Sharing Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

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

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

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

 

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

 


Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

Finding A Dog For Little Red Bear!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, I want one more.”

“Why?”

“Because.”

“Because is not a reason.”

“Because – I want to.”

“That’s still not a reason.”

“It’s good enough for me.”

“Not for me. Not a reason.”

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

“I want to add a dog to the stories.”

“We have already added Ol’ Blue.”

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

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

Ol’ Blue, the Bluetick Coonhound (retired)

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

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

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

“He plays around with Goat.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But . . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How about an ox instead?”

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

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

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

“Okay.  One big, noisy dog.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note to self – “add a doga BIG one.”


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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

Share the Love and Give a Book on Valentines Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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

 

 

 

International Book Giving Day — Why Reading Is So Important!

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

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

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

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

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

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

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

Tap Here To Enter Our Books Giveaway!

 

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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

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

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

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

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

Rusty the Fairydiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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

The ‘Unbearable’ Work To Get a Simple Image

Sometimes we try to do something simple, and then the tech folks toss a spanner in the works and before you know it things start bouncing off the walls and we’re running for the aspirin bottle and holy water.

I purchased an online image yesterday morning for the upcoming Christmas Story featuring Little Red Bear. Now, I am just an old guy writing down stories being told to him by a bear, and not into all of the tech stuff.  I still have the old Post slide rule I used in college. So that should tell you something. I merely teach myself what I need as I go along, trying to get by and overcome each new tech hurdle and challenge as I come to it.  As usual, I downloaded what was indicated to be a simple ‘jpeg’ image. No big deal. It arrived, however, all wrapped up nice and neat in an ‘eps’ file.

Of course, my little computer had no idea what to do with it and refused to open the image file, approaching it with the same caution as a robot disarming a bomb.  Next step, research what is an ‘eps’ file, short for Encapsulated PostScript file, which can contain text as well as graphics.  Who knew?  Neat, but I didn’t need or want any text, anyway.  So then, how to open it?  More research to find a free opening app tool, get it to download, and then teach myself how to use it in order to convert the image to the jpeg format I originally wanted in order to include it in the Christmas Story.  One simple step turning into six.

But, it’s all taken care of.  The sparkling new, converted ‘jpeg’ image is ready to go, and the aspirins kicked in after a while, blood pressure returned to normal and Little Red Bear and I eventually got back to work. Just please know that when you see the wonderful opening image in Little Red Bear’s  upcoming Christmas story, there was a whole lot more involved in it than just a simple copy/paste.

We just try to tell stories here and not get involved in all the computer and tech stuff. I try to leave that to the much more skilled and accomplished six-year-olds in the neighborhood. But they were all in school so Red and I had to figure it out by ourselves. Anyway, the situation has been handled, and now we both know what an ‘eps’ file is and how to handle it the next time we come across one.

Remember, if you have not done so yet, be sure to enter the Special Kid Lit Community Holiday Giveaway to have a chance at winning the $500.00 Amazon Gift Card. The event closes on December 15, and your participation will go a long way to help support fellow Kid Lit authors and child literacy efforts.

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Thanks as always for visiting! Best of luck in the Giveaway Contest, and please stay tuned for more updates on Little Red Bear’s upcoming Christmas Story — we’re almost there.  And it will have a really cool, hard-fought and won image in it, you know. —  Jim  (and Red!)

"It's Unbearable" -- Image by cdudak (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

“It’s Unbearable” — Image by cdudak. (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

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

 

The Muse’s Challenge — A Christmas Story for Little Red Bear

Do you recall the ‘Writing Muse’ that I have mentioned before?  The one that awakens me anytime between 3-5am in the mornings with writing and other creative ideas and inspirations?  Well, she paid me a visit this morning right at 5am, with an idea for a Christmas themed short story featuring Little Red Bear.  She openly challenged me to have it completed for the holidays and is really adamant about it.  I have learned over time that one should never decline the challenge or assistance of a determined muse!

So, despite an already overloaded schedule, Little Red Bear and I began work this morning on a Christmas Story.  But a lot needs to be accomplished in a short time to pull this one off. Muses never really give much weight to schedules, working on Celestial time as they do.

As I said, the muse is insistent this be done and the story seems to be coming to mind rather quickly, so Red and I will be very busy to get it all completed in time for the approaching holidays.  Probably need to place some large chocolate and honey orders to get us thru this one!

I mentioned that her name should maybe be changed from “Creative Inspiration Muse” to “Last Minute Muse”, but she didn’t see the humor.  I guess it may have been too early in the morning for that, even for a muse.

Thanks as always for visiting with us.  Please wish us well with so much to do and pull together.  We’re off now to get to work and will keep you posted on our progress over the next few weeks.  — Jim  (and Red!)

christmas-tree-1

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)

— Brought To You By

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.

 

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!)

LRB Ad- With a Fishing Pole

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

So You Want To Be A Writer — Dreaming of Chickens . . . .

So, you want to be a writer, you say.  It’s a neat life living in your imagination, you say.   Seems like a fun hobby.  Thoughts to share with the world.  You want to work in your pajamas.  Wake up dreaming about exotic locales and people, you say.

Cool.  But just so you know, this particular writer woke up in the wee hours this morning dreaming he was sleeping outside in a muddy pen in the rain, with chickens and a wet, smelly and cranky fox.  Blow the image for you?

Yeah, someday I may have to try my hand at writing a rich and sensuous romance novel to wake up dreaming about sharing a bottle of wine with someone special on a Riviera beach or in a street-side Paris cafe.  Luscious cheese, a warm croissant and enchanting conversation.  Or a refreshing sea breeze in the air with laughing gulls greeting the sunrise.

Aaahh – who am I kidding?  We both know that’ll never happen and the someone special in the dream would just be another frickin’ chicken anyway.  I have to go.  Need to write about the chickens and add them to the stories before I forget just how dreadfully bad that fox truly smelled.  But yeah — I am writing all that down in my pajamas.  So there’s that.   At 3 a.m.

The muse sends ideas.  I have no control over what they are or when they arrive.  And that’s the writer’s life.

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

Careful What You Dream Of . . . .

Careful What You Dream Of . . . .

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.