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.

Lost in Quandary Without a Compass

The dictionary, or at least my handy-dandy little online reference source, defines “Quandary” as – “noun, plural quandaries– a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma.

And there it is. That is where I am with the very soon to be released “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories. Lost in “Quandary” without a compass. Don’t know the zip code for map finder, but think it’s just on the outskirts of “Perplexed.”

As I write this, magical little helper elves are furiously working to format the finished text of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear– The First Holler!” Preparing the collection of short story adventures for publication, fitting it into all the whatsits and whatnots for Amazon, while also designing a cover. But soon they will be finished and it will be ready to publish.

And there’s the dilemma– What genre to list the book in? What age groups might be interested in reading a novel length collection of short stories about a bear in the woods? How to categorize it? Basically– which virtual shelf to put it on so potentially interested folks may find it?

Reading- Boy in Bookcase

To be honest, I have no idea at present where to go with this. Apparently my writing muse doesn’t either, because she is being totally silent on the matter.

“The Adventures of Little Bear” stories were not written for or towards any target market or group in particular, probably breaking rule number one of the “Writing for Success” guidelines. But I don’t lose any sleep over that, because I make no secret about not following anyone else’s “rules.” And I’m too old to be overly concerned with building a “long term following and career.” Whatever.

I wrote the stories that were in my head as the characters revealed them to me because it was fun. It’s what I would rather be doing than most anything else right now. Who might be interested in them, what “target markets” or “demographics” never entered into it or influenced anything.

“Ready.      Fire!      Aim.”

As the stories turned out, they are probably not really wee kiddie type stories, certainly not on a “See Spot run” level. For comparison, Little Red Bear is about as close to Winnie the Pooh as a Grizzly Bear is to a Hedgehog. Not sure middle grade children would be interested, focusing more on becoming teens and such. As for young adults, probably no way to distract from fantasy and paranormal genres, lacking a heavy dose of either in the stories, and having no werewolves, walking dead or dragons either.

Suggested keywords to be included in descriptions in the Children’s Categories include such notable buzzers as sword, sorcery, magic, dragon, quest, adventure, detective, action, sleuth, spy, terrorist (believe it or not), secret agent, superhero, extraterrestrial, and time travel. The closest Little Red Bear comes to any of those is maybe an “Action Adventure Superhero”. In a bearskin. In the backwoods. Is there a category for that?

Bear- Peek a Boo- Pinterest

And that’s just talking about the Children’s age group. How then to also classify it? It’s not exactly a true-to-life “Nature” story book, featuring a fictional bear and characters. It’s much more fiction and made up than “Historical.” It is kind of “Action/Adventure”, but it features a backwoods bear, not Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones or Ironman.

The stories are set roughly in the early 1900’s, but not truly correct enough or concerned with historical details to be considered a “Period” piece. We are working on a story involving petty larceny for the next collection, but there is none of that tomfoolery or goings-on in the first set of stories so they do not fit “Crime Drama”.

The stories are set in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country, but feature way too many made-up names and locations to be considered for the “Travel” or “Geography” categories. There is a good deal of useful nature information presented, but talking animals immediately kick it out of the “Science” category.

The word “love” is mentioned exactly once in over 65,000 words, so it surely cannot be considered a “Romance” work. And there’s no way a backwoods bear will compete with spicy Romance literature set amidst exotic locales to command attention from the romance seekers, anyway.

“Erotic?”     Mmmm —  No.

To the best I recall, there is no mention whatever about stars, the universe, aliens or time travel. So “Science Fiction” is off the list as well. There are some weak attempts at humor, but not the main focus or enough to qualify the stories as a “Comedy.”

So you can see the dilemma— where to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” when it is ready for release soon? The stories are simply about an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the backwoods mountain country. Boring themes like kindness, sharing, being good neighbors and appreciating the wildflowers, nature and such. Is that the stuff of “Superheroes?”

Maybe we just invented a new genre—“Fun Stories About Nothing In Particular”—but really don’t think I have enough sway with the Amazon folks to bring that about. Perhaps J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin could. I am merely James R. Milson. Maybe I should consider adding another “R.” for a bit more literary clout.

Peanuts- Charlie Brown deep in thought

But it really doesn’t matter all that much. We don’t measure “Success” in dollar signs. Success for us is if the stories help brighten a few people’s days, and maybe a few kids learn to appreciate nature a little more. Hopefully, we have not set unrealistically high sales expectations for the book– again, sales not being the reason the stories were written in the first place. I went out on a limb a while ago and told Red if we hit a dozen sales or get a five star review, whichever happens first, we’ll celebrate with a pizza, and we’re both good with that.

But now thinking about it, not having a foggy clue where to classify or categorize the book for interested folks to even find it, we may have to peddle them on the street corner and in front of grocery stores to reach that lofty dozen sales number. It’s a good thing warmer spring weather is on the way. I may have overreached with that dozen sales goal, it maybe being an unrealistic, off the top of the head number considering the classification conundrum. Perhaps some kind-hearted person will rescue us with a good review, but not hanging my hat on that one, having only the one middle “R.” in my name as it is.

Peanuts- Charlie Brown- Anguish

I suppose if neither happens, if we don’t reach the high one dozen sales goal or receive the generosity of a five star review either, we’re okay with that too, really. Because we both know eventually we’re just going to go out and get a pizza anyway just to celebrate all the work in getting the book prepared to begin with. It’s really just a matter of timing and the accomplishment we’re toasting and lifting our Coke glasses to in the end.

So either way, however we categorize “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”, the writing trail ends at a pizza joint for Little Red Bear and me. And we both know our pizza categories very well.

In the meantime, we’re going to keep trying to figure this all out. Thanks as always for reading and following! – Jim (and Red!)

Story Character Casting Call for Second Collection of “Little Red Bear Stories”

As you may recall from the Breaking News announcement on Monday, the First Collection of short stories in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” series was completed and sent out for beta reads a few days ago.  My plan was to take a couple months off from writing to focus on new creations and store work, but it seems like everyone else wants to keep it going and get started right away on developing new short stories for the Second Collection in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”.

Little Red Bear already signed on four new story characters this week, and more seem to be banging on the door this morning!  So instead of giving everyone some time off, I decided to make it official and put out a Casting Call for new story characters, and had the receptionist start scheduling new character interviews.  Since everyone is on board with it, we’re just going to go ahead and get started right away on the next set of stories and adventures. As mentioned earlier in The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis events, my receptionist is an elderly bunny who needs her job to support her large family, so better for her to be able to keep working anyway.  Was going to pay her regardless, but don’t tell her that.

Interestingly, three little woodland fairies have turned in applications to appear in the next collection.  Rather unfairylike, the largest of the three is very, very muddy in her application head shot photo, lists under qualifications and experience- “working in a mud kitchen”- and goes on to mention something about a peculiar, one-legged duck on her application.  I was unable to read the rest because it was covered in mud.  Anxious to hear more about all that and I have put a star by her name on the interview list.  Sounds like a story there to me!

Little Red Bear isn’t quite so sure.  After his mixed experience with a domesticated animal character in the first story collection, he is a bit apprehensive about working with another in the second set of stories.  He intends to sit in on that interview, to determine if working with the mud-covered fairy also includes working with a one-legged duck.  Personally, I’m hoping it does.  Thinking it might be fun and have already jotted down some story notes!  To be determined, I suppose.   Not telling Red, but I requested she bring the duck along to the interview when it is scheduled.

And it just goes to demonstrate, Red and I never know who or what may show up at the door when we put out a Story Character Casting Call.  Brings to mind the Ostrich Crisis events from the last recruiting push, as a simple process spun wildly out of control last year.  So we’ll see who walks, hops, crawls or flies thru the door this time.

Speaking of which and since it is an open Casting Call, if you have a favorite animal, critter, bird, fish, wildflower, tree, agricultural crop, or whatever that you would like to have possibly appear in a future collection of stories, I invite you to mention it in the comments below.  No promises, but Little Red Bear is always eager to make new friends.  As you may recall, the stories are generally based in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Southeast Missouri, but we have worked with international story characters before too, once the Work Permit Visas are obtained.

Please stay tuned for more updates as the first story collection nears release, new work on the next Little Red Bear stories gets underway and new creations for the store are shared.  It’s turning into a very busy year!  I’m off now to interview a Porcupine.  I hear they can have a rather prickly personality at times.

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

Waving Bear (image found on Talking Bear, Facebook Community Page)

Waving Bear
(image found on Talking Bear, Facebook Community Page)