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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


DAY 1– “And So It Begins”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

~ Think Globally — Act Locally ~


Sharing Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

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

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

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

 

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

 


Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

Finding A Dog For Little Red Bear!

The day began well enough.  Much colder than a few days before and with a light coating of overnight snow on the ground, but otherwise fine for a weekend morning in early March.  The daffodils had been blooming all week, along with white-flowering Bartlett Pears and other trees budding and coming into bloom.  Yellow forsythias were just beginning to stretch and awaken, as well.  In the tree tops, Cardinals were still singing despite the snow and cold, seemingly to encourage Spring warmth to quickly return.

Peacefully savoring a hot cup of breakfast tea, the day took a turn when Little Red Bear came thru the door, accompanied by my writing muse, hovering alongside.  If you have never seen a writing muse, or at least mine – so chances are you haven’t – just picture a sweet and kindly fairy in your mind, but with a “my way or the highway, don’t cross me” attitude.

“Jim, I want to talk to you about something,” Little Red Bear blurted out.

“Hi,” I replied. “And good morning to you too, Red.”

“Yeah, yeah. Good morning.  I want to talk to you about something.”

“Go ahead, Red.  What’s on your mind?”

“Jim,” Little Red Bear began, “I want to add another character to the stories.

“What now?” I replied, aware that we had already over-filled our story character recruitment goal for “The Second Holler Over!” story collection underway now, and greatly exceeded the budget with the recently published “Pine Holler Christmas” story.

“A dog.  I want to have a dog in the stories.”

“We already have a dog coming into the stories – remember?  Ol’ Blue.  And we just added the Barker House Blues Band, as well.  They’re going to appear with Banjo the Bluegrass Bunny at the benefit concert later in the summer.”

“Well, I want one more.”

“Why?”

“Because.”

“Because is not a reason.”

“Because – I want to.”

“That’s still not a reason.”

“It’s good enough for me.”

“Not for me. Not a reason.”

At times like these I look back thankfully for a patience skill developed, sometimes agonizingly, over many years of raising four children.

“I want to add a dog to the stories.”

“We have already added Ol’ Blue.”

“Yeah. But his name says it all – Ol’ Blue – ‘old.  O – L – apostrophe – D. Old.  He just lays around on the front porch or by the fireplace reminiscing about the past.”

“Well, he had a very interesting past. That’s why we decided to add him.  Remember?”

Ol’ Blue, the Bluetick Coonhound (retired)

“Well then, I want to add another dog to the stories.”

“Why Red? Please tell me why you want to add another dog to the stories when we are already overflowing with new characters for the next collection.”

“Well, because . . . . I want a dog . . . . and . . . . Cinnamon Charlie would like having a dog around to play with. Yeah, Cinnamon Charlie — he wants a dog, too.”

“He plays around with Goat.”

“We need a dog. A watch dog. Nobody has a ‘watch goat’.  To keep an eye out for the weasels poking around all the time.”

“The little fox sheriff, Albuquerque Red, takes care of that.  He oversees weasel patrols.”

“Jim, now listen up here, ‘cause apparently from what I can see, you just ain’t hearin’ me well this morning.  I – want – a – dog.”

Little Red Bear crossed his arms, firmly planted his right foot on the floor and then started pattering his large left foot on the floorboards of the cabin.  He did seem determined and it was obvious he had his mind made up. But stories can only have so many characters and surely there must be a limit.  Somewhere.

“Red, now you listen up. You know very well what the ‘writing rules’ people say. Too many characters can be confusing and make it hard for readers to keep track, and slows down the story pace. They tell writers to consolidate many characters into one.  Clean – fast – snappy – to the point, start to finish.  Everybody wants to hurry and get to the finish nowadays. That’s what they say. Too many characters and cooks spoil the broth.”

“Well, Mr. Fancy Writing Rules – we ain’t makin’ no broth. Are we? Or soup. Or stew. Need I remind you that we are telling old-fashioned, family-friendly stories, not modern, fast-paced thrillers? One of your own favorite writers is William Faulkner, who could take one sentence and spin it into a paragraph. Folks back then called it ‘artful and colorful writing.’ Now the rules people want everything bare bones, ‘zip-zip.’  And don’t you always and adamantly maintain that you don’t follow any rules, and openly defy the ‘writing rules police’ anyway?”

“But . . . .”

“There ain’t no ‘buts’ about it. Now Jim, listen here. You, your very own self, described our slower paced stories as being told at a pace of ‘country comfortable’. Those were your own words. I didn’t think that up – you did. And it’s you who always contend that readers today already have enough helter-skelter, hurry-up stories and stress in their lives and need somewhere to go to slow down and relax.  To take time to smell the wildflowers and listen to the songbirds, and to reconnect with Mother Nature.  Read and let the story unfold at a leisurely pace. That’s what our stories are about. And I don’t see how adding one more character – a dog – is going to harm anything. And what reader worth their salt doesn’t love a dog?”

It’s hard to argue back when getting beat with your own logic.

“But the character list has already grown so long, Red. It’s getting harder and harder trying to fit everyone into the stories and give them a job. Now you want to add yet another.”

“Well, you’re the writer, Jim.  You’ll figure it out.  And besides, you always assert that the stories are supposed to be Entertaining, Informative and Educational. How can we inform or educate folks about new animals, critters, flowers, trees, nature, and such, if we never meet them or talk about them in the stories?  You can’t consolidate a chipmunk, a raccoon, a porcupine and a turkey vulture into one character no matter what the ‘writing police’ say. There ain’t no such creature.  That’s fantasy then, not education.  Have an answer for that one? Are you going to just sit there and let the ‘writing police’ tell you what you can and can’t do?  Huh?!?”

(We couldn’t find a good Writing Rules sign for you anywhere, so Little Red Bear brought back this one, saying it was the same principle.)

Scratching the top of my head, I closed my eyes and thought for a minute, a curious habit picked up from working with Little Red Bear thru the years. He wasn’t playing fair, because he challenged my strongly independent nature and disdain for ‘rules’. I then looked over at my writing muse, still hovering in place beside Little Red Bear and impatiently tapping her wand in her hand, with a “you better do this” look on her face.

“I’m not going to win this argument, am I?”

“Nope,” Little Red Bear replied with a grin while patting me on the back of my shoulders, “you’re not.  Now, why don’t you just busy yourself with writing that new dog into the stories and I’ll go start getting a spot ready for him to stay.”

Little Red Bear turned to leave, stopped and came back towards me.

“And make sure it’s a big dog.  Not some little froufrou, yappy type.  I’m a bear and need a big, burly dog to keep up with me. And if Cinnamon Charlie goes wrestling with some little teeny dog he might break it.  Someone sizable and strong to guard against the weasels, like me.”

“How about an ox instead?”

“I don’t want no dadgum ox!  I want a dog.  A big one!”

“Yeah – big dog – got it. Anything else?”

“With a loud bark to scare away weasels and trespassers.”

“Okay.  One big, noisy dog.”

“And brown.  I like brown.  Kinda reddish-brown, like me.  And white.  And maybe a touch of black here and there.  And a long, bushy tail.”

“Anything else that you want on it?  Racing stripes?  Polka dots? Dancing shoes?  Power windows?”

“Well now you’re bein’ silly.  Just get busy and add the dog, please.”

Little Red Bear turned once again to leave, only to wheel back around, shaking his right paw at me in a scolding manner.

“One more thing.  No tricks like you did to me with that mini pig Swinestein that I couldn’t understand or talk to in the first set of stories! I had to spend all last winter learning how to speak ‘Pig’.  I want to be able to talk with this dog.”

With that, Little Red Bear went back outside and I was left to be overseen by my writing muse to make sure I got busy, with a now very cold cup of tea.

“Hey, Charlie!”, I heard Little Red Bear call out.  “We got the dog!”

Note to self – “add a doga BIG one.”


What kind of dog do you think we should find for Little Red Bear in the next story collection?  And what should we name it?  Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll have some fun.  —  Jim  (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

On Fly Fishing — Teach a Bear to Tie a Fly (And You Will Have Accomplished Something!)

Right off the bat, I must admit that the title may be a bit optimistic and premature, because I haven’t accomplished anything quite yet teaching Little Red Bear about tying flies and fly fishing.  But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

One of my favorite uncles, my mother’s youngest brother, was a first class fly fisherman in the day.  One of his best friends was a conservation officer with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the time, and they would spend every chance they got fly fishing the Ozarks streams. Like my mother, he had grown up in the country and was all about nature and the outdoors.  He had served in the Pacific on Iwo Jima and Okinawa among others in WWII not too many years before, and I always figured maybe the peacefulness of fly fishing is what may have so appealed to him after it all.

Uncle Paul firmly maintained that anyone could catch a fish if they hooked up a worm, used bait and fed them, but it was a true challenge and art to catch a fish on a lure that you had made yourself.  So he taught me how to make and tie my own flies and to fly fish as a boy.  He reassured me that the hungrier I got, the better I would get at making them.

I don’t know whose idea it was that I should learn how to tie flies at the age of nine, my mother’s or my uncle’s (it certainly wasn’t my father’s because he was a city kid, thru and thru), but there I was sitting at his kitchen table one Saturday morning learning all about the different kinds of flies and bugs to imitate. Shiny Mylar strips, tinsels, miniature corks, colored wires, hooks of all sizes, chenille stems, horse hairs, bits of assorted furs, spools of thread, and tools and miniature vices I had never seen before all spread out on the table before me.

And all sorts of wondrous feathers — peacock eye feathers, guinea fowl, pheasant, grouse, quail, marabou, ostrich, ducks, roosters, chickens and others.  Feathers from all over the world from birds I had only seen and read about in Encyclopedias!  All a small boy’s imagination could hope for and a whole new world suddenly opened.

As it turned out, fly fishing is the only kind of fishing I ever really enjoyed, to tell the truth.  And now steadfastly agree with my mentor.  Tossing a worm-baited hook into the water is not only lacking in challenge, but also an insult to the intelligence of the fish.  And since they spend so much time in schools, they do tend to take it rather personally.

There is just something about fly fishing.  The excitement and sudden rush of spotting a flash of silver under the water in the distance.  Working and playing out the fly line, back and forth, back and forth in a relaxing zen-like rhythm imitating soft lapping waves along the shoreline, the heavy line artfully arched over your head.  Cast out and land the lure in exactly the right spot where you just saw a riffle on the water, widening circlets across the way. Being at the water’s edge with the songbirds in the background while water ripples around you.  A turtle pops up to say ‘Good morning!’  and forest critters edge cautiously to the shoreline for a drink. Frogs croak their greetings as red-winged blackbirds cheer you on from the nearby reeds. Simply — magical. Nature speaks to you, if you listen. For myself, I just could never find that same joy in any other type of fishing.

I would spend hours on summer afternoons, just as Uncle Paul showed me, fly rod in hand in the backyard practicing to drop a fly inside a hula hoop target laid on the ground at the back of the yard. Eventually the larger hula hoop was replaced with a smaller metal bucket. I always look back on all that, together with the time my uncle spent with me infusing his love of the outdoors and respect for wildlife, as probably where my life-long love of nature and conservation got its start at an early age.  We never know at what precise moment the stars may align and how a few minutes spent with a child may influence their whole life to come.  And there’s a lesson there in itself.

We would visit my uncle’s home regularly thru the year on Saturday mornings, me in the kitchen learning to tie flies at the kitchen table with Uncle Paul, working side by side each of us with our own vise and every time a different type; while my mother visited with Aunt Laura in the living room. Wrapping and making the Wooly Bugger Worm was always my favorite.

It was Uncle Paul who gave me my first hunk of beeswax and taught me to always wax the sewing thread to keep it from tangling while tying the flies.  A trick I still use today when hand sewing teddy bears and things.

Some of the little tools, grips, vices, supplies and books used back then are still with me today.  We made frequent trips to visit the Culver Lures store on Missouri Avenue in south St. Louis at the time. A somewhat dark little store because the two smallish front windows were cluttered with merchandise, with a white wooden store front and wooden floors too, as I recall, overflowing with every fly tying and rod making item imaginable.  Stand at the counter, tell the man smoking the stubby cigar what I needed and he would go find it and ring it all up on the cash register.  Hand over the cash and away we’d go to make more lures. The store is long gone now and remodeled into a condo. A different time.

Used to have an honest-to-goodness fisherman’s straw hat with flies stuck in all over it, too. Don’t know where that might have went over the years, sadly.  I suspect my mother may have pricked her finger on a hook dusting it one too many times when I was away at college and it was shown the door.  But just a guess.  No one ever seemed to recall its whereabouts or fate later, whenever queried.

flies-3

It turns out Uncle Paul was right — there are few thrills in life to compare to catching and landing a fish on a lure that you have handmade yourself.  Marriage and the birth of children are certainly at the top, but that first fish is right up there on the list, too!

And that all brings me to Little Red Bear.  Being an avid fisherman himself with his assortment of bamboo and stick poles and always up for a challenge, Little Red Bear now wants me to teach him how to make his own lures and teach him how to fly fish.

Red has always been a “throw out the bait and wait” type, as he puts it.  Not my thing, as I said.  So I can readily see his wanting to move up the fishing ladder, so to speak.  The only problem is, with those big bear paws of his, I’m not sure that I’m up to the challenge of teaching him.  Showing him how to make biscuits is one thing, and admittedly his are better than mine now (although I still make the best cornbread). But Little Red Bear sitting and tying teeny little fishing flies?  Not so sure.

Still, I’ve yet to see Little Red Bear not accomplish something he sets his mind to, so we’ll see.  There was that time at Perch Lake when he hauled that giant, cantankerous and ill-tempered . . . . .   Well, I really should let you read and enjoy that ‘Sir Snapsalot’ story for yourself.  He even tells folk how to make their own bamboo fishing poles in that one!  Red’s famous for them in these parts.

In the meantime, I wonder what Uncle Paul would think now about the time he spent with a young nephew years ago, teaching him how to tie flies and fish, and who grew up to later write stories about conservation and an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the Ozarks Mountain Country that we visited and fished together ourselves? I like to think he might enjoy them. Time is never wasted when spending it with a child.

Thanks as always for visiting.  I will keep you posted, and we’ll see how this fly tying adventure goes with Little Red Bear, I suppose.  I can’t say ‘no’ to someone looking to learn and try something new.  Even if it seems as though it may be a mighty challenge along the way.  — Jim  (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

~ Children Learn To Read on the Laps of Their Parents ~

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

 

Share the Love and Give a Book on Valentines Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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

 

 

 

International Book Giving Day — Why Reading Is So Important!

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

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

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

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

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

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

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

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

 

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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

Back To Work With Little Red Bear — “The Second Holler Over!”

Hey, y’all.  Thought it might be time for a progress update on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories, to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes as we are into the new year now.  With the the holiday season concluded, we are back at work writing the next collection of Little Red Bear adventures for you — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”

Bobo and Lily have returned from their Christmas visit with black bear relatives in the Smoky Mountains now, and Red has rounded up Cinnamon Charlie, Albuquerque, Swinestein, “Howdy!”, Stillwater, Bayou Bill and the others back from their holiday vacation trips, as well. Indian John and Aunt Ivy have been dropping by daily, anxious to get back to work on the stories. Even Farmer Turner is here, this being his slower time of year during the winter months until spring planting season arrives.

And naturally, everyone’s favorite little red squirrel, Rusty the Fairydiddle, is back after his co-starring role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story adventure, with Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie.

Rusty the Fairydiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

The old prospector Packsaddle Pete is back too, with another adventure in mind. That may be a hard sell to the rest of the group since some of  us remain a little nervous hearing things at night, and still looking back over our shoulders following that “Broken Hill Mine” episode in the first story collection.  But he keeps going on about treasure maps and clues to Jesse James’ lost treasure buried around the area.  I don’t know.  We’ll have to see about that one.

Interviews for prospective new story characters are nearly concluded, with only a gopher, a skink, a second interview with a hedgehog, and a rather persnickety peacock remaining.  And, that really is meant to be ‘skink’ there, for those of you who thought that might be a typo.  We have an opening for a Five-lined Skink (also called a Blue-tailed Skink here in Missouri) in a coming story.  All of the available skunk character positions have already been filled.

Neither Little Red Bear nor I can figure out why peacocks seem so intent on being included in rollicking adventure stories set in the backwoods of the Ozarks Mountain Country.  We had peacocks lined up and applying for roles in the first collection, as well.

This new fellow has even gone so far as to declare that he could perfectly play the role of either a hummingbird or a woodpecker, but my leg only stretches so far.  Sometimes it appears peacocks are merely showing off.  See for yourself from the job application headshot photo he submitted to see what you think.  Do you really see him hovering  in place over a flower like a hummingbird, or grasping the bark while drilling a hole in the trunk of a sugarberry tree?

More suited for the red carpet in Hollywood than a backwoods action/adventure story perhaps, but we’ll interview him anyway. Maybe some other role might pop up for him. Who knows, it might turn into one of those cases where he simply plays himself.

And then we still have that troubling interview with a persistent mountain lion to deal with.  Admittedly, Red and I kept rescheduling that meeting over and over again the past few months hoping the mountain lion would cancel all together and just go away, but he seems determined to get into the stories. I suppose we are going to have to finally sit down with him to do the interview or risk incurring the wrath of the ‘Silly Story Characters Guild’.

No one is really excited about the prospect of an unpredictable mountain lion roaming around the woods. But our attorney, Bob the Badger, is already occupied trying to extend the beaver twins contracts, Flap and Slap.  The beavers are represented by a new agent, Reggie the Wood Rat, trying to make his mark and attract new clients.  And the bees are angry and buzzing about something again, so Badger Bob is busy attending to that matter for us, too. Seems like that stuff never ends sometimes.

So, we will interview the mountain lion, not to cause Bob the Badger anymore unnecessary work.  Might call Bobo to come sit in on that one with us.  Just in case.  I already asked Stillwater, but as you may remember from “The Wildwood Jamboree” story,  he doesn’t generally like to interfere or draw attention to himself so preferred to remain undetected on the sidelines.

The last interview we had been planning is with a human character who keeps calling on the phone saying he is lost and unable to find the place.  After the fifth “I’m lost” call and reschedule, Little Red Bear finally decided to go out to search for the guy himself and lead him in for the interview.  Bobo suggested we just sit and wait to follow the circling buzzards.  He can be that way sometimes.  The fellow’s name is ‘Woods’ something or other, if memory serves me correctly.  Hoping he will show up eventually.

So, except for the last few remaining interviews, all the character slots have been filled, with several new colorful story characters assembled and eager to get to work.  Some of them you may have already met.  Early arrivals already introduced in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story include Littleberry Bedford (the new farmer recently moved into the abandoned Longenecker homestead over by Buffalo Crossing) and his family, old Cooter (the leader of the Hoppers Holler Raccoon Platoon), Floyd the House Mouse, Aunt Alma Mason, Myra Cookson and her ‘Pie Pantry & Goodies Shoppe’ over in Butterfield, Doc Adams, and — Goat.

Others new to the stories include an honest-to-goodness old mountain man given to telling tall tales, a far-from-home moose, a worn out old hound dog, a Native American couple searching for a new home, more problematic pigs, dashing ducks, a bothersome buzzard, a pair of owl brothers setting up to compete with the ‘Squirrelly World’ local newspaper, a performing circus bear (as opposed to Lily and Bobo, who are both retired, as you may recall), a frolicking and unconventional family of woodland bunnies, a Little Red Bear “mini-mini-me wannabe”, and others.

There is also an aged possum who has taken up residence in a pear tree behind Red’s cabin on Honey Hill.  He spends all day hanging upside down by his tail, despite Little Red Bear reminding him that possums “really ain’t supposed to do that”.  But he persists.  With good reason, he says.  Although he hasn’t told us what that reason is yet.

If you recall, there was that expansion work going on over at Bobo and Lily’s cabin in the first stories.  Just a brief mention, but I always wondered myself what that was all about.  Did you?  Bobo and Lily never said.

No collection of Little Red Bear adventures would be complete without some old steam locomotives and trains huffing, chuffing and puffing along. Another circus train, perhaps? There were those circus trains so talked about in the “Crossing the Two Forks” story in the first collection.  Could there be another?  As we learned, traveling circuses are very popular in the small towns, so suppose it could be possible another might be passing thru sometime.

There may be some old steamboats and paddlewheels coming into view around the bend, too.  Or is that just the wind whistling thru the pines?  Little Red Bear is adamant that he hears steamboat whistles coming from the big river, but when he looks nothing is there.  So, what could that be about?  These stories do take place in the land of Mark Twain, after all.

And of course, Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie are always on the lookout for honey.  And as we know from the very first “The Rescue of Little Red Bear” story, that in and of itself can be precarious at times.

Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie have both been working hard to learn ‘Pig’ ever since Swinestein came on the scene in “The Storm” story.  But every language has its own varied dialects, so with more new pigs maybe on the way, I’m hoping that is not another issue for them.  Only time will tell on that, I suppose.

Speaking of Cinnamon Charlie, he’s going to be going into his third year now when young’uns start to venture out on their own a bit more, approaching those “teen” years for a bear, and you never know what that may lead to.

And, not to worry you but suppose you should know, there is a rumour going around the backwoods that there is a giant, hulking and brawny brown bear on his way with an old score to settle with Little Red Bear.  Red is not the smallest, but certainly not the largest of bears either.

That is a little worrisome, given that Red is the main character and they are his stories, after all.  Can’t have anything untoward happen to the main character.  But as merely the writer, I honestly don’t have control over everything, dealing with wildlife with a mind of their own in the stories, so that is a concern.  Must see how that confrontation plays out if it comes to pass.  I’m hoping it’s just a baseless rumour.  Probably started in ‘Squirrelly World’.  But, one never knows I suppose, so best to be on the lookout for potential trouble.  We’ll have the medics standing by, just to be safe.

Also, potentially troublesome, word is going around that the weasels have been busy recruiting a “hired gun” of sorts to come in and deal with Albuquerque, the red fox Sheriff.  According to gossip chatter, it’s a notorious and nasty coyote from out west in Colorado.  That would certainly be a mismatch and could be messy. Sounds like the weasels aren’t going away any time soon and the little sheriff may have his paws full going forward.

There are a few other things happening too, that I probably shouldn’t mention yet, not to keep you awake at night worrying.  Just remember the lessons we learned in the “Sir Snapsalot” story and to never venture into Witches Holler, especially after midnight.

And it would probably be best to ignore the ‘Squirrelly World’ newspaper reviews and steer clear of the buzzards’ new roadside café, and you’ll most likely be fine.  Their ‘Raw Bar’ truly is what it says, although the freshness has recently been called into question.

As you can see, a lot of work to do now to keep new characters occupied and sort out these rumours and such.

If you have not yet read the first set of stories, “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, there is still time to catch up because we are going to be very busy here for a while getting the next collection ready for you – “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” 

As the stories and characters do kind of build one after the other, we always recommend starting at the very beginning for the most fun and entertainment.  “The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eReader versions on Amazon to get you started, and is always Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks as always for stopping by for a visit.  We’ll keep you updated as work progresses and things develop over the coming weeks.

If you’re looking for us, we’ll all be over yonder under the chestnut tree working on the stories.  If you don’t know where ‘over yonder’ is, just ask the possum hanging from the pear tree.  He’ll point you the way.  — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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