Pausing To Savor A Special Moment — “Yeah, That’s Good!”

As a writer, occasionally you sit back, read what you have just written on the page, and declare — “Yeah, that’s good.”  It is at those infrequent and exceptional moments when you feel that you are doing what you are intended to be doing — writing.

So it was yesterday morning with the second collection of Little Red Bear’s adventure stories, “The Second Holler Over!”

With the next collection of short stories well more than halfway completed, a new inspiration came to me stepping out of my morning shower. It was so strong and compelling that a planned breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast was scratched in favor of a dry bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal to munch on in order to set to work immediately, not to lose the revelation.

Initial thoughts were quickly added to the end of the second story, already written.  Then they were refined, edited, refined, and edited again. Over and over thru the morning.  My normal process of writing, editing as I go.

When finished hours later just in time for lunch, I re-read what I feel are the twelve most well-crafted and impactful paragraphs I have ever written. Twelve short paragraphs linking two adversaries, establishing an ominous tone, and underpinning all subsequent themed action to follow in the ensuing stories and coming books.

Admittedly not one to be easily impressed, I myself felt the impact of the new addition on the stories and was moved. Where the sudden inspiration for the addition to something that was already “finished” came from, heaven only knows. Literally, perhaps.

And after years of progressive study, reading and examining the works of others, writing, editing, more writing, more editing, rewrite work and more, it suddenly occurs to you over a lunchtime fruit smoothie a few minutes later that your writing ability, just maybe, has taken another small step forward to being truly proficient at what you do.  And, yeah — that’s good.

If you are interested in what the twelve paragraphs were, you will need to wait until “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” is available in the fall. They will be the closing paragraphs of the second story, entitled “The Great Bramble Scramble.” I hope you are moved by them, too.

If new to Little Red Bear and his adventure stories, right now in the midst of summer reading season while even the leaves on trees seem to be melting on some days, it would be a good time for catching up with all the prior action, since the short stories run in sequence.  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eBook versions on Amazon. The book will also be available in a Large Print version soon, as requested by numerous senior fans of Little Red Bear.


By this time, a few may be thinking “this guy is a bit full of himself.”  But to conclude that would be to miss the real point.

Whether our main activity and focus be on career, child-rearing, hobby pursuit, or personal passion like my writing is for me, often as we go along it can seem like we ourselves are Sisyphus reincarnate,  doomed to repeatedly push a huge boulder  up a steep hill, endlessly for eternity, only to have it roll back to the bottom each time, never progressing or making a difference. The view on life’s treadmill can become monotonous and seem unchanging.

It is beneficial to be aware and recognize special moments when they present themselves, to press the “Pause” button, step off and realize that we have done something out of the ordinary, above and beyond expectations.  To savor the accomplishment and personally acknowledge that yes indeed, we are making progress on our journey, however small it may be. A step forward is however measured, a step forward nonetheless.

And then, purpose reaffirmed and heartened a bit, we get back at it with a refreshed energy and spirit to move forward another step. And then another.

Pause occasionally, to savor a special moment.


Thanks for visiting with us! We never know what very special surprise or revelation may be awaiting us as we begin each new day.

We hope that whatever your passion and pursuit in life, that you may also experience such uplifting and reaffirming moments.  So that you too, can say — “Yeah, that’s good.”

What can you do to help someone find a happy moment today? Share your smile or a kind gesture? Or an unexpected flower, perhaps?

A simple act of kindness has the power to be life-altering for someone. That is pretty special in itself, don’t you think?  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “Finding A Purpose Driven Life — What Would You Do If . . . . . . ?” 

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


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

      “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’  I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those        people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”       –  R.L. Stine


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


                  “I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” – Chinua Achebe


 

Sharing Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

With the Little Red Bear stories, I try very hard to straddle the fine line of being engaging and enjoyable for both younger and older audiences. The first goal of each story is to first be entertaining in order to hold interest and have fun, while also then being informative and educational along the way. As such, I am a great admirer of the consistently stellar work produced by the folks at Pixar Animation Studios, making entertainment consistently reaching both young and older age groups.

I happened across this image — “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” — and thought it might be interesting and helpful to share with other writers. Those who know me also know that I am not generally a follower of rules, but as rules go, these are pretty good, and agree with many.

But let’s just go ahead and call them ‘Guidelines.’  That works and sits a little better with Little Red Bear and me.

 

Thanks always for stopping by to visit, and wishing you the very best of success in your future storytelling and writing! — Jim  (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

 


Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

Book Reviews: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Let me start off by saying that Little Red Bear and I do not live or die with book review comments, positive or negative.  I write the stories that are in my head and as Red tells them to me, and we hope some others enjoy them along the way.  A writer focusing on and being influenced by comments, positive or negative, runs the risk of the writer no longer writing their stories anymore, but rather writing for feedback reward, or stopping altogether if they allow their spirit to be crushed by negative feedback. Reviews are most important to me as guideposts to help lead others to my work.

Most folks I know look about as forward to the prospect of leaving a book review as they do to a root canal. There seems to be a back-of-the-mind memory association with grade school and book reviews, especially when one clicks on the Amazon “Leave a Review” tab and is confronted with all of their suggestions.  It can be intimidating, and think may scare people away. So book reviews seem to be as hard to find as a needle in a stack of needles to begin with.

Last year, a gentleman purchased the print version of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” directly from Amazon. “Verified Purchaser” as they say, the very best kind. He liked it very much and left a 5 Star review. His wife picked up the book and read it this past summer, just about a year later, loved it, and went to leave her own review last week. Not only was her review not posted, but his review was removed as well, a year later. I can only surmise that it was because the second review was possibly coming from the same Amazon account ID, and to Amazon smacked of review manipulation. They also both follow my Facebook personal and writer pages, which is how he found out about the book in the first place.  That is how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it?

If authors are strongly encouraged to invest great time and effort building social media platforms to promote their work to followers (and by default, build Amazon sales), if the number of reviews is a criteria in determining whether Amazon itself promotes your book to others or not,  if securing a review at all is so very difficult, and if they remove any reviews which even hint of a connection to an author thru social media, then there is a piece of this circular logic that I am missing.

If I do not actively promote my book to interested followers, how do they find out about it? If I do promote my book to interested followers and then their reviews are subsequently removed, how do others find out about it? And yet I see review after review on Amazon for both books and products with the phrase “I obtained this item for Free in exchange for an unbiased review.” So apparently it is okay to give your book away to a total disinterested stranger for a review, but a “Verified Purchaser” review is subject to removal because they are interested and may follow you on social media somewhere.  Having one’s review blocked or removed is not exactly strong encouragement to ever attempt to leave another, for anyone.

To quote the King of Siam in “The King and I” — “It’s a puzzlement.”

So sharing this information for other writer friends who may be similarly affected, along with a link for more information to check out —  “Why Has Amazon Removed My Book Review” by k-lytics.

Thanks as always for visiting!  Little Red Bear and I are just going to keep telling stories and enjoying ourselves, regardless of what Amazon does or doesn’t do, because that’s simply how we roll here.  Here is a link for “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler”  and there is one below.  Following me here, your book review may not be posted, but you should probably read it anyway just for fun.  —  Jim  (and Red!)

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

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

 

Research and Fiction Writing with Little Red Bear

A beautiful weekend here. Windows open, fresh air. Birds singing. So what did I choose to do all weekend? Story research.

Some have the impression that writing is simply sit down, type out your thoughts, and publish. And for many, for better or worse, that may work. But admitting to not knowing everything, researching all of the little tidbits and factoids comprising “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories takes as much or more time and effort than the actual writing of the stories.

Getting the little information right is important to me not only to lend believability and credibility to fictionalized stories, but also as a heartfelt responsibility to present correct and historically accurate information.  Maybe made more so attempting to write reliably about positive themes and guidance, wildlife, animals, nature and the environment.  Hours of research may be boiled down to a few lines in a paragraph. But I feel it is incumbent upon me to get it right. It is the underpinning of everything else in the story.

Writing- Research 5

 

Some say that the research is easier than the writing. Others seem to dread doing research, feeling it needless drudgery. I enjoy both.  It’s a personal matter for every writer.  But when reading a story featuring a character rushing to deliver a telegraph message about the Boston Tea Party while riding a Morgan stallion during the American Revolution and being chased thru Massachusetts by a band of Sioux Indians in warbonnets working with the British Army , you just get the sense that someone did not do their homework.  For me,  the”Fiction” heading only stretches the credibility and believability envelope so far.

This weekend I researched Ice Cream, Adjectives Beginning With The Letter “F”, Coonhounds, Honeybees, the History of Horses in America, Mustangs, Chickens, Various Breeds of Pigs, Pasture Farming Practices, Native American Beliefs, Plains Bison vs Wood Bison,  Ozarks Mountain Folklore, Steamboat Whistles and Hoopskirts. (Yes, Hoopskirts. Bet you can’t wait for that story!) 

But story research is not only visiting the library,  pouring thru reference volumes, or Googling information for a specific item, fact or question.  It is an everyday, part of living thing.  Being aware, paying attention and observing all going on around us, all the time.  Mannerisms, expressions, behaviors, reactions to situations, responses, the way people dress, communicating, personal exchanges, and so much more.  Always adding to the internal library of knowledge from which to withdraw when needed. Research is both living and being a student of life.

Now, off again to come up with a good name and learn more about a certain Turkey Buzzard that Little Red Bear just remembered he wanted to include in the next collection of stories.  As one of my favorite authors said — “Good writing is hard work!”

Peanuts- Snoopy- Writing- Hard Work

Thanks as always for visiting and reading!  — Jim (and Red!)

Quote- Mark Twain- Facts and Writing

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
Join us for an Adventure in the beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country!

Take A Walk For Exercise, Come Home With A Story Idea– a ‘Two-fer’!

A beautiful day here yesterday with the temperature reaching 70F.  A grey, overcast morning gave way to brilliant sunshine in the afternoon, with daffodils everywhere stretching to bask in the warmth.  You could almost hear the tree buds popping open to welcome spring.  So I took an afternoon walk for fresh air and exercise.  Always a good thing.  And, as so frequently happens on walks, a fun new story idea presented itself along the way.

Walking along, I caught sight of a man getting out of his pickup truck and walking around to the back door of his home.  A while later, I observed a young lady pull into a driveway, exit the car, proceed up the walk and knock on the front door. That’s all.  Simple as that.   BAMM!  The inspiration for a fun conversation in the next set of Little Red Bear stories came to mind.  I completed the walk, came in and wrote out a new scene and character conversation, right out of the blue.  A small sequence in a large collection of stories, but isn’t that what creativity is — little bits all stitched together to form a whole?  Kind of like an old-fashioned quilt in that way.

I read a selection recently about taking the time and making the effort to  be more mindful to fully appreciate the everyday, mundane tasks that we go thru by rote each and every day, half awake in a hypnotic and robotic state without even being aware of what we are doing.  How does the shower water feel? What does the shampoo smell like?  How does the toothpaste taste and smell?  The true aromas of breakfast.  Flower scents in the air when heading outside. The feel on our face of a morning mist or breeze. Being aware and alive to consciously witness and take pleasure in everyday experiences and occurrences going on all around us all thru the day.  Living and Being in the moment.

And when we are in ‘aware mode’, fully cognizant of and appreciating our life and all around us, then creative and story ideas are everywhere.  It’s as simple as watching someone get out of their car.  Next time you find yourself stuck for a creative idea or inspiration, the answer may be waiting right outside the door.  Why not go outside and see?

Thanks for stopping by to visit.  It’s even more beautiful this morning.  I feel another walk coming on.  —  Jim (and Red!)

Writing- Walking for Ideas 2

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” on Amazon

Short Stories About An Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends

Breaking All The Rules With Little Red Bear!

Bending, breaking and shattering rules today.  Careful where you step, they’re everywhere. Breaking one of my own right off the bat — I do not write about writing. Most importantly, I do not feel qualified to offer advice about writing. So, I don’t. And secondly, I found that when I am writing about writing or talking about writing, I am not actually writing.  Stories, that is. And that’s what we do here.

But today is an exception, focusing on the writing specifically of the Little Red Bear stories. Keep your wallet in your pocket, there is no advice for sale here today. If there is any disquietude or anxieties concerning “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” with regard to breaking writing rules, I thought it might be a good idea to just talk about it all up front so no one is shocked, surprised or gets their feelings hurt when they get into the backwoods with the book.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” is a collection of six short stories featuring, as you probably guessed– my very good friend Little Red Bear. Or “Red”, as he is known by close friends. And when accompanying him on an adventure that will surely include you too, of course. Red enjoys meeting and making new friends. Just please don’t ask Red or I to follow a bunch of rules set down by other folks about writing our own stories.

Getting to it then, this is about the writing of the stories, so I’m just going to lay it out there– we don’t care. About following others’ rules, that is. The myriad rules, suggestions, pronouncements, advice and fads put out from so many sources about the mechanics of writing. To me, it seems like storytelling, the real art and heart of the matter, has been set to the side nowadays in discussions focused more on process.

Character building. Story arc. Simple Steps to Write a Bestseller. Style. Popular genres that sell. Story length. Story detail. Pinch points. Character action beats. Target and write to your market. Point of view. Story structure. Terrific hooks. Four ways to cut unnecessary. Creating unbearable tension. Story conflict. Conflict resolution. Eliminate backstory. Build up your protagonist. Ace your climactic moment. Prevent your protagonist from being boring. Golden rules to follow for a good plot. A great start sells the book! It’s all about the ending! Epic plot fails. Crafting a dynamic antagonist in three easy steps.

Pronouncements and others’ rules about how writing should be done. Formulaic, mechanical writing by the numbers. Follow this list and check mark your way to success! We appreciate that so many take the time to offer their advice and suggestions, but feel that is what works for them, and not necessarily for us here in the backwoods.

It calls to mind the old gold rush days. The vast majority of the actual miners went broke and never made a dime. It was all the shopkeepers, merchants and those supplying goods, services and equipment to the miners who made off like bandits and struck it rich. With so many new writers mining the literary gold fields today, well . . . . it just brought that to mind is all.  It’s a wonder how Poe, Hemingway, Twain, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau and others all made it without the “simple-easy-step” plans to follow.

Rules by their very nature and purpose are confining and intended to ensure conformity to a standard, legislating and enforcing boundaries, and in the case of the arts, with the risk of restricting creativity and expression. I consider creative writing to be an art form, and it’s only by pushing the boundaries that creative growth is achieved. If we all do the same thing in the same way where’s the fun, excitement, creativity and expression in that?

So I don’t follow or feel encumbered by others’ writing rules or formulas for success. Neither does Little Red Bear. But of course, he is a bear after all, accustomed to freedom and making up his own rules as he goes along. I suppose some of that strident independence must have rubbed off on me. We’re simply telling his stories for fun here. Not planning on entering any “Examples of Great Literature Contests”, or any other for that matter. Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway can relax, with their reputations secure.  We openly listen to all suggestions, but are pretty selective and particular about what we pick up and put into the shopping cart.

Quote- Art and Boundaries

The Oxford Comma debate, for example. Some strongly advocate using it, or suffer being misunderstood. Others, just as notable, say do not use it. If I think a comma helps the reader understand a section better, or a comma helps set the pace of conversation or storytelling in a more realistic way, I will use one. If not, I don’t. I don’t feel obligated either way. My laptop is a comma safe zone. The Oxford Comma debate? Don’t care. (On a separate note, I am a noted squisher of colons, however. Can’t really explain, just don’t like them. Think the feeling is probably mutual, because they don’t come around to visit very often.)

“The pace of the story must be dynamically structured to hold the reader’s attention.” Here’s the deal on that one. I’m willing to bet six acorns and a pinecone that whoever said that never wrote a story with a bear sitting next to them. If Little Red Bear wants to take time out from the story action to stop for a few paragraphs and talk about a wildflower or explain how to make a bamboo fishing pole or extoll on the beautiful song from a Wood Thrush, I’m not going to be the one who tells him he cannot do it. Generally of a very benign and gentle nature, Red does outweigh me– by over 500 pounds. We wrestled for fun once. Let’s just say it was a lot more fun for him, and leave it go at that for now. Someone else’s advice about “story pace” is not going to be the reason I wrestle him again. Just sayin’.

They are Red’s adventures after all, I’m merely typing them into the keyboard as he relates them to me. Honestly, if it weren’t for his overly large bear paws making typing on a laptop or writing with a normal sized pencil so frustratingly difficult for him, he wouldn’t even need me around. He talks. I type. It’s a job.

“Alliteration is out of style.” Hogwash. I like alliteration and think it makes it more fun for young readers. And again, we’re dealing with the feelings of story characters, and some are fairly sensitive. I am not going to be the one to tell Bitterroot Bob, Packsaddle Pete or Bobo the Balancing Black Bear that they have to change their names because someone else doesn’t want us using alliteration in the backwoods anymore because it’s not trendy. Nope. I’m not going to be the one to hurt their feelings or chase good characters out of a story. So I don’t care what anyone thinks about alliteration. Not even a tiddly bit.  And as an added note, Bobo is even bigger than Red, and not quite as well-dispositioned. So there’s that, too.

Bear- Shakesbear 3 without verse

“The story must build to a climax, and then end right there, not drag on. Avoid irrelevant endings!” Personally, I think the people advocating that one were probably watching Peter Jackson’s final “Lord of the Rings” movie, “The Return of the King”, and had to go to the restroom very badly. I myself was in that predicament, wondering how many endings the movie was going to have and taking odds from those around me on whether the movie would end or my bladder burst first. In case I needed to cover hospital bills. But I made it thru the seven or eight endings okay and didn’t go make a new writing rule about it afterwards. There were a lot of storylines and themes that needed to be tidied up at the end and I understood that. I simply learned not to take a soda or water bottle with me into a Peter Jackson film next time.

After an action-packed, nail-biting climax, sometimes it’s best to take a moment and catch your breath. And for younger readers, slow it down a step to let them catch up to a message now and again. And if it’s a scary story, like the time when Red and the others went into the Broken Hill Mine, it can be good for us all to put a little space between the climax and pillow, if you know what I mean. So once again– “Build to a climax and end it!” Nope.  Don’t care about that rule, either.

“Never use the word ‘very’.” And about forty more like ‘somewhat’, ‘really’, ‘behind’ and others. I just used the word ‘very’ in a preceding paragraph. Did you trip over it, fall and hurt yourself? If one has to go to the restroom ‘badly’, it’s uncomfortable. If one needs to go the restroom ‘very badly’, chances are there’s a lot of jiggling, crossing of legs and theater seat bouncing going on. There’s a difference. If I think the story is told better with ‘very’ or any other newly prohibited word, I will use it. Could we find a five dollar word to take the place of ‘very badly’? Sure. But I am neither trying to impress anyone with my vocabulary nor wanting to send readers scrambling for a dictionary every two pages. What the rule makers think? It’s a chance we’ll take.

And while we’re talking about it, what did ‘very’ do to upset people so? It’s a nice, hardworking, little four letter word that as far as we know, never harmed anyone. Dutifully serving to make the word following more enhanced. Sounds noble to me. I can think of a number of other four letter words that will never, ever see their way onto a page in one of Little Red Bear’s stories, yet folks seem to have no issue freely tossing those around. Foul language must have a stronger lobby at the writer’s guild.

“Character back story doesn’t matter, don’t bore your reader with it.” I don’t think it’s important for us all to know what a particular character had for lunch the previous day either, unless it’s an important part of the story to explain the insufferable heartburn or infirmities they may be experiencing. Roadkill can have that effect sometimes. But if their behavior and actions are influenced by events from their past, I think that’s something you should know about. So another– don’t care.

Dog - Sick as a Dog, In Bed-- Pinterest uncredited

“Do not use adverbs.” I like adverbs. Always have. They are modifiers for verbs. If nouns are allowed adjectives, why should verbs be shortchanged? As the name implies– adverbs add to the meaning of accompanying verbs. “He whispered” is supposed to be better than “He spoke quietly.” To me, they are not the same thing. If Scritch the Chipmunk whispers into Little Red Bear’s ear, no one else is going to hear him. If he speaks quietly to Little Red Bear, chances are  a sneaky weasel hiding in the brush is going to overhear what he is saying and that could greatly impact the story. So, like commas, adverbs have a welcoming home here. Sneaky weasels, not so much.

“Do not burden your reader with great detail. Tell them only what is critical to the story. Avoid unnecessary filler!” This is a corollary to the “bare bones” literary structure style. “Just the facts, ma’am, nothing but the facts. Move the plot forward. Move along now. Nothing to see here.”

I always enjoyed watching ‘Dragnet’ with Sergeant Joe Friday, but even as a kid thought his manner a bit brusque. Little Red Bear’s stories are about adventures with his numerous friends, both critters and humans, in the beautiful and scenic Ozarks Mountain Country. Inherently, a good deal to do about nature, taking your time, relaxing and enjoying the journey and quality of life. It’s not about a race to the finish, increasingly brought about by the electronic age and decreasing attention spans as everyone keeps one eye on the clock these days and the other on a web screen. Incessant visual stimulation with instant fulfillment and gratification. It is getting increasingly difficult to not only get someone’s attention, but also try to hold it for more than a few seconds. That’s why blog posts are supposed to be short, because they say — people do not have the time or attention span to read long works anymore. That’s what the experts say, not us. Red and I decided that’s a race and competition we’re just not even going to try to compete in. Little Red Bear’s adventures are old-fashioned stories and we are not going to strip away enriching sensory detail, or turbo-charge them so they run faster around the track.

I was heavily influenced by William Faulkner’s writing early on, famous for his long and sometimes run-on sentences. And we’re dealing with a loveable, but long-winded bear who tends to ramble on when telling his stories. So please be advised and cautioned upon entering.  On the one hand, we have — “Red and friends looked for honey.” Short, snappy, to the point. Bare bones. Tells you all you need to know about the action. “See Spot run.”

On the other hand, we have– “Little Red Bear and his friends,traveling around the southern end of Big Bend Mountain in search of honey after depleting their pantry following a breakfast of hot country buttermilk biscuits and tea, strolled leisurely next to a softly babbling brook, soothing streams of cold spring water gently washing and rippling past smoothed-over pink, grey and moss-covered river rocks, a Red-winged Blackbird calling from rustling cattails at the stream edge on a cool spring morning with a bit of wind-blown mist in the air as the sun struggled to peek from behind greying clouds while still managing to intermittently spotlight the sheen of a rainbow trout, patiently and hopefully stalking a newly-emerged Mayfly at the water’s edge.”

I cut that off for brevity just then as merely an example, not even describing the enchanting blackbird for you, but Red and I both agree that we would be remiss not telling you about how beautiful it was that day by simply telling you they went looking for honey–  period. And we didn’t even touch on the sweet smell of Honeysuckle vines perfuming the air as the morning breezes whiffed past, or the pink and white dogwoods beginning to blossom and flower on the hillside, gently sloping as it does until blending seamlessly into the Sweet Clover meadow below with its yellow, glistening dew-tipped flower tops stretching to reach the morning sunlight, waving and undulating back and forth caressed by the wafting breezes along the edge of Pickleberry Creek as it winds its way around granite boulders overhung with wild lilacs in bloom and past the thicket of Mountain Laurels at the end of Persimmon Holler.

Ozarks- Wild lilacs by stream. Barbara Woodall.

Image courtesy of Barbara Taylor Woodall, author of “It’s Not My Mountain Anymore”

We advertise these stories as “old-fashioned storytelling” and we put it right on the back cover for all to see, so readers have some idea of what they are about to get into. Little Red Bear wants you to know what he and his friends are seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing and smelling, and to be as close to being there with him in the Ozarks Mountains as you can be reading a book. If that’s too much detail in the story for the ‘hurry-uppers’ nowadays, well, Red suggests they wait for the CliffsNotes version, and  I’m just not willing to wrestle him over it. If you’re looking for a fast race to the finish, check out NASCAR. Red’s stories are written at what we describe as “Country Comfortable” speed, a lower gear setting which we feel to be much better on reader mileage. We take our time, do things a little slower here, and tend to average more words to the period.

I respect Edgar Allan Poe, the short story master, a great deal. In his essay, “The Philosophy of Composition”, he stated that a short story should be read in one sitting, one to two hours. Some now say a contemporary short story can range from 1,000 – 20,000 words. Others say, hold on– if it’s over 7,500 words or more it’s no longer a short story– it’s a “novelette.”

By that new standard, technically only one of Red’s six adventures is a short story then, and even that one is a close call, with the rest all being novelettes, and a couple almost reaching novella status! (One story goes all the way to 14,000 words– almost two stories!  Red wore out my fingers on that one.)  I suppose  you should know that, about the lengths and all, because we’re not describing the book as “A Collection of Novelettes.” That’s silly, and Red thinks it makes him sound like a sissy, so not going to do it. We’re sticking with Edgar Allan Poe on this one– Short Story Adventures. Some longer than others.

Although Brooks the Badger, our esteemed attorney, does make the strong argument that readers may think they are getting more bang for the buck by describing them as novelettes as opposed to short stories, thereby increasing their perceived shelf value and market appeal. A valid point perhaps, but still not going to do it. We never started these stories to win any sales contests or awards.  They’re Short Stories. End of discussion.

Now, we don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression, that we’re a bit cavalier regarding the writing process. On the contrary, Little Red Bear and I care a great deal about his stories and have worked tirelessly to relate them to you as close to how his adventures actually took place and happened in the best way we can.  We just tend to focus a little more on the storytelling and less on the mechanics of doing it. And we truly hope you like them. (That ‘truly’ there is another on the “do not use anymore” list. But then again, so is “there.” And “that” come to think of it, too.  There are probably a number of uneasy words filled with trepidation in the dictionary these days.) We’re just not overly concerned about how the rule makers and grammar police feel about it. I suppose if they really (another “do not use” word) feel bothered by it all, then they can come wrestle the bear themselves. He’ll be waiting. Red’s always up for a good tussle. Just not going to be with me again. Not over someone else’s rules, anyway.

Thanks as always for reading and following along, and please know we’re just trying our very best here for you. (There’s that pesky “very” word again. Hope you didn’t hurt yourself.)  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” will be released for Kindle on June 23rd and is available for Pre-order on Amazon right now. Paperback versions are available immediately.

It’s a fun and entertaining collection of old-fashioned, family-friendly, nature-oriented Short Story Adventures with themes of positivity, kindness, family values and helping others. Told with a little tongue-in-cheek humor here and there.  Featuring my very good friend, Little Red Bear. And his backwoods friends.  Both critters and human folk.  Suitable for General Audiences and entertaining for all ages.  But you probably get all that by now.

Thanks so much for stopping by!  — Jim (and Red!)

Order Your Copy Today!

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Advance Warning on a New Writing Project!

A story character entered my brain a few years ago, and then went to the back and took a Rip Van Winkle nap.  He awoke quite unexpectedly last night right as I was beginning to make dinner, demanding that I start writing about him– right now!  But instead of a little story, he is adamant about being featured in a poem.  Ugh!

I began working on it last night until the wee hours, and have been writing on the new project almost non-stop since I woke up this morning, finishing cold oatmeal while continuing to work away at it.  This one may take a while.

I don’t usually talk about my writing process because I am admittedly only an amateur at it and far from qualified to give advice, but in a nutshell here it is.  Given my old woodcarving and sculpture background, I use the same process starting with a new dictionary, like a block of wood, and then hack and carve at it, removing odd words and everything that isn’t a story.  So poems are even harder, finding and saving rhymes amongst the shreds and slivers.  Boy do the bits and pages fly when I get going!  I only imagine that’s how properly trained writers go about it as well.  Do all the bards search thru shards, burning time to find a rhyme?

Searching for a Rhyme

Searching for a Rhyme

I have to stop now for a while to rest my mallet arm, and then resharpen my tools for more writing work tonight.  I feel like Charles Dickens has taken up residence in my brain along with the story character.  Is there an aspirin for that?

Much too early to go into what it’s about because this is going to take a while and we’re only getting started.  So please be patient as the character, Mr. Dickens and I get things sorted out.  I suppose if Mark Twain pops in for a visit we would have enough folks for a few hands of poker in odd moments.  The next image is a hint.  It involves– a lamp.  Whoa.  Hope I haven’t said too much.

So, trying to be responsible.  Giving advance warning.  Looks like there may be poetry coming down the road.  Might want to take your loved ones to higher ground and seek shelter.

Lamp in the Fog

Lamp in the Fog