or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Month: February 2012

Olive on Ovaleye TV

Kathy Nelson and Carissa Dunphy of Ovaleye Cloud Services recently had me on their show for an interview in which I go on (and on) about Olive the Woolly Bugger. I warned them ahead of time that once I get to talking about fly fishing and Olive, there’s no stopping me.  And still, they wanted to go ahead with the interview, for which I am grateful.

Kathy is the CEO and Chief Decision Maker at OvalEye, where I have all my websites hosted. Kathy’s daughter, Jenn Donogh is the COO and Chief Brand Editor and they are great to work with. Carissa works for Ovaleye as Community Relations Manager and she also owns her own business, Caffeine Keyboard, in which she builds websites and offers great insight into optimizing your web presence. Of the many services offered by Ovaleye, promoting their clients via new web technologies is paramount.  I’d like to thank them for the support and the opportunity to  bring Olive the Woolly Bugger to a new audience.

Grab a couple cups of coffee, sit back, and (hopefully) enjoy the interview. Skype glitches provide for some unintended amusement.

Where the Wild Things Aren’t

An article in USAToday.com recently came through my in-box, and I’m glad it did. The article, titled “Study: New children’s books lack reference to nature, animals” talks about the trend in children’s books, whereby there are fewer and fewer themes dealing with the natural outdoor world.

This is really of little surprise to me, as it’s merely a microcosm of the world in which we live today—a world in which kids are spending more time engaged with technology, and less time outside playing the dirt.  I’ve written about this on several occasions, touting the merits of fly fishing as a great way to get kids interested in outdoor recreation, gaining an appreciation for the natural wonders, and having fun away from computers, cell phones and video games.

The USA Today article says this of the study:

Researchers at several universities reviewed about 8,100 images in 296 children’s books. The books were all Caldecott Medal winners and honorees from 1938 to 2008.

They didn’t review the Olive books because Olive did not win a Caldecott award. The Caldecott is a very distinguished award given annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. But that’s beside the point.

Co-author Chris Podeschi of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania says: “This is just one sample of children’s books, but it suggests there may be a move away from the natural world as the population is increasingly isolated from these settings. This could translate into less concern about the environment.”

I would agree. One of the great values in teaching kids about the outdoors is teaching them the importance of taking care of the environment. Through fly fishing, Olive teaches kids to be stewards of the fish, and the world in which the fish live. If you teach a child a lesson early on, they will carry that through life with them, growing into the next generation of conservationists. In a world where our natural resources hang in a delicate balance, this is more important than ever.

Not surprisingly the article cites Dr. Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network and a well-known author on the subject of connecting kids with nature. Aside from his passion for reconnecting kids with nature, Dr. Louv is also a fly fisherman 😉  The disconnect between today’s children and the natural world is a very real concern.

Psychologist Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe, says the research supports growing concerns about children’s lack of connection with nature.

“Time in green space is essential to children’s mental and physical health,” Linn says. “And the health of the planet depends on a generation of children who love and respect the natural world enough to protect it from abuse and degradation.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

For two reasons I wish the folks conducting the study had chosen Olive as a subject for their research: First, that would mean that Olive had earned a Caldecott Award; and second, they would have seen that some children’s books still carry the torch for the great outdoors.

Progress on Olive’s movie

It’s been a while since I shared any news about Olive’s quest for Hollywood. The silence may suggest that there’s been no progress, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth—I’ve actually been quite busy.

Now before you jump to any wild conclusions, let me state for the record that I do not have a film deal (yet). I have not been speaking with any animation studio executives or film producers (yet). I have not landed a Big Fish (yet).

So, what have I been doing that constitutes any sort of progress?

Working on a screen adaptation, that’s what.

An animated film featuring Olive the Woolly Bugger will not be simply an extended version of the stories from the Olive books. Certainly the film’s script will be based on the characters from the books and perhaps some elements from the stories, but an entirely new story  must be created.  And then there’s the matter of actually writing the screenplay itself. You see, I’m a writer, and an author, but a screenwriter I am not. That’s a specialized vocation all its own. One thing I did not want to do was dabble experimentally in screenwriting on a project so important. Remember, I need to sell this idea to someone. This is no time for a hack.

A writer doesn’t just sit down and begin scribing a screenplay. Before the script is crafted, the plot of the story must be outlined in what is called a treatment. A treatment is in fact an outline of the story’s structure, but a treatment has very specific requirements in order to be effective. It must be written in an act-based structure. Characters must be introduced. There must be a character arc showing the character’s growth over the course of the story. And it has to be compelling, without all the detail of an actual screenplay. The treatment precedes the first draft of the screenplay, so needless to say the treatment is a VERY key element in the film’s development.

Before any film development has begun, the treatment will be a critical sales tool in pitching my concept to a producer, so the treatment has to be exceptional. As I said, I’m not a screenwriter, so what am I doing about writing the treatment?  I’m working with a brilliant writer who knows what they’re doing. I first contacted Simon Cornish about creating 3D versions of Olive and Clark several months ago. Turns out Simon is a rather great person to know, as his talents seem limitless.

I sent Simon PDFs of the Olive books so he could gain a sense of who Olive is. Then I sent him a lengthy outline I had written with my ideas for the film. What Simon has fashioned, using his immense creativity as well as what I provided, is mind-boggling. We’ve shared overseas Skype sessions (Simon lives in the UK) and back and forth emails. We’ve worked through 3 iterations of the treatment, and with each revision I am only more and more pleased. We’re getting close to being finished, and have set a deadline of two weeks to have things wrapped up.

I believe that Simon is perhaps the perfect person for this task because he is not a fly fisherman. I didn’t want someone smitten by or even familiar with fly fishing to work on this. It’s best that the writer have no experience or knowledge of fly fishing because in order for a film like this to be successful, fly fishing needs to be down-played. The film must have mainstream appeal, and the writing must not be influenced by a certain affinity for the subject matter. In my opinion, what Simon has created is exceptional. I can’t wait until it’s done.

Then what?

Well, then I go about trying to pitch the treatment to a producer, animation executive or other interested party who I am cautiously optimistic will see that an animated film featuring Olive the Woolly Bugger is worth the time and money that will be required to bring the film to the public.

Olive earns Best New Gear Award from Outdoor Canada


I recently find out that the Olive books and fly boxes/nippers from Montana Fly Company were recently awarded Best New Gear for Kids for 2012 by Outdoor Canada magazine.

Seems as though I’m always the last to know, and in fact I may not have ever known about this if not for someone else posting the photo from the magazine page on Facebook!

Thanks to Montana Fly Company, a great partner for Olive.


Books are in my blood

I’ve been on a bit of a history kick lately as I’ve poured over old family photos from generations ago.  A few months ago I wrote about my great, great grandfather Paul Edward Werner, who founded what was at the time the largest publishing company in the world (before he lost everything and left future generations of Werners to find their own way in life). My great grandfather, Edward Paul Werner, grew up to run the family business in Akron, Ohio, and after the collapse of the Werner Printing and Lithograph empire, Ed Werner (“Pop” as he was known to family) continued to work in the printing industry.

Edward P. Werner

The collection of old family photos also included some newspaper clippings, one of which in particular I found very interesting. The article below is from the Beacon Journal, dated June 14. 1959. It announced that “Pop” was being honored as “Mr. Printer” by the Akron Club of Printing House Craftsmen. At the time my great grandfather was 83 years old and had been retired from the printing business since 1941.  He lived to the ripe old age of 96 and enjoyed a life of excellent health, right up until the end when he died peacefully in his sleep.  I had the pleasure of meeting Pop in 1967. I was a wee lad of 4-1/2 years when our family took a trip to Akron, and I remember him being a kind, fun man who was full of vitality. Of course, he was only 91 at the time so it only stands to reason!

The article points out that the Werner Printing and Lithograph Company printed state law books, catalogues and did some commercial printing.  I know for a fact that the company also printed a set of leather-bound encyclopedias because I have a few volumes, sitting in a box somewhere, slowly decaying (the price to restore them was cost-prohibitive the last time I checked). The article also mentions that in 1900:

Arthur J. Saalfield came to Akron and became manager of the company’s trade book department. Eight years later, Saalfield bought the department and moved it into a plant in South Akron, where it grew over the years into the Saalfield Publishing Company, the largest publisher of children’s books in the world.

So it would seem that the book business is in my blood. I can only hope that in another 100 years people will remember Olive the Woolly Bugger. And I’ve heard it said that an artist is never famous until after their death. Well, I hope I live as long as my great grandfather, which means I won’t be famous for another 47 years.


How do you say “Woolly Bugger” in French?

I know nothing of French culture, though I do like their fries. I’m vaguely familiar with the famed French attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I know France is famous for their vineyards, good wine and good food. And if I’m not mistaken, isn’t Paris the fashion capital of the world? But what about fly fishing in France?  I never hear much about it, but I assume people in France enjoy fly fishing–afterall, people everywhere fly fish. But how popular is it in France?

Comment est populaire de pêche à la mouche en France?

Assuming it’s popular in France, French anglers must see the same value in promoting fly fishing to kids and to that end I hope Olive the Woolly Bugger can bring her message to French kids. Do they teach kids to fly fish in France?

Enseignent-ils les enfants à voler de poisson à la France?

It’s early in my quest, but the Olive books are being sent to a publisher of children’s books in France, in hopes that they will see the value in the message of Olive’s stories. My hope is they’ll strike a deal with the U.S. publisher to translate and distribute to the fly fishing folks in France.

Wish us luck – and if you’re a French angler, Olive would love to hear from you!

Si vous êtes un pêcheur, l’huile d’olive français serait amour de vous entendre!


Olive the Woolly Bugger