Olive is Crushing it!

Until I saw the video below I had no idea that I was “crushing it”, let alone what the term, in this case, means. There are instances where I’ve heard the term used to describe other things such as when one smashes their finger with a hammer (“Dude, I just crushed my finger!”); when stomping grapes in the wine-making process (“Dude, come on over and let’s crush some grapes”); or when a really great day of fishing is enjoyed (“Dude, I totally crushed the browns”).

Apparently “Crushing It” also means maximizing one’s online presence to promote a business, product, or idea. In the book  Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, the author talks about many ways the social media revolution has changed the way we live our lives and conduct our business, and the book gives you the tools to take advantage and WIN.

I hope my crushing it will mean that people find out about my kids fly fishing books.  I’m also going to remain hopeful that Oprah will finally hear about the books as well. If I never hear from Oprah I’ll be disappointed, but not completely crushed.

Thanks to my friends, Kathy and Jenn over at Ovaleye Web Solutions for the shout out in their vblog.

Olive and Oprah, Part V

Miracles.  Do you believe in them?  That’s a question recently asked by Oprah on Facebook. I don’t know if I believe in miracles, but I do believe in perseverance. So does Olive the woolly bugger, which is one of the important lessons in my children’s fly fishing books.

If you’ve been following my exploits in recent weeks, you know that my mission in life is to get Oprah to bless my series of kids books and add them to her recommended Kids’ Reading List.  I figured that since Oprah recently went fly fishing for the first time and proclaimed an interest in doing more, the time is now for her to see my books.

As the saying goes, the last key unlocks the door. I’ve knocked on the door and so far nobody has answered. I’ll keep trying different keys, and if that doesn’t work I may have to jimmy the lock.

November 20th is Children’s Day: Take a kid fishing

I wasn’t aware until just now that November 20th is apparently Children’s Day. And not only that, but Children’s Day was celebrated even before Mother’s or Father’s Day.   Children’s Day dates back as far as 1856 and was first celebrated in June. Since then it has it has gone through several changes in dates.

More detailed information from Examiner.com: Children’s Day was formally celebrated throughout the world in October of 1953, when the International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva sponsored the day. Then in 1954 V.K Krishna Menon, Indian Nationalist and Politician, debated a Universal Children’s Day, which was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly. November 20th also marks the anniversary when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.

Regardless of whether you knew about Children’s Day or not, it sounds like a good excuse to be nice to your kids. Maybe take them fishing, or buy them a token gift.  Might I suggest the Olive the Woolly Bugger series of children’s books?  They’re only $12.95 each so you can buy all three in the series. Many adults spend more than that on coffee each week.

Happy Children’s Day – get your kids hooked on Olive!

Olive and Oprah, Part IV

You all may know by now that Oprah went camping in Yosemite this past summer, and while she was there she tried her hand at fly fishing for the first time. For a little inside scoop about the experience, guide Brian Grossenbacher talks about it over on About.com

If you have been following along with my blog for the past few weeks, you’ve read about my attempts to email Oprah, hoping to get her attention and request that she consider Olive the Woolly Bugger for inclusion in her Kids’ Reading List.  Thus far the attempts at establishing a communication link with Oprah have proven futile, but I shall persevere and eventually I hope to hear back. Recently I had a dream in which my wishes came true. It went something like this (and I apologize for the 13 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back):

Olive and Oprah, Part III

Well, Oprah’s show featuring her camping trip to Yosemite aired last week, and it did include a brief segment about their fly fishing experience. From Oprah’s website:

Oprah and Gayle begin their day, and the first thing on the agenda is a lesson in fly fishing—something Oprah has always dreamed of doing. “I like the idea of putting on the boots and going out in the water and catching and releasing some fish,” Oprah says.

After watching the show, it was painfully clear that Oprah’s friend Gayle was WAY out of her element and she won’t be fishing again anytime soon.

“I’m all done with fly fishing,” Gayle says. “It’s just not for me. I like a pretty pool; I like a pretty colored drink with an umbrella sitting in it.”

To each their own. Afterall, if everyone fly fished, there wouldn’t be a lot of room along the banks of the river. Oprah, on the other hand, had a great attitude and seemed to catch on to the casting fairly well. She indicated that she enjoyed it and will be trying it again.  Conditions didn’t look favorable for catching fish, and they didn’t. But it seems that Oprah quickly grasped the meaning of “there’s more to fishing than catching fish.” In fact, she said that she wants to put together a group and take a trip.  I can imagine that there are any number of fly fishing guides and outfitters across the West that will be vying for a chance to book that trip, but my hunch is that Brian and Jenny Grossenbacher (Grossenbacher Guides) may have a lock on that since they were with Oprah on her trip to Yosemite.

Here are a couple of photos posted on Oprah’s website from their fly fishing lesson.

Strike while the iron is hot

With Oprah’s show featuring her fly fishing experience still smoldering like a nights-old campfire, the time is now to let Oprah know about my books. With that in mind I continue to send an email to her on a weekly basis, although I readily acknowledge that my odds of hearing from Oprah are miniscule. I wonder if maybe I should start my quest with something a little more reasonable?  Perhaps I should send a set of books to the Grossenbachers. Maybe they would forward them to Oprah since they’re all fishin’ buddies. I’m sure they have each others’ cell numbers.

One way or another there has to be a way for my Olive books to get into Oprah’s hands.  What she does with them after that is up to her, but I would sure love to have Olive added to Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List.  More kids need to learn about fly fishing and the great outdoors.  It’s good for kids, as I wrote about HERE. I think Oprah can see the value in that after just one camping trip and one brief fly fishing lesson.

Oprah, are you listening?  I just sent you an email. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

Olive and Oprah, Part II.

Oprah and Gayle with guides Brian and Jenny Grossenbacher

It’s widely known that fishing is an activity that leads to an interest in other outdoor sports. This is not my own assertion, it’s simple fact and I talked about it in a previous entry, HERE.

If you’re an Oprah fan (my wife is) then you likely know that she took a camping trip to Yosemite this summer and one of the things she did was try her hand at fly fishing. I touched on that previously as well, HERE.  Today’s Oprah show will feature part 2 of Oprah’s camping trip. I hope it also touches a bit more on Oprah’s introduction to fly fishing, because no matter what your opinion of Oprah, she is widely respected and has the power to influence. If her popularity leads to an interest in fly fishing, I see that as a good thing. The sport needs new participants, not just to boost the economic side of the industry, but to create new stewards for the resource. There’s an article over at Field & Stream about Oprah and Gayle’s fly fishing experience. Kirk Deeter writes:

“This episode really revolves around our National Parks, and is intended to inspire more people, particularly African-Americans, to get out and enjoy the wonderful natural treasures therein… fly fishing being one way to do so. That’s a darn solid ideal, if you ask me.”

See, there it is again- the reference to fly fishing being one key way to experience the great outdoors!  Oprah reported on a previous show that “not enough black people go camping.” Perhaps there’s a correlation with the fact that not enough black people go fishing as well? Well, no matter the color of one’s skin, fly fishing is a great activity.  Oprah has the power to influence millions of people, black, white, brown or any color in between.  One way to influence any person is to spark an interest at an early age, and that’s the goal of my Olive books: to create an awareness of what fly fishing has to offer.  My books don’t concern themselves with human characters so they appeal equally to all, no matter the color of their skin. Olive is for everyone. She hails from a colorfully diverse family: her mother is a brown woolly bugger, her father a black woolly bugger. She has friends that are yellow, orange, and purple.

Deeter also says:

“One way or the other, I’d suggest to you that, in reaching out to her massive audience and saying nice things about fly fishing, Oprah will do more to stimulate interest in this sport (and our National Parks), perhaps since A River Runs Through It hit the silver screen in 1992. Certainly more than a lot of companies (including some selling you gear, and not putting back) have done… more than making movies of ourselves to show to ourselves will ever do… and more than any writer “preaching to the choir” can hope to accomplish.”

I agree.  Let Oprah’s power of influence ring beneficial.  Heck, I’m hoping she’ll finally see that Olive the Woolly Bugger is worth considering for her Oprah’s Kids’ Reading List. Olive needs Oprah’s help in spreading the word about fly fishing and outdoor recreation.  And yes, if that results in an increase in book sales, I wouldn’t mind that as well.

Oprah, I wrote to you again. I look forward to a reply, eventually.

Reader feedback: Olive the woolly bugger books

I just received this nice note from a parent who bought all three Olive fly fishing books for his son:

“My soon-to-be 5 year-old has read your first 3 books. He’s my die hard fishing buddy. I knew he’d like them because woolly buggers were already his favorite fly (although Olive doesn’t have any flash like his favorite).

He caught a fish on the first fly he tied all by himself last month. I hope he’s hooked for life, because every man needs a good fishing buddy. Thanks for feeding his passion.”

I love hearing from from happy readers. If you’ve read the Olive books, or your kids have, please drop me a note- I’ll send your fishy kid an autographed book mark!  You can contact me HERE.

Thanks for reading- join Olive on Facebook!

Opinions of Olive.

We all know that opinions, no matter the topic, are subjective. Book reviews are simply opinions of one or more persons and therefore prone to that same subjectivity. However, when a consensus is reached, that subjectivity tends to become something you can trust. I’m happy to report that to date, I’ve not received a bad review for Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and/or Olive Goes for a Wild Ride.

There are lots of reviews over on Amazon.com, but let’s be honest: many (though not all) of those reviews are from people I know who did me the favor of posting their reviews to drive traffic in that direction. While certainly I appreciate their time and support, any savvy person knows that these types of reviews are solicited. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the reviewers are being objective and honest. By the way, I like what’s been said about Olive on Amazon! 😉

More valuable perhaps are reviews by people with whom I have no previous relationship. They don’t know me from the next stranger who asks them to review a book, so they are going to be objective in their assessment of my work.  As they should be–it’s their job to give their honest feedback.

The following are excerpts from previous reviews, by people I do not know, of the Olive books. You can find some the full reviews on the REVIEWS page of the Olive website.

“The child in your life will love these fun stories where flies come to life and fight just as hard as anglers for that feisty wild trout.” Trout magazine, Spring 2008

“They’re delightful, they’re entertaining, and they contain an important message for kids: respect our resources. Kirk Werner’s two new books arrived in the mail last week and we were simply amazed by the talent they display…beautifully illustrated and written, they show great imagination and real knack for storytelling.” Midcurrent, January 30, 2008

“Werner supplies plenty of fly-fishing vocabulary and techniques to Olive and her readers, but always with joy and wonder. By presenting Olive’s lessons in a visually charming manner and easy-to-understand language, Werner latches onto children’s imaginations, and carries them into a new and exciting world. Both parents and children will enjoy these books.” Native Fish Society, December 2007

“…Playing off goofy fly names–like zonker, yellow sally, and gold-ribbed hare’s ear–author and angler Kirk Werner (’85 Comm.) creates a world of flies-in-training whose only goal is to catch fish. The bright illustrations and lively adventures appeal to young readers, while they learn about the tricks and techniques of flyfishing.” Washington State Magazine, Winter 2009

“There are many ways to pass along the love of the outdoors and one is this wonderful series of children’s books by Kirk Werner...Whether you have a family lured by the appeal of flyfishing or not, this series of books will get young readers hooked on the outdoors and reading…These books are truly unique in that they introduce young readers to the sport of flyfishing in an entertaining way. As somebody with no experience or interest in flyfishing, I found these books fun to read, educational, and entertaining. The bright and colorful illustrations are amazing and so much fun to view.” Examiner.com, July 15, 2009

“The story is a delight and clearly explains what fishing flies are and how they are used for different kinds of fishing. The illustrations are amusing while capturing the personalities of the different flies. Werner is commended for creating a great book for children to learn about fly fishing. I learned a lot and I know young fisherpeople will also.” MyShelf.com, February 2008

“Kirk Werner has found a niche in juvenile literature and filled nicely. As in any good story for kids, there is a moral; persevere and you will succeed. What the author does, however, goes well beyond telling a simple tale with a moral. He takes the concept of catch and release fly fishing and turns it into a story that children and parents/grandparents will enjoy reading together. The illustrations are beautiful and will engage youngsters in the story. Werner gets his message about the joy of catching fish and releasing them so they can be caught again by others across very well.” TCM Reviews, March 2008

“Is there a more noble and worthy endeavor in this world than inspiring kids to read, and at the same time, tuning them into the world of fly fishing? That’s what author Kirk Werner is doing with his catchy series of books for young readers based on his “Olive the Little Woolly Bugger” character. Wonderfully illustrated and smartly written, these three books offer a keen balance of entertainment and educational value (they were a hit with my 9 year-old son). Given the intense interest in fostering interest in fly fishing among kids, this series is certainly work including in a shop’s book section.” Angling Trade, December 2009

All three books were also given some very nice coverage on page 62 of Fly Fusion magazine (volume 7 issue 2, Spring 2010).

So, the question is, can you trust the reviews of all these people?  It’s my opinion that you can.

Fly fishing books for kids

As popular as fly fishing is as an adult activity, it seems that relatively few kids are involved in the sport at an early age.  It may be that the child in question is simply too young, or that the parent thinks the child may not be ready for it. Whatever the case may be, the first step in getting kids ready for fly fishing is creating an interest, and creating that interest happens well before a child visits a stream or lake with fly rod in hand.

Fly fishing is a reflection of life in that regard.  Afterall, the young child who says they want to be a firefighter when they grow up doesn’t come to this conclusion by visiting the scene of a burning building! So where do kids get the enthusiasm for things they want to do?  TV no doubt factors in. Video games also have a great influence on kids, all too often unfortunately. Certainly watching adults and parents whom they idolize also fuels the creativity of children.  Books also come to mind.

Kids have tremendous imaginations: by reading books about topics that interest them children often imagine themselves involved in those stories, going on the same adventures as the characters in the books. If there were a book with engaging characters that go on fly fishing adventures, it wouldn’t take a stretch of the adult imagination to see that kids would identify with those characters, go along on the fly fishing adventures, and come away with an excitement and desire to create similar adventures of their own.

Enter Olive, the woolly bugger. Olive is the central character in a series of children’s books that are intended as a primer to get kids interested in fishing (specifically, fly fishing). In the fist book, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive is just like the child who has never fished before.  She goes off to Camp Tightloops to learn what it takes to become a fishing fly (and while there she learns some life lessons that go well beyond fly fishing). After she has been taught the basics of fly fishing, Olive gets her first chance to take what she has learned and try out her knowledge for the first time in Olive and The Big Stream. In this second book, not every fly catches a fish, just as not every child will catch a fish on their first outing. However, everyone witnesses the excitement that accompanies the action when a trout is finally caught, and released! In the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride, Olive (and her readers) overcome further obstacles and continue their education about stream habitat, insect life and all that makes the great outdoors so great! Kids will read the adventures of Olive and imagine themselves along for every step of the journey. They’ll come away having learned something and having had a lot of fun in the process.

If you have a child who already enjoys fishing, it’s a safe bet they’ll enjoy reading the Olive fly fishing series. If you think your child is too young to actually join you on a fly fishing adventure, it’s not too soon to get them thinking about the day when they will be ready to join you.  Until that day, Olive will take your child on fly fishing adventures right now.

Your child will be hooked on fly fishing with the help of Olive the woolly bugger, and if you’re an angler, these are books you’ll actually look forward to reading with your children.

The real man behind Olive the Woolly Bugger.

Mr. Russell Blessing with one of his many Woolly Buggers

As author of Olive the Woolly Bugger, I can take credit for having created the character and the stories in my books, but the person truly responsible was a man by the name of Russell Blessing.

Not long ago I received an email from someone whose name I didn’t recognize: Fred Blessing.  The message subject was “Woolly Bugger”, so obviously I opened it with great curiosity. Fred began by saying that he had recently come across my kids’ books about Olive the Woolly Bugger. He then introduced himself as the son of the late Russell Blessing, creator of the Woolly Bugger fly.  I was familiar with who Russ Blessing was, for obvious reasons (you don’t launch a series of books based on a Woolly Bugger without doing a little research first). News of Russ’s death in October 2009 spread through the fly fishing world, but Russ Blessing wasn’t what most would consider a household name to everyone who fly fishes. I would soon learn that Russ’s relative anonymity was no accident.

Fred went on to tell me that his father was a very humble man and not in any way was he ever interested in claiming fame for the fly that had gained such notoriety in the fly fishing world:  “He would never tell anyone about it, and if they would mention it while coming across a fellow fisherman he would simply play it off and would never take claim to it being his fly.”  The mark of a truly humble man indeed.

Fred had written a heartfelt tribute to his father, hoping to have it published in Russ’s honor before he died. Sadly that didn’t happen and Russ passed away after a long battle with cancer. According to Fred, his wife “graciously read my tribute to my father the night he passed away, so for that I’m grateful that he at least got to hear it. I would however like to share it with the world, letting fellow fly fishers know what kind of person my father really was.”  Fred then added, “I do think you will enjoy the tribute and I would appreciate anything you can do to help my tribute to go public.” Fred also sent me this photo of he and Russ and Russ’s best friend and fishing companion, Werner “Dutch” Fetter. It’s always nice to be able to put a face with a name in this day of often impersonal electronic correspondence.

"Dutch" Fetter, Fred Blessing and Russ Blessing (2006)

When I read Fred’s tribute to his father I was touched.  I decided immediately that I could blog about it, and reach out to other bloggers and ask that they also blog about it, but let’s be honest:  How many people actually read all the fly fishing blogs out there?  Not to detract from the many excellent blogs, but my other blog, the Unaccomplished Angler, has a limited readership.  This blog has an even more limited readership. I felt that Fred’s tribute to his father deserved a more traditional place of honor, so I fired off an email to Joe Healy, a contact I had recently established at Fly Rod & Reel magazine. Joe was very receptive and after a series of back and forth emails, it was decided that I would write a brief intro and conduct a Q & A interview with Fred Blessing to share some information about his father.

My role in all this was really nothing more than that of intermediary, but it was a real honor to help the Blessing family get the word out about who Russ really was: beyond just being the man behind what has become arguably the most famous fly pattern in the world. I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Fred Blessing for reaching out to me with your story and for sharing so much about your father. Thank you to Joe Healy for your willingness to honor Russ’s legacy with some widespread coverage. And thank you to Russ Blessing for the woolly bugger: the value of your creation reaches far beyond my little series of books, but without the woolly bugger there would be no Olive.

To read the interview with Fred Blessing and Fred’s tribute to his father on the website of Fly Rod & Reel, please click HERE.

Russ Blessing-tied Woolly Buggers sent to me by Fred Blessing- thanks, Fred!