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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.

Author Reading Event at Sable Elementary

I’ll be holding an author reading event at Sable Elementary on Thursday, February 22!

From 12:00pm to 1:00pm, I’ll be visiting the fine folks at Sable Elementary in Aurora, Colorado, for an author visitation and reading event. During the event, I’ll be reading a short passage from Bob and the Cyber-Llama, as well as speaking about my writing experience and self-publishing. I’ll also be hosting a Q and A. All three books in the series will be available at the event.

This is a closed event, so only the Sable students will be privy to its glorious, meaty goings-on. However, if you’d like to schedule an event like this, let me know by emailing me at classysturgeon@gmail.com.

It’s thanks to your support that I’m able to hold events like this. Stay tuned for future updates. Excelsior!

“Bob and the Black Knight” now available!

Sound the horns of plenty and smack your chihuahua’s buttocks with glee! The wait is over; You can now buy Bob and the Black Knight in print from Amazon and Lulu or digitally via Kindle!

In their third escapade, Bob Halibut and his cyber-llama butler, Jeeves, hit the adventuring trail once again, this time in search of the mythical sword Excalibur. As they comb through the remnants of King Arthur’s legacy, they find a world of armored knights, killer cockatrices, an evil sorceress, sweet snacks, salty snacks,  sweet-and-salty snacks, and break-dancing.

If you’re ready to go medieval with Bob and his cyborg quadruped, pick up Bob and the Black Knight today!

 

Bob and the Black Knight – Coming Soon!

Those of you who’ve been following Bob and Jeeves’ adventures for awhile have undoubtedly been asking the same questions over and over as you toss and turn to sleep each night:

“When is the third book coming out?”

“Why hasn’t Joe released the third book yet?”

“Will he ever get to work on the third book? I need it like I need my insulin.”

“What does he do all day? Lie in bed eating expensive chocolates while watching The Land Before Time on repeat? Watching it again won’t un-kill Littlefoot’s mom!”

Well, after much trial and tribulation, I’m glad to announce that Bob and the Black Knight will be available in the next few weeks.

In this adventure, Bob and Jeeves travel to jolly old England in search of King Arthur’s ancient sword, Excalibur. After an encounter with the mythical Lady of the Lake, they camp in the forest. In the dead of night, Bob is awoken by the armored ghost of the Black Knight. The ancient specter tells the young adventurer he can find Excalibur by traveling to the Black Knight’s castle.

Bob and his llama must face long-dead warriors brought to life, gnomes, cockatrices, axe-wielding rodents, break-dancing, and a sinister octogenarian sorceress if they’re to have any hope of recovering Excalibur.

The book is already written; I just need to finish the art. If you’d like to get a sense of the art process, check out this post.

Since I’d like to give readers more to enjoy this time, Black Knight will be significantly longer than Cyber-Llama or Pop-Up Book of Destiny. There’s more action, more humor, and more witty, llama quips.

Writing Bob and the Black Knight also required quite a bit of research. Since it’s based on the King Arthur legends, I read a lot of summarized versions of the Arthur stories with an emphasis on the story of Excalibur and the Black Knight. I took most of my information from The Story of King Arthur and his Knights by Howard Pyle.  The research was worth the delay in book production; reading a book written in 1903 takes a little while.

So, in the coming weeks, be prepared to mount thy steeds and unsheathe thy weapons. Tis time to ride into the third Cyber-Llama book!

Review of “Diablo” by Fallacious Rose

Let’s get psychological and play word association. What images come to mind when you hear the word “horse?”

If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll think of majestic, beautiful animals galloping through green meadows, their manes billowing in the breeze. Or maybe you think of a glue factory.

But of all the things that pop into my head when I hear the word “horse,” “evil mastermind” has to be one of the last.

That’s the premise of Diablo by Fallacious Rose, a new horse tale available here.

The book follows Kim, a teenage girl who dreams of owning a horse. Though her family has failed with a horse before, Kim’s dreams become sweet, juicy reality when she moves to the country with her brother, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend, Alan, hoping to endear himself to his girlfriend’s kids and with no hypnotists in sight, Alan buys Kim her dream horse, Diablo.

The horse’s name proves to be apt. Diablo refuses to be ridden, stay in his pen, or even budge when it doesn’t suit his schedule. Despite Kim’s best efforts, Diablo turns up his nose at proper horse behavior and is, Kim suspects, secretly plotting world domination.

After a few lessons in “natural horsemanship” techniques, Kim begins to take control of not just Diablo, but of her own relationships. She makes peace with her obnoxious brother Jake, deals with the mounting tension in her family, and bests, then befriends, her rival, Ebony. Through a lot of trials and horse poop, Kim learns to control her emotions and not to base her behavior or happiness on her reactions to other people.

My favorite part of Diablo was the horse dialogue. The horses talk just like any other characters, but only some of the humans, those who are attuned to the animals and “speak horse”, can understand them. A lot of dialogue scenes play out like this:

“Diablo started hopping around on three legs like it was a novelty race and I was his partner. Only compared to his great hairy legs, mine are like twigs.

I tried to get a back leg up to look at, but Diablo just leaned on it and said,

‘You want my back hoof? You’ll get my back hoof, if you’re not careful.’ and swished his tail suggestively. It was time to move around the front end.

‘Ok. Now what about your halter?’

‘Huh? Haven’t I already told you I’m busy? What does a guy have to do around here –put up a big sign up, Do Not Disturb?’

‘Just give me your nose for a second.’ I got down on the ground in front of him, trying to get his shiny new halter over his hose while he’s chewing like it’s his last meal, and before he opens his mouth to take another great mouthful.”

The conversations between Kim and Diablo are a lot of fun to read and give the book a jaunty feel.

Another unique trait of this book is its use of horse terminology. I have about as much experience with horse ownership as I do with sponge-bathing William Howard Taft.

Through Diablo, I learned a lot about basic horse care. I didn’t know what a “grazing muzzle” or “carrot stick” was or what it meant to “plait” a horse’s tail until I read Diablo. The book teaches these terms, but never comes across as textbook-y. The horse care terminology slides easily into the characters’ world and helps it spring to life.

Diablo has a laid-back tone. It’s no Tolkien-esque adventure and instead simply lets you immerse yourself in Kim and Diablo’s world. The tone causes the story to feel more lifelike and makes the handful of intense moments, like Jake’s near-death encounter with a snake, all the more suspenseful.

If you’re in the mood for something easy, fun, and entirely unique, get your hands on some okra-flavored Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. And read Diablo. It’ll have you laughing and learning as you get sucked into a world of country living and snarky horses. Come to think of it, Snarky Horses is a great band name. I think it’s time to dig out my trombone and get the guys together…