It’s A New Year — The Guideposts Are Set — Here’s Where We’re Going!

Happy 2019! 

A brand-spanking new, shiny, and as yet unblemished and dent-free New Year. The start of a new year is like a new car, fresh off the assembly line, complete with an assumed bumper-to-bumper warranty, many expectant miles to log on the odometer, and all the hopes and dreams which only a new car smell can inspire.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve annual hopes and goals spring anew within our hearts, as daffodils bursting thru late snow beckon the long-awaited arrival of Spring.

Maybe yet another way of looking at a new year is as a blank slate with our having no way of knowing what will be written upon it as the year unfolds. What do we each hope and plan to write on our slate for the year?  How will this new year, still full of January’s fresh hopes and promises, be scored when the coming year’s unforeseen events, decisions, and actions cast long shadows in December?

Regardless of our individual approaches to a new year, most regard it as a time of looking forward with a fresh start, of high expectations, of planning and preparing.


Taking a moment first to look back before looking forward, the year just passed was one of the busiest and perhaps more challenging of my life (having counted 69 of them now!), including two out of town cross country trip weddings for my twin sons, with a major relocation move sandwiched in between in the summer months, and extended absences while dog- and house-sitting for others sprinkled thru the year. It seemed at times as though writing distractions seemed to leap out from behind every corner.

When Thanksgiving came and went, and the last trip and activity had been marked off the calendar, the schedule wondrously opened thru the remainder of the year to finally complete the summer’s delayed moving work of unpacking, settling into my new home, and getting back to writing with Little Red Bear. But, as we should know, the Universe sometimes has other plans and things in mind for us which always seem to take precedent.

As Facebook Friends are aware (not previously shared elsewhere), the year concluded on a more challenging note when I ruptured the biceps distal tendon below the elbow in my right (primary) arm the last week of November when lifting a ridiculously (now looking back) heavy box unpacking, resulting in surgery on December 7th to repair and reattach the totally shredded and displaced tendon to the radius bone below the elbow. Two separate incisions, drilling, a washer, pins, and assorted medical magic and miracles.

A post-surgery full arm cast was replaced at Christmas by what friends refer to as my new ‘Robo Arm’ brace, which I will continue to wear for the foreseeable future, recovery presumably measured in months and not weeks. (The photo is a mirror image, really my right arm. Left hand did its best trying to get the photo.)

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”

– Dennis P. Kimbro

With my right arm and hand prohibited from any movement or use at all with the sole exception of twice-daily therapy stretches, my left arm and hand (hereinafter referred to as “Lefty”) have both had a very steep learning curve the past month. Happy to report that Lefty is doing very well, better than expected actually, and is solely doing the typing and preparation work for this post.

(Doing well, that is, with the notable exception of being able to eat soup without embarrassment and adding to the laundry pile.

And on a related note – why is that upon hearing of your surgery and suddenly limited to sole use of your off-hand, friends all rush to bring bowls of healing Soup to your aid?

Not to sound unappreciative, because I truly am grateful and love homemade soups, but a pepperoni pizza or cheeseburger didn’t occur to anyone at all? This is the first holiday season in which I actually lost weight. Soup – the under-appreciated weightloss secret.

Sorry, I digressed. Hunger tends to have that distracting effect on me, regrettably.)

Lefty will continue to fly solo until such time as Righty is cleared for return to duty.  Therapy is going very well, so “hoping” it will not be too, too long before Righty can at least get back to typing. Will see. Sharing this only so everyone understands the uncharacteristic absence of regular posts and annual new holiday features the past several weeks.


Traditional New Year’s Resolutions in and of themselves are not a thing here, most often having been an exercise in self-deluding folly and foolishness in the past. That being said, it would be no less foolhardy setting sail without noting the prevailing wind direction and at least an idea of where you hoped to eventually arrive.

Looking forward to the New Year then, while beginning the new year with my ‘good’ arm figuratively tied behind my back for an undetermined period, there are a number of things we (that would be Little Red Bear and me)  still plan to focus on and look forward to accomplishing in the coming year.

Notably —

  • A resumption of regular blog posting activities and pages focusing on the important themes of Children, Family, Kindness, Compassion, Positivity, Inclusion, Diversity, Wildlife, and Mother Nature. That is what we have been and will continue to be about here.
  • An increased focus on heightening awareness, saving, and preserving the environment and natural world around us for our children and future generations. There is no backup or “Earth 2.0” in the works.  We all share this planet as our home, and it is the only one we have.
  • Joining with the focus on Positivity, more attention on self-awareness, improvement, and our place in the Cosmos. Why do so many seem to be increasingly disconnected today?
  • Continuing to freely share more feature stories of interest (like the Haddon Sundblom ‘Coke Santa’ feature), original short stories (like the ‘Susie’s Bear’ story), and works of Poetry (like the recent ‘Tex-Mex and Rex’ poem). (Yes – there will be more poetry – consider yourself warned.)
  • Completion of the long-anticipated second collection of Little Red Bear stories book – “The Second Holler Over!” for release in the fall. More new characters – new locations – more adventures – and a somewhat novel new format. Watch for updates as we get closer to the release date!
  • Adding more games, puzzles, and other activities to Little Red Bear’s Activities Pages for children. Watch for new ‘Coloring Pages’ coming soon, featuring domestic animals, wildlife, flowers, and other items from nature to help educate and interest the little ones, including several characters from “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories!
  • A resumption of the popular “Ask Little Red Bear” feature, wherein Red responds to reader questions. He already has an accumulated stack to get thru, but if you have any questions regarding one of Red’s stories, nature, or life advice in general, please just send them along and Red will try his best to get to them around writing sessions (and fishing).
  • Continuation of the always popular “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” specials for holidays and seasons thru the year, with a few additional now and then concentrating on one dish and variations. Stay tuned.
  • Continue developmental work on a series of Picture Book type stories in verse for Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends, to bring Red’s messages of kindness, positivity, and nature more intimately and in a more colorfully fun way to pre-readers and little ones, and to distribute to those in hospital care.
  • Add a new feature presenting interesting historical and background information on some of the topics, locations, characters, and other items influencing but perhaps not actually making it either in whole or in part into the Little Red Bear stories. Only so much can be fit into the short story format or into a book, and so much material which must be trimmed is fascinating from a true historical or inspirational sense. Red thought you might enjoy seeing some of it.
  • Call back Rusty the Fairydiddle, our intrepid little Red Squirrel Reporter, from his extended personal appearance tour following his featured role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story, to conduct some more character interviews for you, like the one he did with Groovy Gary that time.
  • Time permitting (and we really want to do these!) the publication of separate standalone Little Red Bear stories (like “Pine Holler Christmas”) — a conservation-themed story entitled “Walking With Trees” for which I am doing extensive reading and research at present for a targeted summer release, a ‘Not-So-Frightfully-Scary’, Spooky Halloween Story for fall, and a second Christmas-themed story for the holidays, tentatively titled “Little Red Bear and the Kris Kringle Krinkle Krunch Krewe.”
  • Because many of our readers are Seniors with Little Red Bear being enjoyed from one end of the age spectrum to the other, we will attempt to make the already published books available in Large Print editions, as many have requested. But, like the publishing of other books, this one may likely require more outside technical help beyond my abilities, so will be dependent on financial resources and ability to bring this about in addition to the publication of the new works listed above. This may be the most “iffy” with hospital surgery bills coming in the mail and extended therapy copays, but again — we really would like to do this for our senior readers.
  • Lastly, in the “thinking about” stage, perhaps doing a continuing  feature with Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends in Little Red Bear Land, freely shared on the Writing Pages here in weekly installments, either in continuing serialized story form like the weekly ‘Little Orphan Annie’, ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Flash Gordon’, and other radio serials years ago, or with more of a “Happening This Week in Little Red Bear Land” news story approach in a Garrison Keillor “Tales From Lake Wobegon” fashion. Either way, just considering and trying to work it out with Red as possibly something fun to do and share. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this one, which approach sounds most interesting, or other, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear them!

Seems like an ambitious list, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the whole idea expressed by the old phrases “Shoot for the stars!”, “Reach for the sky!”, “Go for the gusto!”, “Go the limit!”, and others? The whole purpose of making the effort and stretching our abilities to improve and grow?

Little Red Bear and I may not achieve all of these goals this year, because as my ‘Robo Arm’ indicates, life can unexpectedly intervene and alter the best-made plans at times.

But the approach here has always been that small, incremental daily changes add up to big results over time, getting up each morning a little further down the road towards our goal than the previous morning and the morning before that. A decision to be healthier this time last year led to me changing my lifestyle and slowly losing just a little over a pound a week last year. No big deal.  But again, small incremental changes add up to big results over time. In my case, a 66-pound weight loss over the year, significantly reduced blood pressure, no blood sugar issues, and every pre-surgery blood test within normal ranges. Keep taking small steps, and sooner than later you will get there!

So, will we reach all of the above goals? Well, just like the weight loss, we are going to keep at it each and every day, step by step, and give it our persistent and very best effort. And whether we achieve all, some, or only a few items, we will be further down the road and in a better place with our writing work and mission than where we begin today. Little Red Bear and I feel that we are already in a better place and off to a very good start by simply having made our list and having set the guideposts for our journey this year.

In summary, Little Red Bear and I will strive to continue bringing new posts, features, and creative projects to the Writing Pages with the intention of being Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, while also helping to Encourage everyone to become their very best true self.

If we do that, we feel, that come December it will have been a very good year, and any shadows cast will all be positive.

Little Red Bear and I have set our course. The above items are intended as the Guideposts for our journey thru this new year as we continue to do our small part in trying to make the world a more kind and gentle home for every one and every thing. We hope that you will be here to join with us each step along the way!


Even if so many may not end up holding that wished-for winning lottery ticket in the coming months, there are loads of things we can engrave upon our personal slates this year before we count down the seconds with bated breath while awaiting the magical clock strike heralding the arrival of the next shiny new year.

What are your plans for the New Year? For inspiration and ideas, I invite and encourage you to visit my fellow bloggers and friends, below, as they share their thoughts about the coming year. Then, perhaps pull out a blank slate to chart your course for the year!

And if unsure or having doubts about your ability to make positive changes in your own life this year, maybe it would help you to know that both Little Red Bear and I believe in you! Just take the first small step to get started. Then the next. And the next. And the next. Then, eventually, you will look back at this time next year and see how very far you have come!

For inspiration, visit — “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and  “Finding A Purpose Driven Life – What Would You Do If .  .  . ?”   Then get going on your slate and New Year!


Here is what my friends are doing . . . . . .

Cat Michaels
Rosie Russell
Sandra Bennett
Carmela Dutra
Julie Gorges
Shana Gorian
Corrina Holyoake
Jacqui Letran
Rebecca Lyndsey

Thanks always for spending part of your day with us here, because when all is said and done, you are why we do this! Wishing you and yours the very best as you chart your own course for this shiny new year! — Jim  (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this post, check out —  “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” 


Think Globally – Act Locally! Tomorrow Begins With YOU Today!

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


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

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck


“Who or What is Mickey McJibbers???”

It would give Little Red Bear and I great pleasure to introduce you to a new story character coming to the next collection of Red’s stories — “The Second Holler Over!” — and to tell you all about him, but as it turns out, we only know the name at this point in time — Mickey McJibbers. Or is it Mickie McJibbers — female???  We have no idea.

Most often, new characters arrive via my writing muse complete with a name, what or who they are, and frequently somewhat of a backstory. In this case, the only thing to come thru was the name — Mickey or Mickie McJibbers.

I get the sense though that he or she is a rather talkative, nervous sort, constantly jabbering on about something or other. And I think that explains the last name a bit — McJibbers — a mashup perhaps of Jabbers and Jitters.

But that still leaves us with the question of what or who the character is, and he (or she) is being of absolutely no help, obviously not very self-aware at this point, either.

So, we are stuck with trying to figure out just what sort of critter or person is Mickey or Mickie McJibbers? As stated, we know the name and nothing else about him or her at this point. Other than my feeling that the character appears to be a jittery jabberer.

Is the character a critter of some type? A person? What does he/she do? Where does he/she live? Why do I have such a strong feeling that he or she is of such a nervous disposition and given to incessant jabbering on about seemingly every trivial and unimportant thing?

Little Red Bear thought maybe you could help us with some suggestions and ideas, so please comment on this post and help us identify this new character to be able to include him/her in the upcoming adventure stories. If your identification is selected by Little Red Bear, he will even give you a credit in the next book. He’s known for doing nice things like that.

By the way, now is a good time to catch up on the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories if anyone hasn’t read or finished the first collection yet. Red and I are hard back at work on his stories again now following the summer move and there is still time before we are finished for you to meet all the characters and learn the history of the ongoing weasel fracas because the stories run in sequence thataway. We don’t want to see anyone left behind when the action starts anew! (There are always pesky weasels sneaking around and on the prowl, so best to be informed about for one’s own safety, you know.)

Thanks always for stopping by and visiting with us!  After you finish leaving a Mickey McJibbers comment and have some time on your hands, please feel free to browse around and check out the Free Reads and other features on the blog here. We are adding new ones all the time! — Jim  (and Red!)


“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” –  William Shakespeare

                      “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”                   – Mahatma Gandhi


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

                         “I’m not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I’ve gotten from books.” – Beatrice Sparks (“Go Ask Alice”)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, last month we were able to donate six print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to a Senior Citizens Library and Residents!

Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing happiness and kindness with everyone. Join us to make a positive difference in the world!


“Through others we become ourselves.” – Lev S. Vygotsky

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison


 

Tri-County Storekeepers Line Up to Back Little Red Bear Adventure Stories!

When not standing in the ‘Strange and Silly Fiction Aisle’ at Barnes & Noble waiting for people to ask for our autographs, Little Red Bear and I are hard at work reenacting and writing about Red’s adventures.

The second collection of Little Red Bear stories well underway now will be somewhat different in approach than the first collection, which consisted of six short stories, each more of a novelette in length, truth be told. The second collection book will be noticeably longer with two additional full-length stories, along with much shorter stories which we have not agreed on a name for yet — Mini Stories or Interludes — positioned in between the longer length features.

What with the format changes, longer overall book length, and increased number of stories, it has become quite the project and undertaking. Add to that several new story characters coming from all over the U.S. and overseas, and it is readily apparent why we are running substantially over the production budget.  More characters to house and feed, additional writing sets to be constructed, landowner permits obtained for writing access, new character travel expenses, etc. Not to mention insurance, medical, and paramedic service costs while working with wildlife, some rather ill-disposed.

As luck would have it, the majority of our story characters are domestic animals and wildlife, so wardrobe costs are kept to a ‘bare’ minimum, so to speak. And while it is true that some of the characters quite literally do work for peanuts, it still does all add up in a hurry.

Scanty wardrobe and peanuts notwithstanding, the long and the little of it is that we found ourselves already way over the anticipated production budget for this story collection by the midway point, with critters eating us out of house and home.  And did I mention about the peanuts?

To their credit, a good number of businesses in the surrounding region of Little Red Bear Land in the Ozarks Mountain Country, which we refer to as the “Tri-County Area” in the stories, have stepped forward to sponsor our writing and story work. In exchange for an occasional mention of their enterprises in the stories, of course. Perhaps you may already be familiar with one — ‘McNickles Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds’ on the outskirts of Round Corners, where Little Red Bear has done book signings on occasion.

So, rest comfortably assured that writing and production work on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories is continuing unabated thanks to local shopkeepers and community support. Just letting you know so that you are aware what is going on when an occasional message from one of our sponsors appears here on the writing blog and elsewhere as we go forward.  It goes without saying that this still is and will remain a non-monetized blog in the traditional advertising sense, of course.

We will be updating story progress from time to time as we go along and get closer to the publication date, scheduled for early next year, barring unforeseen production delays.

If you are not already following my Facebook Writer Page, now would be a good time and I encourage you to do so.  As in the weekly recipes Little Red Bear shares here on the writing blog every Sunday morning, we find a number of wonderful, inspiring, entertaining, and educational videos and other items each week doing writing research. We are going to begin sharing the best ones on my Writer Page as we come across them. Most are short, focusing on our major themes here of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature, and Pets.  Pets and animals always make for a smile to brighten a gloomy day.

Thank you always for spending part of your day with us. We would be honored if you recommended our site and pages to friends and family.  Little Red Bear and I look forward to your visits here, and hope that in our own way we help to make your day special, too!  — Jim (and Red!)


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Stories —  Sponsored in Part by —
Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas — Furnishing the Finest In Must-have Accessory Items for Successful Highwaymen and Holder-uppers Since 1836. Conveniently Located next to the citizen’s bank of blusterville.

(Read about Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas in the coming Little Red Bear Stories!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes. 


“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’ Mara


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

       “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is — what are we busy about?”     – Henry David Thoreau


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

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

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

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

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

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

The five books most instrumental in guiding my life were –

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat Michaels — Cat’s Corner Blog

Rebecca Lyndsey — Author Rebecca Lyndsey Blog

Carmela Dutra — Carmela Dutra’s Blog

Julie Gorges — Baby Boomer Bliss

Rosie Russell — Books by Rose

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


If you enjoy your visits here Become a Patron of this site and my writing work, helping to grow and expand our outreach to others. Find out more and discover Patron benefits today!


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

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


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

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


 

 

Special Kid Lit Community $500 Holiday Giveaway

Only One Week To Go Before Someone Wins a $500 Amazon Gift Card!

The Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway is still open if you have not had the opportunity to register and participate  yet.  The giveaway is sponsored by a wonderful group of talented kid lit authors working hard to promote children’s literacy.

The Giveaway closes on December 15th and we all know how time seems to speed up as we get closer and closer to the holidays.  Don’t put it off, register today.  Someone is going to win $500 to help with Christmas bills and goodies.  Why not you?

Entering is easy —

  • Simply sign in to Rafflecopter, the service administering the Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway, using your email or Facebook account.
  • Find a list of actions that earn giveaway points to increase your chance of winning the final grand-prize of $500.00.  Actions include visiting an author Facebook page (we hope you’ll ‘LIKE’ it too!) or following an author on Twitter.
  • You can decide which actions to take and how many.  Enter just one or complete all of them at one sitting if you like. You can even enter a few actions daily, and then return at another future time to add more. It’s all up to you.
  • Rafflecopter keeps track of your entries and tallies them.  Be sure to use the same log-in each time to access the giveaway action list.
  • The Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway is open now and runs thru  December 15, 2016, and is  open Worldwide.
  • Rafflecopter randomly selects and notifies the winner at the end of the event.

from-rosie-russell-to-use-1

Enter HERE to get started!  Remember, the more actions completed the better your chances of winning.  Little Red Bear and I strongly encourage you to enter and support this dedicated group of kid lit authors working so hard to promote children’s literacy and learning.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

— Emilie Buchwald

Thanks as always for visiting and wishing everyone the very best of luck!  The special Christmas Story for Little Red Bear — “Pine Holler Christmas” —  is available NOW on Amazon for Kindle and eReaders. Check below or to the side for a link and free preview.  — Jim  (and Red!)

❊ Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times ❊ 

garden-of-bright-images-reading-children-art-by-carlton-alfred-smith

Check out the new Little Red Bear Adventure– “Pine Holler Christmas” on Amazon! Tap Here For A Free Preview!

Special Kid Lit Community $500 Holiday Giveaway

November is the traditional time of year when we all pause to reflect on what is important and what we are thankful for in our lives. We have a holiday fast approaching set aside for just that purpose — Thanksgiving.

Little Red Bear and I are truly thankful for you and all you who follow along, read our stories and send us the encouragement and inspiration to keep on going.   In the backwoods, $500.00 goes a long way to help put presents under the tree for loved ones during the holiday season.  So we have joined together with a marvelous group of fellow Kid Lit authors to give away a $500.00 Amazon Gift Card as a special Thank You for followers.

Entering is easy —

  • Simply sign in to Rafflecopter, the service administering the Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway, using your email or Facebook account.
  • Find a list of actions that earn giveaway points to increase your chance of winning the final grand-prize of $500.00.  Actions include visiting an author Facebook page (we hope you’ll ‘LIKE’ it too!) or following an author on Twitter.
  • You can decide which actions to take and how many.  Enter just one or complete all of them at one sitting if you like. You can even enter a few actions daily, and then return at another future time to add more. It’s all up to you.
  • Rafflecopter keeps track of your entries and tallies them.  Be sure to use the same log-in each time to access the giveaway action list.
  • The Special Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway is open now and runs thru  December 15, 2016, and is  open Worldwide.
  • Rafflecopter randomly selects and notifies the winner at the end of the event.

Enter HERE to get started!  Remember, the more actions completed the better your chances of winning.  Little Red Bear and I strongly encourage you to enter and support this wonderful group of authors working so hard to promote children’s literacy and learning.

Thanks as always for visiting and wishing everyone the very best of luck!  The special Christmas Story for Little Red Bear has passed thru the editing stage and cover design work has begun.  Please watch for more updates soon! — 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.

 

Book Reviews: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Let me start off by saying that Little Red Bear and I do not live or die with book review comments, positive or negative.  I write the stories that are in my head and as Red tells them to me, and we hope some others enjoy them along the way.  A writer focusing on and being influenced by comments, positive or negative, runs the risk of the writer no longer writing their stories anymore, but rather writing for feedback reward, or stopping altogether if they allow their spirit to be crushed by negative feedback. Reviews are most important to me as guideposts to help lead others to my work.

Most folks I know look about as forward to the prospect of leaving a book review as they do to a root canal. There seems to be a back-of-the-mind memory association with grade school and book reviews, especially when one clicks on the Amazon “Leave a Review” tab and is confronted with all of their suggestions.  It can be intimidating, and think may scare people away. So book reviews seem to be as hard to find as a needle in a stack of needles to begin with.

Last year, a gentleman purchased the print version of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” directly from Amazon. “Verified Purchaser” as they say, the very best kind. He liked it very much and left a 5 Star review. His wife picked up the book and read it this past summer, just about a year later, loved it, and went to leave her own review last week. Not only was her review not posted, but his review was removed as well, a year later. I can only surmise that it was because the second review was possibly coming from the same Amazon account ID, and to Amazon smacked of review manipulation. They also both follow my Facebook personal and writer pages, which is how he found out about the book in the first place.  That is how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it?

If authors are strongly encouraged to invest great time and effort building social media platforms to promote their work to followers (and by default, build Amazon sales), if the number of reviews is a criteria in determining whether Amazon itself promotes your book to others or not,  if securing a review at all is so very difficult, and if they remove any reviews which even hint of a connection to an author thru social media, then there is a piece of this circular logic that I am missing.

If I do not actively promote my book to interested followers, how do they find out about it? If I do promote my book to interested followers and then their reviews are subsequently removed, how do others find out about it? And yet I see review after review on Amazon for both books and products with the phrase “I obtained this item for Free in exchange for an unbiased review.” So apparently it is okay to give your book away to a total disinterested stranger for a review, but a “Verified Purchaser” review is subject to removal because they are interested and may follow you on social media somewhere.  Having one’s review blocked or removed is not exactly strong encouragement to ever attempt to leave another, for anyone.

To quote the King of Siam in “The King and I” — “It’s a puzzlement.”

So sharing this information for other writer friends who may be similarly affected, along with a link for more information to check out —  “Why Has Amazon Removed My Book Review” by k-lytics.

Thanks as always for visiting!  Little Red Bear and I are just going to keep telling stories and enjoying ourselves, regardless of what Amazon does or doesn’t do, because that’s simply how we roll here.  Here is a link for “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler”  and there is one below.  Following me here, your book review may not be posted, but you should probably read it anyway just for fun.  —  Jim  (and Red!)

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

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!

A Guest Post — “Chasing the Fae . . . . .”

The internet is a wonderful and strange new place where we get to form real and significant friendships with people across the globe that, rather unfortunately, we will probably never get to meet in person.  Such a treasured ‘net friend is Sylva Fae, and her thoroughly charming and delightful family.  Living in a magical woodland in the UK, Sylva shares adventures in parenting, along with stories of childhood wonderment, discoveries and fascinations in her blog entries.  I invite you to Visit and Follow Sylva Fae’s Blog, and you too will be charmed by the woodland, the fairy gardens and inhabitants.   I am honored to be able to share her most recent uplifting post with you here.  Enjoy.

“Chasing the Fae…”

25efbfcb-c190-41d5-b5b3-30dea2c96ac9This is a time of year for reflection, for pondering and for weighing up the good and the bad of the last year. For me it was a year of great change. I’ve escaped a job I’d grown weary of and tumbled into a new career. I’ve seen my baby grow up to become a school girl, I’ve watched my middle daughter blossom in confidence and my eldest little diva is now dancing through junior school. The school terms mark the passing of time as my girls learn faster than I can keep up with.

As a parent I am constantly trying to keep the balance between boundaries and rules, and allowing children to just be children. I worry about whether I’m doing enough, being strict enough or too strict. I relentlessly remind them of their pleases and thank yous and hope that they use them with others. I read with them, sing, dance and play with them, we run through the fields, scramble through bushes and climb the trees together but I don’t take them to the clubs other children their age go to. Our weekends have no structure, no plan, we just check the weather and choose an adventure. I often worry if it’s enough.

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The previous month brought happy tears as I watched each of my little ones sing in their school plays. It also brought proud mummy moments as I crouched, knees up to ears on a tiny school chair listening while their teachers reported on their year in class. It seems my three are known for their manners (phew!), are effortlessly coasting through their lessons and are kind to others. Good to know but what made me smile most, was each teacher commented on their vivid imaginations, their aptitude for story telling and the amazing illustrations they create to go with their stories. One teacher said with a giggle, that she always looked forward to what she’d write about her weekend adventures. She showed me a few and laughed about how she tried to make her describe her weekend but she always insisted on telling a story instead. I read a few. They told of leaving the woodland path and wading through thick forest to discover secret lands, of hunting dragons and making houses for the fairies, they described chasing mermaids across the sky and climbing to the tops of the tallest trees to capture the sunbeams. I smiled back at the teacher and assured her it was all actually true. I’m not sure whether the teacher believed me or made a mental note that their mother was quite loopy. She smiled in a knowing way and moved swiftly onto her maths progress.

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In those moments of self doubt, I remember that I have fuelled that imagination, fed it and encouraged it to run wild. I have provided the playground and focused their minds to see beyond what the eye can capture. I may not be a conventional mum but then I did not have a very conventional childhood. I blame my mum! My girls share our family trait, we’re deemed by others to be bizarre but I am secretly proud my girls have inherited my weirdness. I can’t blame all my quirks on my mum but she was the one who taught me to read and I have passed on that love of books to my daughters. Giving them the gift of literacy is something I can be proud of.

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b99f9029-8769-453a-9765-448280b85477This new year blew in with the weather. Here in England, we’ve had a wet and gloomy start to 2016 with many flooded out by heavy rains.This weather has kept us from going out as much as we’d like and I’m missing my little woodland. My girls have been wishing for snow for weeks and finally their wishes were granted. We awoke today to a white garden and sparkling trees; they couldn’t wait to build their first snowman. I happily dodged snowballs and helped give our snowman a smile, but I’m secretly wishing for sunshine, for lazy, carefree days to run through the fields. Whatever the weather, I know this year will bring many more adventures out in the woods, making memories and writing stories to baffle teachers and keep my little faeries entertained. One thing I know for sure, I’ll be spending my days chasing the fae.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote- Kindness Instructions

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

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

Quote- Kindness- Doing Good

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

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions – “Hummingbird Spit! What Could Be Better?”

Little Red Bear and I have received another reader question we thought it may be good to respond to for everyone.  Well, a question and a comment really, and good information to pass along.

Reader Question from S. F. on holiday at an undisclosed beach resort in the U. K. –“Dear Little Red Bear — Holiday reading, sunshine, and fresh sea air – what could be better?Thanks for translating Red, got plenty of buzzards’ breath but all out of catfish whiskers and the hummingbirds are being most uncooperative.”

Answer— For the benefit of those who have not read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” yet, or may have unwisely skipped over the “Introduction”, what S. F. is referring to is that to save readers the difficulty and hassles of needing to translate all the different spoken animal languages and dialects back and forth as they read, Little Red Bear and I worked tirelessly to translate everything for you.  Bears speaking to birds and rabbits, turtles speaking to bears, humans speaking to bears and foxes, weasels yammering on, etc.  The pig is a different matter, and you will need to read for yourself to see what that is all about.

Information on the translation process was explained in the Introduction, along with many other things, and S. K. is referring to a few of the translation ingredients in her comment.  And it points to why we decided to go ahead and take care of the translations issue for readers ahead of time.  We didn’t charge extra for it.  Little Red Bear just felt it a nice to thing to do for folks.

In response to S. K. then — “Holiday reading, sunshine, and fresh sea air – what could be better?”  We can’t think right off of any better thing than being on holiday at the beach reading Little Red Bear stories, so you have us stumped with that one.  And yes, we have found the hummingbirds to be problematic and difficult to work with at times, as it seems the later it gets into summer the more of a sugar high they are on, causing some predictably spiky attitudes.  We are impressed with your having gathered sufficient quantities of the buzzard’s breath though, as that is where the translation process breaks down for many folks, unwilling to approach a turkey buzzard that closely.  Little Red Bear sends a big paw pat on the back for that one!

As for the other, we could mail some dried catfish whiskers over for you, but find that fresh whiskers work much better and produce a clearer translation in the end.  And since we have it all translated for you ahead of time anyway, we won’t bother to send any dried whiskers over to save you the mailing expense.

So, sorry we were stumped by that question, but want to thank you for writing in to let us know all that translation time and effort is helping readers out after all.

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So, a big thanks to S. F. for the comments!  Remember folks, please keep those questions and letters coming. We’ll get to them as best we can here for you.  Happy reading, and thanks as always for stopping by! And remember folks, the best sermons are lived, not preached.  God bless, y’all.  – Jim (and Red!)

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