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.”



“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.


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.


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 Just tap on image.)

“It’s Unbearable” — Image by cdudak. (Available for purchase at 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.


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.


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.

Research and Fiction Writing with Little Red Bear

A beautiful weekend here. Windows open, fresh air. Birds singing. So what did I choose to do all weekend? Story research.

Some have the impression that writing is simply sit down, type out your thoughts, and publish. And for many, for better or worse, that may work. But admitting to not knowing everything, researching all of the little tidbits and factoids comprising “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories takes as much or more time and effort than the actual writing of the stories.

Getting the little information right is important to me not only to lend believability and credibility to fictionalized stories, but also as a heartfelt responsibility to present correct and historically accurate information.  Maybe made more so attempting to write reliably about positive themes and guidance, wildlife, animals, nature and the environment.  Hours of research may be boiled down to a few lines in a paragraph. But I feel it is incumbent upon me to get it right. It is the underpinning of everything else in the story.

Writing- Research 5


Some say that the research is easier than the writing. Others seem to dread doing research, feeling it needless drudgery. I enjoy both.  It’s a personal matter for every writer.  But when reading a story featuring a character rushing to deliver a telegraph message about the Boston Tea Party while riding a Morgan stallion during the American Revolution and being chased thru Massachusetts by a band of Sioux Indians in warbonnets working with the British Army , you just get the sense that someone did not do their homework.  For me,  the”Fiction” heading only stretches the credibility and believability envelope so far.

This weekend I researched Ice Cream, Adjectives Beginning With The Letter “F”, Coonhounds, Honeybees, the History of Horses in America, Mustangs, Chickens, Various Breeds of Pigs, Pasture Farming Practices, Native American Beliefs, Plains Bison vs Wood Bison,  Ozarks Mountain Folklore, Steamboat Whistles and Hoopskirts. (Yes, Hoopskirts. Bet you can’t wait for that story!) 

But story research is not only visiting the library,  pouring thru reference volumes, or Googling information for a specific item, fact or question.  It is an everyday, part of living thing.  Being aware, paying attention and observing all going on around us, all the time.  Mannerisms, expressions, behaviors, reactions to situations, responses, the way people dress, communicating, personal exchanges, and so much more.  Always adding to the internal library of knowledge from which to withdraw when needed. Research is both living and being a student of life.

Now, off again to come up with a good name and learn more about a certain Turkey Buzzard that Little Red Bear just remembered he wanted to include in the next collection of stories.  As one of my favorite authors said — “Good writing is hard work!”

Peanuts- Snoopy- Writing- Hard Work

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

Quote- Mark Twain- Facts and Writing

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
Join us for an Adventure in the beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country!

Little Red Bear Unable to Attend Book Signing Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Vermont Country Store

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

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

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

Artwork -- "Mt. Airy Old Country Store II" by Dan Carmichael. (Prints available at

Artwork — “Mt. Airy Old Country Store II” by Dan Carmichael. (Prints available at

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Available on Amazon

Short Stories About An Uncommonly Special Bear & His Friends!

Little Red Bear Injured On The Writing Set — Story Production To Continue!

Writing action/adventure stories set in nature and featuring a wide variety of wild animals, critters, and unpredictable humans is not without risk.  Things happen.   Bumps, bruises, scrapes.  An occasional nip or bite, especially in scenes involving the weasels.  But nothing usually too serious.  Harrison Ford himself had an accident on the “Star Wars” movie set a little while ago if you recall, breaking his leg.  Jackie Chan fractured his skull in a fall while filming “Armour of God.”   The list of on-set actor injuries is long, and I’m sure the list of literary injuries is most likely longer.  I can’t begin to imagine the list of character injury reports from Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” as he was writing it.

Well, it seems I’m kind of beating around the bush here, not wanting to really break the news.  But to get to it, we had a writing accident over the weekend.  Little Red Bear  and his friends were busily engaged in one of his action/adventure stories and Red injured his leg in an action scene in the first of the next collection of short stories — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”

The injury is not terribly serious, but it will lay him up for a spell while his leg heals.  From the beginning I have wanted to provide Red with a stunt double to take his place in writing heavy action scenes, but being Red, he has always been adamant about doing all of his own stunt work because, as he says, — “My reader fans deserve a hundred and ten and three-quarters percent and the very best from me.”

Have to admire that I suppose, even if we are now confronted with proceeding on along without him, the major lead character in his own stories, for a while.  If there is any lesson to be learned from the event (other than not having hired a stunt double!) I suppose it might be — if a well-wisher ever says to you “Break a leg!” —  don’t take them literally.

We are going to continue working on the stories while Little Red Bear is laid up and on the mend, trying to write around his scenes as best as possible while hoping we don’t experience any extended production delays.  And we will provide updates from time to time to let you know how he’s getting on.  But so are the risks I suppose of a wildlife literary action hero.  He is too embarrassed to let me take a picture and is hiding from the paparazzi in his cabin, so here is an artistic rendering to give an idea.  Not meaning to cause alarm or getting anyone worked up.  Aunt Ivy (you may recall her as the local healer from the first set of stories) assures that the injury will not be permanently incapacitating, just something that will have to heal over time.  It’s just unfortunate that it came at an inconvenient point when story work is ramping up.  But I suppose that is why they call them “accidents” instead of “on purposes” after all.

So, sorry to have been the bearer of bad bear news to all of Red’s fans.  Thanks for dropping by and have a nice day, and — careful where you step.  I’m off to interview some stunt doubles now.  —  Jim (and Red!)

An Artistic Representation of Little Red Bear's Injury

An Artistic Representation of Little Red Bear’s Injury

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories Available on Amazon

Old-fashioned Storytelling About An Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends!



Take A Walk For Exercise, Come Home With A Story Idea– a ‘Two-fer’!

A beautiful day here yesterday with the temperature reaching 70F.  A grey, overcast morning gave way to brilliant sunshine in the afternoon, with daffodils everywhere stretching to bask in the warmth.  You could almost hear the tree buds popping open to welcome spring.  So I took an afternoon walk for fresh air and exercise.  Always a good thing.  And, as so frequently happens on walks, a fun new story idea presented itself along the way.

Walking along, I caught sight of a man getting out of his pickup truck and walking around to the back door of his home.  A while later, I observed a young lady pull into a driveway, exit the car, proceed up the walk and knock on the front door. That’s all.  Simple as that.   BAMM!  The inspiration for a fun conversation in the next set of Little Red Bear stories came to mind.  I completed the walk, came in and wrote out a new scene and character conversation, right out of the blue.  A small sequence in a large collection of stories, but isn’t that what creativity is — little bits all stitched together to form a whole?  Kind of like an old-fashioned quilt in that way.

I read a selection recently about taking the time and making the effort to  be more mindful to fully appreciate the everyday, mundane tasks that we go thru by rote each and every day, half awake in a hypnotic and robotic state without even being aware of what we are doing.  How does the shower water feel? What does the shampoo smell like?  How does the toothpaste taste and smell?  The true aromas of breakfast.  Flower scents in the air when heading outside. The feel on our face of a morning mist or breeze. Being aware and alive to consciously witness and take pleasure in everyday experiences and occurrences going on all around us all thru the day.  Living and Being in the moment.

And when we are in ‘aware mode’, fully cognizant of and appreciating our life and all around us, then creative and story ideas are everywhere.  It’s as simple as watching someone get out of their car.  Next time you find yourself stuck for a creative idea or inspiration, the answer may be waiting right outside the door.  Why not go outside and see?

Thanks for stopping by to visit.  It’s even more beautiful this morning.  I feel another walk coming on.  —  Jim (and Red!)

Writing- Walking for Ideas 2

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” on Amazon

Short Stories About An Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Quote- Love and Purpose

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

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

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote- Kindness Instructions

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

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

Quote- Kindness- Doing Good

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

Introducing the Amazing– “Devon Art Pop!”

Sharing a delightful entry and wonderful artworks today from my writer friend Sylva Fae, which appeared on her blog Sylvanian Ramblings a few weeks ago.  Sylva introduced me to an amazing group of talented artists who brought themselves together under the umbrella group name of Devon Art Pop.

There are many groups of artists about, but most frequently assembled by field of study– a watercolor artists group, woodcarvers group, pottery group, etc.  What struck and impressed me most about the Devon Art Pop was their mix of talents, crossing discipline lines to include not only artists but a poet, leather worker and wood worker among others.  I would love to be in such a marvelous group and to be a “Popper!”

I strongly encourage you to visit the Devon Art Pop page and artists thru the links provided.  Residents of the UK can check their appearance schedules and meet them in person! Follow their work and activities on Twitter and Facebook. Here is more information, as presented by Sylva Fae and Chaz E Arnold from Devon Art Pop.  Beautiful and amazing creative work all around.  Enjoy!

*    *    *    *    *    *

From Sylva- I was introduced to the Devon Art Pop group by my Twitter friend Alan Prince whose amazing sculptures are featured in an earlier guest blog. I was then introduced to their Paignton Poet, Chaz E Arnold, who very kindly helped gather information from the group. In its time, the diverse talents of 20 different artists have been represented, and this is a showcase of just some of those.

Thank you to both of you for your help.

Sylva Fae x


Devon Art Pop

Devon Art Pop is simply a group of Devon based artists who share conversations via the social media of Twitter and work collaboratively to exhibit our work through pop-up galleries across Devon. The idea is the brainchild of genius watercolourist Jill Griffin. Since Jill’s eureka moment, the concept has grown from strength to strength with new artists joining the happy band all the time.

The aim is to enjoy collaborating and inspire one another and hopefully sell a work of art along the way. The poppers, as the members call themselves are painters, leather workers, sculptures, metal workers, wood turners and a poet. The media used couldn’t be more diverse and include watercolour, acrylic, oil and textile.

Devon Art Pop’s pop up exhibitions are held several times a year in venues as diverse as stately homes and town halls to art galleries and high street shops. Up and coming events and more about the group and its members can be found at their DevonArtPop website.


Jill Griffin

aka PocketPop

Jill Griffin - Curious CharlieA lifelong self taught watercolourist, influenced heavily by Mother Nature in all her guises. I love to paint a big variety of natural things and particularly I am influenced by the changing of the seasons. From bare trees in winter, to sea shells, from pebbles stacked precariously to fish swirling in a mass. I also like to work in a semi abstract and illustrative styles, where I can use my imagination and hide surprises in my work.
My favourite work had to be a Barn Owl portrait I made called Curious Charlie- I loved his character that came through and his deeply curious stare.

I am represented at Mayflower Arts, Gallery on the Hoe and Homeframe Gallery in Plymouth, and I sell work direct via Artfinder as well as popping up with DevonArtPop.

Jill Griffin - Hyacinth
Jill Griffin - Trees


Chaz E. Arnold

aka The Paignton Poet and Poet Pop

41HuiizeVEL._UY250_Chaz is a poet and author and has written many novels, most notably The Hope Saga, a science fiction adventure series set in the 1950’s. He is perhaps better known for his poetry and is inspired by virtually everything but most enjoys writing poetry to accompany artwork. Chaz’s work can be found on Amazon and his poetry pops up in art galleries across Devon and occasionally further afield. He enjoys tweeting spur of the moment verses on Twitter and Facebook where he has built up an appreciative following.

His scifi and poetry ebooks can be found on Amazon and he can also be found on Twitter @PaigntonPoet and Facebook ‘Chaz E. Arnold

Chaz - A Lonely Cloud

Chaz - English Rose

Chaz - Modern Cafe Culture


Alan Prince

aka Made By a Prince and Pair of Pops

I’ve had a passion to create things for as long as can I remember, becoming an approved craftsman and learning many skills along the way, years of wood turning and furniture making followed. Time spent working alongside a model engineer challenged the approach I took to my craft and gave me the insight to see things in a different way. The more difficult the piece the more I was up for the challenge, always striving for that unattainable perfection. Having worked with different medias, I have found my passion in recreating the things that I see around me with “spent items”. My chief sculptures are made from recycled copper and brass, drawing on my experience with wood to make formers to help create these. Being mostly self taught has given a feeling of freedom about my creations and I have now arrived at a point I feel comfortable sharing my efforts.

My sculptures and jewellery are available to buy direct from the Made by a Prince website. My work can also be found at West Gallery (West Putford) and Mayflower Arts.

You can connect with Alan Prince on Twitter @madebyaprince.




John Fells

aka Woodpop

John Wells - long topWorking with wood is my passion. I’m predominately a woodturner using UK grown timber and some reclaimed exotics to produce a wide range of products and forms. I can’t help but aim for a fine finish on all my work to reveal the timbers beauty and I enjoy the finer details.

My favorite type of piece is a natural edge form where I start from a log and the bark plays a part in the final shape. (Although spinning tops may overtake soon as playing with physics turns out to be quite a curious activity, both on and off the lathe!)

My main permanent display is in Charlestown, Cornwall where I have a range of work. I also supply 2 galleries in Devon with some pieces; West Gallery (West Putford) and Artisan Homes (Modbury, home of the Devon Moths).
You can also follow my current work on Facebook (John Fells wood) and Twitter (@johnfellswood) and find other details on my website

John Wells - cans

John Wells - natural edge oak


James Peter Millward

I am a Plymouth based painter. My love of the natural world is my driving artistic force – having grown up in the beautiful unspoilt valleys of the Howgill fells in Cumbria I was surrounded by nature. In many of my paintings I zoom in on the macroscopic scenes in order to try and capture that intimacy and energy of that moment when a person may stop what they are doing to admire “let’s say!” a ladybird descend a grass shoot, or the immaculate design of a flower. I believe all living things have a consciousness which we can connect with if we empty our heads of the meaningless trash of our consumer driven lives and take notice of this miracle around us, and it is that intimate connection between all living things which I dearly hope to capture in my paintings, macroscopic or standard landscapes, riverscapes and seascapes.

My preferred medium is golden open acrylics, slow drying pigment which act much like oils and whilst the process takes longer than normal acrylics the pigment quality and vibrancy is in my opinion unmatched. I paint in thin layers and build the painting slowly up to a crescendo of colour and detail, I love painting detail on top of diffuse dreamy backgrounds because when our eyes give full attention to a particular subject the world around it defocuses into energy and that is the “moment of attention” which I am trying to capture and isolate in my work. Though I seek accuracy in my work, real-feelism is my goal, not photorealism.

A favourite piece of my own is “Henry the darling bug of May”. I was sat in the heathlands of the beautiful National Trust Saltram Estate enjoying the peace and quiet when I was visited by Henry when he landed on a grass shoot in front of me and began to descend it. I was amazed how his little insect legs supported his big shiny ruby red body and carried him seamlessly down the shoot and away on his journey. Ladybirds are supposed to bring luck and we can all do with a bit of that can’t we? Ladybirds are joyful creatures painted with some of nature’s finest pigments and designs and it was a joy for me to paint “The darling bug of May”

My art can be seen primarily in Mayflower Arts 12 Southside Street, Barbican, Plymouth, where I am the artist in residence. My works are also exhibiting in “The gallery on the hoe” here in Plymouth. I also have my own website with all my works, paintings and abstract sculptures here at

James Peter Millward - alchemy (1)

James Peter Millward - by the river(1)


Emma Higgins

aka Lino Pop

I make lino prints from my little cottage studio. Most of my prints are inspired by the South Devon coast and so have a seaside theme. My style is quite simple and many prints feature blues and greys which are colours I am always drawn to using.

‘Coastline’ is my favourite piece at the moment. It is of Blackpool Sands in the South Hams.

Where to find my work:
From time to time I exhibit locally but my prints can always be found online at

Emma Higgins - Beach Huts

Emma Higgins - Coastline (Blackpool Sands)



Jackie Gale

aka StitchPop

Jackie is a contemporary textile artist who works from her studio in the South Hams. She produces quirky naive artworks using a wide array of recycled materials including anything from wood veneers to rusty nails, merino felt to window film. Along with strong use of colour she uses texture to capture the essence of a place or theme and tell its story. The fine detail in her work as well as the quirky features make it not only uplifting but truly engaging. Each piece can take up to 2 weeks to produce. She likes to research extensively about a place or theme she is portraying and customise her materials accordingly. Jackie draws inspiration from her beautiful surroundings as well as her passion for naive art. She feels she finds something new to capture in textile every time she steps outside her front door.

Since turning professional in 2012, her work has attracted both national and international interest and she was recently awarded ‘Up & Coming Artist 2015′ by the Fine Art Trade Guild. [Congratulations Jackie! Sylva x]

You can connect with Jackie on Twitter (@jackiegaleart) or at her web site

Jackie Gale - Spring


Theresa Shaw

aka ShawAboutArt, FlowerPop

Theresa Shaw - Crazy-Daisy-IInspired by nature, in particular flowers are a constant source of inspiration that help me create bold, contemporary florals and landscapes in acrylic ink for vibrancy and energy. I occasionally use Hammerite and gold and silver leaf for that additional wow and my aim is to achieve multi-layered pieces that are never boring.

Favourite piece at the moment: Crazy Daisy I – I love this piece – the colours, the layers, the little details.

Galleries where you can find my work: GalleryFab, Newton Abbot. Haddon Galleries, Torquay. Mayflower Arts, Plymouth. West Gallery, Holsworthy. The Marle Gallery, Axminster. Art5 Gallery, Brighton. Suki Craft Gallery, Tutbury.
Also online here: and

Theresa Shaw - crocus

Theresa Shaw - Flower Kisses 1

Theresa Shaw - Scillas 1

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