Categories
Author Interview Books Writing

Author Kathy Taylor

Tree Whisperer!

Kathy Taylor, author of Trees and Other Witnesses
Audio-only version
https://youtu.be/9zkwZEZwBHM
Visit with us on YouTube! (https://youtu.be/9zkwZEZwBHM) (please click the link if you cannot see the embedded link with photo)

Show Notes with Links:

  • Kathy talks about how growing up in a Quaker community in Pennsylvania informed her life and work.
  • Visit with us on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/9zkwZEZwBHM
  • We met at a Chaffee County Writers Exchange event and I took a “look inside” her book on Amazon…and immediately bought it!
  • We discuss our favorite trees (not that there could be just one!)
  • Why 13 stories?
One of Michele Wayland’s illustrations in “Trees and other Witnesses”
  • I share many glorious figurative language excerpts from her book.
  • Kathy reads a passage from her book.
The Amate Tree!
  • We talks about how figurative language “happens” (it’s my opinion that Kathy is a master!)
  • Autobiographical elements in her writing, and discussion of different languages.
Woman with Burro, Ocotal, Nicaragua
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series and just published my first coloring book for the Waterwight series!
(Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Laurel on Life Podcast Writing

From the Bidet to the Beach!

Reflections on Time Well Spent

If you’d like to listen, I’ve embellished my reflections in this podcast episode. :)

“You should go.”

Mike had been preparing for this year’s elk hunt, and I had naturally assumed I’d be tagging along behind him, whispering haiku poems into my voice memo app and praying he wouldn’t bag a big one miles from civilization. A bull elk weighs in anywhere from 700-1,100 pounds. We may be strong for our age, and I’m about to turn pro on the speed bag Mike bought for me (there will be videos), but that’s just too much weight to haul from the wilderness.

“But . . . hunting,” I said. I didn’t want to appear too enthusiastic about his suggestion that I attend a gathering of West Point women on the Outer Banks of North Carolina that happened to coincide with his hunting week.

And now I offer great praise and thanks to my husband’s friend since childhood, Gene Dixon-Anderson, who, after reading my book “Hunt for Red Meat (love stories),” flew in from the East Coast to experience a Colorado elk hunt.

Gene and Mike scouting for “signs” of the wily elk!

So off I went on an adventure I’d never intended, pandemic be damned, and the night before my flight out, knew the trip would offer plenty to ponder.

To say I have generous and merciful friends would be an understatement. It was Mimi Finch who told me about the OBX event at our classmate Bonnie Schweppe’s beach house, and I spent the night before our early morning flight with Mimi’s family in Denver. They were still moving into a new home, and the guest bathroom had what I recognized as a bidet arrangement on the toilet.

Well . . . I may be on the downslope of the proverbial hill, but I’ve never “experienced” the workings of a bidet. Curious about how it might work—I wasn’t about to use it without knowing what to expect—I stood in front of it, reached down, and pushed what appeared to be a typical flush handle.

The powerful jet of water nearly knocked me over, and in a state of startled confusion—why wouldn’t it stop? I only pushed it down once!—I stepped from the torrent and watched in horror as it splashed against the opposite wall.

“Help! Helllllllp!” I shouted, closing the seat cover—that would surely shut if off!—and watching as water cascaded over the edges and onto the floor. “HELLLLP!”

Mimi and her sister finally came to my rescue—I wonder what they were thinking when they heard my call—and I learned a bidet lever is not like a flush handle. I’m telling myself I merely christened their new home, and I’m not sure I’ll ever personally experience this contraption as it’s intended to be experienced, but the incident certainly set the tone for the rest of my trip.

When Mimi and I landed, our “hostess with the mostess” met us at the airport and chauffeured us to a great outdoor restaurant where we met several other weekend adventurers, and by the time we all got to the beach house, despite the late hour, we established the unspoken rules—there would be late nights with enough M&Ms and music to keep us awake, and early mornings with sunrises no one would want to miss. Bonnie ordered ideal weather for us, and the gods complied.

This was the only day I did not swim in the ocean!

Now I’ll share the memories that will stick with me until those particular brain cells hibernate.

  • Champagne breakfast at sunrise on the beach. One of the youngsters, my king-bedmate, brought the champagne and crystal flutes, and Bonnie arranged the picnic basket. Soft sand, candles, and curious crabs greeted us, and we oooed and ahhhed as the blood-orange sky announced the rising sun, which soon silhouetted sleepy-eyed dancers and yoga posers in the ebbing surf.
Mimi Finch in her signature sunrise pose! So happy I captured this moment.
  • Strolling on the beach after sunset, and range-walking (that’s speed walking, for you non-Army folks) back to the house when the sky turned black and rain pelted our backs.
That’s a rising moon behind us. And then came the storm!
  • Diving through and being lifted by ocean waves, and the mandatory peeing in the sea. Absolutely glorious, all of it.
  • Ten women belting out Helen Reddy’s iconic song and being startled when I tear-choked over the words “Oh yes I am wise, But it’s wisdom born of pain.” I still choke up thinking about it. Ten entirely different women bonding over experiences shared decades ago, and each with distinctive memories of those events.
  • Along those lines, getting to know women from Proud to Be ’83, Best of the Corps ‘84, and For Excellence We Strive ’85, and being saddened by stories of rape and assault, discrimination and abuse, gross injustices that still somehow prevail in our society.
  • Writing my 250-word nycmidnight challenge story with a glass of bourbon while others shopped—being dubbed Laurel Hemmingway McHargue, if only!—and then sharing the story with the group over dinner. No one wanted to sleep with me that night—but several of them chipped in with ideas for a fairy tale that had to include drinking milk and the word heart. “Magical unicorn milk” . . . “the people who drink it get the power to eat the hearts of others” . . . and several other suggestions that would have required far more than 250 words to complete. I’ll read it to you after my reflections.
  • Winning a game of Scrabble because I got to put my “Z” for “zapped” on a triple letter score.
  • Three former “Rabble Rousers” going through their routine as we all sang “On, Brave Old Army Team,” the USMA fight song. Sadly, it didn’t help our Black Knights win that night.
  • So much dancing with wild abandon late into every night, fueled by M&Ms, wine, and joy.
  • The long walk over the boardwalk and through the woods—another mandatory peeing in the trees—and back along the beach.
“Old Grad” toes!
  • And who will ever forget the discussion of glass dildos and butt plugs? It had to happen in a group lucky enough to include a sex therapist.

It dawned on me as I traveled back to my Colorado mountain home that although each of us in that magical gathering has overcome hardships many cannot imagine, age-old insecurities still linger. Words like “not enough” or “if only” or “I’m too (fill in the blank)” or “I should” or worse—“I should have” . . .  still plague us. And we have far fewer years remaining than those we’ve already lived. Will we ever believe that we are enough?

Mike always starts his morning with quiet reading time and hot coffee, and although I was slow to adopt this habit, I now relish this gentle way of reengaging with the new day. We read a passage from The Daily Stoic and then as many pages as seems right in whichever book we’ve chosen. Mike sets a timer, but that’s because he still works to keep me in the manner to which I’ve grown accustomed. I’ll never be that disciplined, but that’s a topic for another day.

Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is always nearby too, and I’m drawn to his idea that “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” I often struggle with rumination over past and future events, neither of which I can control, but I also often prompt myself to remember how I felt when I first read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

And I remembered it throughout my time in the beach house and on the beach this past weekend. I remembered to be present for every moment, for every dance, for every sip of bourbon, for every confession, for every song, every tear, every hug, every wave, every crab, every M&M.

In addition to my short story, I left a haiku in Bonnie’s guest book:

Powerful women
Tribulations all endured
Invincible us!

Despite late nights, we did not miss a sunrise!

Mimi’s husband, Ed, picked us up at the airport and her sister, Betsy, had late-night quiches waiting for us upon our return. I smiled the entire drive home the next morning after spending another night there, no more bidet incidents, and I felt—as I have been feeling lately—like the luckiest gal on the planet. With a husband who supports and encourages me to dance on the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy and friends whose generosity knows no bounds, how could I feel any other way?

“I am so, so happy I went,” I told Mike when I returned.

There was no fresh elk meat to process, but Mike and Gene made their own man memories over miles and miles of mountainous terrain . . . while I danced in the sand and embraced a sisterhood of extraordinary women.

And now, my story. The title (offered by another contributor to my creation): Sour Milk. The challenge required a story of no more than 250 words in the fairy tale or fantasy genre, with an action of drinking milk and use of the word ‘heart.’

Sour Milk

I’ll tell you a story that’ll have you think twice before smiling when someone says unicorns are sweet and magical. I know the real deal about those one-horned freaks. Seen ’em in action, and it ain’t pretty. It all started, once upon a time, with the first “blessing”—hahaha!—of those pompous beasts.* Don’t get me wrong—we hyenas might’ve done the same had two-leggers tried to capture us—but misunderstood is our middle name. We’re born with enough of a bum rap.

I watched in horror, tried not to laugh—really, I did—when they lured that first dude into their midst. Mesmerized by their seductive scent, he dropped his weapon, nestled down among them, and proceeded to drink the milk from one who’d just birthed another foul foal. Disgusting, but that wasn’t the worst of it.

Full-bellied and drowsy, he was, when they crept around him in an ever-smaller circle. I appreciated their tactics. Must’ve learned that maneuver from us, and I suppressed another chuckle. Dude never saw it coming, though, probably thinking about his forthcoming good luck, but as soon as he lay back against the momma’s milk-soaked belly, her stud sprang forward, spearing him through the heart with his horn.

His blood made me giggle and drool, but they made quick work of the cleanup. Not a chunk of him left for me. Explains why no two-leggers ever report seeing a unicorn. Magical creatures, my ass. Selfish charlatans, more like it. Milk ain’t always heart-healthy. Hahahahaha!

* A group of unicorns is called a “blessing”!

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series and just published my first coloring book for the Waterwight series!
(Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Author Interview Books Podcast

Awesome Aussie Author Adam Jones!

What He Has Learned from BOOKS!

Visit with Adam Jones in this entertaining YouTube interview! What You Will Learn…

Learn more about Adam “Jonesy” Jones on their “About Us” page!
Here’s the Audio-only version of our visit!

SHOW NOTES WITH LINKS:

  • Adam Jones shares his early morning routine.
  • Jonesy tell us how the podcast “What You Will Learn” started!
  • His first impactful book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
  • How their episodes improved.
  • Decisions about the title of their book The Sh*T They Never Taught You: What You Can Learn from Books.
  • He talks about how he has improved his retention (layers!)
  • He discusses initial goals (overcoming verbal tics, comfort zone, etc.)
  • Discussion about the Stoics and Stoic philosophy.
  • How this book is different from others.
  • Who’s “the boss”?!
  • How they select the next book to assess.
  • I suggest the book Ordinary Magic: A Father-Son Journey on the Colorado Trail by Todd Fahnestock.
  • Salida Book Store owner John Cameron suggests the books Braiding Sweetgrass and Midnight in Chernobyl.
  • What was his most challenging interview?
  • Has any interview changed his opinion about a book?
  • How has the pandemic affected him?
  • Was creating this book (as Daniel Kahneman confessed) “torture”?
  • How has creating this book changed him?
  • Which section was the most enjoyable to research?
  • Vices! How he quit smoking and other vices (and I confess to my chocoholism)! Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
  • What’s next, and Jonesy delivers a final message/suggestion!
Learn more about co-author podcast hosts Adam Ashton and Adam Jones HERE!
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series and just published my first coloring book for the Waterwight series!
(Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Author Interview Books

Todd Fahnestock’s Epic Adventures!

You’re going to want to travel with him!

Visit with us on YouTube!
Todd and his son–Dash–at the 400-mile point on the Colorado Trail!
Audio-only version of our visit

SHOW NOTES with LINKS:

  • I first met Todd Fahnestock at the Georgetown “Book Nook” Christmas Market! Pretty sure it will happen this year!
  • Our mutual friend, author/podcast host/all-around-wonderful-person Jerry Fabyanic hosts the Book Nook!
  • We discuss FANEXPO Denver, where Todd and I will have tables this year at the Convention Center Halloween Weekend!
  • Todd talks about his many books, why he wrote “Charlie Fiction,” when he knew he was going to start writing, his early epic fantasy inspirations, and how he always wanted MORE action!
  • I ask about his many accolades, and we discuss how external motivation (as opposed to internal) can be a negative thing!
  • We discuss “Summer of the Fetch” and he reads chapter 1 of “Ordinary Magic”
  • He gets personal about stories involving his wife’s horrific accident and his son’s growth arc throughout their father/son journey on the Colorado Trail
  • I suggest he send his “Altra Olympus 4” electric blue shoes to the company for replacement! (Have you done it yet, Todd?!)
  • He talks about his growth arc as an author and what will come next!
  • Find his books on Amazon or on his website or at any bookstore!
Evening of “The Great Fart”…you’ve got to read Ordinary Magic!
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series and just published my first coloring book for the Waterwight series!
(Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Author Interview Books Writing

Scott Thomas Knows HORROR!

Meet him in this fascinating interview!

Visit with us in the YouTube video above!

Show Notes with Links:

  • Scott Thomas, award-winning author of horror–“Kill Creek,” “Violet,”(and other things!) and screen writer for TV Movies and teleplays for networks including Netflix, SyFy, MTV, VH1, the CW, Disney,Nickelodeon, ABC . . .
  • We talk about Kill Creek and decisions Scott made and changed during its creation.
Award-winning Kill Creek
  • He talks about the difference between plot and story.
  • He tells us what scared him as a child . . . and now, and why he thinks some people enjoy horror.
  • He discusses his planning vs. “pantsing” and the “Save the Cat” format.
  • He talks about the expectation of horror and if anything is taboo.
His second book Violet
  • How does he answer the “Kill, Marry, Sleep with” question?!
  • Find his books on Amazon, B&N, Inkshares, or any bookstore, and contact him on Facebook and Twitter (@ninjawhenever)
Audio-only version of Scott Thomas Interview (above)
Thank you, Scott Thomas! There’s nothing “boring” about you!
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series and coloring book for the Waterwight series!
(Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Books Writing

“Lucky Bucks!”

A debut novel by a young author!

Just about 1 year ago, Katherine Stead committed to writing a book. Destined to spending most of her 3rd grade year in a remote learning situation, she craved more of a challenge than her online homework could provide.

For 1/2 hour every Wednesday morning (with few exceptions), this young author met with me over Zoom, and little by little, her story emerged.

Lucky Bucks! is a delightful “young reader” story about sibling rivalry and power. It’s a coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who has ever been a sibling and anyone who has witnessed the complex interaction of siblings. Embellished with one full-color illustration per chapter (15 chapters).

This story will leave you smiling!

Full disclosure: Katherine (Katie) is my 9-y-o great-niece! I had a blast helping her with this project and illustrating her book!

Would you please share this email with everyone with young readers? Thank you!

Categories
Books Laurel on Life

What Can We Control?

Not much, but maybe . . . enough.

“Raindrops on Roses” and Wildfires in Forests…

That is not my favorite song this year. But while I’m saddened by the flash floods, the mud slides, the fires raging out of control, the ongoing political turmoil, the conspiracy theories, the persistent pandemic, I’m reminded that the radius to the edge of my circle of influence remains a stone’s throw away. As I stand in the center of my circle, I can choose either to complain, to feel trapped, helpless, and defeated . . . or to feel inspired to put more effort into those things within my ability to control, if only slightly.

  • I cannot control the weather.
  • I cannot control our government.
  • I cannot control those with opinions contrary to mine.
  • I cannot control this dastardly virus.
  • I can make the area around our home safer, I can minimize my carbon footprint, and I can remember I won’t melt in the rain (even on my witchiest of days!).
  • I can research issues and candidates intelligently and exercise my right to vote.
  • I can choose not to engage with those on social media platforms whose goals are to spread unsubstantiated falsehoods and provoke hatred, fear, and anger. 
  • I can follow the guidelines recommended by legitimate professionals to keep myself healthy and to encourage others to do the same.

I’ve been working for hours in our garden and around our home recently because the unusual amount of rain this year where we live has caused an explosion of weeds–some lovely, most not so. How I wish I could wave my witchy wand and send the downpours to surrounding fires. 

Here’s my latest YouTube video in which I share our garden and the magnificent efforts my husband invested to create the perfect place for veggies to conquer weeds (with help, of course)! Dirty Hoe Days!

I choose to be inspired. How about you?

:)

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series! (Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Laurel on Life Writing

“A Catwalk to Nowhere”

in the Tiferet Journal!

Spring/Summer 2021 Edition of Tiferet Journal
  • Delighted to have my essay “A Catwalk to Nowhere” published in the Spring/Summer 2021 Edition of Tiferet Journal! I hope you’ll consider subscribing to this literary journal!
  • Click here to check it out!
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series! (Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Author Interview Books Writing

Meet Author/Publisher Kelly Lynn Colby!

Enjoy this lively visit with talented author/publisher Kelly Lynn Colby!
“Audio only” version of our visit (click above)!

Show Notes with Links:

Kelly’s page-turner: The Collector
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series! (Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Categories
Laurel on Life

Lions and Lambs

March comes in like a . . . 

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/the-truth-behind-in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb-2867 ]

I wanted to make more of the lion and lamb juxtaposition this month by sharing a Bible quote many of us “remember,” but guess what I discovered! We misremembered, or perhaps were misinformed. ‘Twas not the lion that snuggled up with the lamb, but rather, “The [big bad] wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. – Isaiah 11:6 KJV“–I found this correction on several sites including the William Branham Historical Research page. 

In any case, the idea that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb is strictly secular, although Jesus and astrology are mentioned in this piece about folk wisdom in The Paris Review (do check out the gorgeous painting in this article).

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/the-truth-behind-in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb-2867 ]

Let’s blame our misremembering on several things: aging, folklore, and Daylight Saving Time. Boy, do I hate that lost hour. Isn’t it about time to feed this outdated practice to the lions?

By the way, my friend John Stewart shared his favorite comment about the lion/lamb/kid “actual” quotation: “The leopard may lie down with the kid, but the kid won’t get much sleep.”

HA! Indeed!

We did experience a lionish day here in Colorado this weekend, which was not surprising–or shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone–and I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I closed my computer, snuggled on my couch under a fuzzy blanket, and read for hours. I also made a discovery. Truman Capote is why I haven’t been discovered yet as an author. Yes, I’ll blame it all on him. How had I never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories before this weekend? It’s been in my book collection for decades! How am I supposed to compete with him?

It’s just not fair. What film producers do with works of art is also unfair. After reading the plot of the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn, I don’t think I want to watch it. If you’ve only seen the movie, I would strongly suggest you read Capote’s original.

And now, I’ll step off my soapbox and greet The Ides of March with enthusiasm! The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and wait! Are those lambs bleating in the distance?

(check out my catch-up video from the past few months–about 18 minutes long–here: What Have YOU Been Up To These Past Several Months?)

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new science fiction series! (Photo Credit: Elise Sunday)

Find my other work here!

Please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

:)
Laurel