Friday, August 27, 2010

Outlaw Boots, pair #2: Kurtis Scaletta

Today, friends, we have our second installation of Outlaw Boots, this time featuring middle-grade author Kurtis Scaletta. True confession: my kid loves Kurtis' books, which is enough endorsement for me, but I think Kurtis is awesome, too.

What does Kurtis write? Funny boy stuff (I love funny boy stuff): baseball games that get rained out for years and years (MUDVILLE), guys who have a thing for poisonous African snakes--in Africa (MAMBA POINT), and scary fungus run amok (THE TANGLEWOOD TERROR, out in Fall 2011)

Here's Kurtis.

Here's why he wears Outlaw Boots.

Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
- Sturgis Nye from Mudville. As a pitcher he's a fan of the beanball.
As a kid, he's gotten into a scrape or two. And his theme song is
"Outlaw" by The Cult!

Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?

- No, I'm very lawful. I don't even speed when I drive. Seriously.

What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe
outlaw boots?)?

- Snakeskin cowboy boots.

Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:

- I like the cowboy-style outlaw. Jesse James or Butch Cassidy.

Best thing about being an outlaw:

- Playing harmonica.

Favorite outlaw food:

- Key lime pie and black coffee at a highway diner in the middle of nowhere.

Favorite outlaw role model/why:
- Robin Hood, because (at least in the legend) turned to crime out of
a sense of justice. But a version where he's a cowboy outlaw.

Tune in next month for the next installment of Outlaw Boots! Kurtis is one of my role models for how to write funny boy happenings, so I need to go read about Linus and his mamba.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The week's favorite things

BEWARE: blaspheming ahead.

Here are my favorite things for this week:

Be careful with that touching, guys. And do your hair like these ladies--He'll like you even more.

Both images swiped from here.

Now for my new motto:

Go, friends, go! Do epic shit! And *you* decide the definition of "epic". You don't have to save the world. Just spend an hour with your grandma. GO!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Silence is the new conflict

This guy is an environmentalist named John Francis. In 1971, he witnessed an oil spill in the San Francisco bay, and he swore off motorized transportation for 22 years. But--more amazing to me--in 1973, he decided to be silent. FOR 17 YEARS, with the exception of 1 phone call to his mom after 10 years. No writing, even. He taught himself Indian Sign Language, then realized nobody spoke it, then just used gestures and touch and pantomime. 17 YEARS, FRIENDS. I couldn't do it for 17 days , even though I desperately want to right now. But teachers/writers don't get very far without communicating. And--get this--the guy completed 3 college degrees (including a Ph.D.), all in silence.

John Francis matters to me right now because of two things: 1) I need a conflict for my next novel, and I can see a teenage boy refusing to speak for long periods of time; and 2) he was a black man who carried a banjo (see above), and this intrigues me. Of all things--a banjo. Francis said that if he *didn't* carry his banjo, then he was a tall threatening black man. If he *did* carry his banjo and play it, then he was a friendly guy with a banjo, not a tall threatening black man. I admire his ability to hide and/or change stereotypes with a goofy instrument, though it sucks he had to think that way in the first place.

John Francis claims he set out to show one person can make a difference. His Planetwalker organization continues to work for environmental change and goodness, which is fantastic, plus he made a difference to me--he gave me a conflict for my character (at least an initial one, though we know how revision changes things, grr). I'm going to study this dude some more.

Tell me, friends: could *you* be silent for 17 years?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy/sad/mad + characters

I love how life contributes to art. Or not.

At the moment, I'm trying to write some big emotions for a couple characters, and I'm not quite getting there. Things are still flat. So what does Life decide to do? Hand me situations that I can translate to the page. Grrr . . . I've gotten brained with the sad stick and pounded with the angry stick about sixty times this week (thank you, birth family! thank you, publishing industry!), but hey, it's great for my WIP, right? Grrr. But now I get the sadness that drags Callie down, and the anger that eats up Ray's insides. Still--dang--I'm tired!

Luckily, life also whacks you with the happy stick, and those beatings contribute to the goofy, silly things my characters do. So, some things that have made me happy this week:

Image swiped from here, and the guy with the website is the guy with the funny sign. LOVE. IT. And yay for same-sex marriage in California!

Also this:

I was in the mood to strafe the world, and I let them do it for me. Perfect. Plus it's a decent action film with a relatively coherent script.

Back to your regularly scheduled emotions. Whew.