Critter of the Month: Stegosaurus

Meet Steggy.  She might not have very much of a brain, but she makes up for that with the softness of her heart.  There’s not a whole lot that’ll surprise her (thanks to Pete’s training), and she’ll let just about anybody clamber on her back. 🙂

I say “just about” anybody, because there was that one time some kids wanted her to be their fortress in a water balloon battle.  That was a bit too much for Steggy.  But that class of preschoolers who came to visit were adorable.  Steggy just sat there and let them climb all over her (Pete stuck a few tennis balls on her spikes, so they wouldn’t be so sharp).  The kids had a great time painting stars and hearts on her big plates.

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Critter of the Month: Dilophosaurus

Meet Picasso.  This quiet softie loves spending time with his special person.  Snuggling under the tree to hear a good story?  That sounds like a lovely way to spend a warm afternoon. 🙂

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Picasso continued his routine patrol of the fence with all the decorum of a peacock. Each step deliberate so that not a single scrubby twig shifted, his fur-like feathers barely brushing against the wire grid too high to jump. Dry ferns and prickly scrub grew through the mesh at the foot of the fence, but ahead there was an emptiness in the dense line of browning vegetation. And the fence…the fence was gone!

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A Stegosaurus Morning

Steggy lifted her head and listened. Familiar voices. Voices that meant food. She gurgled a low rumble deep in her scaly, armored throat, and watched the blurry distance she knew was the barn door.

The muffled voices came closer, and she grunted. A low, gumphing sound that made the rounded scales on her thick neck blow in and out like a bellows. The voices answered back, friendly, and then came the scraping of the barn door sliding on its track.

Cold, bitter wind blew in through the door, and Steggy snorted in protest. But the cold didn’t go away. With grunts of effort, the voices pushed at the barn door, and it squeaked as it slid open wider. A gust of wind hit Steggy in the face like tiny needles, and she shook her head to get the sting out of her eyes. The triangular plates of bone and horn that ran along the back of her neck rattled.

“It’s cold, isn’t it big girl?” One of the voices, soft and soothing. But he wasn’t close enough yet. She could smell the bag of feed and hear the high squeak of a wheelbarrow, but she could only see a fuzzy tan and blue blob where he stood. She heard the barn door slide closed, and she gurgled as the bitter wind was cut off. The second set of footsteps shuffled off to one side, and she heard the scraping of the muck rake on the soiled floor.

With surprising speed for an animal her size, Steggy rose up first on her shorter front legs, then on her much longer back legs. Her small head held low to be level with the smell of feed, she ambled forward on feet surprisingly small for her large size. The large, horn plates along her back leaned gently from side to side as she moved.

“It’s your turn today Steggy,” the first voice said, and Steggy skipped a little step at the sound of it- raising her body up on her hind legs and tossing her head. She could see him now. A thin man with silver, parted hair and handlebar mustache, his eyes crinkled in a smile.

“I know it’s a bit cold outside,” the man was saying. “But they’re waiting for you. Some food will warm you up.” He kept the wheelbarrow between himself and the large dinosaur as he wheeled it to a large trough by the wall. Steggy didn’t wait. She stuck her small head in the feed pile and munched while the man took a pitchfork and started filling the trough.

Before long, the trough held more feed than the wheelbarrow, so that looked a lot more appetizing. Steggy’s spiked tail slowly waved back and forth as she ate. She nipped at the long, dried stalks with her beak, shook her head to separate a mouthful, and then pushed it to the back of her long, narrow mouth with her tongue to grind down with her flat back teeth. She didn’t bother chewing very much unless she came across something woody.

While she ate, the silver-haired man brushed her thick, scaly hide with a round, bristled brush. Steggy closed her eyes.

This was what she loved most. The smell and taste of food, the soft scraping and shf, shf, of the muck rake, the soft bristles of the round brush against her thick scales…Just another familiar day in the life of a stegosaurus.

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It’s crazy cold out here! Steggy takes a little while to eat, so I’m afraid this week’s COTW is going to be a little late.

I’m working on a special update this time, and with all the holiday time with family and extra baby appointments, I haven’t been able to make as much progress as I would like. I have a good start on it though, and today I have more time than usual to get things done, so I should be able to put up Steggy’s COTW post tomorrow.

Should.

So keep your fingers crossed! I’ll do everything I can to help Pete get Steggy out of the barn. Even with a nice warm bellyful of fermenting food, she’s not going to like stepping out into the cold!

Critter of the Week: Pterodactylus

Meet Terry. She’s a chipper little flyer who would love to scramble up onto your shoulder and nibble your ear (just a little nibble, it tickles).  And could she please, pretty please have a tiny bit of that sandwich?

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Heavy boots sank into the spongy soil as Pete walked up the riverbank. With a low grunt, he stepped up onto a large, twisted root of a cypress tree, and clambered out onto a gnarled root slope that jutted out over the slow moving water. He sat down slowly, careful not to squish his paper bag as he held onto the thick trunk for balance, and sat with his legs dangling over the dark green water below.

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Critter of the Week Dilophosaurus

Meet Picasso.  This quiet softie loves spending time with his special person.  Snuggling under the tree to hear a good story?  That sounds like a lovely way to spend a warm afternoon. 🙂

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Picasso looks very happy to see you, and he wonders very much if you like his red crest.  He’s very proud of it, you see, and he’s been strutting around the field like a very large rooster. Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Scutellosaurus

Meet Skittles.  She might be all hard and pebbly on the outside, but on the inside she wants nothing more than a nice warm hug.  Scratch just a little in between those rocky scutes, and she’ll roll on her back so you can rub her smooth, soft belly scales.

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Skittles is happy to see you!  She wonders if you would please, pretty please, give her a treat.  Can you resist those puppy-dog eyes?

She may be about the size of a golden retriever, but believe it or not, Skittles here is the great-great-great-great-grandmother of Stegosaurus!

It’s hard to imagine how long a time span the Jurassic period covers, but we can get a few hints when we see that a little critter like this had enough time to change and diversify into animals like the spike-tailed Stegosaurus, or the armored, club-tailed Ankylosaurus.

The Jurassic period started at the end of the Triassic period (big extinction event there, to separate the two), and lasted 56.3 million years until the beginning of the Cretaceous.

56.3 million years.  Think about that.  Humans have been around for about 2 million.  Between us and the latest dinosaurs like T-rex?  About 65 million years.

So that means Dinosaurs had their “golden age” in the Jurassic for almost as long as the nearest T-rex is to us.  Pretty mindboggling.

And that’s not even thinking about the Triassic and Cretaceous periods yet…

Dinosaurs have been around for a looong time (especially if you count birds living today!).

Skittles is just happy to have a few moments to cuddle. 🙂  Completely oblivious to how long dinosaurs have been around.  Or that she’s related to Steggy. 😛

 

Making progress…

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One more down, three more to go!

I was doing a little research on Createspace, and I discovered a few things…

Createspace is a company that allows you to sell a print book on Amazon.  It’s not the only one out there, but it’s my best (and cheapest) option at the moment, so that’s the one I’m going with.

I was double checking what sizes I can print the book in and, alas, 10×10 inches is not available. 😦

10×10 is a fairly common size for children’s picture books, so I guess I assumed it was a “standard” size, but there’s always trouble when you assume.  It’s not what I would like, but I’ll be printing this book in a “standard” 8.25×8.25 inches instead.  On the plus side, this means it’ll be available at a cheaper price for you. 🙂

A quick interesting tidbit on the money side of things. (because Createspace has a little calculator to estimate royalties)

The average paperback picture book that is 8.25×8.25 inches sells for about $5.

If I sell my book for that price, I lose money with every book (about $3 in fact).

The average hardback picture book in the same size sells for about $10.

If I sell my book for $10, then I earn about $4

If I sell my book for $9.50, then I earn just over $3.

Naturally, you understand if I don’t want to lose money for every book I sell.  I love what I’m doing, and it’s fun, but it’s also a way to help pay bills.  😛

So for now, while I’m still new at this and figuring things out, I’ll stick with Createspace and print an 8.25×8.25 paperback book (Createspace doesn’t really print hardbacks).  I’ll sell it for $9.50, and earn about $3 per book.

$3 doesn’t sound like much, but this is a book we’re talking about.  The key to earning money with books is to have a lot of them.  The average number of books 6 figure authors have in their back-list is about 30, so I’ve got a long way to go!

I’m in this author business for the long haul.  $3 or $10 here and there adds up after a while, especially if I try my very best to go out and meet my audience so that you know I exist.  It’s not enough to have a bunch of books.  You have to put yourself out there and let others know you exist too. 🙂

Later on, once the series has a gained more of an audience, I can host a kickstarter event to fund the printing of the full size, beautiful hardback books.  That’ll be awesome. 😀

Thank you for stopping by, I really appreciate you spending a little time with me. 🙂

And for my fellow Americans, I hope you had a great (and safe!) 4th of July yesterday!

 

Coming Next Week…

This critter is furry, loves to swim, and has a flat, sorta scaly paddle tail…Is she even in the right time period?! 😉

Share your guess in the comments! She’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂