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Book Reading and Giveaway at the Ronald McDonald House!

Doing author events for charity is always a great experience: I get to help out a good cause and share my writing with people in one fell swoop. It’s like eating an egg wrapped in bacon wrapped in a waffle!

On a few Saturdays in May, I’ll be holding author reading and book giveaway events at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Denver and Aurora, Colorado! I’ll be joining Curt Fulster of C. Fulsty Books at the Aurora house on May 12 and at the Denver house on May 19. Both events will start at 6:30pm.

During the events, we’ll be reading from our books, answering questions, and giving away plenty of copies to the Houses’ families.

For those who don’t know, the Ronald McDonald House works closely with Children’s Hospital to provide housing, food, and other services to out-of-town families. Since there are only a handful of Children’s Hospitals in the world (and they all specialize in different ailments), a lot of families must travel out-of-state and even out of the country to stay near their kids.

These families have to worry about finding hotels, renting cars, paying for gas, and a bunch of other stuff you just don’t want to worry about when your kid’s in the hospital. So the Ronald McDonald House provides nice rooms, hot meals, and even entertainment to out-of-town families.

I didn’t just pick the Ronald McDonald House out of a random hat-o-charities, either. As I mentioned in the post about the charity month, my baby cousin was diagnosed with and died from brain cancer in 2000. I’ve also had a close friend deal with childhood cancer in recent years.

I live in Colorado, so I never stayed at either of the Colorado Ronald McDonald Houses while my cousin was receiving cancer treatments. But when I learned about the House, I couldn’t help but think “I can’t imagine what it’d be like to go through this if I lived out-of-state.”

Also, in 2006, I performed my Eagle Scout service project by supplying the Denver Ronald McDonald House with storage shelves. I raised over $3000, purchased a bunch of shelving racks from Costco, and instructed and collaborated with other boys to set them up. As far as I know, the RMH is still using the shelves.

The Ronald McDonald House helps out a ton of families, and I’m glad to help them in any way I can.  It’s going to be great!

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The Wonder of Lulu

Those of you who’ve perused my website’s main page with the tenacity of a caffeine-addled poodle with a telescope may have noticed that I sell my books using three different websites:

One is Amazon Createspace, a print-on-demand site that allows me to sell printed books directly through Amazon. Another is Kindle, Amazon’s digital bookstore. Middle Grade books don’t exactly sell like hotcakes on Kindle, but there are a few people who prefer digital copies.

But then there’s Lulu. I haven’t seen nearly as many sales through Lulu, and
I’m not surprised. Who wants to buy a book through some print-on-demand website they’ve never heard of when they can buy it through a reliable and familiar website like Amazon?

Even though it’s not quite as great for selling books as something like Createspace, Lulu is a fantastic tool for private book publishing that everyone who’s interested in seeing their words in print should take advantage of.

The biggest difference between Amazon Createspace and Lulu is that Createspace is used strictly for selling media. If you have a story or a song or some art that you’d like to make millions of monies selling, Createspace is the way to go.

But what if you want to produce a book that has meaning to you personally? What if you want to put your recipes into a cookbook to give to your family or make a book of pictures of your family and give it to a bunch of chefs? What if you want to take all of your love poems about Don Knotts and bind them together with a nice cover as a birthday present for your step-brother?

Lulu and sites like it allow you to sell books, but they also let you produce personal books, books you don’t necessarily want to sell. It’s perfect for personal projects.

If you’re not interested in selling your books, I recommend using Lulu to at least see your words in print. It sure beats using chalk to scrawl them on a penguin when the zookeeper isn’t looking.

Two Big Announcements

I wanted to share a few updates to the world of Bob and the Cyber-Llama:

First, I’d like to say thank you to the staff and students of Mountainview Academy at HOPE Online and Antelope Ridge Elementary School for a couple of awesome author visit events! During the visits, I read a chapter from Bob and the Cyber-Llama to groups of students and spoke about being a self-published author. All the students were polite and attentive and had a great time; I had almost as much fun as they did!

These visits have proven to be one of the most rewarding parts of being an author. If you’d like to schedule such a visit, please send me an email at classysturgeon@gmail.com.

Secondly, I’ve joined Snapchat! I’ve been happy with Twitter and Instagram, but Snapchat seems to be what all the kids are into these days. I’m always interested in finding out what “the future” of writing and social media are, which would explain my fascination with robotic tomatoes and hover dachshunds. I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of Snapchat, so tips are welcome.

You can find me on Snapchat under the username “Classysturgeon.”

Stay tuned for more Cyber-Llama related news.

Llama Knowledge for Posterity

Every great mind has its area of expertise. Einstein plumbed the physical secrets of the universe. Proust changed the world of literature. Edison pioneered modern invention.

And I write about llamas.

While crafting my life’s work, I’ve learned quite a bit about these wooly, flea-covered sheep-horses of the plains. I thought it might be fun to share a little of my knowledge. So without further adieu, I give you:

Monkey-Spankingly Fascinating Llama Facts

  1. Llamas can be separated into two groups: ccara llamas (which have shorter fur) and curaca llamas (which have longer fur.) I’m guessing Jeeves is a ccara llama, but maybe that’s something he’ll reveal to us later.
  2. Llamas have a natural fear of canines, like dogs and coyotes. This makes them useful for guarding sheep, since a llama will naturally freak out if a wolf or coyote comes near the herd. That may explain the negative reaction to the screening of “Old Yeller” I held at that South American ranch.
  3. When they’re provoked or threatened, llamas will spit at the source of the problem (see page 26 of Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny.) Though they sometimes spit at humans, they mostly spit at other llamas. It’s a regular loogie-palooza!
  4. Llamas do not actually have hooves. Instead, they have two giant toenails on each foot with a pad underneath. They’re the animal kingdom’s equivalent of that creepy manicurist lady who works at a kiosk at the mall.
  5. Llamas can carry a quarter of their body weight, so they’re often used as pack animals on long journeys. However, they know their limits. If you try to put too much weight on a llama’s back, it’ll lay down or refuse to move.
  6. A llama’s stomach has three separate compartments. These are known as the executive, legislative, and judicial.
  7. A baby llama is called a “cria”, which sounds like an overpriced pastry you’d buy from one of those trendy bakeries.
  8. Llamas can eat up to 6 pounds of food per day. That’s almost as much as Paula Dean and Chris Farley’s heretofore undiscovered son, Ben.
  9. Llamas are believed to have been one of the first animals domesticated by humans. They were used by the people of ancient Peru to carry heavy loads, build cities, and play the lead roles in community theater productions of “Rebel Without a Cause.”
  10. Llamas communicate with their ears and tails, but mostly speak to each other by humming.
  11. The Andean people consider llamas sacred animals and refer to them as “silent brothers.” Kind of like Harpo Marx or Mr. Bean.
  12. Llamas are very clean animals and have almost no odor. Even their poop doesn’t have much of a smell to it, making it the perfect gift for your grandmother’s birthday or your wedding anniversary.
  13. Speaking of natural fecal wonders, every llama in a herd will poop in the same place, creating a community dung pile. By sheer coincidence, “community dung pile” was the name of my high school garage band.
  14. When they’re two years old, male llamas sprout a pair of “fighting teeth” to use in combat with predators and other llamas.
  15. Finally, llamas have specially-shaped blood cells, which store more oxygen. These cells allow llamas to survive at really high altitudes. They’re a bit like the Bear Grylls of red blood cells.

Stay tuned for more info on llamas, ancient treasures, and spongy snack cakes.