A New “Little Red Bear” Video!

Since “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection published last week, Red has been so excited he couldn’t sit down. You can find the stories to order on Amazon, available for Kindle and in Paperback.

He finally decided to put all that energy to good use and went out with some other story characters and the backwoods crew and made another video for you, showing the area he calls home and some of his friends and neighbors.  Red apologizes for that Otter near the end, playing around as they do so much of the time.  As Creative Director, Little Red Bear always recommends viewing on full screen with the speakers on for the full nature experience.

Feel free to share with family, friends and neighbors.  Hope you like it.  And check out the page link above or on youtube for other Little Red Bear videos.  If he keeps going, we’re going to have a whole collection pretty soon.

On another topic, we realized something about “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” over the weekend.  Something we had not considered until now.  We’ll be talking more about that in a few days, so please watch for it.  There might be a fight brewing, but we’re hoping not.

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

"Hey, y'all.  Do you fellas know where they're showin' the new Little Red Bear video?"

“Hey, y’all. Do you fellas know where they’re showin’ the new Little Red Bear video?”

 

Meet “Whistlin’ Will” the Whip-poor-will

Old forests in the Ozarks Mountain Country, where the Little Red Bear stories take place, are home to Eastern Whip-poor-wills, one of my favorite birds.  Strictly nocturnal and calling all thru the night, they have serenaded me to sleep on camping trips on many occasions.

While you may hear the Whip-poor-wills thru the night, finding them in the daylight hours is very difficult as they are largely inactive, hiding on the ground or roosting in the trees.  Their mottled plumage blends perfectly with the grey/brown leaf litter and forest debris where they live, a natural camouflage.

A medium sized bird, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is a member of the Nightjar family of birds, sometimes referred to as Goatsuckers from ancient tales that they sucked milk from goats.  Also in the nightjar family is the Nighthawk, another nocturnal bird, along with another and one the Whip-poor-will is frequently mistaken for– its close relative the Chuck-will’s-widow, which has a similar but lower, slower call.  Both calls are hauntingly beautiful on an otherwise quiet summer night in the woods.

Whip-poor-wills are mentioned frequently in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, with “Whistlin’ Will” being one of Red’s friends, singing right behind his cabin on Honey Hill each evening.

Here is a recording for you to listen to the beautiful call of the Whip-poor-will.  Like the recording, they go on and on, tirelessly all thru the night, a calming reassurance that all is right in the woods.  Do you hear the “whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will” call for which they were named?

Sadly, as with many species, their numbers are in decline in several areas as open forests are converted for suburbs and agriculture, and as their primary foods- large moths and beetles- are also on the decline due to development.

More information and sound recordings may be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology page, and on the Audubon Society page.

If you would like to read more about Whistlin’ Will in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection, it is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.  Just click the link below.

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

Order Your Copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”

 

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

 

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!

Bear with Flower- Pinterest-  Found on coffeelovinmom.tumblr dot com

Available for Preorder Now — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear–The First Holler!”

Ladies and Gentleman, Girls and Boys, Children of All Ages–

Step right up and be ready to be Amazed– be Enchanted– be Mystified– be Amused!

Here Ye, Here Ye! — The big day is here! 

Little Red Bear and I are delighted to announce that the first collection of stories in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear, The First Holler!”  is available for Preorder NOW on Amazon!

AVAILABLE NOW!  OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

Calloo-Callay!   Oh Frabjous Day!

Red’s book is ready!  What’s left to say?

The hard work is finished and the stories are written,

Unfortunately, yes, a few folks were bitten.

But not by Red, who’s quite pleasant, you see.

Come meet him yourself, he’s sweet and gentle like me.

We’ve worked long and hard to bring stories to you,

So join us on an adventure and bring the whole crew!

Please tell all your family,  all your friends and your neighbors.

The stories are top notch, just go ask the ‘gators!

We have singing birds, some very worried bunnies,

And lots of bees buzzing, protecting their honeys.

There’s a pair of black bears who sometimes bicker and fuss,

But the stories are “G Rated”, so no one can cuss.

With a fox, and a pig, turtles, beavers and more,

Can’t tell you any others or we’ll spoil what’s in store.

Lots of flowers and trees cover beautiful Honey Hill,

That’s where Red’s cabin is.  Oh, you’re in for a thrill.

So grab up your overalls, old boots and straw hat,

Adventures are waiting, there’s no time left to chat.

The announcement’s right here so you’d be the first to know,

Now off to Amazon thru magical links you can go!

Little Red Bear and friends are anxious to meet you,

So hurry, use the link and that’s all you need do!

Order Your Copy Today!

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

A fun and captivating blend of humor and action/adventure stories featuring Little Red Bear–  a new kind of “Action Hero.” This collection of six short stories, the first in a series, features Little Red Bear, an uncommonly special bear living in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, just a little south of the Sweet Tea Line, with a great number of friends—woodland critters, barnyard animals and human folk alike.

Exciting and heartwarming stories feature colorful, fun and loveable characters with positive themes of friendship, helping others, kindness and overcoming challenges in life; blended with educational information on the ways of nature, the environment, conservation and a love of the outdoors.

Family-friendly reading entertainment told in an old-fashioned, story-telling tradition in a style and pace we just call “Country Comfortable”, the stories are suitable and fun for all age groups.

Younger children will benefit most from having the stories read to them, as they are not written on a beginner reading level and are not picture book type stories.  Little Red Bear is a real bear living in the mountains and backwoods with real story character companions and activities.  These are not your mother’s cuddly little “Winnie the Pooh” stories.  Just sayin’.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” for Kindle will release on June 23rd and is available for preorder on Amazon.  The print version, 302 pages in length, is available on Amazon right now for immediate delivery.  Order your Print Copy today!

On behalf of Red and the whole backwoods crew of characters, thanks as always for following along and supporting us on the journey.  Little Red Bear can’t wait to meet you! —  Jim  (and Red!)

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear”– On Amazon for Kindle & Paperback

"Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?"

“Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?”

 

 

Waiting for Little Red Bear . . . .

Just a quick update.  As you read this, Amazon helpers are working feverishly, fueled by gallons of coffee, hot chocolate and sugar cookies, to get “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection set to go for you.

They are busily copying, pasting and stitching together the final formats and links for the Kindle and Print versions, and trimming the seams.  One of the bird images apparently slipped out of the print version last night and caused a heck of a mess flying about, but has been put back in place without further incident, thank goodness.  Word is a lot of duct tape, Elmer’s glue and staples were involved overnight working to get the two formats put together. As I understand it, the staples are mostly for the various links involved, but might be wrong.  I’m not really very technical.

Please stay tuned. We’re almost there. Red has been so excited the past few days he couldn’t sit down and alternated between pacing and paddling around the lake, eventually plopping down for a nap, worn out. It’s best really. Patience and bears frequently tend to travel on different roads.

So please stay tuned. As soon as the Amazon techies finish their work and we get the official okie-dokie, we will have release information and more details to share.  We are so close!

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

Sleeping Brown Bear, Pinterest Natilonal Geographic Society, uncredited

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear– “It Won’t Be Long Now!”

A quick bit of news to share this morning–  Red and I just placed an order for a final proof copy for the print book version of his short story collection “The Adventures of Little Red Bear!”   Hip-Huzzah!

We’re getting very close to the release and everyone is starting to get excited here.  Well, maybe not the weasels, but they have their own issues.

So, please stay tuned for more updates soon.  As the farmer’s cat said when it got its tail caught in the fan– “It won’t be long now!” — Jim (and Red!)

 

Found on Pinterest via National Geographic, uncredited

Found on Pinterest via National Geographic, uncredited

Introducing “Little Red Bear”– the First Book Trailer Video!

Little Red Bear and I are excited to announce the release of the very first video trailer for the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories!

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” is a collection of six short stories about a bear and his many friends living in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country, with the initial collection of stories entitled “The First Holler!” available on Amazon soon for Kindle and Paperback. Fun, family-friendly and entertaining for all age groups, the stories have underlying themes of positivity, nature, kindness, and helping others.  There is always time to stop along the roadside to smell a wildflower and listen to a songbird.  The stories are told at an enjoyably relaxing pace in a style I just call “Country Comfortable.”

Hope you enjoy the video. And if you do, please share with friends and family. Red had so much fun serving as Producer and Creative Director on this first trailer that he has the crew out working on more videos right now. He recommends viewing on full screen with the speakers on, for total immersion in the outdoor experience.

Please keep an eye out for more videos coming soon as we near the book release date, some featuring more information about the book and characters, and some others just for fun. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks as they say, but perhaps an old man and bear– given enough time and aspirin– can figure out how to make a tolerably presentable video.

Some future videos will feature a number of photos from blog followers and Facebook friends allowing their own images to be shared for the enjoyment of others. As a testament to goodness in the world, every individual approached about sharing photos has agreed enthusiastically without hesitation. As you may expect, while flowers, plants and trees tend to be easier subjects, it’s very difficult sometimes getting a critter to hold still long enough to focus the camera and capture a good likeness, not to mention birds in mid-flight holding their position, not being helicopters as they are.

So Red and I truly appreciate those kindhearted and generous folks permitting us to share their photography work with you as we go along.  (And if we unintentionally step on anyone’s copyright toes, please accept our apologies and just drop us a note if there is something not to be shared before showing up on the front porch with a shotgun.  Or worse– one of those lawyer fellas.)

We both hope you enjoy these little videos as much as we enjoy making them for you.  So here is the first one– “Introducing Little Red Bear.”   Thanks as always for reading and following along! – Jim (and Red!)

“The Rubbly Bubbly Bath”

A hungry little bear sat alone on a hill.

Honey jar in paws, ever careful not to spill.

He spoke not a word while opening the jar,

gazing over the meadows and fields afar.

Sticking in his tongue, slurping and lapping up the sweet honey,

he enjoyed the beauty of the day, so warm bright and sunny.

Honey drizzled down his chin and all over his front,

“Ugh! I’m all sticky! Egads!” he exclaimed with a grunt!

“What will my Mother say,

when she sees me this way?”

“She will want me to bathe and then toss me in the river.”

And with this worrisome thought, his lip started to quiver.

Though his dire hunger was now sated,

new bath concerns went unabated.

The sweet honey nearly gone,

he then leaned back with a yawn.

And remaining honey now out of reach with his tongue,

The bear remembered a tune which his mother had sung.

“Joshua Giraffe was born in a zoo,

he lived there, too.

For two years and a half,

he hasn’t had a bath . . .”    *

He sang the verse boldly as he wandered back home,

Still hoping not to be drowned in wretched soap foam.

With icky sticky honey all over his fur,

he crept beside Mother, to hide, snuggle and purr.

But a bear is not a cat,

so shouldn’t try to do that.

Bath time was on as he wriggled and squirmed,

dunked in the river, his bath fears confirmed.

But since the bears don’t use soap,

There were no reasons to mope.

With no shampoo in his eyes to cause any tears,

he had no real worries to support all his fears.

Wee bear shouldn’t have tried to conceal his icky sticky self.

Not when there’s a jar of honey noticed missing from the shelf.

Mothers always seem to know when something is amiss.

Besides, all bath times end with a motherly bear kiss.

Bear and Cub bath time- Pinterest, uncredited

Note *– Song lyric excerpt from “Joshua Giraffe” lyrics by Raffi Cavoukian

Lost in Quandary Without a Compass

The dictionary, or at least my handy-dandy little online reference source, defines “Quandary” as – “noun, plural quandaries– a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma.

And there it is. That is where I am with the very soon to be released “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories. Lost in “Quandary” without a compass. Don’t know the zip code for map finder, but think it’s just on the outskirts of “Perplexed.”

As I write this, magical little helper elves are furiously working to format the finished text of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear– The First Holler!” Preparing the collection of short story adventures for publication, fitting it into all the whatsits and whatnots for Amazon, while also designing a cover. But soon they will be finished and it will be ready to publish.

And there’s the dilemma– What genre to list the book in? What age groups might be interested in reading a novel length collection of short stories about a bear in the woods? How to categorize it? Basically– which virtual shelf to put it on so potentially interested folks may find it?

Reading- Boy in Bookcase

To be honest, I have no idea at present where to go with this. Apparently my writing muse doesn’t either, because she is being totally silent on the matter.

“The Adventures of Little Bear” stories were not written for or towards any target market or group in particular, probably breaking rule number one of the “Writing for Success” guidelines. But I don’t lose any sleep over that, because I make no secret about not following anyone else’s “rules.” And I’m too old to be overly concerned with building a “long term following and career.” Whatever.

I wrote the stories that were in my head as the characters revealed them to me because it was fun. It’s what I would rather be doing than most anything else right now. Who might be interested in them, what “target markets” or “demographics” never entered into it or influenced anything.

“Ready.      Fire!      Aim.”

As the stories turned out, they are probably not really wee kiddie type stories, certainly not on a “See Spot run” level. For comparison, Little Red Bear is about as close to Winnie the Pooh as a Grizzly Bear is to a Hedgehog. Not sure middle grade children would be interested, focusing more on becoming teens and such. As for young adults, probably no way to distract from fantasy and paranormal genres, lacking a heavy dose of either in the stories, and having no werewolves, walking dead or dragons either.

Suggested keywords to be included in descriptions in the Children’s Categories include such notable buzzers as sword, sorcery, magic, dragon, quest, adventure, detective, action, sleuth, spy, terrorist (believe it or not), secret agent, superhero, extraterrestrial, and time travel. The closest Little Red Bear comes to any of those is maybe an “Action Adventure Superhero”. In a bearskin. In the backwoods. Is there a category for that?

Bear- Peek a Boo- Pinterest

And that’s just talking about the Children’s age group. How then to also classify it? It’s not exactly a true-to-life “Nature” story book, featuring a fictional bear and characters. It’s much more fiction and made up than “Historical.” It is kind of “Action/Adventure”, but it features a backwoods bear, not Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones or Ironman.

The stories are set roughly in the early 1900’s, but not truly correct enough or concerned with historical details to be considered a “Period” piece. We are working on a story involving petty larceny for the next collection, but there is none of that tomfoolery or goings-on in the first set of stories so they do not fit “Crime Drama”.

The stories are set in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country, but feature way too many made-up names and locations to be considered for the “Travel” or “Geography” categories. There is a good deal of useful nature information presented, but talking animals immediately kick it out of the “Science” category.

The word “love” is mentioned exactly once in over 65,000 words, so it surely cannot be considered a “Romance” work. And there’s no way a backwoods bear will compete with spicy Romance literature set amidst exotic locales to command attention from the romance seekers, anyway.

“Erotic?”     Mmmm —  No.

To the best I recall, there is no mention whatever about stars, the universe, aliens or time travel. So “Science Fiction” is off the list as well. There are some weak attempts at humor, but not the main focus or enough to qualify the stories as a “Comedy.”

So you can see the dilemma— where to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” when it is ready for release soon? The stories are simply about an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the backwoods mountain country. Boring themes like kindness, sharing, being good neighbors and appreciating the wildflowers, nature and such. Is that the stuff of “Superheroes?”

Maybe we just invented a new genre—“Fun Stories About Nothing In Particular”—but really don’t think I have enough sway with the Amazon folks to bring that about. Perhaps J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin could. I am merely James R. Milson. Maybe I should consider adding another “R.” for a bit more literary clout.

Peanuts- Charlie Brown deep in thought

But it really doesn’t matter all that much. We don’t measure “Success” in dollar signs. Success for us is if the stories help brighten a few people’s days, and maybe a few kids learn to appreciate nature a little more. Hopefully, we have not set unrealistically high sales expectations for the book– again, sales not being the reason the stories were written in the first place. I went out on a limb a while ago and told Red if we hit a dozen sales or get a five star review, whichever happens first, we’ll celebrate with a pizza, and we’re both good with that.

But now thinking about it, not having a foggy clue where to classify or categorize the book for interested folks to even find it, we may have to peddle them on the street corner and in front of grocery stores to reach that lofty dozen sales number. It’s a good thing warmer spring weather is on the way. I may have overreached with that dozen sales goal, it maybe being an unrealistic, off the top of the head number considering the classification conundrum. Perhaps some kind-hearted person will rescue us with a good review, but not hanging my hat on that one, having only the one middle “R.” in my name as it is.

Peanuts- Charlie Brown- Anguish

I suppose if neither happens, if we don’t reach the high one dozen sales goal or receive the generosity of a five star review either, we’re okay with that too, really. Because we both know eventually we’re just going to go out and get a pizza anyway just to celebrate all the work in getting the book prepared to begin with. It’s really just a matter of timing and the accomplishment we’re toasting and lifting our Coke glasses to in the end.

So either way, however we categorize “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”, the writing trail ends at a pizza joint for Little Red Bear and me. And we both know our pizza categories very well.

In the meantime, we’re going to keep trying to figure this all out. Thanks as always for reading and following! – Jim (and Red!)

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear– The First Holler”

Announcing the official title for the first collection of upcoming Little Red Bear stories– “The Adventures of Little Red Bear– The First Holler.”

The review copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” came back from beta readers with very positive comments.  Maybe the most heartening was that they had to continually keep reminding themselves to slow down, edit and make notes because they were simply enjoying the stories so much and reading right thru.  So a snip here, a tuck there and it will be ready to go.  A serious cover search is now intensified and underway!  Progress on the cover will determine a release date, hopefully soon.

“The First Holler” will feature six short stories of varying lengths, plus an Introduction into the Ozarks Mountain Country world of Little Red Bear and his friends.

Meanwhile, I already have one more story than needed planned for the next collection, had another story writing itself in my head waking up at 5am this morning, and then happened across yet another story inspiration I had to sit down and make notes about before breakfast.  With recruiting and interviews going on for second collection story characters, I am having trouble keeping up with it all right now.

Speaking of recruiting for new characters– a very pompous, pretentious and imperious Peacock has let it be known indirectly thru a representative that he wants to be included in the next set of adventures.  It seems beneath him to go thru the normal application process however.  The persnickety peacock returned a blank Story Character Application Form, with only the words “see attached” scrawled over the area for Experience and Qualifications, stapled to a head shot photo.  Another item on the list of things to do.

I am having an Ostrich Crisis flashback from last year.  What is it about working with large birds?  Working with chipmunks is so much easier.  Give them a bowl full of peanuts and they are busily happy for days!

But most immediately, the cover for “The First Holler” is the next hurdle.   Will update again as soon as there is something more to report.

Thanks as always for following!  — Jim (and Red!)

Peacock Headshot Submission ("Peacock Pride" print by Angelina Vick found on Pinterest)

Peacock Headshot Submission
(“Peacock Pride” print by Angelina Vick found on Pinterest)

 

Story Character Casting Call for Second Collection of “Little Red Bear Stories”

As you may recall from the Breaking News announcement on Monday, the First Collection of short stories in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” series was completed and sent out for beta reads a few days ago.  My plan was to take a couple months off from writing to focus on new creations and store work, but it seems like everyone else wants to keep it going and get started right away on developing new short stories for the Second Collection in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”.

Little Red Bear already signed on four new story characters this week, and more seem to be banging on the door this morning!  So instead of giving everyone some time off, I decided to make it official and put out a Casting Call for new story characters, and had the receptionist start scheduling new character interviews.  Since everyone is on board with it, we’re just going to go ahead and get started right away on the next set of stories and adventures. As mentioned earlier in The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis events, my receptionist is an elderly bunny who needs her job to support her large family, so better for her to be able to keep working anyway.  Was going to pay her regardless, but don’t tell her that.

Interestingly, three little woodland fairies have turned in applications to appear in the next collection.  Rather unfairylike, the largest of the three is very, very muddy in her application head shot photo, lists under qualifications and experience- “working in a mud kitchen”- and goes on to mention something about a peculiar, one-legged duck on her application.  I was unable to read the rest because it was covered in mud.  Anxious to hear more about all that and I have put a star by her name on the interview list.  Sounds like a story there to me!

Little Red Bear isn’t quite so sure.  After his mixed experience with a domesticated animal character in the first story collection, he is a bit apprehensive about working with another in the second set of stories.  He intends to sit in on that interview, to determine if working with the mud-covered fairy also includes working with a one-legged duck.  Personally, I’m hoping it does.  Thinking it might be fun and have already jotted down some story notes!  To be determined, I suppose.   Not telling Red, but I requested she bring the duck along to the interview when it is scheduled.

And it just goes to demonstrate, Red and I never know who or what may show up at the door when we put out a Story Character Casting Call.  Brings to mind the Ostrich Crisis events from the last recruiting push, as a simple process spun wildly out of control last year.  So we’ll see who walks, hops, crawls or flies thru the door this time.

Speaking of which and since it is an open Casting Call, if you have a favorite animal, critter, bird, fish, wildflower, tree, agricultural crop, or whatever that you would like to have possibly appear in a future collection of stories, I invite you to mention it in the comments below.  No promises, but Little Red Bear is always eager to make new friends.  As you may recall, the stories are generally based in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Southeast Missouri, but we have worked with international story characters before too, once the Work Permit Visas are obtained.

Please stay tuned for more updates as the first story collection nears release, new work on the next Little Red Bear stories gets underway and new creations for the store are shared.  It’s turning into a very busy year!  I’m off now to interview a Porcupine.  I hear they can have a rather prickly personality at times.

Thanks as always for following!  — Jim (and Red!)

Waving Bear (image found on Talking Bear, Facebook Community Page)

Waving Bear
(image found on Talking Bear, Facebook Community Page)

 

New Blog Feature Coming Soon! (And More Bears!)

 

Very busy here making new teddy bears for my eBay store.  I was so busy getting the new blog up and running that I quite unintentionally ran out of bears in my store.  Will have some new ones ready to go very soon!

In the meantime, while working on the bears I am also cooking up an idea for a new Blog feature.  Here’s a hint, below.  That’s all I can say right now until I get it “thunk thru” all the way, as some of the critters here would say.

Wishing everyone a great day.  Back with some new bears to show and more info on the new Blog feature soon.  And a big Thank You and Bear Hugs to new Blog followers!  Welcome! — Jim  (and Red!)

Cereal Box Image