“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

Happy Memorial Day Weekend– Sharing Our Seas & Shores!

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Safe Memorial Day weekend!

If heading to the beach, inland waterways, or anywhere out with nature and wildlife, please remember this is nesting and babies season.  Please teach the kids to keep a respectful distance for their own and the wildlife’s safety not to damage any nests, eggs or babies.  When we are out on the beach, in the woods or on the rivers and streams, we are really guests and visitors in someone else’s home.  Here is a link to a great article and advice from the American Bird Conservancy→ Fish, Swim and Play From 50 Yards Away

Birds- Shorebird at Fort De Soto Park, Tampa  Pinterest uncredited

For more information, please visit the National Audubon Society→  Sharing Our Seas & Shores

Image via National Wildlife Federation, by Jim Gray

Image via National Wildlife Federation, by Jim Gray

Hope everyone has a chance to have a picnic, go hiking or biking, play softball, go fishing, splash in the surf, go boating or swimming this weekend and enjoy the great outdoors, fresh air, exercise and the start of the summer season!  Remember to bring the sunscreen.  Stay safe and please keep an eye out for rip currents, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycles!

Children- Patriotic little girl at the beach

And please pause for a moment to reflect on the real meaning of the weekend.

 “Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the great sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Services make to defend our way of life.”– Robin Hayes

Little Red Bear always reminds– “Remember when visiting in Mother Nature’s home, leave nothing behind but footprints, take nothing away but memories, and kill nothing but time.”

Have a wonderful weekend and visit back next week for an important update on “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection.  Hint- it’s coming very soon!     — Jim (and Red!)

Birds- Little Blue Heron Family at Lowry Park, Pinterest, not photo signature

Little Blue Heron Family, Paul Fernandez Photography


Endangered Species Day

Today is “Endangered Species Day”, a day set aside by Congress to bring awareness and attention to the plight of endangered, fragile and threatened species.  Folks of all ages can and are encouraged to learn more about the importance of protecting imperiled species and what they can do through their own actions to help.

For more information and links, please visit The Endangered Species Site.

Here are two other links for great information–

From the Park Advocate Site — Nine Endangered National Park Animals.

Black-footed Ferret in a Colorado conservation center. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Black-footed Ferret in a Colorado conservation center. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

From the wonderful folks at BirdNote, a discussion of Piping Plovers and Golden-cheeked Warblers– BirdNote.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, via BirdNote, photo by Greg Lavaty

Golden-cheeked Warbler, via BirdNote, photo by Greg Lavaty

Please learn more and contact your elected representatives to help support the wildlife and plants struggling so hard to survive faced with oppressive habitat loss, climate change, illegal poaching and other dangers.  And please get the children involved, as it is their future we are talking about, as well.

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

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!)

We Are Part of Mother Earth!

Whoever was the first to coin the term “dominant species on the planet” should have also spent more time addressing the responsibility that comes with that assumption.  We need to do better, for the sake of all species and the Earth, not just ourselves.

“Forest, Soil, Water, and Wildlife are mutually interdependent, and the ruin of one element will mean, in the end, the ruin of them all.”

~ Peter Matthiessen, “Wildlife in America” (1959)

Quote- Ecology - Earth

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!)

Native Plants for Birds & Wildlife

Getting ready to start work on the garden and yard work soon?  Please consider using and decorating with plants, trees and wildflowers native to your geographical region.  Here’s why it is so important– the birds and animals in your area have adapted to native plants over thousands of years and are dependent on them.  Overrunning the landscape with non-native plants, trees and ornamentals can seriously impact the native wildlife’s food chain and resources.

“Because native insects did not evolve with nonnative plants, most of them lack the ability to overcome the plants’ chemical defenses so cannot eat them. Caterpillars, a particularly important food source for birds, are especially picky about what they feed on. Like the famous monarch butterfly larva, which must have milkweed to survive, more than 90 percent of moth and butterfly caterpillars eat only particular native plants or groups of plants.”

— Laura Tangley, National Wildlife Federation article.

And of course, the birds feed on the insects feeding on the plants.  Not only are the insects directly affected, but the pollinators and those that feed on the insects as well, right up the food chain. As more and more imported varieties and ornamentals crowd out native plants, the birds, pollinators and wildlife have an increasingly difficult time. That plant at the nursery might be pretty, but is there another native to the area that might work just as well or better? Check it out.  The birds and wildlife will thank you for it!

For more information and to read the article in entirety → “Chickadees Show Why Birds Need Native Trees”

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

Birds- Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee via National Wildlife Federation FB, photo by Doug Tallamy

Carolina Chickadee via the National Wildlife Federation. Photo by Doug Tallamy.

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

Birds of Prey– Why the Rush?

Remember the images of the nesting Eagles dutifully tending their nest and eggs covered over in the snow the past few weeks?  It takes very dedicated parents to go thru an ordeal like that.  Why the rush?  Why start nesting so early before the weather has changed for the better, we wonder?  Most other birds wait until April or later to arrive at their summer breeding grounds and start to build nests.

Turns out, there’s a very good reason.  It’s all about rodent and other prey animal population control and giving the baby birds of prey an easier start in life.  It takes a long time for large raptors to grow big enough to be independent and hunt on their own.  An early start in the nest allows them the required time to grow and develop, while also insuring that when they are fledged and on their own, there will be a plentiful supply of prey animal babies emerging from their nests and running about at the same time to help make the raptors’ initial hunting forays a little easier and more successful.

The early bird gets the, ummm– baby mouse shall we say.   Check out today’s BirdNote for more.

The Lyric Wood Thrush

Of one of my favorite birds, Henry David Thoreau wrote–

“This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.”

The wood thrush’s beautiful, lyric songs echo thru deciduous forests in the eastern U.S. in spring and early summer.  A bit smaller than an American Robin, the wood thrush will occasionally nest in suburban areas where there are enough large trees.

Numbers have seriously declined in the past decades due both to loss of habitat and Cowbirds laying eggs in the wood thrush nests, with the result of the thrushes raising more cowbirds than their own species.  New preservation and protection zones in the Adirondacks, Smoky Mountains and Ozarks National Forest will hopefully help these beautiful singers to rebound.

Check out the BirdNote presentation to learn more and hear the song of this glorious singer→ the Wood Thrush.

Wood Thrush- via National Audubon Society, by Brian E. Small/VIREO

Wood Thrush- via National Audubon Society, by Brian E. Small/VIREO


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)


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Goes Out for Review!

Breaking News!  Stop the presses!

We interrupt your Monday morning reading for a breaking news story.

Huzzah and Hip Hooray!  After a solid and non-stop writing push for the past several weeks to finish, the first collection of Short Stories in the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series went out for review and beta reads yesterday afternoon!  Happy Days!

You haven’t been to a hootenanny until you’ve seen a bear Texas Two-steppin’ across the floor and dancing to “Cotton-Eyed Joe!”   Yee-Haw!    As soon as I uttered the magical words of “That’s a wrap, folks!” – somebody switched on the music followed immediately by critters and story characters rushing to the dance floor in all directions.   The dance party lasted til the wee hours of the morning and Little Red Bear is still going strong kicking up his heels around the place.

While awaiting feedback the next step is to get busy on a cover design.  Hopefully, it won’t be long until the first collection is available for release.

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.  Please stay tuned to this station for more updates! —  Jim (and Red!)

News Reporter Snoopy

News Reporter Snoopy