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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- A llama’s stomach has three separate compartments. These are known as the executive, legislative, and judicial.
- A baby llama is called a “cria”, which sounds like an overpriced pastry you’d buy from one of those trendy bakeries.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Llamas communicate with their ears and tails, but mostly speak to each other by humming.
- The Andean people consider llamas sacred animals and refer to them as “silent brothers.” Kind of like Harpo Marx or Mr. Bean.
- 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.
- 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.
- When they’re two years old, male llamas sprout a pair of “fighting teeth” to use in combat with predators and other llamas.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s thanks to your support that I’m able to hold events like this. Stay tuned for future updates. Excelsior!
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!
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!
Living through the ups and downs of life, I always try to view things from other people’s perspectives. And while performing this psychological practice, I always come to one inescapable conclusion: it must be really weird to be four years old.
Think about it. Four-year-olds can walk and run, but their legs are still a little chubby and infant-like. They usually speak like grown human beings, but sometimes end up sounding like a drunk Cookie Monster on helium. And, though they’re new to life, they suddenly have expectations thrust upon them.
When you’re four or five years old, you have three jobs:
- Learn your letters
- Learn your numbers
- Don’t poop your pants
Assuming you find it within yourself to count to ten and become a true deacon of the diapers, all that’s left is to learn your alphabet. Master that and you can lord it over all the other five-year-olds forever.
Keith Wheeler’s “My Buddy Knows…Letters!” is a fantastic way to teach kids the alphabet. The book makes letters fun while still pounding that sweet, sweet learning into kids’ heads like a jackhammer of knowledge.
It starts with a simple phrase: “This is my buddy, Josh! Josh knows a lot about…letters!” Josh looks like a nice guy, even though he could really use some self-tanning lotion and maybe a fashion consultant. Regardless, he’s a welcoming figure that kids will gravitate toward.
Readers are then shown a picture of an object and, on the next page, told which letter it begins with (“My buddy knows that apple starts with A”, “My buddy knows that ball starts with B”, “My buddy knows that colonoscopy starts with C”, etc.)
But unlike other alphabet books, this one has a unique twist: it shows kids a picture of the object, and then tells them which letter the word starts with. A toddler reading this book with their parents will think “oh, that’s an apple.” just before the book tells them “Apple starts with A.”
At that moment, the wires in that kids’ head will connect and the electricity will start flowing. Pretend there’s a motionless hamster wheel in the middle of your child’s brain. Reading this book is like putting a steroid-infused hamster in the middle of that wheel and letting that rodent fly.
“My Buddy Knows…Letters!” by Keith Wheeler will alleviate some of the enormous stress your four year old endures between episodes of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” by breaking down letters in a way they can wrap their heads around. Keep an eye out for “My Buddy Knows…Numbers!”, too. I expect it to revolutionize my world in a similar way.
Kill the fattened calf! Sound the horns of celebration! Run into the streets, put on your finest top hat, coat your naked body in dijon mustard, and sing hallelujah!
In this, their second adventure, Bob Halibut and his cybernetic llama butler, Jeeves, travel to Mexico, where they use Hamadi’s map to explore an ancient Aztec ruin. Deep in the dark, stanky temple, they discover the Pop-Up Book of Destiny, an artifact of unimaginable power.
And after they encounter a vengeful conquistador, Bob and Jeeves battle long-dead forces to save Mexico City from destruction and despotic rule.
But the story is only part of the fun this time: each chapter now includes a picture of one of the characters or scenarios described in the book.
I’ve also added illustrations to the original Bob and the Cyber-Llama. You’ll have fortnights of fun gazing in awe at my glorious artistry, your personal hygiene slowly deteriorating as you fail to tear yourself away from its breathtaking beauty.
Like Bob and the Cyber-Llama, Bob and the Pop-Up Book of Destiny is a great read for kids, adults, and fifth-dimensional koalas alike. Buy it now or regret it for the rest of your days.