Posted by Ryan Acra on January 23, 2017

School Talks

Meadowlark 6th Grade Hero - Watermelon Woman, and Villain - Death Strike
Meadowlark 6th Grade Hero – Watermelon Woman, and Villain – Death Strike
Meadowlark Fifth Grade Heroes - Tazmanian Devil Woman and Plungerino
Meadowlark Fifth Grade Heroes – Tazmanian Devil Woman and Plungerino

 

I love to talk to kids about creativity.  All of my favorite teachers growing up were the ones that loved creativity, even if the assignment wasn’t perfectly met, a crazy fun writing idea got a little bit of extra attention.

In my chats with the fifth and sixth grades at Meadowlark elementary in Great Falls, I tried to get the kids to really think outside of what they’re used to.  They work together to create a brand new superhero, then I help a couple of volunteers come up with a story about how their new heroes handle a situation I come up with.  Some of the kids are so creative I can only hope they stick with writing.  Others are a little more timid, but we have a blast either way!

If you have a group or class and would like some new blood to come in and kill an 45 minutes or so, let me know.  I would love to continue the fun!!

 

 

Posted by Ryan Acra on January 19, 2017

Dab!

Meet Dab.  He is the invention of Miss Martinich's kindergarten class at Meadowlark Elementary in Great Falls, MT.
Meet Dab. He is the invention of Miss Martinich’s kindergarten class at Meadowlark Elementary in Great Falls, MT.

 

My first classroom chat was a blast.  I had the time of my life chatting with the Kindergarteners at Meadowlark school here in Great Falls.  They are hilarious.  I talked a little about creativity in general, read a few pages from the book, then we all worked together to create Dab!  He is a superhero the likes of which can only be born from the minds of kindergarteners.

I can see why authors that get agents and big publishers enjoy that world.  I could do what I did today every day for the rest of my life without it ever getting boring.  Kids crack me up.  At the end of my talk today I got the entire class to give me a dab goodbye.

I hope I get to do things like this a lot more often in the future.

 

Posted by Ryan Acra on January 18, 2017

Classrooms

school-916678_1920

I have always enjoyed the idea of being in a classroom helping students.  Oddly enough, I never loved the idea of being a teacher.  I would definitely love to be a college instructor, or professor, or whatever the right title would be, but I have a healthy fear of large groups of kids younger than that when I would see them daily.

Maybe that’s why I am absolutely thrilled to be starting a little tour of some classrooms to talk about my book.  I will be at my daughter Haven’s kindergarten class tomorrow.  It will likely be the most challenging class I talk to since none of them can really even read, let alone potentially enjoy a middle grade novel.  I’m still pumped though.  I know we will have a blast together.

Over the next few weeks, I will be meeting with a number of classes around Montana, and hopefully beyond.  The idea of talking about the creative process is a passion of mine.  I want to help kids find the fun in writing and understand the importance of writing in almost any adult path they choose.  Plus I just want to have fun joking around with kids!

I will post about how it all goes, but in the meantime, wish me luck!

Posted by Ryan Acra on January 12, 2017

Lefty

lefty

Lefty is Xander’s other grandpa.  While he’s closer to Pops, who is much more of a nurturer, he loves him some Lefty as well.

My great-grandfather was nicknamed Lefty and actually played some semi-professional baseball.  While he died before I could get to know him really well, I liked the idea of having his memory in my book.  The Sugarbeet Falls character Lefty is more of a loose idea of a sort of older and lazier Dr. Cox from the television show Scrubs.  He’s kind of just an ol’ malcontent but really for no reason, and when push comes to shove, he has a huge heart and love for his family.

In the book there are a lot of fabulous athletes from Sugarbeet Falls.  Coach Clark, Lefty, Leo, Grace, Xander, and Aaron are all former or future stars.  I’m sure the residents of the small town have enjoyed watching high school sports for a long time.

 

Posted by Ryan Acra on January 7, 2017

Inspire!

comfort

I spent this Friday morning doing phone interviews with potential employees for my day job and started doodling this fellow.  He is The Comfort Crusader, the outspoken superhero Xander conjures to help him endure a bus ride for a field trip to the Sugarbeet Falls Hospital.  It’s not necessarily my best artistic endeavor, but it did make me feel good.  I love the idea of kids and others that read Sugarbeet Falls can naturally think of heroes big and small that would be nice to have around.  I mean a super pillow?  That guy doesn’t get an invitation to Professor X’s mansion to be part of the X-Men, but he sure helped Xander that day.

Inspiration is a funny thing.  Its hard to put a finger on what is inspirational for before you’re inspired by it.  I’ve already talked about my inspiration for the book itself is my son Zack, but to take it to the level of publishing and trying to market it has been a mixture of all kinds of inspiration.

The biggest inspiration is my wife.  She’s a wonderful wife and mother, but professionally, she is a cheer coach.  She is nothing else.  She loves cheerleading, she loves coaching, she loves helping cheerleaders get better, and she loves to compete.  Twice now, she has opened cheerleading gyms in our small town against long odds, and twice she has been successful.  No one could tell her “no,” if they did, she wouldn’t hear it.

I have another friend from Phoenix named Miguel.  He felt the call to start an energy drink company called Fuga Energy.  To break into that market is a bear, the Monster, NOS, Red Bull, and others don’t take kindly to new guys.  Miguel hasn’t put Fuga in every store yet, but he is putting everything he has into it and he will either make it or die trying.  Either way, he won’t regret the effort and faith he put into his dream.

I work for a couple of guys who’s story would to too unbelievable for Hollywood.  They were students in welding school in 1998 and now they have a company that does more than $100 million in revenue, they own a racing team, they give back to communities in a manner that would cause most accountants to drink far too much, and they’re only just beginning.

Bits and pieces of all of these stories, and more, made me take the leap and self publish Sugarbeet Falls.  It has been fun, and scary, and time consuming, and exciting, and stressful.  Ultimately though, whether I have already sold my last book or it becomes a best seller, I truly hope someone does something creative or outside of their comfort zone because I took the leap to put this silly little book into print.

Wow…that was a long one!