Friday, July 29, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #9: Amy Tipton, Signature Literary Agency

For the one-year anniversary of Outlaw Boots, I decided to invite one of my favorite outlaws over, the infamous Amy Tipton, of Signature Literary Agency. Amy is my agent, and I am incredibly glad. Why? She doesn’t think my ideas are cracked, but she reminds me to keep it simple. She is honest and straightforward, no bullshit. She has mad editing skills, and she makes my books 105% better. Besides all this, she survived a stroke, and came back stronger than ever. And—of course—she is Just. Plain. Cool. It is an honor to be her client.

Those are Amy’s boots, with Amy in them (photo by her husband Ed, an amazing professional photographer). Before Amy was my agent, I saw those boots on another blog post, and I thought, “wow, who is funky enough to wear Evil Knievel boots, especially to work?” Now I know.

If you’re interested in Amy’s likes and dislikes as an agent, check her out here. If you’re interested in the cool books her boot is resting on (clients/former clients), look for Ed Glazar, Marci Blackman, and Michael Greene (BIKE NYC), Amy Reed (BEAUTIFUL and CLEAN), Courtney Summers (CRACKED UP TO BE, SOME GIRLS ARE, FALL FOR ANYTHING), and Victoria Schwab (THE NEAR WITCH).

It will become quite clear why Amy is an outlaw, so let's get to it.

Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
First question and I'm already thrown for a loop! Addie Pray (in the book Addie Pray, also from the movie Paper Moon) because she really is the ultimate outlaw--conning suckers out of their money during the Depression. Heartless! But she makes up for it because she's funny and has a unique worldview, she's a child so she's kind of sweet and innocent; Addie was once described as a female Huck Finn and that's very fitting.
Scout Finch (from the book To Kill a Mockingbird) also has a unique perspective on life; like Addie she is wise but also still just a kid.
Ramona Quimby, OMG I want my child to be just like her!

Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
I am a social outlaw--a rebel, a total nonconformist.

What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?
I always picture a teenage punk rock girl with ripped tights in 20 eye Doc Marten boots.

Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
Ninja, for sure. Because I just read Paper Towns by John Green on a road trip and the saying "I'm a ninja" was used right when the car ran out of gas on a Cincinnati highway--about 10 miles from the hotel. My husband was driving and singing along to music, I was reading, and neither of us were paying much attention. (We've been on tons of road trips and this has never happened.) Of course, I left my phone at home (which I don't do) and am in a wheelchair. Traffic is speeding by. Ed, my husband, doesn't want to leave me--no phone, can't walk, cars zooming past--so he grabs my wheelchair, abandons the car, and pushes me on the side of the road, under an overpass, to an exit. (My chair is rattling--it's not really made for that.) I am gripping the wheelchair arms and tasting dirt as cars speed by and the whole time I'm thinking, "I am a ninja" over and over.

Best thing about being an outlaw:
Living the life you want, the way you want; being happy and not caring what others may think.

Favorite outlaw/badass food:
I love burritos, spicy salsa, guacamole, and chips ... But I'd totally have my outlaw character eat sweets and carnival-type food like corn dogs.

Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Badass role models have to be my BFF and my mom. They are two fearless, strong women and I admire them both very much. I also have to give my husband credit. I like to think I'm a badass but he's the real deal--I'm badass by association though. But in books ... Nancy Drew. A role model? Definitely. A genius? Uh, yeah! An outlaw? Well, technically she works for justice and the law but being a teen girl sleuth makes her one tough chick and I would consider her fearless, I admire her tons.

I know clients are supposed to love their agents, but I'd want to be her friend outside of the publishing world, because I admire her outlaw spirit. She's my role model! If you're in the market for an agent and you're an outlaw too, check her out. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My feelings, They Might Be Giants style

I have to go to school today--not bad in and of itself, but I want to make friends with my new book. WAAAAAAAH! So, I thought I'd let TMBG express my feelings (from their album NO (2002), best kids album *ever*). First song: how I feel about school. Second song: how I feel about writing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Literary genius seeks 4th grade writing assignment

I found this story of mine in my dad's things after he died. It's hand-written on notebook paper, a school assignment, and why he saved it, I have no idea. I wasn't intending to be a writer when I was in 4th grade. If you'd told me I was going to write novels, I would have looked at you like you'd said I was going to grow wings.

It's rather Hemingway-esque in its simplicity, and I present it to you as written, complete with ellipses, time shifts, and crazy exclamation points.


A man. A half dead man. The man was on an island. he hadn't intended this. He was on a boat, a big boat. It had wrecked here, here on this island, killing everyone but him. How he hated this place!

There was a small piece of the boat left. He was someday, someday, he was going [to] use it to leave, and he felt the time was now!


He was out on the ocean, waves tossing and turning. Sharks were all around him. He felt so hopeless.

Suddenly all was still. The waves stopped. The sharks left. It was like someone had turned it all off. He was gone. Gone to a world with no pain . . . no hurt . . . . . . . . . . gone . . . gone . . . . . . . . .

by Kirstin Cronn


(What drama! What exposition! He felt the time was now!)
(Seriously, it's OK to laugh. I was a hyperbolic child. And sharks? In Nebraska?)
(Thank heavens for revision.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gender goes to the movies

When I was working on BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, I did a *lot* of studying about gender and how it's expressed in our culture, especially as it relates to trans individuals. What a wild subject! You've got to add up brain structure, chromosomes, hormones, cultural messages, and messages from family, and after you have a total, you throw it in the air and see what happens. Complicated.

But how does this relate to TRANSFORMERS movies? Many ways. This summer our Transformers movie option is TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON. As you know, women are *not* the target audience for this film. Here's my 13-year-old son and his buddies talking about it:

Kid 1: going to see DARK OF THE MOON?

Kid 2: probably not

Kid 3: It doesn't have Megan Fox.

Kid 2: yeah, who wants to see it if it doesn't have Megan Fox?

Kid 1: Yeah. She's way hot.

And, here's me talking about the first TRANSFORMERS movie (while watching on TV):

K: Isn't Bumblebee a sweet transformer? Look at his face--he's just sweet. Kind. It's the eyes.

(I swear to you I said this. So weird. "Sweet"?)

Two unscripted ideas about Transformers. Or was the scripts written for us by the list of stuff up above? You decide. But you would NEVER want someone like me promoting a film about robots that are also vehicles who can destroy or save the planet, not when I call them "sweet" and "kind".

(Gender is weird but fun. And look at Bumblebee's eyes. Doesn't he have kind eyes?)

(I still want a muscle car. But that's another post.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Books = safe learning. Duh.

There was a huge kerfuffle this summer in the YA community, prompted by this article about why YA is too dark (to paraphrase). People got way upset, and lots of really smart people replied, including my literary crush Sherman Alexie (please have babies with me, Sherman!). I stayed quiet because I had nothing extra to add.

BUT--this weekend I thought of something to say. I'm sure it's already been said, but it came home to me again.

My time has been free enough this summer (oh, blessed free time) to read. And I've been LEARNING! Whoa, from a *book*? A fictional, made-up-ical book? YES. Not even nonfiction--from a story! Whoa. Deep. That's what I think folks like accuser-of-darkness Meghan Cox Gurdon forget--stories (books as a whole) are a safe way to learn things. In fact, friends and neighbors, books were a primary way to learn things before we had radio, TVs, film, and the World Wide Wonderfulness! Revolutionary!

Let's emphasize "safe" for a moment. This weekend I was inside Amy Reed's fantastic new book CLEAN, and I learned a ton about rehab. I knew a little bit, from traveling that journey with a loved one, but now I know even more. If another loved one needs rehab, I'm better prepared. And I didn't have to go to rehab to experience it (Amy Winehouse, poor soul, could have learned from CLEAN).

Another example, one Gurdon used: self-injury. Teens might self-injure if they read about it! My take: if I read about it, I can safely learn about self-injury without having to self-injure. If I self-injure *because* of a book, I was at risk for it anyway. The book didn't push me over the edge. Yes, I believe this.

What else have I learned lately? In LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, bestest grown-up book ever, I am learning how to be a black prostitute in 1970s New York. From CHASING ALLIECAT, I learned how to bike up hills more easily--probably one of the most practical things I've learned lately, since I'm learning to bike for distance. And I learned what it's like to race DOWNhill. Scary business!

In the 19th century, families sat around oil lamps and learned about how to harpoon big white whales, or Uncle Walt's astoundingly chatty catalog of life's details. Why is it any different with teenagers in the 21st century? Books are safe. You can put them down when they're too intense. I'd rather have my kid learn about kidnapping from a book than have him learn it from real life. Yes, you can learn to build a bomb from a book. But you were intending to do it anyway, or you wouldn't have looked for a book about it.

Rant over. But that was a fun one.