Happy Book Lover’s Day! What Is It That You Love About Books?

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th, some fellow writing and blogging friends and I are sharing what books mean to us and how we enjoy them. I encourage you to visit their pages as well, listed at the end of this post.

What do books mean to you? Do books and reading hold a special place or memories in your life?

My reading adventures began at a very early age. Diagnosed with a bone disease at age two and going on crutches and then into a wheelchair for several years at age three, my Mother took it upon herself to develop a love of books and reading with me, starting at a time earlier than I can remember. By the time I entered school, I was already reading several levels ahead of classmates.

Looking back, I readily recall five books that not only changed my life, but also continue to influence the interests, choices and decisions I make today.  And that is why I am such a staunch supporter of children’s literacy, advocating reading to children from the earliest age, helping them to get started reading, and then continuing reading with them well after they are reading on their own to show continued interest and guidance.

          “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”  – George Bernard Shaw

The five books most instrumental in guiding my life were –

  • “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. I do not know how many (hundreds?) of times this story was read to me and later by me over the years, but the lesson for a young boy in a wheelchair was clear – “Never give up and you can make it over the mountain, too!”
  • “The Legends of Davy Crockett” put out by Walt Disney. Looking back, the story may have been sanitized a bit by Disney, but the examples were clear, and what better early hero for a young boy growing up in the 1950s than Davy Crockett. His motto became a guide thru later life – “Be always sure you’re right – then go ahead.”
  • “Hammond’s Nature Encyclopedia of America” from 1960. This large book, ordered thru the mail by my Mother, complete with 320 original painting illustrations became my introduction and foundation for study of the natural world, with detailed pictures and information on everything from minerals and rocks, to every classification of animal, geography, trees and plants, climate and more. It was the largest book I had ever seen. I lived with this book in my lap, studying all the wonders of nature, forming a life-long interest and passion.
  • “The Boy Scout Handbook” – This book became my constant study guide for years thru the Boy Scouts, ultimately reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. Thru this book and the scouts, I learned independence, leadership, and a way of life built on character and service to others, while also greatly advancing my interests in the natural world, the wilderness and conservation.
  • “Two Years Before the Mast” – A memoir written by the American author Richard Henry Dana Jr. and published in 1840, captivated my imagination like no other book I had read before. By this time, I had already read “Moby Dick”, “Tom Sawyer”, and “Huckleberry Finn”, all beloved classics, especially those and others by Mark Twain, my favorite storytelling author. But I was familiar with all those stories before reading the books. “Two Years Before the Mast”, recalling a two-year sea voyage from Boston to California on a merchant ship starting in 1834, was a fresh story and greatly impressed upon me how powerful and fun storytelling could be.

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust

That is why I love books and developing a life-long love of reading with children. Books have quite simply and profoundly impacted and changed my life.  An old saying goes — “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  I believe the same about books.

I can see clearly now how these five books have worked together, each contributing their parts, to both form the foundation and heavily influence my “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, combining nature and conservation themes with good old-fashioned family and Boy Scout values, with white-knuckled fun and adventurous storytelling to keep it interesting. Mark Twain helps a lot, too.

So – Happy Book Lover’s Day!  I encourage you to make a nice cup of tea (or beverage of choice) and sit down with a good book today.  And if there is a little one around, grab them up for a reading session, too.

I encourage you to visit my wonderful blogger friends next, who will inspire and make you smile with their personal Book Love thoughts.

Cat Michaels — Cat’s Corner Blog

Rebecca Lyndsey — Author Rebecca Lyndsey Blog

Carmela Dutra — Carmela Dutra’s Blog

Julie Gorges — Baby Boomer Bliss

Rosie Russell — Books by Rose

Thanks as always for reading and visiting with us!  Be the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim (and Red!)


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“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” — William James

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”     — Jacqueline Kennedy


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

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” — Neil Gaiman


 

 

A Special “Thank You!” for Readers and What’s Ahead in the New Year!

A special New Year’s Thank You!” to everyone who has followed along the past year on the Blog, my Author Facebook Page, on Twitter and with “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories book collection released in June!

A few quick hits for New Year’s.  I am not a big numbers guy, not seeking to build great legions of followers for the sole sake of impressive numbers and ego stroking. But when you write or put creative work out there for the enjoyment of others, numbers are a way of gauging whether there is any interest or if your work is fostering the intended enjoyment for others.

So it was encouraging to see that my Blog site continues to grow, having achieved a 60% increase in both visits and followers in 2015, was visited over 4,400 times and reached a new high averaging 20 visits per day in December and now being read in 86 countries!   “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” continues to gain new readers internationally, and has been very positively received.  Twitter followers are nearing the 10,000 mark worldwide.   We keep growing together, one positive message at a time.

To me, this is an indication and further encouragement that there still remains a receptive audience and place for enjoyable clean, uplifting and positive themed information and entertainment of high standards.  So for you, readers and followers – Thank You!

Quote- Love and Purpose

Looking ahead, the course will remain the same but hopefully with even more activity shared in the coming year.  As always, the focus will be Entertaining, Informational and Educational.  In the works for the new year are –

A continued focus on the natural world and conservation issues including the revival of nature interviews and features on the Blog by our assistant, “Rusty the Fairydiddle”, a Red Squirrel Reporter, as only a Red Squirrel can do them.  Check out “Rusty Behind the Scenes — The Gray Fox Interview” for a sample.

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

A serialized Free Story or two on the Blog, similar to the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” which started it all a couple years ago.

More Free Reads, Poetry and other Short Works as inspiration and the muses allow.

Little Red Bear finds humans fascinating for one reason or another, so in addition a new series of interviews is planned on the Blog to include not only fellow writers and authors, but other creative and interesting folk as well.  The list of those already agreeing to be interviewed include photographers of various disciplines, artists, authors and more.

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

Plans also include sharing more new teddy bears, raggedy dolls and other creations and information on the Blog, just for fun.

And — after months of “thinking” and note-making, writing on the next collection of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories began in earnest the past week.  As you may recall, the full title of the first collection of stories was “The Adventures of Little Red Bear:  The First Holler!”   The next collection will be appropriately titled “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”  Returning the main characters, it will also feature the introduction of some very new and colorful characters as fun and hijinks in the backwoods continues.  And with those pesky weasels still around, we’re never really quite sure what may happen.  Red and I are working towards a summer or early fall release, so please stay in touch for updates.

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

Actually, staying in touch is pretty easy.  Following the blog is as simple as signing up, with notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox.  It is always Free, never any spam, and features a growing list of Free Reads, Information and Fun Stuff available anytime.  Some easy links to follow the Blog and on Twitter are located in the column to the right.  Just click here to “LIKE” and follow my Author Facebook Page and on Pinterest.  Please join me on my Personal Facebook Page for a steady stream of positive and uplifting messages, recipes, music selections, shared artworks and photography from friends, and other fun.

As we move further into the new year, I expect the general loudness and rancor may increase as we approach the Presidential election in November.  My intention is for all of my sites to serve as a mental oasis and refuge of quiet, peace, kindness and love for everyone.  You are welcome to visit anytime.

Quote- Kindness Instructions

So, heading off into the new year and next set of Little Red Bear adventures, then.  Thank You again for a wonderful and encouraging year!   And please remember, the “Welcome” mat is always out, there’s a pitcher of tea waiting and cookies in the jar at all times; and comments, feedback, referrals and sharing are strongly encouraged and very much appreciated.  As Little Red Bear is fond of saying — “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

Hoping to see you stop by and visit often!  — Jim (and Red!)

Quote- Kindness- Doing Good

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” Short Stories on Amazon.  About an uncommonly special bear and his friends! 

Now Entering the Ring– Little Red Bear!

As you may recall, we discussed which genres and book categories to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” in a few weeks ago. If you missed it, here is a link to the original post→ Lost in Quandary Without a Compass.

After a good deal of  follow-up discussion and being allowed two categories in which to enter, we decided one would be “Juvenile→Fiction→Animals→Bears.”

From the very beginning, the stories have been written with children in mind as well as adults, so the first selection of “Juvenile” seemed like a no-brainer.  Although Red certifies that all of the adventures really did take place exactly as described, we were required to list the book in “Fiction”, lacking photographic proof or evidence to back up his assertions.  The next step was easy, as the stories feature a good number and wide variety of wildlife, domestic farm animals, birds and such, so “Animals” seemed straightforward enough.

But then we came to the next grouping to narrow it down even further.  With it being “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” there was clearly only one choice– “Bears.” Simple enough– right?

But here’s the rub.  We then realized that stepping into that ring would put us in direct competition with not only one, but two heavyweight champions in the field.  Titans of the literary world– Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear! And they’re both that cute and cuddly teddy bear, golden brown color, to boot.

But we just don’t see any viable alternative. It’s not like Red is afraid of them or anything, as he is a real bear and not a cartoon drawing or stuffed teddy bear, after all.  He just always tries to peacefully avoid confrontation whenever possible.  An admirable trait to be sure. Nevertheless, don’t let their cuteness fool you.  Pooh and Paddington are rock stars in the field.  Literally– movie stars!  These two fluffy ruffians dominate their category and squish competitors like a blueberry on a walking path without even breaking stride!

It would basically be starting over, but I asked Red if he would like me to recast him as a chipmunk or squirrel, to maybe compete against Chip and Dale or Rocky instead. But as he pointed out, we had already signed on Scritch the Chipmunk and Rusty the Fairydiddle for the second collection of stories and Red didn’t want to put them out of work, just to take their place.  He’s a nice guy like that.  And too, it would be incredibly difficult for a chipmunk or squirrel to pull off some of the feats in the stories which Red did as himself– a bear.  So it looks like we’re committed to the “Bears” category.  No other choice, really.

But I’ll admit it.  I am a little worried.  I know that Winnie the Pooh is all about his honey, and so is Little Red Bear.  I just hope there’s enough honey to go around for everyone.  But Paddington is into marmalade, so that shouldn’t be an issue, as long as he stays on the jammy side of the tracks. They are all really good sorts though, so I’m sure they’ll share and work it out.  I hope.

There is one notable thing that separates Red from the others. He is a real bear and these are real bear stories with real bear action. Or as close as they can be given that he is so uncommonly special– walking on two legs, talking and wearing overalls and a straw hat as he does.

So, just to be safe, a word of caution is probably in order — these are not your mother’s Winnie the Pooh, picture book style, cuddly teddy bear stories.  Just sayin’.  There are a few honest-to-goodness, real backwoods varmints  and perils in these stories.

Also, before I forget, Red wants me to remind you that “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection will be released next Tuesday, June 23rd for Kindle and eReaders, and may be preordered on Amazon.  Paperback print copies of the book are available for immediate shipment and delivery right now!  And if you’re not sure how the preorder process works, you just hit the preorder button on the Amazon site, they don’t bill you until the actual book is downloaded on the 23rd, and magical elves work to install “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” automatically into your Kindle or other device overnight while you sleep.  Couldn’t be easier, and that way we don’t run the risk of forgetting to go back and order it and avoid having to wait in long queues backed up behind the inevitable crowds on the actual release day on Tuesday.  You can be comfortably enjoying the stories at home with a cup of tea and cookies while the late-comers are anxiously waiting in line!

And, one last thing–  as a favor– if you happen to come across Pooh or Paddington strolling about anytime, please let them know that Red’s not looking to dethrone anybody or take anyone’s title belt.  If they could just give us a wee bit of space to pitch our little book and tent, maybe on the outskirts of the forest in their kingdom, we’d be much obliged.

Thanks as always for the visit and reading along!  —  Jim (and Red!)

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

Available for Kindle and eReaders and in Paperback

"Little Red Bear"-- Story Research in a Tree

“Little Red Bear”– Story Research in a Tree

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

Springtime in the Ozarks with Little Red Bear!

Welcome to “Springtime in the Ozarks Mountain Country”, Little Red Bear’s newest video and book trailer for the soon to be released “Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection!

With his first collection of short story adventures to be released very soon, Red couldn’t wait to show everyone springtime in his neck of the woods and all that is going on around.  As Creative Director on the video projects, Little Red Bear wanted it to be filled only with beautiful images and music for you, but our esteemed attorney, Brooks the Badger, insisted that he include a few promo texts for the upcoming book as well.  They finally agreed on just a couple.

If you enjoy Red’s video, please feel free to share and pass along to friends and family, and consider giving him a “Thumbs Up!” like on youtube.  It really makes his day as he watches the numbers go up and gets him out working on the next one even sooner.

Big bear hugs and thank you’s to fellow birder Adele Barger Wilson, author of “Bonding With the Barn Swallows” for permitting us to use some of her images, and to the Missouri Wildflower Guide for making their images available for use.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for visiting!  — Jim (and Red!)

Quotes of Note– “You Can Fly!”

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Quote- Flying

Quote- Positivity- Fly 1

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

Speaking of Dogs & Cats & Boomers

As a general rule, I endeavor to keep it on the light side here, and do not get actively involved in political discourse. Goodness knows there are already enough serious and worrisome issues and events in the world these days. On the other hand, I have a growing awareness of what I perceive to be a serious problem in this country. As such, I thought it important to bring it to the attention of the soon-to-be growing number of presidential hopefuls and candidates for the next presidential election. I say both “hopefuls” and “candidates”, because I am never quite sure if they are really one in the same and want to be certain to bring the issue to everyone’s attention, not leaving anyone out.

Here is the crux of the matter, to get right to it. I am a baby boomer, and there are a growing number of us reaching the years when we are empty nesters, and/or without spouses or companions for various and obvious reasons. In other words- alone. Aloneness is generally regarded to be unhealthy, thereby impacting the issues of medical care, mental health and associated social costs and issues.

To combat the isolation and solitude, many seek the solace and companionship of pets, primarily dogs and cats in vast numbers. Dogs and cats are excellent companions most of the time, providing sympathetic comfort, great for snuggling and warmth during cold winters (although not so much hot summers when they seem to have the curious urge to snuggle even more), they serve somewhat as alarms and guard dogs against intruders, many perform invaluable service assistance to the challenged and disabled, requiring walks and outings they aid in helping us to exercise and get fresh air, their own food and upkeep costs help to support the economy, etc. All good things.

That being said, here is the concern. All of the above listed benefits of having a dog or cat companion are “physical” or “emotional”. They do very little to stimulate the “mental” side for aging boomers, a very important thing in maintaining a fulfilling, vigorous and healthy lifestyle by challenging and maintaining an active brain as well as body. I have become increasingly aware that dogs and cats in general seem to be very unread and sorely lacking in knowledge of current events beyond issues of food availability and scheduling. They are frustratingly difficult to hold an intelligent conversation with. Great listeners, without question, but clearly deficient in conversation skills and a base of knowledge to draw from to foster insightful discourse and discussion. They don’t distinguish Dali or Degas from a dog dish, or Kipling or Kierkegaard from kibble.

"So, what you're saying is that it wasn't really a Chew Toy? Seemed like it."

“So, what you’re saying is that it wasn’t really a Chew Toy? Seemed like it.”

Indeed, most dogs mistakenly perceive books to be chew toys or pillows rather than tools of enlightenment. And it is we who have allowed this sad state to continue. It is a rather poor reflection on our species, that given our long and close relationship to dogs and cats over thousands of years we have allowed this matter to go unattended for so long, turning our backs on the educational and intellectual development of our dearest companions.  Some certainly seem to be sending us clear messages that they are at the very least interested in books and higher education.  We just have not gotten the message.  Until now.

Accordingly, it seems reasonable that the next group of folks aspiring to be President of our great land and all its people should address the issue of illiterate, uneducated and incommunicative pets, for the sake of not only the ever increasing number of lonely boomers but also for the long term benefits for all the citizenry. With the copious “pork” projects that Congress always seems able to generously fund without risk of government shutdown, I am sure it should be no problem achieving bipartisan support and finding adequate sums to fund Dog and Cat Literacy Research with concurrent studies in Household Pet Speech Therapy, given the proper leadership of the future President.

“O Day of days when we can read!  The reader and the book, either without the other is naught.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In fairness to others, I readily admit that Chimpanzees and other primates would seem to have a leg up on dogs and cats as far as literacy and communication possibilities go, given the advances made earlier in sign language communication with Koko the Gorilla, among others. Along with Parrots and some other avian members perhaps, already given to outbursts of spontaneous, albeit limited speech, most frequently revolving around a desire for crackers. But the prime focus of this is to foster mentally stimulating pet discourse for the sake of aging baby boomers, and so few of us have Chimps, Gorillas or Parrots as pets in the home.  And quite honestly, the troubling images from the “Planet of the Apes” movies still haunt many, making it more difficult for an educational movement to gain traction for the primates, given the opposable thumbs and all.

Dolphins would also offer great promise, displaying consistently high intellect, but even fewer of us are able to keep large sea mammals as household pets. We own more dogs and cats to be sure. Regrettably, the others will have to wait their turn. In a democracy, numbers rule. However, I am confident that whatever scientific strides made in the field of Dog and Cat Literacy and Speech will also benefit the chimps, gorillas, parrots and dolphins down the road as well. And the whales, not to be left out, of course.  So there’s that.

Dog- Reading, Google 11

Doctor Dolittle spoke the language of the animals. It is now incumbent upon us to teach them ours. The time has come to educate the furry members of society. Dog and Cat Literacy.  Free Speech for Pets.  The time has come. For the benefit of baby boomers and their pets in the interest of an intelligent conversation, for goodness sake.

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

"According to this book, I can't read. Why is that, human?"

“According to this book, I can’t read. Why is that?”

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories on Amazon.

About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.  For Young and Young-at-Heart!