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.

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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 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
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 ....

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.