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.

A Short Story for the Season — “Haystack Harry”

An eight-year-old boy from the city confronted by a tall, seedy-looking stranger, alone in a dark barn in the country.  What could possibly happen?

Relax, we don’t tell those kinds of stories here.  Sharing an entertaining, Free Short Story for the autumn season and weekend enjoyment — “Haystack Harry.”

Hope you enjoy.  Please feel free to Like, Comment and Share with friends, family and others.  Thanks as always for visiting!  Wishing everyone a beautiful fall weekend!  — Jim (and Red!)

 

(Spooky Barn image via Literary Hoarders Blog, WordPress.com)

(Spooky Barn image via Literary Hoarders Blog, WordPress.com)

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

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Where is McNickle’s?”

More reader questions for Little Red Bear!   Here we go with another one . . . . . .

Reader Question from Road Trip Rick in Disoriented, Oregon – “Dear Little Red Bear —  I’m really hungry for some old-fashioned pickles and pork rinds so planning a road trip on Sunday, but can’t seem to find “McNickle’s Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds” country store where you do book signings, anywhere on a map. And my GPS is no help at all.  Where is it and will you be there on Sunday for a book signing when I get there?” 

Answer— That is a very good question, Rick!  And it’s not surprising that you can’t find McNickle’s Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds on a map or in the GPS doohickeys, because it seems to be one of those kind of places that a person can’t find unless they know where it is to begin with.

The best thing to remember is that it is on Shady Holler Road, just west of Knob Lick. The country store is located about half a mile past Turner’s red barn, and across from the split pin oak tree if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  If you find yourself sitting in front of the Post Office in Curly Pine, chances are you most likely missed the barn and went too far.  That old red barn sits back from the road a bit, behind the row of hedge apples, so you need to keep a sharp eye peeled and be on the lookout for it, especially during the summer when the trees have their leaves.  And if that’s the case and you’re staring at a mailbox, we find it best to just go back and start over from where you left and try again.

But, Ethel McNickle is adamant that the store remains closed on Sundays, so you might want to plan a Saturday trip.  As for the book signing, Ethel assures me that she will have a number of pre-signed books on hand for you when you get there.  But don’t look for me.  Summer Saturdays are for fishing, not sitting inside talking.  If you want to talk about the book, just mosey on down to Perch Lake. Don’t worry, I usually bring along a few extra fishing poles for visitors if you forget yours.  Out-of-towners dropping by to talk and fish seem to turn up quite often ever since the book went out last year.  And if you don’t like fishing, that’s not a problem, either. We can always use another hand or two cleaning ’em.   Hope that answers your questions, Rick.  Drive safe. — Little Red Bear

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Please keep those questions and letters coming, don’t be bashful.  We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  And if it’s really urgent, just smear a little honey on the envelope seal.  Red will be sure to get to that one first!

Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by!  And remember folks, life is simpler when you plow around the stump.   – Jim (and Red!)

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

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Determined To Be ‘Sound Investment’

In order to cover all bases for his fans, Little Red Bear had an official Cost/Benefit analysis of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” performed by his trusted accountant and financial advisor, Angus McNutt, senior partner of the firm “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC” ( Country Crop Counters) over in Slippery Slide, and the results of the study are in.

For the paperback, at 64,254 words, the reader receives over 4,961 words per dollar invested. For the Kindle and eReader version, a reader receives over 21,781 words per dollar. And of course, the book is Free for anyone with Kindle Unlimited. Taking into account that all words used are original text in copyrighted format with the Library of Congress, it is quite clearly a bargain at any price.

In addition, bearing in mind the fact that words enrich the brain and lessons learned about nature, life, kindness and simply having fun remain with a person forever, it was clear that any of the versions far exceed any value received in television and other forms of entertainment, where “any benefit potentially received is fleeting and transitory”, as Mr. McNutt stated in his report.

It should be noted that the Preface, Frontispiece, Dedication, Artwork and such were not included in Mr. McNutt’s calculations, which would have the effect of making the Cost:Benefit ratio even higher for a reader.

It was Angus McNutt’s conclusion then that “’The Adventures of Little Red Bear’ short story collection is both a wise and sound long-term financial investment.”  Just in case anyone was on the fence concerning issues of that sort before investing in the book.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Story Collections on Amazon.  Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Storytelling and Fun for both the Young and the Young-at-Heart. Positive Themes of Friendship, Kindness, Helping Others and Mother Nature.  With a healthy dash of oldfangled, belly laugh humor and fun.

Join us for an Adventure in the Beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country, and stop by for some biscuits and honey! —  Jim   (and Red!)

Angus McNutt, of "McNutt and McGillicutty Country Crop Counters"

Angus McNutt, of “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC”

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

Little Red Bear Unable to Attend Book Signing Event

Still mending from a leg injury suffered on the writing set a week ago, Little Red Bear will not be able to make the scheduled book signing and personal appearance at “McNickle’s Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds” this coming Saturday, located on Shady Holler Road, just west of Knob Lick.  The country store is located about half a mile past Turner’s red barn and across from the split pin oak if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  If you find yourself sitting in front of the Post Office, chances are you most likely missed the barn and went too far.  Remember, the barn sits back from the road a bit behind the row of hedge apples, so you need to be on the lookout for it.  And if that’s the case, it’s best to just start over from where you left and try again.

Bobo and Lily, black bears and recurring featured characters in the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, will be taking Red’s place and happy to do so, being the good friends and neighbors that they are. They will be bringing a good supply of autographed Little Red Bear pictures, along with pre-signed books available for purchase, and will be autographing books themselves, as well.  Lily has even volunteered to demonstrate the famous “Lily Bear Shuffle” if Earl and Lester bring their banjos along.

 Village Country Store, Cold Spring Village, Cape May, NJ

Village Country Store, Cold Spring Village, Cape May, NJ

Ethel McNickle will generously be giving away free samples of her prize-winning pickles and pork rinds, famous countywide, to all in attendance.  Ethel’s second cousin once removed  will also be there for the event, with samples of her new and locally grown “Lorene’s Greens & Beans”.  As you may recall, McNickle’s Pickles was founded many years ago by Ethel’s twin grandfathers,  Fickle and Tickle McNickle, who always used to say — “If your pickle don’t snap, it ain’t worth a cr–!”  (it’s a ‘G’ rated blog)

And be sure to check out Ethel’s blue ribbon Plumberry Preserves while there, too.   Bobo won’t be leaving without a few jars, so you might want to show up early before they run out.

So, we’re sorry to say that Little Red Bear will miss the event and he feels just gosh-awful terrible about it, but be assured that Bobo and Lily will more than make the trip worthwhile for you.  Not to mention Ethel’s pickles and pork rinds.  And if someone tosses Bobo a beach ball, well — there’s no telling the show he may put on!  As a note though, just so you’re not disappointed, Lily has been instructed not to let Bobo anywhere near a bicycle.  Our Backwoods Indemnity and Bite Casualty Insurance plan is stretched past the limits with Little Red Bear’s injury, and poor Aunt Ivy has nearly picked her herb garden clean already, this being so early in the season and all. Simply can’t risk any more character injuries at the moment and still meet the bills next month.

The Vermont Country Store

The Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vermont — September 2012 via The Mr. Hunter Wall Blog

And just one more thing before we let you go.  While he is laid up, now is a good time to remind everyone to send in their questions for the “Ask Little Red Bear” feature.  If you have a question that you’ve been sitting on about any of Red’s past or coming adventures, there’s no need to sit any longer waiting for it to hatch.  Don’t be shy — just ask away!  Red and I will be happy to try to find or make up an answer for you.  No dating or relationship questions though.  We need all the advice and help we can get in that area ourselves.

Thanks as always for visiting with us.  Hope you get a chance to drop by McNickle’s Pickles on Saturday!  If I can get away from writing with Little Red Bear while he takes a restful nap in the afternoon, maybe I’ll be able to drop in myself for a few minutes.  I do love those pork rinds!  And someone please save me a jar of Plumberry Preserves.  — Jim  ( and Red!)

Artwork -- "Mt. Airy Old Country Store II" by Dan Carmichael. (Prints available at dan-carmichael.pixels.com)

Artwork — “Mt. Airy Old Country Store II” by Dan Carmichael. (Prints available at dan-carmichael.pixels.com)

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Available on Amazon

Short Stories About An Uncommonly Special Bear & His Friends!

Introducing “Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!”

That is how a new story character introduced himself to me several months ago. Out of nowhere, he just popped into my head one morning with a loud “Howdy!” and it has been a fun and interesting time ever since.

Red and I already had more story characters interviewed and on board for the first collection of  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories than we could fit into the first collection, and the stories were already well underway at the time. But then “Howdy!” strode in and made such an impression on both Red and I that we stopped everything right there, and knew we had to go back and make room for him. Fortunately, being a little guy, he doesn’t take up much space.

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

“Howdy!” is a Burrowing Owl from way out west in the Oklahoma Panhandle and has been thru quite a lot for a little guy. Burrowing Owls inhabit grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas and other open, dry areas with low vegetation. From their name, they live in a hole in the ground, not up in a tree like other owls. Although capable and willing to dig their own burrows, more frequently they inhabit existing holes abandoned by prairie dogs, skunks, armadillos, tortoises and the like.

 Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology  (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are active during the day, although wisely avoiding the midday heat. But like most owls, they do most of their hunting between the hours of dusk to dawn, taking advantage of their superior night vision and hearing. So “Howdy!” does not sleep a lot.  And he does it all without coffee, caffeine or chocolate, which is truly amazing in itself.

Living in open grasslands as opposed to forests, Burrowing Owls have long legs and short tails which allow them to sprint very quickly across the ground in pursuit of prey. They are small in size, about 11” long, a little larger than an American Robin when fully grown. When agitated, they bob their head up and down, revealing a white chin patch. But I cannot imagine this sweet little guy ever being agitated or angry.

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post  (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owls have no ear tufts, unlike many other owls. They feature prominent white eyebrow markings, and in color they are brownish, with lighter colored bars on the front and spots on the back.  They have noticeable bright yellow eyes.  No other owls are commonly seen on the ground or so frequently during daylight hours.  Here is a wonderful little video from the Smithsonian Channel if you would like to learn more about “Howdy!” and his Burrowing Owl cousins.

As with many birds and creatures, Burrowing Owls are threatened or endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat as more open nesting areas are plowed under for development and agriculture.

Burrowing Owl- Pinterest- found on tumblr unidentified

This half-pint owl immediately captured our hearts and is featured in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short story collection available on Amazon.  The Kindle version officially releases on Tuesday, June 23rd, and is available for preorder now.  The Paperback print version is available for immediate shipment.

With the stories out now Red wanted to introduce you to his new little friend to let you know a bit more about him, and we’re sure you will recognize him when he enters the stories. Not noted for stimulating conversation, he still makes quite the impression.

“Howdy!”

As always, thanks for stopping by for a visit! – Jim (and Red!)

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

"Howdy!" -- the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” — Available in Kindle and Paperback

A New “Little Red Bear” Video!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

 

Breaking All The Rules With Little Red Bear!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote- Art and Boundaries

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

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

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

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

Bear- Shakesbear 3 without verse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ozarks- Wild lilacs by stream. Barbara Woodall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order Your Copy Today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVAILABLE NOW!  OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

Calloo-Callay!   Oh Frabjous Day!

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

The hard work is finished and the stories are written,

Unfortunately, yes, a few folks were bitten.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have singing birds, some very worried bunnies,

And lots of bees buzzing, protecting their honeys.

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

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

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

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

Lots of flowers and trees cover beautiful Honey Hill,

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

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

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

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

Now off to Amazon thru magical links you can go!

Little Red Bear and friends are anxious to meet you,

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

Order Your Copy Today!

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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!)

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!)