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.

Little Red Bear Answers Reader Questions — “Angry Weasels! What To Do?”

Little Red Bear and I are getting more and more questions from readers.  So here’s another one, hoping to provide useful and life-saving information by sharing for all.

Reader Question from K. C. in Shriveled Branches, California – “Dear Little Red Bear — What should I do if confronted by an angry weasel?”

Answer— Another great question, because this seems to come up more often than most folks think.  The problem is, weasels are just not big on negotiating, so trying to reason with them or attempting to discover the source of their anger is largely a waste of time, as most just wake up angry in the morning right off the start, and their mood seems to follow on downhill from there.

We recommend telling the weasel a really funny joke, and hope it dies laughing.  It seemed to work very well for the Roger Rabbit folks.  If you’re not particularly funny, then we recommend running away as fast as you can, because the longer you stand in front of the weasel the hungrier it’s going to get while the time passes.  If you have wings, use them.  Because we haven’t found the weasel yet that can fly more than two laps around the feedlot.

Weasels are never easy to deal with, because even when they tell you  they’re going to behave and be your friend, they most likely ain’t.  So take whatever a weasel says with a grain of salt.  Or two.   Good luck with ’em, and we’ll keep y’all in our thoughts. — Little Red Bear

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A big thanks to K.C. for the question!  Remember folks, 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, an angry weasel is considerably faster than a John Deere Tractor.  Best to try and stay on their good side.  If you can find one.  – Jim (and Red!)

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 — “Reading Safety Advisory!”

“Letters.  We get letters.  We get lots and lots of letters.”

Little Red Bear and I have been receiving a number of questions from readers the past few weeks regarding “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection, and after we talked about it while sitting around the campfire the other night with Albuquerque, Aunt Ivy and some of the others, Little Red Bear and I decided it might be a good idea to share some of the questions and answers with everyone.   Here is the first one, what Red thought might be the most important question we have received so far.

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Reader Question from S. R. in Jolly River Falls, MN – “Dear Little Red Bear — Is there a time when it is not safe or prudent to read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories?”

Answer— That is a very good question!  And it so happens, something we have looked into.  From the beginning, we figured in all honesty, that we most likely wouldn’t be generating a New York Times Bestseller list of readers, so should try to protect and insure the safety of those we do accumulate along the way, being probably few in number.  So as it turns out, we did research this very topic before we released the book on Amazon.

Here are the times and situations we determined as most unsafe or imprudent to read the stories, so accordingly are issuing the following Public Safety Advisory.  A few instances we determined were—

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General Advisories

Do Not Read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”

When operating a motor vehicle, aircraft or heavy machinery.

While swimming in a swamp with alligators.

While snorkeling with sharks.

While at work with a supervisor possessing questionable tastes in literature.

While in the bathtub or hot tub if reading on a laptop plugged into an electrical socket.

In a lightning storm if standing alone in an open area.

While skydiving if the main parachute has failed to deploy.

While riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The mules perfectly know the way of course, but in this one instance we feel you really should not miss the once in a lifetime views of the Canyon. Read later at basecamp.

While shaving with a straight razor.

When wandering unaccompanied by armed escort in lion country.

While cooking over an open flame. (This caution applies to the paperback version, only.)

While performing roofing or window washing work above the sixth floor of a building.

While surveying a buffalo herd. (It’s not really unsafe, per se. It’s just that bison have not made it into the stories yet and are still a little miffed about it. Just don’t let them see what you are reading and it should be okay.  And of course, never roller skate in a buffalo herd whether you’re reading the book or not, but you most likely knew that one already.)

Industry Specific Advisories

For Medical Professionals- do not read while performing or assisting in major surgeries and/or dental work.

For Baseball Players- do not read while batting or catching. Field position players may safely read during the lull in between pitches. Umpiring crews, as well.  Reading the adventures while in the dugout and bullpen is highly recommended for all to relieve tedium.  Reading the adventures is also highly recommended to pass the time for soccer goalies.

Reading Exemptions

Members of Congress are exempted from reading “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”.  While there is certainly a lot which could be learned from the stories for them, it is generally agreed that they just have too much meaningful work to do at this time to risk being distracted by fun and common sense.

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We hope this helped answer your important safety question regarding the reading of Red’s adventures.  In most other instances, we have determined that it is both safe and prudent to read “The Adventures of Little Red Bear.”  Indeed, highly recommended for clean family fun and reading entertainment!  Thanks for the question S. R., and we’re hoping you enjoy the stories.  Please remember to scrape your boots off before coming back inside from an adventure!  We don’t want to be hearing about dirty floors from irate mothers.   So please scrape your boots.  Especially after a visit to Farmer Turner’s.

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Remember folks, 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, every path has a few puddles in life.  The sun will be back out soon enough to dry you off and help you on your way again.   – Jim (and Red!)

Dog- Reading 4 Pug

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

Introducing “Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!”

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

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

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burrowing Owl- Pinterest- found on tumblr unidentified

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

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

“Howdy!”

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

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

"Howdy!" -- the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

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

Now Entering the Ring– Little Red Bear!

As you may recall, we discussed which genres and book categories to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” in a few weeks ago. If you missed it, here is a link to the original post→ Lost in Quandary Without a Compass.

After a good deal of  follow-up discussion and being allowed two categories in which to enter, we decided one would be “Juvenile→Fiction→Animals→Bears.”

From the very beginning, the stories have been written with children in mind as well as adults, so the first selection of “Juvenile” seemed like a no-brainer.  Although Red certifies that all of the adventures really did take place exactly as described, we were required to list the book in “Fiction”, lacking photographic proof or evidence to back up his assertions.  The next step was easy, as the stories feature a good number and wide variety of wildlife, domestic farm animals, birds and such, so “Animals” seemed straightforward enough.

But then we came to the next grouping to narrow it down even further.  With it being “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” there was clearly only one choice– “Bears.” Simple enough– right?

But here’s the rub.  We then realized that stepping into that ring would put us in direct competition with not only one, but two heavyweight champions in the field.  Titans of the literary world– Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear! And they’re both that cute and cuddly teddy bear, golden brown color, to boot.

But we just don’t see any viable alternative. It’s not like Red is afraid of them or anything, as he is a real bear and not a cartoon drawing or stuffed teddy bear, after all.  He just always tries to peacefully avoid confrontation whenever possible.  An admirable trait to be sure. Nevertheless, don’t let their cuteness fool you.  Pooh and Paddington are rock stars in the field.  Literally– movie stars!  These two fluffy ruffians dominate their category and squish competitors like a blueberry on a walking path without even breaking stride!

It would basically be starting over, but I asked Red if he would like me to recast him as a chipmunk or squirrel, to maybe compete against Chip and Dale or Rocky instead. But as he pointed out, we had already signed on Scritch the Chipmunk and Rusty the Fairydiddle for the second collection of stories and Red didn’t want to put them out of work, just to take their place.  He’s a nice guy like that.  And too, it would be incredibly difficult for a chipmunk or squirrel to pull off some of the feats in the stories which Red did as himself– a bear.  So it looks like we’re committed to the “Bears” category.  No other choice, really.

But I’ll admit it.  I am a little worried.  I know that Winnie the Pooh is all about his honey, and so is Little Red Bear.  I just hope there’s enough honey to go around for everyone.  But Paddington is into marmalade, so that shouldn’t be an issue, as long as he stays on the jammy side of the tracks. They are all really good sorts though, so I’m sure they’ll share and work it out.  I hope.

There is one notable thing that separates Red from the others. He is a real bear and these are real bear stories with real bear action. Or as close as they can be given that he is so uncommonly special– walking on two legs, talking and wearing overalls and a straw hat as he does.

So, just to be safe, a word of caution is probably in order — these are not your mother’s Winnie the Pooh, picture book style, cuddly teddy bear stories.  Just sayin’.  There are a few honest-to-goodness, real backwoods varmints  and perils in these stories.

Also, before I forget, Red wants me to remind you that “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection will be released next Tuesday, June 23rd for Kindle and eReaders, and may be preordered on Amazon.  Paperback print copies of the book are available for immediate shipment and delivery right now!  And if you’re not sure how the preorder process works, you just hit the preorder button on the Amazon site, they don’t bill you until the actual book is downloaded on the 23rd, and magical elves work to install “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” automatically into your Kindle or other device overnight while you sleep.  Couldn’t be easier, and that way we don’t run the risk of forgetting to go back and order it and avoid having to wait in long queues backed up behind the inevitable crowds on the actual release day on Tuesday.  You can be comfortably enjoying the stories at home with a cup of tea and cookies while the late-comers are anxiously waiting in line!

And, one last thing–  as a favor– if you happen to come across Pooh or Paddington strolling about anytime, please let them know that Red’s not looking to dethrone anybody or take anyone’s title belt.  If they could just give us a wee bit of space to pitch our little book and tent, maybe on the outskirts of the forest in their kingdom, we’d be much obliged.

Thanks as always for the visit and reading along!  —  Jim (and Red!)

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

Available for Kindle and eReaders and in Paperback

"Little Red Bear"-- Story Research in a Tree

“Little Red Bear”– Story Research in a Tree

A New “Little Red Bear” Video!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

 

Breaking All The Rules With Little Red Bear!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote- Art and Boundaries

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

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

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

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

Bear- Shakesbear 3 without verse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ozarks- Wild lilacs by stream. Barbara Woodall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order Your Copy Today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVAILABLE NOW!  OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

Calloo-Callay!   Oh Frabjous Day!

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

The hard work is finished and the stories are written,

Unfortunately, yes, a few folks were bitten.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have singing birds, some very worried bunnies,

And lots of bees buzzing, protecting their honeys.

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

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

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

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

Lots of flowers and trees cover beautiful Honey Hill,

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

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

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

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

Now off to Amazon thru magical links you can go!

Little Red Bear and friends are anxious to meet you,

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

Order Your Copy Today!

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“The Silent Voice of Nature”

There is a deep and ancient wisdom held by the trees, wilderness and nature.   Quiet your mind and be attentive for the voice you can only feel.  Peace and answers await in the stillness.

“Close your eyes so the heart may become your eye,
and with that vision look upon another world.”

Birds- Hummingbird Art via TW, uncredited

“A Moment in Time” by John Kolenberg, available on Fine Art America.com

“There is a voice that does not use words. Listen.”

— Rumi

 

 

Waiting for Little Red Bear . . . .

Just a quick update.  As you read this, Amazon helpers are working feverishly, fueled by gallons of coffee, hot chocolate and sugar cookies, to get “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection set to go for you.

They are busily copying, pasting and stitching together the final formats and links for the Kindle and Print versions, and trimming the seams.  One of the bird images apparently slipped out of the print version last night and caused a heck of a mess flying about, but has been put back in place without further incident, thank goodness.  Word is a lot of duct tape, Elmer’s glue and staples were involved overnight working to get the two formats put together. As I understand it, the staples are mostly for the various links involved, but might be wrong.  I’m not really very technical.

Please stay tuned. We’re almost there. Red has been so excited the past few days he couldn’t sit down and alternated between pacing and paddling around the lake, eventually plopping down for a nap, worn out. It’s best really. Patience and bears frequently tend to travel on different roads.

So please stay tuned. As soon as the Amazon techies finish their work and we get the official okie-dokie, we will have release information and more details to share.  We are so close!

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

Sleeping Brown Bear, Pinterest Natilonal Geographic Society, uncredited

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear– “It Won’t Be Long Now!”

A quick bit of news to share this morning–  Red and I just placed an order for a final proof copy for the print book version of his short story collection “The Adventures of Little Red Bear!”   Hip-Huzzah!

We’re getting very close to the release and everyone is starting to get excited here.  Well, maybe not the weasels, but they have their own issues.

So, please stay tuned for more updates soon.  As the farmer’s cat said when it got its tail caught in the fan– “It won’t be long now!” — Jim (and Red!)

 

Found on Pinterest via National Geographic, uncredited

Found on Pinterest via National Geographic, uncredited