RT Extra Life 2018

It all started with a question, some 15 years ago, “You ever wonder why we’re here?”  That was the opening line of Red vs. Blue Season 1, Episode 1.  My friend, Daniel had showed it to me the week it came out and I have been watching Rooster Teeth content ever since.  For 15 years, I have been a member of a community that is unique, passionate, and the most incredible thing I have ever seen — a community that gives.

I have been in chats, been stopped on the street, talked with friends, and even attend RTX, the Rooster Teeth convention held annually in Austin, TX.  I have met people from all walks of life that I don’t think I would of had any way of meeting previously.  I have talked to military personal, police officers, married, single, straight, gay, working, not working, with kids, without kids, kids, and everything in between.  There was one thing that we had in common — love for Rooster Teeth content.  Red vs Blue, RWBY, Achievement Hunter, Funhaus, and the other myriad of shows, personalities, and talent that this company has produced.  Then something amazing happened, a company that played video games and made YouTube content asked for donations for a charity.

Extra Life

Extra Life is a charity that gives money that is raised to children’s hospitals around the country for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  Gamer’s across the country play games and collect donations for the charity.  Then a few years ago, Rooster Teeth started doing a live-stream online collecting donations.  Each year, they ask their community to give to the kids.  They plan fun things, crazy games, cool prizes, and even a Wheel of Vengeance that gets spun each time a person donates $1,337 or more.  For 24 hours Rooster Teeth, led by Jack Pattillo, his wife Caiti, and Chad James), put it all out there and asked its community to be part of something bigger, for something better.

Wheel

Starting at 8:00 am on Saturday, November 10th and ending Sunday 8:00 am on Sunday, November 11th, they streamed.   They ran things over with a steam roller,

Steam

they ate hot and spicy nuts, took punches with something called Taze Fist (think brass knuckles with a tazer on the end),

Taze Fist

, played Harry Potter trivia,

Harry Potter

sat on the Pummel Horse (a painful invention that is hilarious, but looks horrible), got pelted with paint balls and Moon Balls,

Moon Ball

were completely inappropriate at times, painted from a Bob Ross episode,

Bob Ross

did Whose Line Is It Anyways games, played video games,

RT Games

laughed, and went above and beyond for one goal:  raise money for children’s hospitals.  I watched from 8:00 am to about 1 am (with considerable breaks) to wake up this morning to get ready for church.  Checking the total and watching the last few minutes, where Jack gives a speech to close it out and Matt Hullum, CEO of Rooster Teeth, sings a final song, I was astonished.  In 24 hours, a community of people all over the world, from all different walks of life, in different parts of their path of life, every race, religion, sexuality, and status came together and raised $1.4 million dollars.

Matt Hulum

How incredible when you look beyond yourself and the parts of your life and the things that sometime keep you focused on just what is around you to see the bigger picture.  How amazing when you find yourself part of a group that is bigger in size, bigger in generosity, and bigger in fun than what is physically around you.  How crazy to know that every dollar given, by every person goes into a sum of $1.4 million that will benefit children who are struggling during difficult times of physical and mental illness.

RT Healing Garden

In the end, it is pride that I am left with today.  I watch the videos and movies.  I buy the merch.  I go to the conventions.  And that is all well and good.  But what truly makes this special, what truly makes it where I keep watching, buying, and attending is the fact that this company gives back and does so buy bringing in a community of people to participate to give as well.

So thank you Rooster Teeth for all of the content, the laughs, but giving me the chance to be part of something bigger than myself.  Thank you community for stepping up and being supportive and doing something astounding, raising $1.4 million dollars for Extra Life and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and always #RTExtraLife.

 

Paper Bag Puppet – Tikis

Tikis

Paper Bag Puppet – Tiki

Please enjoy a free craft from Moose Egg Productions.  Now you can make your very own paper bag puppet of a tiki men.  Please send us a picture of your kiddos finished puppets  so we can post them on our gallery!

Enjoy!!!

Wheel of Accents

Every Friday after work, a group of us from the Zstore would go out to do something fun.  We would either go to the movies, grab some food, or just hang out.  There was something that got started after a while that for the life of me, I cannot remember why we did it.  We always would talk in different accents as a joke, but our little group took it up a notch, by creating the Wheel of Accents.

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Made out of cardboard, the Wheel of Accents was just what it sounded like.  It was a wheel that you would spin and if you landed on the accent then you had to pick.  It had your basic accents:  French, Scottish, Canadian, and a few other countries.  We mixed it in with a few accents from internet shows we watched at the time.  The best spots though were three unique spaces on the Wheel.  One was Free Pick.  This was the best one, because you were able to pick any accent you wanted even if it was not on the wheel.  The second was Random Pick.  This was the second hardest, because the group decided what accent was you were stuck with.  Just fyi, the group decisions were never kind.  The last unique space was Double Accent.  This was you had to spin until you landed on two different accents.  Then you had to do incorporate both of them as you talked.  For example, you could have Scottish and Jamaican (think Sean Connery being cast for Cool Runnings).

That is how the board worked.  Here is how the game was played.  Before the group entered the restaurant, everyone would spin.  Once everyone was assigned an accent, then you would go inside and from the moment you walked through the doors, you had to speak with your accent.  The first person who broke (started laughing too much to continue or spoke in their regular voice), would then have to pay for the appetizers or desserts for the table.

I know what you are thinking, “What if no one broke?”  Someone always ends up breaking.

To this day, the Wheel of Accents is still around and sitting on my shelf in all of its glory.

Does your group have any fun games like this?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

Interview – Children’s Author Ann M. Martin

Today we are talking to Newbery Honor author and New York Times Bestseller – Ann M. Martin.  Ann has written so many wonderful books over the years and is best known for The Baby-Sitters Club books, The Doll People, and Rain Reign.  I have to start off just saying that my wife is one of Ann’s biggest fans!  She grew up reading all of the Baby-Sitter Club books and The Doll People is one of her favorite books of all time!

Ann M Martin 01

First off, it is an honor to be talking with you today.  Can you start us off today by telling us a little bit about yourself and what made you want to become a children’s author?

I grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, the daughter of a cartoonist and a preschool teacher. Reading was very important to my parents, and they read to my sister and me every day. Before I could read, I made up my own stories, which my mother would write down for me. As I got older, English and creative writing classes were my favorites, and I was fortunate after graduating from college to be able to work in the publishing field and be surrounded by books, authors, and editors.

Your parents were a cartoonist and a preschool teacher!  You were made for being an author.  Such creativity!  Can you please tell us about your favorite book growing up?

It’s impossible for me to pick just one favorite because there are so many. Instead, I can say that I had two favorite genres – light fantasy, which included many of the books I loved as a child (e.g., the Wizard of Oz series, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Dr. Dolittle, Roald Dahl’s titles), and books about horses (Marguerite Henry was my favorite author).

I love the Wizard of Oz series.  It is still one of my favorites.  Please tell us about the importance of children’s literature and what it has meant to be a part of this industry?

Reading has played an important role in my life, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to share this love of reading through my novels. I’m also proud to be a part of The Lisa Libraries, a foundation I created in 1990 with the primary goal of putting new books into the hands of undeserved kids.

So, if someone asked you for same wisdom about being a children’s author, what would you say to them?

I highly recommend the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (scbwi.org). SCBWI is a national organization devoted to assisting writers and illustrators in support of their craft. They host many regional meetings throughout the year which one can attend. My editor, Liz Szabla, always recommends working in a bookstore if you have the opportunity because of the exposure to so many authors and genres. Finally, it’s important to read!

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Ann, you have written so many books, what is your latest one that you are working on?

My newest book is Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Sticky-Fingers Cure, a collection of stories about a magical woman living in an upside-down house who finds funny cures for children’s bad habits. The book is the third in the series based on the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle novels by Betty MacDonald. Betty’s great-granddaughter, Annie Parnell, wanted to bring the series back with stories that were more accessible for current readers. I was honored to be asked to be a part of the project since I adored the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books when I was growing up.

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That is such a great honor to get to work on a series that you enjoyed when you were growing up! 

Finally, our last question, and it is a very serious question – if you could be the character from any children’s book, who would you be??

Can I say Santa Claus? Hmm, if not, then I choose Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia, because I’m fascinated by the idea of going through a wardrobe and finding myself in a magical world.

Fantastic choice!  Thank you so much Ann for talking with us today.  Everyone, be sure to check out Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Sticky-Fingers Cue.  You can get a copy at your local bookstore or online. Thanks everyone and remember to like this site to see more interesting interviews as we continue to ask Questions to Inspire!

 

October Scares

For about six months, I lived with James out in a small township called Wizard Wells.  Total population for Wizard Wells at the time was a whopping 15 people (16 if you count me).  People didn’t really go to Wizard Wells for no reason.  People barely passed through it.  It was secluded and in the middle of nowhere.  It was home though, for about six months and James was a good roommate for five of those months.  That was because for the entire month of October he decided that he would pull scary prank after scary prank.

The first one started off while I was at work.  I walked into my room and found that all of my stuff had been rearranged.  When I questioned him, he stated that he didn’t know what I was talking about.

Then I was in my room reading at I heard something out of my window and he was just standing outside with a wolf mask on.  Wasn’t really a jump scare, but good effort, I guess?

Then I came home after work one day and he had been waiting in my closet.  I was sitting on my bed taking off my shoes when he jumped out from my closet.  That one WAS a good jump scare.  Though I don’t remember it completely, but I am sure that I did not scream in a high pitched voice.

By the end of October, I was now leaving shoes in specific spots to make sure that no one had come in my room while I was gone.  I would set them up every morning as fail safe protections.  However it didn’t help on Halloween night that year.

I had come home and the house was empty, which I was quite happy about.  I walked to my room and turned on the light and the light had been replaced by a black-light.  Everything in my room was in the same spot.  The only thing that was different in my room was on my bed.  The bed had been rearranged.  The pillows were moved around to make it look like someone was in the bed.  There was a dress laid out with a long, black wig that resembled the girl from The Ring. The problem was it was too hard to see anything in the room because of the black-light.Capture

I laughed out loud, because I knew that it wouldn’t be James in a wig.  I walked closer to the bed to remove the dress and wig and that was when the Alissa (a neighbor in Wizard Wells who had been riding with us to church each week) jumped up out of the bed and grabbed hold of my wrists.  I don’t know how hard I screamed or how high I jumped, but we can just say it was a lot.  I finally calmed down enough from the initial scare when James reached out from underneath the bed and grabbed my ankles.  Once again, heart racing and screaming in the room.  I juked back away from both of them quickly and placed my back up against the wall.  I was trying to catch my breath when the closet doors burst open and another person jumped out at me.  That was when I ran out of the room.

It took a while before I came back in the house.  I made it another month before I found my own place…

Emotions 02

Time for some new artwork for I Want A Pet Turkey.  Our illustrator, J Zamora, is working hard to bring the story to life.  In doing so, a range of emotions have to be created to make our main character jump off of the page.  Part of J’s process is running through some character models to showcase the character with different emotions.  This week’s is Sadness!

Sad

I am pretty sure that he is sad because he really needs a new pet / best friend.

Paper Bag Puppet – Cat

Cat

Paper Bag Puppet – Cat

Please enjoy a free craft from Moose Egg Productions.  Now you can make your very own paper bag puppet of a cat.  Please send us a picture of your kiddos finished cat puppets so we can post them on our gallery!

Enjoy!!!

Emotions 01

Time for some new artwork for I Want A Pet Turkey.  Our illustrator, J Zamora, is working hard to bring the story to life.  In doing so, a range of emotions have to be created to make our main character jump off of the page.  Part of J’s process is running through some character models to showcase the character with different emotions.  This week’s is Happy!

Happy

Is it just me or is this little guy ready to be made into a puppet!  Hmmm!

Interview – Puppeteer David Manley, Up In Arms

Today we are talking with someone who has an amazing job!  I personally met David Manley at a puppet workshop a few years back called Beyond the Sock (http://www.beyondthesock.com).  Each year, puppeteers (amateur and professional) come from all over the world to learn how to make and preform puppets and the workshop has connected so many people all with the same passion–puppets.  I got to talk with David about his puppet work in New York.

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Good morning, David!  Let’s start off with you telling us about yourself and what do you do?

Good morning!  I’m a puppeteer who travels to schools, theaters and libraries in New York and New Jersey mostly, but nationally as well. When I was young, I knew I wanted to be a puppeteer but peer pressure caused me to put it aside. I rediscovered it my adulthood and began my puppet company, Up In Arms, in 2012. I produce Broadway-style puppet musicals – the kind I wanted to see as a kid. Our shows include messages about learning, bullying (kindness and respect), health and wellness and our latest family musical “Pirate Song” about a young pirate princess searching the world for her song.

That is so cool that you get to teach children with puppets!  What is your favorite part of being a puppeteer for school-age children?

I love the sense of wonder they have. We can hear them calling out from behind stage and their questions during our Q&A makes me feel like we’re imparting that same sense of magic I felt about puppetry when I was their age. As adults, it helps to remind us that magic still exists and to be producing it is amazing.

Out of all of your different programs you have done over the years, which one is your favorite?

Hands down, “Helping Drew”, our anti-bullying musical. As a kid who encountered some bullying, it was important for my own personal journey to experience being part of the solution instead of feeling like a victim. I’ve had so many comments from adults thanking me for the program having their own experiences being bullied.

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What upcoming shows you do you have coming up?  How can people come see the shows (say if they don’t go to one of the schools that your group preforms at)?

“Pirate Song” premiered October 13 in Newburgh, NY at a local library. One of our earlier shows, “Welcome Park” plays The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, NY in November 2018. We perform for libraries mostly in the summer in Northern New Jersey and the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York. Folks who are interested can follow us on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/upinarmspuppets) to find our public shows. We’ve played as far away as Las Vegas, NV and down the east coast to Maryland and Virginia as well so, you never know where we might be performing.

Alright, time for one last question!  What Muppet / Sesame Street character best describes you and why?

I’m kind of a cheerful, organized Scooter type with a strong Cookie Monster sweet tooth and a Grover who just wants to share love.

Perfect answer!  Thank you so much David for taking the time to talk to us today.  It is so awesome to see someone following their dream and providing inspiration to children all over the country.  If you want to keep up with Up In Arms please go to http://www.upinarms.biz or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/upinarmspuppets.  If you have seen an Up In Arms production, please leave a comment on how you liked it and if you are in the area check out Pirate Song David’s next big production!

 

Artwork 02

I always feel like somebody’s watching me!  Awesome new artwork for I Want A Pet Turkey.43392402_2098568833522944_5046185465804226560_n

Interview – Children’s Author Pat Zietlow Miller

Today we are talking to New York’s Bestseller children’s book author – Pat Zietlow Miller.  Pat has written some really amazing children’s books.  One of her books, BE KIND, has already been released and she has two other books coming out next year, Remarkably You and When You Are Brave.  I was lucky enough to get to talk to Pat about her experiences writing and some of the inspirations that helped her along the way.

Be_Kind

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you want to become a children’s author?

I’ve loved books since I was a kid. Books took me wherever I wanted to go – safely – and exposed me to people like me, people different from me and people I could aspire to be.  I remember being in my school library at Merrill Elementary in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and trying to find where my book would go on the shelf once I wrote it. Now that I have written books, I always send the Merrill Elementary library a copy because my elementary-school self would have been so happy to have her books on those shelves.

How cool to have your books in the same library that you grew up going to!  So what was your favorite book growing up?

My favorite book was THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin. I got a copy for Christmas one year from my aunt who was a librarian and I read it and read it and read it. I loved that it was a mystery solved by a determined girl. I loved the quirky cast of characters in Westing Towers. I loved that – spoiler alert – Angela was the bomber. I loved that the author lived in Wisconsin, like me. I still have that copy.

I also adored ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY by Judith Viorst. It’s one of the best-written picture books I know, and it’s funny and so true to life. In fact, if you want to write picture books, you should read every one ever written by Judith. She’s outstandingly talented.

Please tell us about the importance of children’s literature and what it has meant to be a part of this industry?

I don’t think you can over-state the importance of children’s literature. Books help children grow up to be the best version of themselves. They offer information, perspectives and glimpses beyond whatever world the child usually lives in. They reaffirm the good things in life and offer hope that the bad things can get better. They encourage empathy and imagination and problem-solving. They build language and life skills. I wake up every morning so grateful that I get to be a part of getting the right book in the hands of the right child just when that kid might need it most.

Wow, I love that saying (probably going to steal it, lol) – “They reaffirm the good things in life and offer hope that the bad things can get better.” 

So, if someone asked you for same wisdom about being a children’s author, what would you say to them?

The best thing I can suggest is to read hundreds and hundreds of children’s books. It’s the best way I know to improve as a writer and respect the children you’re writing for. And, as a bonus, doing this is so much fun that it’s not even work.

When I started actively pursuing writing for kids, I went to the library and checked out every book ever written by some of my favorite picture book authors. I sat on the floor, surrounded by stacks of books and read and analyzed and learned. I still do this.

You’ll find some titles you don’t like, and that’s helpful, too, as you develop your own writing voice. But there’s so much quality work out there. Reading is like your own personal master class in how to be an author. And it costs nothing but your time.

If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of some of my favorite picture books.

So back to BE KIND, your newest book, what was the inspiration behind the book?  I mean the message is timeless.  Tell us about it and where we can pick it up at?

BE KIND came out in February 2018. It’s about all the ways to kind to one another and how even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference. It’s available in libraries, bookstores and online. I think its message is one that is resonating with people now. It’s being used in a lot of schools, and it made the New York Times bestseller list.

Finally, our last question, and it is a very serious question – would you rather be able to fly or walk through walls?

Hmmmm. That’s a good one. I’m going to go with flying. There are lots of times in my life, I want to be somewhere, but don’t have a good way to get there. Being able to fly could solve that. Of course, if I could apparate, like the wizards in Harry Potter, that would be even better.

Awesome choice!  Thank you so much Pat for talking with us today.  Everyone, be sure to check out BE KIND and look for Pat’s new books coming out next year:  Remarkably You and When You Are Brave.  Thanks everyone!

New Feature

We have a new feature debuting this week called Questions To Inspire.  One of my favorite things is talking to others.  I love stories and I love to hear the stories and inspirations behind other people’s lives.  And one thing I want to do is inspire people.

I want to showcase some really amazing people and how / why they do what they do.  Our first interview is this Thursday, so look out for it as we talk to New York Times bestselling children’s author – Pat Zietlow Miller!