt for Red Meat: love stories, I bring you along on my hunting expeditions with my husband as we hunt the wily Colorado elk for over three years!

Hunt for Red Meat
(love stories)

Here’s a press release with info about my first book of non-fiction:

If You Give a Girl a Gun, She Just Might Bring Home the Bacon

It’s available for download pre-order now, and the paperback is available July 1st, 2017! Remember, you’ll always be able to download a free Kindle version of my books when you order the paperback.

Let me know what you think!

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And if you like my writing, you might enjoy my other publications. Check them out here!

 

The Turn-Around Tree

Morning dose of red white and blue (and green and brown)! The rust-red icicle bridge.

To say it waits for us each morning would be a lie. It’s just a tree, an aspen tree with a tuning fork trunk. But no. It’s more than just a tree. It’s a goal, a symbol, a reward.

Several years ago I invaded my neighbor’s exercise routine by inserting myself and my dog into his morning walk. Since that first hike up the east side of our little town, I’ve come to look forward to rising earlier than I would otherwise rise to get my morning dose of inspiration, and John has grown used to Ranger’s initial excited barking at him and my often incessant chatter.

I remember asking that first morning how far up the moderately steep road we’d go before turning around.

“Where the road turns to dirt, there’s a tree,” John told me, and I couldn’t wait for the pavement to end.

It’s hard enough to breathe some days doing routine tasks at 10,200’ elevation, and before we approached the rust-red bridge, moderate turned to steep. The pavement didn’t stop, but my chatter did.

Beyond the bridge was yet another cruel incline. I was really out of speed-walking shape and thought we’d never reach the turn-around spot, but when I saw the tree just beyond where the pavement ended, elation replaced fatigue.

John “Orville” Stewart at the turn-around tree. Don’t let anyone know he owns a tie-dye T-shirt!

Years have passed since my first quest to reach the turn-around tree, and not a single walk has culminated without some fresh insight about my life and my writing. In 2015 while searching for the perfect name for the flying frog character in my novel Waterwight, I asked John if he had a middle name. After a moment’s hesitation, he told me.

“Orville.”

I recall saying something like, “No way! That’s it!”

John laughed, and my character had his name.

Icicles form under the “bridge of doom”!

Countless encounters with people and the landscape during our routine walk (which never seems to get much easier for some reason) have inspired scenes and new characters and plot twists for my writing. Walking under the bridge, for example, with its menacing icicles from sunny morning thaws gave me the vision of Orville’s underwater rescue of Celeste. A young boy named Bridger who told me his superpower would be “to build things” inspired the character Bridger. An arrow stuck in a telephone pole inspired John to suggest an archer character (yes, I have dragged John into my fictional worlds), and when I let him get a word in edgewise, he often provides me with ideas to ponder.

“Have you noticed the profile on Mt. Massive?” he asked one morning after we discussed shapes of clouds and already-named stone formations like New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain. When I told him no, he directed my attention to a stony outcropping halfway down from the highest crest of Mt. Massive, the gorgeous mountain range sprawled before us, waiting for us, I imagine, on our descent from the east side each morning.

And not only was Old Man Massive born that day, but the stark outline of mountain against crystal blue sky inspired a vision of the precipice scene for Waterwight.

This morning was the first time I said the words “turn-around tree,” and John suggested I add it to my growing list of title ideas. The tree’s new name reminds me of my favorite Shel Silverstein story, “The Giving Tree,” and its location being where the pavement ends recalls Silverstein’s collection of poems, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

I have yet to publish a young children’s book, but I have titles for them on my list. Perhaps “The Turn-Around Tree” will end up as more than simply this blog post title.

While the time it takes us to reach the turn-around tree never seems to vary much despite our noticeable improvement in fitness, the time itself has grown in value. Some mornings it’s filled with chatter (until that last steep spot) about the world and life and the latest local happenings, but more often now there are longer stretches of silence in which to create new worlds.

The turn-around tree is an achievable goal, one that starts each new day with a discrete accomplishment. It’s a symbol now too, of something that continues to grow—like friendship—its tuning fork shape a reminder to stop the chatter every now and then and listen. And it’s a reward, ever-changing in its ability to endure its often harsh surroundings, a visual treat marking our success, there for us as a reminder to consider the turning places in our own lives.

I’ll pretend the turn-around tree does wait for us each morning. The idea might keep me from sending a “too tired today” text on mornings when my warm sheets encourage my bed potato tendencies. And who knows. “The Turn-Around Tree” just might make it to the top of my children’s book title list. I can visualize at least one story ready to be shaken from its branches . . . yet another reward waiting to be claimed.

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If you like my writing, you might enjoy my books! Check them out here, and thank you!

What’s the Best GPS for Hunting?

With summer just starting in Leadville, Colorado, it’s hard to believe hunting season is just around the corner! We haven’t yet learned if we drew tags for this year (fingers crossed), but I’m already brushing up on my harvesting skills. We’re down to just a few packages of fajita meat in the freezer from last fall’s roadkill, so I’m looking forward to restocking soon!

If you’re a hunter or hiker (hunting for breathtaking scenery), you should consider purchasing and learning how to use a GPS (Global Positioning System). It will help immensely when you need to remember where you left your tasty meat, or if you’ve lost yourself in the excitement of the hunt, it will help you find your way back home!

Sally, a fellow hunter and writer, recently provided me with a Top 10 list of GPS devices and a link to an article with more information about each. Here’s what she sent:

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In the books I read as a child, the hero, well anyone who was hunting, did so with a bow and arrow. They navigated from memory or by using the sun and the stars (not at the same time naturally). Today, it’s a little different, but a large part of me loves the idea of ditching technology and going out, me versus the moose mano a mano or well, womano a moose.

Now we have small children and I have a tech obsessed husband, the question has not been what technology to use, but which type of each gadget available. One of the ones he loves most is the GPS device, as someone who is great at navigating without a map, using one is a disaster in the making, so I’ll give it to him, GPS are useful because they tell me where on the map I am and how to get to my destination. So, after a bit of trial and error, we’ve worked through and reviewed the top 10 available right now, which are:

  1. eTrex (Garmin)
  2. Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS (Garmin)
  3. Rhino 750 (Garmin)
  4. Oregon 650t GPS (Garmin)
  5. Garmin 64st
  6. eTrex 10 (Garmin)
  7. eTrex 20x (Garmin)
  8. DeLorme InReach SE
  9. Back Track G2 (Bushnell)
  10. Foretex 401 (Garmin)

That’s just the list. I’ve put together the pros and cons of each as well as a review in this article covering the top 10 handheld GPS devices.

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Please check out Sally’s article for lots of info on this very important tool! I know that after some of my hunting expeditions, I could benefit from knowing how to use a GPS (but so far, my husband hasn’t steered me wrong)!

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If you like my writing, you might enjoy my books! Check them out here, and thank you!

Hunting glamour shot. Weston Pass. Waiting and waiting for Mike.

 

STRACK PRESS!

Alpha Peak LLC (my old publishing imprint) is now STRACK PRESS LLC!

I decided it was time to update my old company name and to create a logo that was more in line with my work. The word “strack” is an old-school military term that means “very strict in one’s military appearance and grooming.” In other words, totally squared away!

After running a 99designs logo contest, the designer Caluya (TM) captured exactly what I was looking for. The logo has 12 open-book-style lines that also look like military chevrons, and the font is clean and bold. I asked for it in red, white, blue, black, and gold.

STRACK PRESS, my new publishing brand logo.

Books already published will maintain the Alpha Peak LLC imprint, but all future publications will be from Strack Press.

By the way, Waterwight: Book I of the Waterwight Series is now available in audiobook format! Sandra Murphy, Voice Mama, has brought my characters and story to life in a most beautiful way!

I hope you enjoy my blog posts, and if you do, you may enjoy my books. Check them out here, and thank you!

Easter Weekend: Let Us Rejoice?

Gustave Dore’s “The Saintly Throng in the Form of a Rose”

When I finally shook off the shackles of my religion, a process that took years, I freed my suffering psyche from a bondage I felt was never fair or right. After all, if God has made us “in his own image,” then He has made us as flawed as He must be. Instead of humanity being obligated to pray for forgiveness and mercy, should not He ask forgiveness of us?

Would a father or mother today truly condemn their child to eternal damnation for any degree of offense or disobedience? I suppose there must be consequences, right?

But eternal damnation? If my child were born with the genetic makeup to perpetrate a heinous crime, then I ought to weep for passing down that predisposition. I ought not to wish upon that child eternal damnation. Both nature and nurture influence mental health, though as we learn more about the brain and its chemistry, it would appear that nature pulls more sway. Is it a child’s fault that s/he is chemically unbalanced? I think not. Continue reading

Book Giveaway!

Sign up now for a chance to win one of 5 autographed copies of this crazy adult fairy tale! Until then, download an e-version (for only $2.99) and maybe buy a copy for a friend (for only $6.99)! Thanks!

A twisted adult fairy tale with a surprise ending!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hare, Raising Truth by Laurel McHargue

The Hare, Raising Truth

by Laurel McHargue

Giveaway ends March 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Adult Fairy Tale, Anyone?

I’m SO excited about the upcoming release of my Grimm’s Fairy Tales / The Twilight Zone mashup, an adult fairy tale! Written from a second-person point of view, this twisted tale is one I hadn’t intended to write, but hey, when the muse throws sex in your face, you’ve got to do something with it!

Pre-orders for ebooks are open now and will be released with the paperback on March 12, 2017 (a full moon!). And check out the cover artwork!!!

Ask me where I had it designed . . .

A twisted adult fairy tale with a surprise ending!

Thank you for your support! The ebook is only $2.99 and the paperback will be $6.99. Worth it for the artwork alone, I’d say!

Does Love Need Prompting? Love Prompts!

In 2014 I wrote a post called “Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow” (say it like you’re imitating the soundtrack to a ’70s porn film) in which I exposed my first sexual encounter, one that could have ended in disaster. I was lucky.

Many decades later and with 33+ years of marriage to the same guy, I’m pleased to say my luck has not run out. I’ll soon publish a novella called The Hare, Raising Truth about love and lust and lucky charms, and I’ve dedicated it to my husband. He is, truly, my lucky charm (oh, stop your gagging. It’s true). It’s a creepy story, but Mike said it’s my best writing yet. Yeah, he read it under sedation awaiting surgery, but I’m quite certain it didn’t affect his judgment at all. (read more for quick writing prompts about love!) Continue reading

My Right Hand(edness)

In last month’s newsletter I challenged readers to study their hands and tell me their story. Sometimes it’s difficult to create a fresh prompt idea, but I stared at my own suspended fingers over the keyboard and there it was. Art teachers often have students draw their hands, an exercise more difficult than it sounds, so it’s not a unique idea. I frequently say, “Bah, humbug!” to people who complain of writer’s block because even if they may not know how to start their next scene, they can always look at whatever’s in front of them—their hands, for instance—and write a description.

My handy right gadget. May it continue to serve me well!

But I don’t want to write a description today. I fear falling into clichéd comparisons between my hands and my mother’s, sentimental ponderings over how my hands have held and fed and clothed and disciplined my children, mundane expressions about how handy these gadgets have been over the years—the anatomy of tendons and veins, the soft cheeks and huggable bodies, the constant completion of tasks performed without a thought. Continue reading