The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: Day 1 — How It All Began

Serialized stories have been popular in literature for a long time, going all the way back to the 17th century.  American writers publishing in serial form over the years include Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Herman Melville. One of the most famous radio program serials was “Little Orphan Annie.”  So, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be fun to bring back the weekly serial story.

Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly serial story to be published only here on the writing blog every Saturday morning over the next several weeks — “The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis.”  This is a story which first appeared in daily serial form on Facebook a few years ago, which we have dusted off, updated for developments in Little Red Bear Land over the years, and are recirculating just for fun.  This serialized story was received so well that it was the actual catalyst for starting this blog in order to share more creative writing and works.

We hope you enjoy and follow along every week as the story evolves.  Sharing with friends and family is not only very much appreciated, but strongly encouraged.  It’s always simply about the fun.

So then, here we go . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Note to Readers–  In the early months of spring 2014, Little Red Bear and I had been interviewing applicants for prospective characters in Red’s upcoming first collection of short stories — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, due for release in the coming months.  Interviews, meetings and writing sessions had been proceeding smoothly and on schedule without incident. 

That all changed upon the arrival of three ostriches who expressed interest in being in the stories, despite the adventures taking place in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, not on the savannas of Africa. Where the ostriches came from, why they showed up on our front porch that spring morning, how they even heard about our stories underway — nobody knows.  What ensued altered lives and the landscape of the backwoods forever.

As most folk are aware, Ostriches are not native to the Ozarks, but as Little Red Bear and I always try to  keep an open mind for new ideas and suggestions, we decided to meet with them to discuss possible story roles.  But having neither included them in any story character recruiting lists nor having done any research in advance, we were admittedly taken a bit off guard and unprepared for their arrival.  And determination.  Any ground-dwelling bird that exists on the open African plains alongside  powerful lions, hyenas and speedy cheetahs, should not be underestimated or taken for granted.  Turns out, ostriches are born into a world of conflict, do not shy away from it and may even regard it as sport.  Lessons learned.

What follows is taken from the documented, blow-by-blow diary account of the events and developments that transpired over the following days.  The story you are about to read is true, to the best of our recollection, mostly. Only some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.   


DAY 1– “And So It Begins”

If there were any readers hoping for an Ostrich to make an appearance in the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” stories, it’s not looking good after what transpired today.

The stories about Little Red Bear and his friends are generally based in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri — mountains, farms, old mines, beautiful streams, forests, hollers, wildflower meadows, and the like. As such, the stories feature flora and fauna native to the region, as well as some interesting “imports” just for fun.  And education.

Albeit surprised by the arrival of three ostriches intent on interviewing for story character roles, Little Red Bear and I thought it might be nice to go ahead and add them into the stories even though writing work on Red’s adventures was already well underway. Obviously not native to the area but unusual and interesting birds nonetheless, we felt both children and older readers might enjoy having ostriches included in the adventures while possibly learning something new about them along the way perhaps.

And must admit, Little Red Bear and I were both rather charmed and taken in by the happy-go-lucky and out-going natures expressed in the headshot photos they submitted with their Story Character job applications.  Their motivation to appear in the stories seemed genuine, and it’s always easier and more pleasant to work with friendly folk.

To our mutual bewilderment and disappointment, it turned out ostriches may not be the easiest creatures to deal with, after all. During the interview, Little Red Bear made an off-hand (off-paw?) comment about never having seen a flightless bird before, and  innocently asked — “Why do you fellas have wings at all if you don’t know how to use them?”

Apparently, ostriches can be rather sensitive critters, at least about the non-flying thing anyway, and well — let’s just say the question was never answered directly, or at least we couldn’t hear if it was over all the loud clucking and ‘attitude’ that immediately followed.

As so often goes with misunderstandings, one thing led to another and before we knew it the ostriches threatened to walk out if Little Red Bear didn’t apologize for his thoughtless and cruel “flightless” comment.  That was our opportunity — our ‘out’ — if you will.  I can see that clearly now.

But some opportunities are very short-lived, and that one quickly slipped away when Little Red Bear replied that “Walk out” was the only thing they could do since ostriches apparently couldn’t fly, and that even tiny mosquitoes and gnats can fly, and bugs don’t seem smart at all getting trapped on flypaper all the time as they do so where does that rank ostriches on the Smarts Scale if even stupid bugs are able to fly, and he’d never known Mother Nature to be wrong about anything before so it must be something about them if they had wings and didn’t use them and what a creative waste that was, and, and  . . . . . . .

Let’s just say that Little Red Bear carried on a bit more as he and the ostriches thrust and parried insults back and forth across the table, and that about sealed it.  Whatever peace which we had enjoyed in the early morning was shot to . . . . , well — had been laid waste by noon.

Out the door and down the front porch steps the ostriches all went, one following another in line.  Walking — of course.  Rather briskly.  I could say that they “stormed” out, but that would be an exaggeration and hard to apply that term to giant, 9 feet tall birds weighing over 300 pounds, strutting out the door and down the path with white poofy tail and wingtip feathers flickering, fluttering, riffling, and whiffling in the morning’s spring breeze. Sashayed, perhaps.

One could conceivably and more correctly say their exit was closer to a sashaying out than a storming out.  There is a reason that the phrase “strutting like a peacock” is generally not a complimentary term, and in retrospect probably should have kept those thoughts to myself.

As it turned out, we learned that in addition to being hypersensitive and having excellent eyesight, ostriches also have excellent hearing, and having overheard me whisper those “sashay” and “strutting peacock” comments to Little Red Bear, it just seemed to incite them more.  Apparently, they may not be on the best of terms with peacocks either, jealous because peacocks are one of the largest flying bird species, a group that of course does not include ostriches.

I’m fairly certain the peacock comment was not received well, because that wing gesture was clearly intended to mean something other than friendly.  It was the body language of it.  I didn’t need to be able to speak ‘Ostrich’ to understand that.  Some symbols and gestures may be universal, it seems.

The picture taken following the morning’s meeting, by Rusty the Fairydiddle (the red squirrel reporter for the local “Squirrelly World” newspaper)  pretty much sums it up.

We were not seeking to include any ostriches in Little Red Bear’s stories to begin with, but nevertheless, I will try to smooth things over because we never like to see anyone go away mad, it’s just not in Red’s or my nature. And it’s pretty clear — they’re not happy.  And that there may be an understatement, unfortunately.

But, really.  What can they do that would cause any problems for Little Red Bear and I finishing his stories on time anyway?  They’re simply three strange birds in a foreign land, after all.

Three . . . . . giant . . . . . angry . . . . . very strange . . . . . birds.


Thanks as always for visiting with us!  Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!  — Jim  (and Red!)


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Share the Love and Give a Book on Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!  Did you know that Valentines Day is also International Book Giving Day?  With few large and organized events, Book Giving Day is more of a grassroots movement all about sharing our Love of Reading on that very special day of Love each year — Valentines Day.

Valentines Day is a day dedicated to expressing our fondness and love of others — sweethearts, partners, family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors and more.  What better way to show someone how much you care than to gift them a book?

“How?” you ask?  There are lots of ways.  Wrap a book as a present and gift for someone special in your life.  It’s Valentines Day, so lovingly tuck a red rose into the ribbons, if appropriate.  Leave a copy of a book in a doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room for others to share.  Donate gently-used books to your local school, library, hospital, senior center, homeless shelter or orphanage.  Leave a book behind at a coffee shop or restaurant table. Gift a book or eBook thru Amazon or other online services in an email message for friends and loved ones in other areas of the country or world.

Books have the capacity to open new worlds of information and change someone’s life in so many ways.  Here are Ten Reasons Why Books Are So Important.   Books can also be revisited and enjoyed many times in a person’s lifetime.  And can shamelessly be re-gifted to benefit another along the way!

This year, Little Red Bear and I have partnered with a group of wonderful authors to give away copies of our own books.  I encourage you to tap on their names to visit these wonderful writers and their works.

Little Red Bear and I are giving away two eReader copies each of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” short story collection and the brand new “Pine Holler Christmas: A Little Red Bear Story”.

Our book giveaway runs now thru February 15th.  The more actions completed, the better chance of winning a free book for yourself, family or loved one.  Simply tap on the link to get started — Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

The ‘Fine Print’ stuff — Terms and Conditions: There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. Winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner(s) do not respond within 72 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen. This giveaway is open to all who live in and outside of the US. However, as there are several sponsors of this giveaway who live both domestic and international. Print books are available only for domestic country of author origin; ebooks offered outside author’s country of origin at their discretion.

Thanks always for visiting!  Please join these wonderful authors and me in supporting literacy and reading on International Book Giving Day.  Share the Love and Give a Book this year on Valentines Day!  — Jim  (and Red!)

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Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

 

 

International Book Giving Day — Why Reading Is So Important!

February 14th is not only Valentines Day, but also International Book Giving Day!  As such, I have partnered with some wonderful author friends from around the world to give away some copies of our books, hoping to inspire you to do the same.

Give a book you enjoy or one that you think may benefit someone — to a child, a loved one, family member(s), neighbor, or friend.  Donate some new or gently used books to your local library, to a local school, civic group, or to a local hospital.  Leave a copy of a book in the waiting room of a doctor’s or dentist’s office, or at a homeless shelter.  There are many ways to help spread the love of reading.

“Why is reading so important?” some ask.  With help from the folks at WhytoRead.com, let’s count the ways . . . . . . .

  1. Reading Helps to Develop Verbal Abilities. Readers tend to have a larger vocabulary and more ways of expressing themselves, while also helping to avoid acting out or remedies of violence.
  2. Reading Improves Focus and Concentration. Sitting down with a book requires longer periods of focus and concentration, developing attention spans.
  3. Readers Tend to Enjoy the Arts and Work to Improve the World. Readers are more likely to visit museums, attend concerts and the like, and are more likely to volunteer and to do charity work.
  4. Reading Improves Imagination. Reading about new worlds and peoples and having to create the images from the written words in one’s mind as opposed to merely viewing on a screen, develops creative and imaginative abilities.
  5. Reading Makes You Smarter. Having books available at home has been strongly linked to improved academic performance.  It’s all about learning.
  6. Reading Makes One Interesting and Attractive. The knowledge base and exposure to the world acquired thru reading allows one to hold their own and meaningfully contribute to conversations, as opposed to slinking off not to embarrass oneself.
  7. Reading Reduces Stress. In a study performed at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, test subjects only needed to read silently to themselves for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease muscle tension.
  8. Reading Improves Your Memory.  As opposed to listening to a tape or lecture, reading provides the opportunity to pause for reflection and critical thinking, which also serves to improve memory retention capabilities.
  9. Reading Gives Us The Opportunity to Discover and Create Ourselves.  Being exposed to others’ lives, situations, feelings, opinions and perspectives allows each of us to examine our own life in the light of new knowledge and experience, learn life skills, and to develop who we really are and seek to be.
  10. Reading is Entertainment. Reading is fun, pure and simple. With due respect to all of the above, reading is also wonderfully Entertaining, allowing us to explore new worlds, escape for a mental vacation, and to be absorbed and immersed in a story or adventure for hours and hours. And to revisit as often as we like at no extra charge.  Take “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” for example. Where else can one go on the planet to a place where the animals and humans interact as equals and share hair-raising adventures, while learning about the natural world, kindness and positivity at the same time?

So, that is why reading is truly important.  We have joined together to give away a selection of both Print and eReader books.  Our book giveaway runs now thru February 15th.  The more actions completed, the better chance of winning a free book for yourself.  Simply tap on the link below to get started.

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

Terms and Conditions: There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. Winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner(s) do not respond within 72 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen. This giveaway is open to all who live in and outside of the US. However, as there are several sponsors of this giveaway who live both domestic and international. Print books are available only for domestic country of author origin; ebooks offered outside author’s country of origin at their discretion.

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

 

Thanks always for visiting!  Please join my friends and me in supporting literacy and reading on International Book Giving Day.  The world will be better for it! — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Happy Friday the 13th! Fact or Fallacy?

Today is the dreaded “Friday the 13th!” Ooooh, scary! Or perhaps not, depending on your individual outlook and experience with the date. But for many, and not to make light, the phobia is very real.

So many folks have such an innate fear of the number “13” that it has been given a scientific name — “triskaidekaphobia”. Many folks supposedly also have a traditional fear of Fridays, TGIF notwithstanding. Coupling them together, a Friday falling on the 13th of the month, can be doubly stressing. And it happens once, twice or up to three times every year.

The term applied for anyone so afflicted, fearing “Friday the 13th” is “friggatriskaidekaphobia”, from Frigga, the name of the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named, and triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number thirteen. It is also known as “paraskevidekatriaphobia”, from the Greek Paraskevi for Friday, dekatreis for thirteen and phobia for fear.

Being distracted trying to remember and pronounce either one during a Friday afternoon happy hour discussion may well cause someone to lose focus and walk into a ladder, step into a hole or choke on a chicken wing without any other supernatural influence involved.

There are a number of explanations of how it all got started, but an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the U.S. are so affected and paralyzed by their fear of Friday the 13th that they reschedule air flights and travel, alter business and household routines, and go to great lengths to protect themselves from bad luck and occurences. Reportedly, some never get out of bed on the day. Anyone having a phobia about Friday the 13th is certainly not alone.

In some countries, accidents in general do increase on Friday the 13th. To promote awareness and safety, Finland celebrates National Accident Day each year, always on a Friday the 13th. In some areas of the world, the number of traffic accidents actually increases on a Friday the 13th. In other countries, accidents decrease with people being extra cautious on the day. Either way, it does seem to have an affect.

Black cats have suffered from superstitions and unfounded beliefs surrounding the day unfortunately, causing many prospective owners to pass them by at adoption and rescue shelters over the years.  So if you or someone you know is thinking about adopting a cat or kitten, please do not pass by the black cats. They are wonderfully loving companions deserving of a good forever home, too!

Personally, since I was born on a Friday and the first letter of my last name “M” is the 13th letter of the alphabet, I have always considered it a “lucky” day. No one can call me irrational.

Although, I do recall living in Winter Park, Florida on Friday the 13th of August, 2004, when Hurricane Charley visited and left us without power for four days and removed part of the back wall. And a related tornado snapped a palm tree in half about fifty feet off my back patio that night. Would that count as a Friday the 13th thing? On the other hand, we all came thru it without a scratch, so should we then consider ourselves ‘lucky’?

And now we have an Ice Storm Warning outside of St. Louis here today on Friday the 13th, lasting thru Sunday. Would that count as Friday the 13th bad luck?  Or merely coincidence?

What kind of a day is Friday the 13th for you? Do you have (hopefully not) unfortunate accident stories to share? Malevolent, ill-tempered or unlucky ladders encountered, perhaps?  Examples of serendipitous good fortune or happiness?  Maybe it all is a matter of personal experience and outlook, after all.  Whatever your views on the day, Little Red Bear and I wish you a wonderful, safe and happy Friday the 13th!

But — a precautionary note — Please exercise a little extra caution and care if headed out and about. It is Friday the 13th, after all. — Jim (and Red!)

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Wishing You a Very Good Year!

Happy New Year!  Wishing You a Very Good Year!

If you spend the coming year as if it were the very First Year in your life – opening your Mind to be Grateful, Aware and Alert to all of life’s Awe, Beauty, Wonders and Miracles;

and as if it were to be the very Last Year in your life – opening your Heart to all of life’s Kindness, Love, Compassion and Blessings;

and then letting them flow thru you to everyone that you meet and to everything around you —  to be blessed by your Smile, by your Touch, and by your Presence;

then you will have spent the coming year quite well — and it will truly be a very good year.    

This was adapted for the new year from my “Wishing You A Very Good Day” entry in the ‘About the Blog’ section, inspired by a message from Brother David Steindl-Rast.

Wishing you and your loved ones all the very best of health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!   — Jim  (and Red!)

Peace  —  Compassion  —  Kindness  —  Love

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Special Kid Lit Community $500 Holiday Giveaway

Only One Week To Go Before Someone Wins a $500 Amazon Gift Card!

The Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway is still open if you have not had the opportunity to register and participate  yet.  The giveaway is sponsored by a wonderful group of talented kid lit authors working hard to promote children’s literacy.

The Giveaway closes on December 15th and we all know how time seems to speed up as we get closer and closer to the holidays.  Don’t put it off, register today.  Someone is going to win $500 to help with Christmas bills and goodies.  Why not you?

Entering is easy —

  • Simply sign in to Rafflecopter, the service administering the Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway, using your email or Facebook account.
  • Find a list of actions that earn giveaway points to increase your chance of winning the final grand-prize of $500.00.  Actions include visiting an author Facebook page (we hope you’ll ‘LIKE’ it too!) or following an author on Twitter.
  • You can decide which actions to take and how many.  Enter just one or complete all of them at one sitting if you like. You can even enter a few actions daily, and then return at another future time to add more. It’s all up to you.
  • Rafflecopter keeps track of your entries and tallies them.  Be sure to use the same log-in each time to access the giveaway action list.
  • The Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway is open now and runs thru  December 15, 2016, and is  open Worldwide.
  • Rafflecopter randomly selects and notifies the winner at the end of the event.

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Enter HERE to get started!  Remember, the more actions completed the better your chances of winning.  Little Red Bear and I strongly encourage you to enter and support this dedicated group of kid lit authors working so hard to promote children’s literacy and learning.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

— Emilie Buchwald

Thanks as always for visiting and wishing everyone the very best of luck!  The special Christmas Story for Little Red Bear — “Pine Holler Christmas” —  is available NOW on Amazon for Kindle and eReaders. Check below or to the side for a link and free preview.  — Jim  (and Red!)

❊ Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times ❊ 

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Check out the new Little Red Bear Adventure– “Pine Holler Christmas” on Amazon! Tap Here For A Free Preview!

The ‘Unbearable’ Work To Get a Simple Image

Sometimes we try to do something simple, and then the tech folks toss a spanner in the works and before you know it things start bouncing off the walls and we’re running for the aspirin bottle and holy water.

I purchased an online image yesterday morning for the upcoming Christmas Story featuring Little Red Bear. Now, I am just an old guy writing down stories being told to him by a bear, and not into all of the tech stuff.  I still have the old Post slide rule I used in college. So that should tell you something. I merely teach myself what I need as I go along, trying to get by and overcome each new tech hurdle and challenge as I come to it.  As usual, I downloaded what was indicated to be a simple ‘jpeg’ image. No big deal. It arrived, however, all wrapped up nice and neat in an ‘eps’ file.

Of course, my little computer had no idea what to do with it and refused to open the image file, approaching it with the same caution as a robot disarming a bomb.  Next step, research what is an ‘eps’ file, short for Encapsulated PostScript file, which can contain text as well as graphics.  Who knew?  Neat, but I didn’t need or want any text, anyway.  So then, how to open it?  More research to find a free opening app tool, get it to download, and then teach myself how to use it in order to convert the image to the jpeg format I originally wanted in order to include it in the Christmas Story.  One simple step turning into six.

But, it’s all taken care of.  The sparkling new, converted ‘jpeg’ image is ready to go, and the aspirins kicked in after a while, blood pressure returned to normal and Little Red Bear and I eventually got back to work. Just please know that when you see the wonderful opening image in Little Red Bear’s  upcoming Christmas story, there was a whole lot more involved in it than just a simple copy/paste.

We just try to tell stories here and not get involved in all the computer and tech stuff. I try to leave that to the much more skilled and accomplished six-year-olds in the neighborhood. But they were all in school so Red and I had to figure it out by ourselves. Anyway, the situation has been handled, and now we both know what an ‘eps’ file is and how to handle it the next time we come across one.

Remember, if you have not done so yet, be sure to enter the Special Kid Lit Community Holiday Giveaway to have a chance at winning the $500.00 Amazon Gift Card. The event closes on December 15, and your participation will go a long way to help support fellow Kid Lit authors and child literacy efforts.

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Thanks as always for visiting! Best of luck in the Giveaway Contest, and please stay tuned for more updates on Little Red Bear’s upcoming Christmas Story — we’re almost there.  And it will have a really cool, hard-fought and won image in it, you know. —  Jim  (and Red!)

"It's Unbearable" -- Image by cdudak (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

“It’s Unbearable” — Image by cdudak. (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.