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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.

Alligator Preserves Episode 9: A Visit with Ken McLeod

Are you listening? Am I listening? Do we even know how to listen anymore?

Ken gave permission to use this portrait illustration by Ian McKown from a photograph by Ann Braun (on a page at

Laurel’s visit with Buddhist practice teacher Ken McLeod, a peaceable man in a turbulent world, will provide you with glimpses of different ways to live your lives.

Now retired, but still publishing books on Eastern philosophies for Western minds, Ken talks about his own journey and offers suggestions for listeners.

[and his voice alone will leave you feeling more peaceful!]

Show Notes:

  • Ken McLeod has taught and translated Buddhist practice in the Los Angeles area and has authored several books about his experiences with Buddhist practices.
  • He discusses the far-reaching impact of the California wildfires.
  • His principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, and acting as his interpreter.
  • His early family experiences with religion.
  • How he became a teacher, though he didn’t feel prepared.
  • Teaching in the ’80s in the challenging environment in L.A.
  • Ideas on success and being an “expert.”
  • The intention of Buddhist practice and the freedom that comes with it.
  • Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention is his first book, release in 2002. I quote from the book’s description, “The key to becoming fully alive and joyful is to develop our natural capacity for attention and to be fully present here and now.”
  • How Ken completed his first book and his next,
  • Reflections on Silver River in 2014.
  • Discussion on “freedom, peace and understanding” and a different way to live. Are we evolving?
  • The Thirty-Seven Practices of the Bodhisattvas
  • “The world is not designed to support the life worth living.”
  • Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene
  • His thoughts about The Power of Now, 2004, by Eckhart Tolle.
  • Is ignorance bliss?
  • Suggestion for listeners: One practice you can do now.
  • What’s next? His new work with Vajrayana.
  • Next  Episode: A homeless woman who gave me an unforgettable gift.


Other works we discussed:

The Mission (movie)

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

The Three Pillars of Zen, 25th Anniversary Updated and Revised Edition

The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas: An Oral Teaching

The Selfish Gene: 40th Anniversary Edition (Oxford Landmark Science)

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I have a correction to make from my last episode in which I told you about the prestigious 2018 CIPA EVVY Awards. The website for more information is at, not .org, and here’s a reminder to submit your books before March 16th for early bird savings!

If you enjoyed this and other episodes, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Perhaps you’ll even help support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.

Alligator Preserves Episode 8: A Visit with Sherry Ficklin


Best-selling author Sherry Ficklin (second from right) attended my book launch party for Waterwight Flux! Other authors in attendance included (left to right) Lynn K Hall, Diane Smith, and Carol Bellhouse. That’s me on the right! Not in photo: Stephanie R. Sorensen. Photo credit: Marcia Martinek, Editor of the Leadville Herald Democrat newspaper

Sherry Ficklin, best-selling author of the Stolen Empire Series, visits with Laurel McHargue in this episode of Alligator Preserves! She explains how she has become “a toucher of things,” and shares amazing stories of her own life and how her experiences have influenced her writing.

Show Notes:

  • Sherry Ficklin tells a secret about a visit to the White House
  • Sherry is “a toucher of things”!
  • Earliest memories with books, telling stories, and winning her first monetary award
  • Her writing over ten years and feedback from Penguin Books
  • Writing challenges
  • Autobiographical elements of her work
  • “Vantablack” material (favorite color is black!)
  • Dark side characters, 1st person books, and choosing names
  • Contract negotiations with publishers
  • Research and Canary Club adventures
  • Marketing to YA and other audiences
  • Queen series books
  • Sherry’s “Dragon’s Eye” adventure, the fruit that “ruffied” her
  • Advice to new authors and what’s next for her
  • Her childrens’ response to her writing
  • Introduce next topic: Visit with Buddhist practice teacher Ken McLeod
  • CIPA EVVY Awards open for submissions @


Sherry Ficklin’s website

Losing Logan Paperback May 2, 2014

Playing with Fire: A Hacker Novel (The #Hackers Series)

SHIFT – Colour changing rainbow paint – Black 2.0 x Rainbow Liquid (VANTAblack items)

The Flowers in the Attic Saga: Flowers in the Attic/Petals on the Wind; If There Be Thorns/Seeds of Yesterday; Garden of Shadows (V.C. Andrews books)

The Great and Secret Show (Clive Barker)

A Canary Club Story (Canary Club Series books)

Inheritance Cycle 4-Book Trade Paperback Boxed Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, In (The Inheritance Cycle)

CIPA EVVY Awards info

Laurel’s Amazon Author page

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue,
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music

Alligator Preserves Episode 7: Battle-Dressed Breasts

South Korean tailors could have learned a few things from the tailors at West Point!

In this episode, Laurel recounts a time she nearly instigated an international incident when she was an Army officer in South Korea, and several comedic situations during her three months in support of Exercise Team Spirit ’89.

Show Notes:

  • Laurel discusses an embarrassing and frightening incident in a public restroom in South Korea
  • She talks about her 3-month deployment to support a Team Spirit exercise in 1989
  • South Korean soldiers and their interaction with a female Army officer
  • South Korean tailors try to make clothing to fit
  • Laurel encourages audience to imagine being in a situation in which you are misunderstood
  • Introduce next topic: Visit with best-selling author Sherry Ficklin


Battle-Dressed Breasts story with photos (story first published in Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman

Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Being a Woman (2013-07-29)

Laurel’s Amazon Author page

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue,
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music

Alligator Preserves Episode 6: Interview with Stephanie R. Sorensen, Author

Author Stephanie R. Sorensen also paints…and sews! This is one of her Victorian creations.

“What’s a Toru?” I asked my guest Stephanie R. Sorensen, author of the highly acclaimed novel Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series) (Volume 1)

Listen to today’s episode–my very first Alligator Preserves interview–to discover the answer to my question and many more as we discuss the writing process, character development, author challenges and much more.


Show Notes:

  • Author Stephanie R. Sorensen talks about her novel Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series) (Volume 1)
  • Her earliest memory with books and telling a story to an audience
  • The importance of character transformation in stories
  • Writing challenges and prioritizing multiple obligations
  • Evolution of language and the media
  • Memorable characters in literature and a type she’s itching to develop
  • Opinions on indie-published books
  • Writing routine and advice for new writers and authors
  • What’s next?
  • Introduce next topic: How I almost created an international incident while in the Army


Novel Stephanie remembers with memorable, heart-gripping character:
Kristin Lavransdatter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter (Volume 1)

Laurel’s Amazon Author page

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue,
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music


Ready to be a Patron of the Arts?

I’m excited (frightened, anxious, and feeling lots of other emotions, but mostly happiness) about my new podcast Alligator Preserves and the launch of my Patreon Campaign to support it.

Once per week, I’ll publish an episode about writing and storytelling with tips and ideas for writers and storytellers! Interspersed with my solo episodes, I’ll host interviews with other authors and individuals with memorable stories as well.

Perhaps you have a memorable story to share?

Please consider becoming a patron of my podcast. Details about Patreon and the rewards you will receive are below, and thank you for allowing me to entertain you!

Laurel’s Patreon Campaign for the Alligator Preserves podcast!

Alligator Preserves Episode 5: Words of Warning Signs

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…”

Who remembers the song by Five Man Electrical Band (1971)? I do, and in this episode of Alligator Preserves you’ll hear how some signs can be not only confusing, but downright embarrassing.

Laurel McHargue describes a time when misreading a sign led to a situation that left her feeling far from virtuous.

Show Notes:


Dying of Embarrassment essay and photos

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

YouTube link to Five Man Electrical Band song Signs

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue,
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music

Alligator Preserves Podcast Episode 4: Pets

In this week’s episode, Laurel McHargue introduces listeners to another character in her life: her dog, Ranger.

Inspired by a man in her writing group who one day told everyone “Don’t get a boat,” Laurel knew she had to write a piece called “Don’t Get a Dog.” She reads excerpts from the piece as she muses about the pets in her life, and shares a confession at the end.

Show Notes:

  • Story inspiration at writing group meeting
  • Raised by “No pets!” parents, she nevertheless got some free ones along the way
  • After reading 8 books on dog training, found the best one for her new German Shepherd puppy: “The Art of Raising a Puppy
  • Blog post “Don’t Get A Dog
  • Brainstorm about pets and pet owners
  • Storytelling tip: Focus on one character at a time
  • Confession
  • Introduce next topic: Words of Warning Signs


The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete

Don’t Get a Dog ironic essay and photos

Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Power of the Dog

Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA)

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue,
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music

Alligator Preserves Podcast Episode 3: Boston Boy Goes to Texas

Who’s your daddy?

In today’s episode, host and author Laurel McHargue introduces her father as she never knew him. With a shoe box filled with letters from a 19-year-old son to his parents and siblings during WWII, Laurel shares her thoughts on the bizarre world of parent/child relationships.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Show Notes:

  • The letter shoe box.
  • Charles Bernier, age 19, off to “somewhere” in 1943
  • Blog post Boston Boy In For An Eye-Opener with narrative
  • Questions about parents
  • The parent/child relationship
  • Brainstorm about questions and the brain
  • Storytelling tip: Focus on a small thing
  • Introduce next topic: Something completely different


Blog post with photos: Boston Boy In For An Eye-Opener

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music


Alligator Preserves Podcast Episode 2: Hair

Ever been in a hairy situation?

In this episode of Alligator Preserves, host and author Laurel McHargue discusses her on-again-off-again love affair with hair and her failure to achieve a childhood goal.

Alligator Preserves is hosted and produced by Laurel McHargue with technical support provided by her husband, Mike McHargue. Follow her on her website at where she writes about life, real and imagined, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @LeadvilleLaurel. If you enjoyed this podcast, you might enjoy her books. Find her work on Amazon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Show Notes:

  • Storytelling and blog post entitled “My Hair Piece” with interjected narrative
  • Brainstorming about hair and mundane topics, finding the humor, and learning something about the human condition
  • Memories of hair and listener encouragement to explore their own
  • Writing tips and announcement of next topic: a young man’s eye-opening experience when he joins the Army in 1943


Laurel’s Amazon Author page

Blog post entitled “My Hair Piece”

Writing tips

Laurel’s Facebook page

Laurel’s Twitter

Intro/outro voice by Nick McHargue
Podcast music from Jamendo Royalty Free Music