Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Was an A+ Student, Long Ago

So I'm home sick with a wicked sinus infection - so dire that I wasn't able to fly, while my family is on the other coast visiting relatives. I can't even raid the fridge or drink all the scotch, which is what I would normally do when they're gone, cause I'm, y'know, sick and all.

Been pounding away at the ol' manuscript, but there's only so much pounding a person can do between naps, know what I'm sayin? So I thought I would do the unthinkable and...

organize my office.

That is something I've been meaning to do ever since we moved in eight months ago. It truly is the chore of last resort, when I'm too sick to do any of the things I ordinarily do to avoid it.

So I just started a few minutes ago, and already I'm stuck. The first box I pulled off the shelf has a binder containing my papers from TWENTY YEARS AGO when my husband was getting his MBA at Wharton and I was working at the computer center and taking an English class at Penn. Y'know, for kicks. (Being at Penn with no friends was kind of like being sick with a sinus infection, except that I got to run up and down the museum steps recreating the scene from Rocky.)

Anyway, I wrote an essay called "The Role of the Executioner" which lays out my very anti-capital-punishment views. Which is sorta funny since all these years later I write about vengeance and, you know, killing and all.

But here's what was written on the front of the essay by my prof, who I remember as being very hot in a sort of East-Coast-intellectual, old-guy way.

Anyway here is what he wrote (where I've used italics, please imagine vigorous double-underlining)

"A+
A superb job on every level -- with the ideas themselves in the effective prose style that so ably presents them, in the choice of example, in the use of [some word I can't read - he has elitist-professor handwriting], rehtorical quesion, breakdown, analysis techniques that buttress [buttress! He said buttress!] the argument, in the presentation of counter-argument, itself as a strong device in supporting your views, in shaping, organization, development, all of which make the narrative so expertly guided to effective conclusion."


OK, I freely admit that this whole post was just a lame little exercise to cheer myself up. Gee, I was hella smart, wasn't I?

- or do you think he was just trying to get into my pants? Cause I was so hot back then???

Okey-doke, that worked - feeling much better! :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wrapping Up the Year in Style

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays! In the midst of the baking, shopping, wrapping, and celebrating, I received some really nice end-of-year mentions.

There's a full list on my web site here, but highlights include landing on several reviewers' and bookshops' "best-of-year" lists, as well as a nomination for an RT Reviewers Choice Award. I'm thrilled, of course, and grateful to everyone who gave A BAD DAY FOR SORRY a read this year.

See you in '10!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting the Job Done (Mysti Version)

I recently co-taught a workshop called "Finish That Book: Passion and Productivity for Writers," in which we proposed a structured way to find and utilize spare time in your day for the writing process.

I've had to re-think that based on something my friend Mysti Berry said yesterday. She's taken up writing before work, a time-tested practice of novelists with day jobs. But Mysti's closing in on wrapping up the first draft and she had this to say:

"It's so much easier to write every day than to TORTURE myself about not writing."

I think that pretty much summarizes the best way to get the job done: Make the alternatives so unappealing that writing becomes the least of all evils.

If you have to choose between writing and heating up the leftover lasagna and getting a pedicure, well, it's pretty clear what's going to win.

But how about if your to-do list includes: clean grime from sliding door tracks, update insurance paperwork, and return passive-aggressive relative's phone call?

Hmmm, then the writing becomes several factors more appealing.

And it works best of all if you are a guilt-driven person as I, and apparently Mysti, are. Self-torment of the "you suck, you didn't get the job done" variety is always worse than just writing the f'ing words.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Survivor: Sea Of Publishing


What a strange year to have a fiction debut. Sometimes I feel like I'm scrambling into a sinking boat, as traditional reviewing venues and booksellers slip into the bottomless depths.

Kirkus reviewed me a while back, and as of today they're history.

I made the San Francisco Chronicle Best-Seller list right before it bit the dust.

As I plan my next book tour, some of the stops I'd hoped to make don't exist any more.



It's kind of cool to be caught in the middle of a changing business model. It's like riding a very exciting dangerous monster wave. Lots of people aren't going to make it, but those who do are in for a hell of a ride.

And that's enough of the ocean-going symbolism for today, I think.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Buying Books For Teens?

Shopping for teens is darn near impossible. Their tastes follow trends that strike adults as incomprehensible, and the fleeting nature of their interest makes the job all that much more difficult.

If you like to buy books, as I do, here's a couple of thoughts to keep in mind:

1. Their world is different from the world we inhabited at that age.

Kids today, like it or not, have different ideas about intimacy, relationships, and sex. It's reflected in the books they like, particularly those with a romance at the core. Now you can rail against and find fault and place blame for what seems at first like a devaluation of a traditional relationship, or you can consider that it is a complicated departure from past ways of thinking, with benefits and challenges.

And it's reflected in what is selling now. Consider:

Saint Martin's Press has a new line out that will target older teens and twenty-somthings. Agent Kristin Nelson has this to say: "...a line for publishing smart, upmarket fiction for this target audience where sex and relationships are simply part of the question. In other words, it’s not so much about the happily-ever-after, which is the focus for a romance, nor is it about the sex—explicit or otherwise. It’s more about the story that will speak to older teens and twenty-somethings."


2. Kids want to read about what troubles them - whether it affects them, their friends, or kids they barely know.

Carrie Ryan, author of the wonderful Young Adult Novel THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, says it far more eloquently than I could here. We do our kids no favors by trying to shield them from the darker side of growing up. There are many wonderful "issue" books for kids that explore problems with sensitivity and insight.

Remember that buying a book for a teen is NOT the same as buying a book for yourself. Heck, odds are they wouldn't like what you're reading, either....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Means You!! (awwww, no it doesn't)

This just cracked me up:



You can get it printed on a T-shirt - order from the nice Ninth Moon folks here. (And thanks Martha for the suggestion.)

I act all tough and so on about my writing time. But the truth is, for those darn kids of mine, the door's pretty much open.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My First Ever Online Contest!!!

I think I just stumbled into my very first ever online contest. I've been afraid of the concept for a good long time now and then it just sort of announced itself in my brain following the facebook exchange detailed below. Figures that my pal Jonathan would be somehow involved. And Martha. Definitely Martha. (I L Y, JH and MF or MW or whatever your name is)

OK so it is very simple really - you have to fit the following sentence into your work in progress, in a believable fashion, and email me the pages:

"For me, every day brings sewn orifices!"

First person to do so gets a gift cert. from me.

OK, back to work.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Remove
Sophie Littlefield happy memory of last night #2: "people love when orifices are sewn shut" thx @marthaflynn
2 hours ago via Twitter · Comment · Like

Jonathan HayesClearly, I'm going to all the wrong parties.
2 hours ago · Delete

Jen ForbusParties on the West Coast are a little different than the ones on East, eh Jonathan?
36 minutes ago · Delete

Jonathan HayesFor me, every day brings sewn orifices!
31 minutes ago · Delete

Sophie LittlefieldOMG!!! OMG OMG, Jonathan, you have just made my day! That is the best quote ever!!!!!! Ten bucks to anyone who can fit that into their manuscript - seriously, first person who sends me their page or two with that sentence in it gets a gift cert. from the establishment of my choice. Wow, my first ever online contest!
2 seconds ago · Delete

Don't You Love It When the Stars Line Up

Here's a funny little writing moment no one told me about - the day you get an Amazon alert telling you you might be interested in your very own book.

Now let me jump in quickly and say I really, really hope that you are remembering to support your local indie book stores when you're doing your holiday shopping. There is one way to hold onto these local treasures and that is by shopping there. Mystery lovers in particular can click here for a list of folks who really know their stuff and can help you find the just-right book for you or anyone else.

But meanwhile, back to the subject at hand, Amazon does have its place and I know of no author who sneers at sales racked up there, and I myself am a frequent customer, though my last purchase was a beautiful pair of knee-high black suede-and-leather boots.

(Oh, I just had the most amusing thought. Do you suppose the folks at Ma & Pop's Shoes are sending around emailed reminders to their loved ones, imploring them not to buy their shoes at big box stores and online? Are there passionate hand-sellers of pumps and sneakers and sexy platform heels? I know just who to ask - my pal Daisy.)

Blah, blah, blah. This is a very undisciplined and meandering lead-up to this very fun alert I got from Amazon. I have this friend Brad. He's a writer. We share an editor, and generally we also share a great number of beers at every writing event we show up at together. We've only known each other a year or so, but as is generally the case with writers, a little preliminary chit-chat led quickly to a dropping of all etiquette pretense and fast, if occasionally undisciplined friendship. So imagine how tickled I was to receive this.

Ah, universe, thank you for today's gift of serendipity. :)


Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated A Bad Day for Sorry: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield have also purchased Faces of the Gone: A Mystery by Brad Parks. For this reason, you might like to know that Faces of the Gone: A Mystery will be released on December 8, 2009. You can pre-order yours at a savings of $8.84 by following the link below.

Faces of the Gone: A Mystery
Brad Parks
List Price: $25.99
Price: $17.15
You Save: $8.84 (34%)
Release Date: December 8, 2009


Product Description
Four bodies, each with a single bullet wound in the back of the head, stacked like cordwood in a weed-choked vacant lot: That’s the front-page news facing Carter Ross, investigative reporter with the Newark Eagle-Examiner. Immediately dispatched to the scene, Carter learns that the four victims—an exotic dancer, a drug dealer, a hustler, and a mama’s boy—came from different parts of the city and didn’t seem to know one another.

The police, eager to calm jittery residents, leak a theory that the murders are revenge for a bar stickup, and Carter’s paper, hungry for a scoop, hastily prints it. Carter doesn’t come from the streets, but he understands a thing or two ... Read more

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Genre Writers - Slumming? That Old Argument in a Fresh New Light

I was thrilled to pieces to merit a mention in Jordan Foster's article in Publishers Weekly last week, titled "Crime Fiction: Breaking the Wall."

In her piece, Jordan considers attitudes toward crime and mystery novels and their highbrow cousins, literary fiction. "The very act of categorizing brings with it an implicit ranking," she writes, "and the idea that anything shelved under “genre” is somehow lacking."

Here's my full notes for the interview in case you're interested:

• Why do you choose to write the types of novels that you do, which often focus on crimes and criminals?

Genre fiction is all about the behavior of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. In mystery novels, criminals and their victims respond to motivations that test and illuminate who they really are. Crime and its associated drama is a quick path to deep character work, which I think is the most rewarding part of writing stories.

• How would you categorize your own work? How is categorized by your publisher and how do you think it’s categorized by the reading public?

I remember a conversation with my editor when she shared that they had decided to put “A Crime Novel” on the cover of the book rather than “A Mystery,” a decision I think was apt. These distinctions are meant to let the reader know what they’re in for, and the engine running my stories is not a whodunit but rather a story of crimes and the people who commit them, why they do it and how crime changes them and their victims.

Further distinctions are difficult. There’s a love story at the core of my book, as well as gentle themes like parenthood and community and friendship and even sewing. But my character curses like a sailor, does not shy from violence, and is very forthright about her sex life. One bookseller says I write “bondage cozies,” a term I adore. My publisher has settled on “hardboiled.”

It’s been very fun to find out what readers consider my book’s theme. My favorite was a nice woman who told me she loved my book and thought it was about time someone wrote about “how women over fifty ought to have all the sex they can.”

• When people say they “don’t read mysteries,” what do you assume they mean and why?

It’s like when people say they don’t read romance – these are distinctions in the mind of the reader, generally sowed by misguided messages about the nature of a particular genre. Romance and mystery are at the heart of many classics as well as contemporary works of literary fiction, of course, so we all read them.

I think what’s really at the heart of such a comment is a belief that genre fiction is lowbrow, less intellectually worthy than literary fiction. I also think that a book-club mindset has not helped – far be it from me to condemn any trend that gets people reading, but the tendency of such groups to glom onto “recommended” novels leads to a narrowing of tastes. It’s a difficult balance. We need to cherish and support our critics and publishers and book-sellers, while at the same time encouraging a breadth of readership as well as depth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

HBD, Little Sis

This isn't really writing related, but it's my durn blog so I get to do whatever I want.

Well actually come to think of it, maybe it is. Without someone like K - my much, much, much younger sis - to listen to me gripe and put up with my annoying habits and most especially sweep in and be Auntie extraordinaire whenever the childrearin' thing has got me whupped, I don't think I could do what I do.

So happy birthday, a day late, and just remember that no matter how old you get...I'll always be older. :)

K, on the right, with me and Junior

with T-wa and Junior

Friday, November 13, 2009

Damn Feminists - We're Everywhere

I've written before about how delighted I was to be welcomed warmly by feminist writers, something I wasn't entirely expecting. Because my character's brand of feminism is a bit - well, what's the word, perhaps non-standard? - I feared exclusion from the tent.

Was I ever wrong. My girl Stella's found a slew of soul mates, and I couldn't be more delighted.

Today I found out that A BAD DAY FOR SORRY was nominated as a Best Book of 2009 by Guerrilla Girls On Tour, an anonymous theatre collective whose mission is to create new plays that dramatize women’s history and address the current state of women in the performing arts and beyond. Read more about it here.


While we're on the subject, I might as well share that a while back I also got nominated for another honor, inclusion in the Amelia Bloomer Project for 2009. It's an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18, and a part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. See the nominations here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Family Brilliance

Time for bragging on my precious niece and nephew again! This time, they've written poems for a family member who is having a birthday.

First up is the six-year old. You may remember him from the whole preschool teacher fracas, when he wrote - very sensibly, I thought - of deadly trees, and his parents were called in for a "little talk." Once again i am thrilled with his natural sense of the macabre:


Pirates the evil Monsters
The doom of death
Oh those evil creatures
hmmm
Would you like to be a pirate too?






His sister recently turned 10 and is exploring rhyme. Love that she notes that the birthday girl does not resemble a possum. That's a very nice compliment, I'd say.

I'm glad you're turning 43
'Cause now you'll be a better auntie

I'm still sad you live far, far away
But I'm glad when we come we stay for more than a day

In February I'll come for a week
I'm glad you're not a monster EEEEK!

I'm glad you're cool
and not a fool

I'm glad you rock
and don't give shocks

I'm glad you're sharing
and also caring

I'm glad you're awesome
and don't look like a possum

And once again ....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Story at Beat To A Pulp


I have a new story online at Beat To A Pulp, the excellent 'zine edited by David Cranmer.

The story is called "Mortification" - read it here.

"Mortification" is one of a couple of short stories featuring characters from an as-yet-unpublished novel I wrote a few years ago. The novel is titled HOLD FAST TO THIS and features a Pakistani-American detective working in an affluent California suburb not unlike where I live. I'm fond of the cast of characters in the book - Joe Bashir and his family and girlfriend and colleagues in the police department. It's a little difficult to jam even a subset of that cast into a short story, and to be honest, I'm not sure I pulled it off in this one.

I'm hoping to see the other story up eventually somewhere. That one features Joe's colleague Bertrice in the protagonist role.

Maybe someday the novel - envisioned to be the start of the series - will have a shot at publication. For now, this is like a visit with a group of friends who I haven't seen in a while.

Friday, October 30, 2009

November Column

From the November issue of the San Francisco Romance Writers of America chapter newsletter, Heart of the Bay.
From The President

Last month I attended Bouchercon, the largest convention for writers and readers of mystery. At 1,700 attendees, it’s not as large as RWA national, but those are still some pretty impressive numbers.

As always in these situations I found myself thinking that there is far more that unites genre fiction writers than divides us. I talk about this all the time, so I won’t take up column space here on the subject, but it’s a good segue into having a dialog about romance when in the public eye.

Three times since my last column I have had the opportunity to defend and champion the romance genre in a public forum.

The first was in a panel at the West Hollywood Book Fair titled “Strong Women in Fiction,” hosted by a councilwoman who is also the president of NOW. My fellow panelists were all wonderful and engaging, and when I politely disagreed with an audience member who suggested that readers of chick lit would not read feminist fiction, they listened with interest and respect.

The second was when my local paper printed an unflattering article about romance. I had to dash off my response quickly (it’s been a crazy busy month) but I pointed out that their depiction of the genre was outdated and inaccurate.

And the third time was on my Bouchercon panel about strong woman mystery protagonists. I shared my opinion that there’s room on the explicitness continuum for all kinds of readers, whether the subject is sex or violence, and that consciously cultivating tolerance creates a better fiction environment for everyone. Several audience members told me later that they appreciated that point of view. (There was also a definite grandmothers-who-kick-ass vibe…told them about our chapter and might have picked us up a few readers there!)

What strikes me about all of these dialogs is how much easier they get over time. At first, when I found myself talking to someone who put down romance, I felt defensive, angry, and combative. Now I feel far more comfortable in the role of educator.

In large part I think that is because I have come to believe that relationship stories are at the heart of nearly every worthy example of genre fiction – and a majority of them contain at least one romantic relationship. So now when I talk to people about writing romance, I try to make the point that nearly all of us do it, whether we realize it or not.

I’ll wrap up with an observation that may or may not be relevant. Who, of all the subgenres of folks at Bouchercon were most likely to talk about their spouses back home, to cite the support they receive, to show off wallet photos and in a couple cases regale the group with fond memories of how they met? That would be the hardboiled and noir guys. Yup, the ones who write about mayhem and the darkest corners of the human heart – they’re all romantics.

thanks to iamhomosquirrel, bitzi, and haribo for the Flickr photos

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Precious


My baby turned seventeen today.

We got him a puppy. Her name is Maisie Darla.

For the moment, all the cynicism's been knocked clear out of me :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sneak Peek - Cover for BANISHED

I just got a peek at the cover for my Young Adult novel that will be out next fall and I ****ADORE**** it. Stephanie Moss is the artist over at Delacorte who came up with it. I think she's a genius, don't you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bouchercon Report!

I'm still so tired I don't remember my name, but I'm back from Bouchercon with a wrecked voice, a stack of business cards and strange scrawls on cocktail napkins, and even more determination and enthusiasm than when I left.

God, I love being a writer! And the people are a big part of that. No finer folks, is all I'm saying.

Some of my favorite people managed to escape being snapped by me (not too tough to do, since all I had was an iPhone with no flash...and usually a drink in my hand). My roommate Gigi gave me some of her shots to use (just assume that all the good ones are hers).


First things first - these are my wonderful roommates, Juliet Blackwell and Gigi Pandian (and me on the right)



This is my Barbara-and-Irene posse - we're all repped by the same agency. Jamie Freveletti, Graham Brown, me, and Boyd Morrison You wouldn't believe how much fun we have together - eerie!



Here's a few of my pals' cover flats and bookmarks, out to lunch together



Here's me and Julie with my fellow Saint Martin's Minotaur authors, Brad Parks and Tracy Kiely. We're, like, family by now.



Tracy is adorable and funny all the time. Don't know how she does that.



That's my friends Hank Phillipi Ryan and Steve Hockensmith at "continuous conversation." The freaky thing about that was they were on this platform a few feet off the ground, and their chairs were thiiiiiis close to falling off. Couldn't concentrate at all worrying about it, so I don't know what they said!



Now here's something I hadn't seen before...a long line *of people I didn't know* at my signing table! Thrill of thrills!!!!

Now here's where things began to fall apart fast...


this is in the bar, when I was trying to steal thriller author Brett Battle's Barry award, which he had just won. I managed to wrest it away and paraded it around the bar for a while.



Brett tried to escape with our friend Cornelia Read by sneaking off to the spinning lounge on top of the hotel, but I found them. (Cornelia's drinking absinthe with milk. Seriously.)


Then they ran away to a nice local bar (with deer heads) to try to elude me but they didn't run far enough! Along the way they picked up blogger extraordinaire Jen Forbus.
Together we tried to deface some bar property, but that didn't work out very well.

Okay, that kind of gives you an idea of how it all went. Eventually a very nice person took me for a bracing walk and bought me a milkshake, and  then Julie and I went shopping and found some lovely, tasteful things to wear to RT in the spring (chortle) and crawled onto the jetway and collapsed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grace In Unexpected Places

Over at Pens Fatales, my friends and I have been talking about grace for the last week. I've loved reading about what it means to everyone, and the discussion has stayed in my mind as I've bumbled through my days.

A while back T-wa and I read a book together. MAYBE A MIRACLE is about a kid whose sister ends up in a coma after an accident, and how his life changes when a rust stain resembling Jesus appears on the side of his house and the sister starts bleeding from her palms and all kinds of holy rollers show up, looking for....well, whatever it is that religious zealots look for.

T-wa and I love that book and we also share both an unshakeable faith and a deep distrust of zealotry, but I had forgotten about the book until the other day he and Junior and I decided that a stain on his shirt (water filter mishap) resembled a map of the world, and wondered idly if he had been visited by a higher power with a message. No hordes of seekers have appeared outside our house, however.



Then when I was driving home from L.A. last weekend I stopped in an In'n'Out (the only thing that makes the L.A. <-> SF run bearable) and found this in a bathroom stall:



Frankly, I think that works for me - as fine an example of grace among us as any.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WeHo Report: the West Hollywood Book Fair

I had wayyy more fun at the Book Fair over the weekend than I anticipated.

Of course book fairs are terrific, and when you throw in the grilled brats and live poetry you're pretty much guaranteed a delightful afternoon, but I was nervous. That's nothing new - I always get nervous before any event where I'm expected to say something smart. I have a strong conviction that I'll lose all my powers of speech.

This time was different.

First of all, several authors I've long admired were on site and I got to meet them for the first time. That, strangely, doesn't make me all that nervous. I'm not generally much of a fan girl; I don't simper or faint. And I figure if I *love* someone's work, we probably already have something in common, some fundamental understanding of the world and what constitutes a story.

Then, I met up with some friends I'd only known online. Now, Junior is constantly harranguing me about the dangers of all my online friendships - I think she's convinced I'll fall for that whole lured-into-chat-rooms thing - but once they became *real* my virtual friends were *still* charming and smart and fun.


with friends Michael, Debbie and PCN

And finally, my panel - which had the rather intimidating title "Take Back the Night: Strong Women in Fiction" - was populated with the most fascinating, warm, thoughtful authors and moderator. Our hosts were the WeHo Women's Advisory Council and they were over-the-top gracious. They gave me *roses*. Seriously - there are two beautiful pale-pink, crimson-tinged roses in a vase on my kitchen table. I was worried I wouldn't measure up - and instead, they made us feel like we were part of an important, soulful discussion from the start.

One of the highlights wasn't even at the fair...the night before, I had dinner with my friends author Sue Ann Jaffarian and woman-about-town/commentator Pop Culture Nerd. We sat down at 5pm....then there was silken mac'n'cheese with a crunchy crust, potato-chip crusted chicken (could there *be* a lovelier phrase in the english language? doubt it), sauteed corn with bacon...oh, it just went on and on. Well, five hours (!!) later I looked up and lo and behold, we had outlasted every other soul in the place. Which says something about our fortitude and conversational prowess, I think.

Sue Ann hinted at some shriek-worthy news. But, being the unflappable pillar of discretion that I am, I am going to make you all wait until she can announce it. Very exciting, though!

Still, I'm glad to be home. I got down to work today, and ground through much of the to-do stack that had accumulated in the 4 days I'd been away. I was so good, in fact, that I treated myself to a late lunch with my bad-girl writing friends J and R. Ohhhh....still laughing and blushing over that. You shoulda been there.


That's me at the Book Soup tent...okay I admit it, I just can't get enough of seeing my name in print!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stella: Onward and Upward!!

I'm very happy to report that I have been contracted to write two more books - the third and fourth - in the Stella Hardesty mystery series for Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's.

My deepest gratitude to my editor, Toni Plummer, and of course to my agent Barbara Poelle.

And thanks also to Anne Gardner, who is a driving force behind any success my books find in the world. Anne is what every publicist ought to be.

Go team!

Here's the deal report from Publishers Marketplace:

Sophie Littlefield's next book in the San Francisco Chronicle and IMBA bestselling series featuring the fiesty Stella Hardesty, to Toni Plummer at Thomas Dunne Books, in a two-book deal, by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Agency (NA).

In other news, I now have a release date for book two: A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY will be out on June 6, 2010.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Tours & WeHo

Never too early to start planning my next book tour, I suppose.

A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY will be out in June of next year and I'm already thinking about jumping in the car and barreling south on I5, headed for that In'n'Out halfway to LA.

Actually, In'n'Out and LA are on my mind because I'm headed for the West Hollywood Book Fair Sunday - I'm on a panel called "Feminism and Powerful Women in Fiction." That's right, Stella's a feminist! But we knew that already, right?

West Hollywood Book Fair
Sunday, Oct. 4
647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069


1 p.m.: Panel, “Take Back the Night: Feminism and Powerful Women in Fiction”; in the Fact, Fiction & Future Pavilion. With Cheryl Klein, Pam Ward and Terry Wolverton (moderated by Lindsey Hovarth)

2 p.m.: Signing books at the Manic D Press booth

Anyway here's a couple of articles that give a different spin on the author tour than you're likely to hear elsewhere:

Read what Ann Patchett had to say in the Atlantic.

Or what David Sedaris said in the New Yorker.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Drowning Machine Competition - Second Place

I was delighted to learn that my short story "At Least I Felt Something" won second place in the first ever Watery Grave Invitational.

I am in great company - both of the other winners are friends of mine and damn fine writers too. Congratulations to Keith Rawson for taking third and to Hilary Davidson for her first-place win.

Thank you so much to Corey Wilde for organizing the competition over at The Drowning Machine. Thanks too to all the other entrants and all the members of the crime short-story writing community.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jen Said It Was a Masterpiece!

I'm so delighted with this review from Jen Forbus over at Jen's Book Thoughts.

Jen is such a friend to the mystery community, and she'd be cool even if she didn't like my book, but I'm just so glad she does.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When Stella Hardesty simply couldn't take the physical abuse her husband doled out anymore, she fought back - with a wrench - and killed him. That left her with an inherited sewing shop and a reputation. She took on her second job to help other woman in abusive situations; in her off-hours, Stella makes sure abusive husbands and boyfriends stay away from her clients and on their best behavior. Since her moonlighting job isn't official, she's able to work outside the letter of the law if a situation demands it. Stella has to do just that when Chrissy Shaw believes her husband Roy Dean ran off with her son, Tucker. And in this particular case, playing outside the law results in a little more than Stella bargained for. If Stella can finagle herself and Chrissy out alive, she may encounter some potential waves, however, with the handsome sheriff, Goat Jones.

Folks, there's a new spitfire in town and her name is Stella Hardesty. And there's a new crime fiction star in town and HER name is Sophie Littlefield. A BAD DAY FOR SORRY is quite simply an amazing debut novel. Littlefield blends creative humor, fast-paced action and stellar characters together, adds just a pinch of romantic spark, and, boy, is the result explosive!

Stella Hardesty is truly a unique character for crime fiction. As she so eloquently enlightens the no-good Roy Dean, "...badass comes in all ages." Stella is in her 50s, spunky, funny and done taking crap from anyone. She tolerated an abusive marriage as long as she was going to and she's not about to let it happen again. And while she covets that "badass" reputation, she also harbors an amazing capacity for compassion. Littlefield illustrates Stella's extremes through independence, too. As a reader I appreciate a strong, smart, independent female protagonist. But even the strongest of any gender needs a little help every once in awhile. Stella doesn't need a "white knight" but she can definitely benefit from a "helping hand" once and again. Stella is a character who is going to surprise readers for years to come. And that is a very good thing.

Littlefield also has a knack with humor. Finding the funny in everyday situations and everyday people: their actions, their conversations. That's a big part of what makes this book come alive. From the crew at BJ's Bar to her teenage neighbor, Todd, to the crotchety old quilters; they are all dynamic and flawed and real; it's the richness of those characters that winds its way into the plot to meld everything together. Littlefield has created a symbiotic relationship between the characters, the setting and the plot; the elements of this novel simply don't exist separately.

A BAD DAY FOR SORRY is a masterpiece, and only the beginning for both new gals in town. If you haven't picked this book up yet, it's time to get your hands on a copy however you can!

A BAD DAY FOR SORRY is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-55920-5) from St. Martin's Minotaur Books.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Early Genius

Sometimes budding genius can be a little hard to recognize. The parent of one of my favorite young family members (the person in question is in first grade) received a call from the school expressing concern over this poem which was written in response to a writing prompt about Fall.



(Oh, does the term "writing prompt" bother anyone else? What the fuck is a "writing prompt"?? Sounds like someone standing behind me with a sharp stick, ready to jab if my fingers slow down on the keyboard. Which might not be a bad thing and all...but it deeply disturbs me that my kids knew the term "writing prompt" practically before they could hold a pencil. Whatever happened to "write a poem" or "write a story"...our school system's writing program seems designed to discourage as many kids as possible from writing - and reading, for that matter. But maybe I'm just bitter because my kids routinely score 1's and 2's out of 5 for their "response to literature," another term I abhor. Um, how about "did you like the book, kids? why?" Oh, but I digress.)

- - - -
FALL

Fall the season of death
Oh! Those acorns and leaves falling on your head
Trees.
Maple trees and others chopped down on your head.
The season of death.

Fall.
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Oh, I read this with glee! Another member of the clan carries the tainted blood, it seems...the boy's dad went on to explain that the drawing accompanying the poem had a person with x'd-out eyes under a falling tree that had just been chewed down by a beaver. And I, reading too quickly, thought it said that the person's eyes "had been chewed out by a beaver." Which would have been sooooo cool and all, but the kid *is* only six - give him time, my friends, give him time....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zombies that make you go "Awwww"

Find out more about this guy here (he has a book - don't tell my brother but I think someone in his family is getting it for Christmas!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ravenous On HSN - Genius

You have to hand it to the ladies of Ravenous Romance, a new e-/print publisher of romance and erotica titles.

They've done a deal with veteran TV-hawkers the Home Shopping Network to package sets of their books for sale on the programming lineup. For about $25 and free shipping, you get six novels and you can choose from a Historical, Paranormal, or Contemporary lineup.

If you think of home/TV shopping as being the domain of blue-haired retirees, I've got a couple of things for you to think about. First of all, blue-haired retirees are an extraordinarily important consumer groups for commercial fiction. Without them we're all, frankly, screwed. and secondly, try this on for size: HSN is on the top-ten list of e-commerce sites based on traffic. I don't need to tell you that's a hell of a lot of clicks.


I have two friends whose books are featured in the initial offering: Monica Newcomb (HOT ON HER HEELS) and Inara Lavey aka Dana Fredsti (RIPPING THE BODICE).

There are lots of things that I think Ravenous could do a lot better. This is in no way a blanket endorsement of their practices, titles, etc.. However, in this publishing climate, I think that ingenuity ought to be rewarded, so a big congrats to the team and I wish RR/HSN great sales!