Cover artist showcase: Jeff Brown Graphics

Jeff Brown is a professional concept artist, and he offers his skills for book covers. They run about $450, but they’re well worth it, don’t you think?

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A tiny Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was tricky this year–it was my due date, and I always deliver babies ahead of the date. My parents came to town the week before, to watch kids, and celebrate our youngest’ second birthday.

   
   
We had a very nice week leading up to Thanksgiving–well, aside from the tension of waiting for me to go into labor.

By Tuesday, though, we were all getting anxious. It was nearly time for my folks to head home, and there was nobody else to watch the kids. So we all started praying, friends and family alike.

I went into labor at 2 AM Wednesday morning, and the baby was born by 10 AM.

   
 

Her name is Sophia, and she was 8 lbs even. The doctor kept laughing at me because she was so big.

The hospital released me on Thursday, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. It was lovely to be home and eat food that wasn’t hospital fare. Give me calories, man! I’ve got a baby to feed!

Then my folks headed home, and life is settling down. I’m very, very thankful that everything worked out so perfectly.

Chris Fox: 1 year, 29,000 books sold – what I did right, and wrong 

Chris Fox, author of No Such Thing as Werewolves (and other bestselling titles) graciously agreed to let me post his business progress article. It was originally posted here.


I showed up on Kboards almost exactly 12 months ago, the arrogant new kid spouting off wisdom even though my only book was still on the Hot New Releases list. Yeah, that definitely makes me cringe. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’d like to share some lessons for those who are sitting where I was last October.

Over the last year I’ve been extremely fortunate. I’ve sold just shy of 30,000 books (if you count the pre-orders for Vampires Don’t Sparkle). I realize that’s small potatoes compared to some here, but this post is aimed at the legion of lurkers. If you’re a person wanting to break four figures a month, then I hope this post will help you do that.

To begin with here are my sales numbers for the first 50 weeks. As you can see Amazon makes up just over 50%, but that number falls daily. I didn’t start selling at ACX until December, and didn’t start selling at Apple until May.

  
On to the lessons I learned!

1- Production Trumps Everything.

This comes up often, and has created endless debates. All you have to do is look at my signature to see where I come down on the issue of writing fast =p

If you want to be successful you need to publish often. I published six books and an app this year. I also wrote another novel that I chose to hold back, all while having a 60 hour a week day job for a San Francisco startup.

I realize that sounds unattainable to many people reading this. Just finishing one book is a monumental undertaking. How the hell do you reach a book a month? That’s a different post, but l will say this on the topic. Writing fast and writing well go hand in hand, and the more you do the first, the more you’ll do the second.

If you want to be successful as an indie you need to write daily, and you need to finish what you write. Period. Maybe that’s one book every year right now. If you keep at it your pace will increase. Trust me on this. A year ago I didn’t believe I could do more than a book a year either.

In the next year I’ll be putting out 12. Writing is a skill, just like any other. Practice and you’ll reach levels that currently seem impossible.

Most people advocate writing in series, and that’s advice I follow. I think it gives you the best chance of success. Whether you choose to or not, getting books to market quickly is still the cornerstone of your author business.

2- Publishing Costs Money

If you want to start a business you need capital. I don’t care if you want to open a computer store, a bakery, or become a plumber. Every business requires up front costs to get rolling. Publishing is no different.

Success requires great covers. It requires great editing. Both cost money. My books did well, because the covers grabbed people’s attention. The blurbs hooked them. The first several chapters were engaging.

If you are unwilling to spend the money on editing and covers, it’s unlikely your book will do well. The sad reality is that people will scroll right by your wonderful novel. They’ll click on the best cover, never realizing that they may have missed a great book they would have enjoyed.

I see many indies put out the best book they can afford. Unfortunately, that often means poor editing, or a mediocre cover, simply because they lack the money to obtain better. They try tweaking keywords, or running Facebook ads, or whatever the tactic of the month is. All to no avail.

The sad reality is that nothing will work until the cover, title, blurb, and editing are addressed. What if you can’t afford those things? Find a way. Take a risk. Invest your tax return. Get a 2nd job. Do whatever it takes to make the best book you can. There is no other option if you want to be successful at this.

You’re competing against people who do all those things, who invest money for a top dollar product. If you want readers, you’ve got to be on the same level.

#3- Experiment

I ran all sorts of experiments this year. I participated in a multi-author box set, which flopped. I stayed in KU for six months, then chose to go wide. I tried all sorts of advertising, from Goodreads (terrible), to Facebook (awesome).

About 75% of the things I tried failed. Miserably. But you know what? The other 25% succeeded, which is why I sold so many books. More importantly, I learned a ton along the way. We tend to learn far more from our failures than we do successes, which is why you can’t be afraid to try new things.

When those new things fail don’t get discouraged. Try something else. Keep trying. Edison failed nearly a thousand times before he invented the light bulb.

Remember that you’re in this for the long haul. Also remember that what works for other people will not necessarily work for you. Many people say stay in KU. Others say go wide. Only you can determine which will work better for you, and the only way to do that is to try both.

In my case I spent my first six months in KU. It worked amazingly well, but then my book began to fall in the rankings. I decided to go wide, largely because Apple agreed to promote my books. That worked extremely well for another few months, but then I began losing ranking again.

So I decided to try permafree. It gave my sales a shot in the arm, but I expect that too will eventually see diminishing returns.

I diversified into non-fiction, which has done extremely well for me. I also decided to launch another series, which comes out in December. Per the advice of many veteran authors here I’ll be releasing three novels in three months, in a series of course.

Maybe that will work for me, maybe it won’t. Either way I’ll keep writing, and keep experimenting. The longer I do that the more of a backlist I build, which means I can devote more time to promotion and less to publishing.

#4- Network

Make friends in the author community, and for God’s sake remember that this community is small. Don’t be an ass. Don’t be mean spirited. People have long memories, and word travels quickly. Also remember that the people on these boards are authors, just like you. Some are further ahead, some are way behind.

We’re all in this together. If you treat these people like you want to be treated, then they’ll help you in ways you’d never expect. I learned about so many great opportunities because I’ve made friends and tried to help others. Give back, and people will reciprocate.

I’ve landed guest spots on large podcasts, met the wonderful folks at Apple, and befriended some of my childhood heroes all because of people I’ve met here.

More recently, I published 5,000 Words Per Hour and Lifelong Writing Habit (which launches today, yay!) at the urging of writers I met here on Kboards. 5K has sold thousands of copies, all because I listened to those friends.

Your peers will pick you up when you fall down. They’ll give you timely advice, and introduce you to editors and cover artists. You’re part of an amazing community. Never forget it =D

#5- The Little Stuff Doesn’t Matter

When I first published No Such Thing As Werewolves I refreshed my sales dashboard at least a hundred times a day. That’s natural, because my entire body of work was one book. Everything felt urgent, and I fretted endlessly about trends in sales, changes in KU, formatting issues, typos, and a hundred other meaningless things.

I know that many of you are in the same boat, but fast forward five years. You have ten books out. How much does anything that’s going on with your first book today matter? In short, it doesn’t. Keep producing. Keep learning. The urgency will fade, and as you gain experience you’ll write better books and make better money.

Letting go is hard, but soooooo worth it. Take a long view, and this whole publishing thing will be a lot more fun.

#6- Failure Isn’t Permanent

Maybe your first book bombed. Maybe your entire series is a flop. That sucks, but you can recover. It could mean writing a new series, or it could mean re-branding your existing one.

One of the lurkers on the board here is an awesome guy by the name of Todd Hodges. He wrote a wonderful book called The Never Hero. It didn’t sell many copies at launch. Then Todd rebranded, and his book soared into the top #1000 on Amazon.

His Audiobook moved thousands upon thousands of copies, and last I checked was rated at 4.3 stars with over 1,100 reviews. If Todd had given up after launch he’d never have discovered that success.

If you fall on your face, get back up and try something else. If it gets unbearable, then take a break. Writing will still be here when you get back.

#6- This Isn’t A Competition

Not everyone will sell like Amanda, Hugh, or A.G. Riddle. It can be tempting to compare yourself to others, but every author has their own set of circumstances. We write in different genres, with different levels of skill, and at varying lengths.

The only person you’re competing with is yourself. Get better at your craft. Produce more professional books. Learn more about marketing. As long as you’re improving, that’s all that matters.

#7- Build A Platform

I left this one for last, because it is the most important. By now most people here are familiar with Andy Weir. He’s told his story on many of the podcasts we listen to, and the lesson is painfully clear. It is echoed by everyone from Nick Stephenson to Mark Dawson.

You must build a platform if you wish to survive. What does that mean exactly?

In Andy’s case he had over 10,000 people reading his serialized fiction when he put The Martian on Amazon for 99 cents. He did it because people were demanding an ebook version, and he only charged for it because he couldn’t set the price to free.

Andy notified his 10,000 followers, and the book shot to the top of the charts when they all rushed out and bought it. The rest is history.

My own mailing list is much smaller, though it is in the four digits. I’m already seeing the power that holds. Each launch is larger than the last, and every book debuts higher in the charts.

Remember that your platform is more than a mailing list. It’s your website. It’s podcast appearances, or book store signings, or any other way you reach your fans. In Amanda’s case it’s dominating the HNR list every time she releases anything.

Regardless of your approach here, your long term survival is predicated on building a large, loyal audience. If you can do that, then everything you release will be successful.

That means that poor sales are okay on your first book, as long as the few people who DO read it become fans. For most of us building a platform is a long, slow process. That’s totally okay, because the longer you persevere, the stronger your brand becomes.

Conclusions

My first year was amazing. I made more money than I could have dreamed, and I learned an immense amount about this business. The most important thing I learned was how little I actually know.

Publishing will continue to evolve. It will continue to get more competitive. But if you stick with it, there’s a living to be made selling the stories you tell. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. You will make it, eventually.

As for me? Year two is going to be even stronger than year one. My Project Solaris series has the potential to explode, and if it doesn’t than either Relic Hunter or Shattered Gods will. I’m releasing twelve books in twelve months, and I plan to have a blast doing it.

Here’s to Kboards, which made that journey possible. Thanks to listening to me ramble =D

What Are the REAL Odds of Success? Extreme Ownership & the Best-Selling Author

Excellent thoughts today from Kristen Lamb about self-discipline being the path to success.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Many of us are doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you’ve been following this blog the last two weeks, then you probably know I’ve had a horrific case of the flu. While this does mean I’ve sidelined editing (have to have higher thinking skills) and teaching (kind of need a voice) this has not excused me from writing.

In fact, it’s been pretty good for my writing since Robotussin apparently chloroforms the internal editor and is like Skittles to the Lizard Brain who is now running around in my head with scissors.

Oh God! It has the glitter! Hold on! Back in a minute….

Where was I? Yes, Lizard Brain is great for creating, and if I keep my pace, I should finish my 50,000 words tomorrow. Right now I am at almost 41,000 words and have been averaging about…

View original post 2,167 more words

Halfway through Nanowrimo – getting unstuck

It’s November 16, and Nanowrimo (National Novel Writer’s Month) is in full swing. Across the world, people are scribbling away, desperately trying to make their daily word counts.

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Then suddenly, it happens. The idea fountain runs dry. The characters come to a standstill. What happens next? you cry. Nothing comes to mind, and yet that Nano chart sits there, demanding words, or you’ll fall behind par.

Fear not! Here is some useful advice about how to get unstuck.

Joss Whedon, of Avengers and other blockbusters, had this advice on being prolific.

The last piece of advice on that level is fill the tanks, fill the tanks, fill the tanks. Constantly watch things and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show.”

For example?

“The last piece of advice on that level is fill the tanks, fill the tanks, fill the tanks. Constantly watch things and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show.”

For example?

“I read The Killer Angels. It’s a very detailed, extraordinarily compelling account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of various people in it and it’s historical. It’s historically completely accurate, and the moment I put it down I created Firefly, because I was like, ‘I need to tell this story. I need to feel this immediacy. I so connect with that era, the Western and how tactile everything is and how every decision is life or death, and how hard it is and how just rich it is, and how all the characters are just so fascinating.’ But so I should be on the Millennium Falcon. Now, if I only watched sci-fi I would have just had the Millennium Falcon part, which has already been done, but finding that historical texture, it literally, I put the book down and started writing Firefly. And that was my vacation from Buffy, which was two weeks. I got two weeks every year, and in that vacation I read, in 14 days, 10 books. My wife and I saw like nine plays, and that’s all we did. We just filled the tanks.”

Speaking of prolific, here’s another hard-working author, Jim Butcher, and his advice about the Great Swampy Middle:

The middle of books is HARD, especially for beginning writers. Why? Because the middle of a book gives you the most flexibility in terms of telling your story. The beginnings and ends of stories share many similar demands, craftwise, but the MIDDLE is where your personal style has room to play. IE, there are a berjillion-and-one different things you can do in the middle of a story, and since you’re a beginning writer, about a berjillion of them are probably the wrong things to do.

It’s like a swamp. There are apparent paths all around you–but sometimes the ground that looks solid actually sucks you under and paralyzes you and strangles you. Sometimes the water that looks deep and unpleasant is actually shallow and safe. Sometimes apparent paths aren’t paths at all–they just wander all over and wind up at a dead end. Sometimes the safe-looking waters are teeming with alligators and poisonous snakes just below the surface.

Man. The middle of a book is dangerous.

It’s when an author starts getting lost that the book’s middle becomes the Great Swampy Middle. Once you’ve taken a wrong turn in the GSM, you’ve got to be smart about which way you move, because if you just keep wandering around, you (and by “you” I mean “your story”) is just going to keep bumbling around in circles and never get out of the GSM.

The problem with GSMs is that most writers don’t have a very good idea of exactly where they want to go. I mean sure, they want to get “to the other side of the swamp,” but that’s sort of like saying “I want to get to the other side of the continent.” It’s a good plan, as stated, but it lacks clarity, specificity, definition. Instead of saying “the other side of the continent” it might be more helpful to say something like “I’m taking I-70 out through the midwest to Denver, then hopping on Highway Suchandsuch southwest through the Rockies before taking Route Whatever across California to the Pacific.”

Same thing applies in the story. If you have a good idea of your next landmark, waypoint, stepping stone, what have you, it’s a lot easier not to fall off the path and get sucked down into the mud. SO. One way to help yourself do that is to create something to help you keep on track–a structure specifically designed to keep the pace of your book strong throughout the middle. My favorite such construct is called THE BIG MIDDLE.

Here’s the nutshell concept: Plan a great big freaking event for the end of the middle. You want it to be a big dramatic confrontation of whatever kind is appropriate to your genre. The fallout from your big bad Big Middle event should be what boots the book down the homestretch to reach the story’s climax. Really lay out the fireworks. Hit the reader with everything you can. PLAN THE BIG MIDDLE EVENT. Then, as you work through the middle, WORK TO BUILD UP TO IT. Drop in the little hints, establish the proper props and motivations and such. Make sure that everything you do in the middle of the book is helping you build up to the BIG MIDDLE.

(I’ve used the Big Middle concept in EVERY book I’ve ever published. It works. It ain’t broke. It ain’t the only way to do the middle, either, but it’s one way.)

Example: The Dresden Files, Dead Beat. The Big Middle event in this book is the zombie attack on Harry’s apartment. Corpsetaker and Grevane show up in the same place, at the same time, and kick off a full blown Necrobattle. There are zombies and ghosts, tons of magic, Harry’s wards frying everything in sight, Butters gets captured, Harry and Thomas have to save him, plenty of special effects and a narrow escape.

(That’s the drama part.)

In the course of the Big Middle, Harry gets information he needs to continue his pursuit, the bad guys blow out the city’s power, Butters picks up a new mantra about courage, and we segue into the next day, with Halloween and the Darkhallow charging down from the horizon.

(that’s the set things in motion part)

Big Middle is a good counter to the GSM. It helps you stay focused and gets you through the chapters more smoothly.

(More tips at the article!)

Hopefully these couple of tips will help get the juice flowing again.

How do Christians respond to phenomena like Dogman?

We live in the 21st century, surrounded by internet, social media, cars, technology, and higher education. Yet when confronted with the unknown, like Bigfoot or the Dogman, we completely fall to pieces.

Everybody knows Bigfoot, so let’s tackle the Dogman.

What is Dogman?

I heard the name and had to dig into this fascinating topic. According to Wikipedia, “The Michigan Dogman is a cryptozoological creature first reported in 1887 in Wexford County, Michigan. Sightings have been reported in several locations throughout Michigan, primarily in the northwestern quadrant of the Lower Peninsula. In 1987, the legend of the Michigan Dogman gained popularity when a disc jockey at WTCM-FM recorded a song about the creature and its reported sightings.”

This is similar to the Beast of Bray Road, about which Wikipedia says this:

“The Beast of Bray Road is described by purported witnesses in several ways: as a bear-like creature, as a hairy biped resembling Bigfoot, and as an unusually large (2–4 feet tall on all fours, 7 feet tall standing up) intelligent wolf-like creature apt to walk on its hind legs and weighing 400-700 pounds. It also said that its fur is a brown gray color resembling a dog or bear.”

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Werewolf by lintufriikki

Upon digging a bit deeper, I found some interesting eyewitness accounts.
From Phantoms and Monsters:

Last fall, my son and I were driving on US-41/M-28 towards Three Lakes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (where I live). The beast ran across the highway near Tioga Creek. I had not heard of this before reading Phantoms and Monsters, but this is exactly what we saw. We are familiar with all animals living here. Moose regularly cross in front of drivers, so we watch the sides of the roads carefully. We were very puzzled and thought it might be some mutant wolf and could not figure out what we witnessed. It ran fairly fast about 50 feet in front of our truck. It was so strange because the front of it was much higher up than the back, larger than a wolf. Very strange to see it on your website.

It did not look exactly like the video or drawings I saw, but VERY close. The side view shape of the animal was almost like an ape shape, with the front legs longer than the back legs which made it run funny. It ran like a bear runs, with the exception of the back legs being shorter if you can picture that. The front, from the angle I saw, looked like it must of had a wide chest. The head appeared wolf-like, but it definitely was NOT a wolf. The color was brown and black mixed. The hair seemed med-long, like a wolf, and I remember thinking it might of had mange, must of had patches of hair missing.

Another account from the same site:

I live in Taylors Falls, Minnesota and I was driving north on Wild Mountain Rd. around 7 am. on Jan 2nd. I was heading for the ski area when I saw some kind of animal running in the field towards the river. I pulled off the road and grabbed my binoculars. It looked like a large wolf but it was different. By that time some guy in a truck pulled up and was wondering what I was looking at. I told him that I think there is a large wolf in the field. He got out of the truck and asked to use the binoculars. He said he didn’t think it was a wolf and that it looked like it was chasing something.

We stood for a few minutes watching. It would run into the woods then pop back into the field for a bit. The light was getting better so I grabbed my parka and started to walk closer to get a better look. The other guy said he had to leave but did say again that he didn’t think it was a wolf.

I was about a 1/2 mile from the ski area near one of the trail roads. I started to walk towards the river. I was about 100 ft from where I saw the animal from the road when I heard an owl screech coming from the woods to my right. On the edge of the woods this huge dog came running out of the trees. The best way to describe it was that it looked like a big hyena but it ran on two back legs and bent over. It had wooly black hair all over it’s body and a long thick tail. It must have weighed 200 lbs or more. I’ve been in the woods all my life and have never seen anything like this. It looked over at me but continued to run from right to left in front of me. It also made a steady loud panting sound as it ran.

I turned on a pivot and ran out of there hoping this animal wasn’t going to chase me. When I got to the car an old man had pulled off and standing there watching me. He wondered what I was doing. I yelled at him to “get the hell out of there” and said that a monster dog was out there. I think he believed me because the look on his face showed fear like he knew something was really out there.

I didn’t go to the ski area, instead I went back home all shook up and asking myself what I saw.

From Cryptozoology News, a story from a woman familiar with the local Bigfoots, observed them interacting with these dogmen creatures:

“I saw them together at night a few times and at first, I thought they were all Bigfoots,” she said. “But they were more animal looking with protruding faces.”

At first, says Parker, she thought they were “young Bigfoots” because she was initially used to seeing Dogman individuals exclusively during daytime.

“They like to sun themselves usually every three days or the next sunny day after a rain.”

But according to the woman, this time was different. The two unproven animal species were sharing the same space, in what she says looked like some sort of symbiotic relationship.

“I got the impression they were tolerant of each other, although the Bigfoots seemed in charge. It reminded me of the relationship between hippos and crocodiles. The hippos rule the river and they share the territory, but both don’t want to mess with each other out of fear of being harmed,” she explains.

“I watched them as they peeked from the bush. They were visibly bold, easier to make out, than the Bigfoots. They were very unorganized when they moved. They moved as individuals without cover from the others. If one wanted to move, he would just move. They were also not experts in hiding although they too try to camouflage. Some liked to stand in the “V” part of the trees trunks and weave dead brush around them. The way they weaved the brush reminded me of a spider web. They were very alert to their surrounding and seemed to notice me when I tried to photograph them. That’s when they would freeze, point and stare.”

Parker described the animals as being the size of a man with pointy ears placed on the top of their heads. Their bodies were reportedly covered in a brown patchy hair and had “human-like fingers with thick claws”.

“I can’t be sure of how many fingers they had because they seem to have an additional appendage, it was on the top on their hand along the wrist area. They liked to point by raising their arm up and extending it in front of them, and they would use their index finger. They carried their arms a certain way, with their elbows against their sides and forearms in front with the palms facing down. The smallest I could see were about 2 feet tall. I think they were babies,” says the witness. “They must communicate but I don’t’ know how. Possibly through scents or nonverbal language.”

She believes that urban expansion is the reason these two purported species have been forced to tolerate each other. “‘One of the best places to live’, and the ‘fastest growing city in the state’, they cut large sections of forest, and with the closing of the mines, I had the feeling it was these circumstances that brought them together.”

This woman also took a video of one of the creatures–there’s not much to see, but you can see a large creature moving away into the trees.


Source: Youtube

Reactions to Dogman

People have all sorts of explanations for this creature’s existence. They are:

  • Werewolf
  • Alien
  • Hybrid animal engineered by aliens
  • Hybrid animal engineered by humans (based on sightings in the vicinity of secret animal research labs)
  • Shamanistic projection
  • Monsters from another dimension that phase in and out of our world

Every so often, you run across the brave soul who questions whether this might be some animal we thought was extinct and isn’t. But these are, oddly, in the minority.

For instance, from fossils, we know of this creature, called a Chalicothere:

ChalicotheriumDB1

This is a strange animal with the head of a horse, massive front claws, and could walk on two legs. It’s assumed to be a herbivore.

Now, if people were seeing a horse-man, the Chalicothere would fit the bill perfectly. But we’re seeing a creature with a dog’s head instead (and apparently they’re fond of roadkill, which is why people see them near roads).

Could this dogman simply be a creature unknown to science?

Superstitions

What amazes me is how quickly people jump to the most superstitious, mystical conclusions. Is it more comfortable to believe that this creature has supernatural origins, and therefore we will never be able to learn about it?

We live in an era of education and science–in fact, science is pretty much the only national religion left in America. Could it be that when people encounter something that science can’t explain, their thinking process falls apart?

As I was reading these accounts, my brain was spinning in all these same directions. What is it? What could it possibly be? I came up with some pretty weird theories, the more research I did. Then I began asking, how is a Christian to respond to unexplained creatures and phenomena?

Parsing God and Dogman

From Genesis, we have the lovely, simple account of the fifth day of Creation, when God made the land animals.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creeping things, and [wild] beasts of the earth according to their kinds. And it was so.
And God made the [wild] beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and domestic animals according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (fitting, pleasant) and He approved it. (Genesis 1:24-25, Amplified)

God also placed us in this fantastic world and built our brains with a thirst for knowledge. We’re still discovering crazy new stuff out in space, like all the stuff they’re learning about Pluto and Charon right now that is making NASA throw their previous theories out the window.

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We’re still learning about weird stuff at the bottom of the ocean, and we keep finding new species in the rainforests.

What makes us think we know everything there is to know about our vast northern forests? Most people in the US live in cities, and the cities are getting bigger every year. At the same time, attendance at the national parks is dropping.

If God put all this awesome stuff on Pluto, knowing that humanity wouldn’t even SEE it until 2015 AD, why wouldn’t he make creatures that blow our minds? Nobody believed in the platypus or the gorilla, either, until we caught live ones.

There’s a temptation to blow off people who claim they’ve seen weird creatures–say they made it up, say they were mistaken or looking for attention. But I think it’s best to keep an open mind. We don’t know everything there is to know about our world–and it’s arrogant to pretend otherwise. If they’re still finding new species of fish and frogs, why not some kind of wolf-creature with a strange, hyena-like build?

My top posts for the year: monsters and horror

Looking back through my stats for the year have been entertaining. My top posts have involved the strange and the offbeat.

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I think I should totally write more stuff like this next year.

Our best Halloween Ever

Goodness, it’s been a busy week! We’re a week into November, and I’m only just getting around to writing about Halloween!

My son proclaimed it to be our best Halloween ever. Here’s what went down:

Since Halloween was on Saturday this year, all the kids in our apartment complex ran around like crazy things, wearing costumes. My munchkins stayed outside almost all day, and had a great time doing it.

I carved a Minecraft creeper pumpkin, by request.

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Small people decorated small pumpkins with markers.

S-pumpkin-decorating

When it got dark, I barely had a chance to shovel dinner into them. They were dragging me out the door to go trick or treating before I had a chance to clear the table. I had to slow them down enough to get the jack o’ lantern lit, and our obligatory candy offering placed outside the front door to appease any kids we didn’t happen to be roaming with.

Because my son had been outside all day, he knew which apartments were giving out candy–this is always tricky, because not everybody decorates for Halloween. It’s kind of a crapshoot. This year there were 5 places giving out candy, an improvement over last year’s 3. They knew they weren’t going to get many more visitors, so they just dumped their candy into the kids’ bags.

After that it was dark, and they had a couple pounds of candy each, so we came home. They began feasting on candy, and I put on all the Homestar Runner Halloween cartoons. It’s just not Halloween without a Witch’s Bwew.

All in all, they had a fantastic Halloween, and I barely did a thing. The best kind!

The rest of the week has been pleasant. Nobody’s sick yet, and the weather has been deliciously stormy and cold. They got 5-10 inches of snow in Flagstaff two days ago, and you can feel it on the wind.

stormy-day