Monday, February 22, 2010

A Writer And A Gentleman

My friend and mentor Craig McDonald has a new book out, with one of the best covers ever, and it's even more affecting when you start to read. Here, check it out:

Craig writes brilliantly. Everyone says so, including folks like Ken Bruen and James Sallis and Michael Connelly and Megan Abbott, the kind of people even I shut up and listen to.

But maybe that doesn't impress you. Maybe you see brilliant through a different lens. Maybe you don't share my writing heroes. That's cool and all, but there's one more thing you need to know about Craig: in this crazy publishing whirl, when half the players are crying doomsday and the other half are trying to clear the chips off the board and head for the hills, Craig remains, steadfastly, a gentleman.

That's right. You'll never catch him gladhanding or trashtalking or currying favor or casting aspersions or circling the spoils of another writer's crash-and-burn. Craig's in it for the words, the story; that's something rare enough to take note of, an example for the greenhorns.

Which, of course, I recently was. Craig was far more than kind to me when I was struggling. And every time I help a new author, read a manuscript, suggest changes to a query....I tip my hat to the heart of the midwest, where I know my friend Craig is hard at work on the next knock-em-dead book. Because he didn't just show me how to get the job done - he exemplifies how to get it done with class.

How'd That Reading Go, Soph?

Russell Hill reading last Thursday night in Berkeley

Oh - fine, better than fine, in fact.

First of all, Mr. Hill is every bit as smart in person as he is on the page. Also, his wife Eleanor, a high school English teacher (huzzah!!) is sharp as tacks. But what I especially loved was that he brought a taped-together series of rejections from a story written some years back. A story, mind you, that eventually saw publication and, if it is one-tenth as brilliant as LORD GOD BIRD, stunned and awed innumerable readers.

The many rejections the story received, taped and folded and rolled, evidence of the kind of stick-with-it that separates the REAL WRITERS from the little boys and girls.

Nights like this are the best part of being an author - when you can talk books with like-minded folks and learn from the writers who elevate the craft

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reading With Russell Hill

As this career of mine rumbles along on its twisty track, interesting things happen. One of the most thrilling is getting to meet some of the true masters of crime fiction, those who've built and shaped and pushed the genre. I've been reading Russell Hill's LORD GOD BIRD and it's truly an amazing work. Like Sallis's DRIVE a few years back, it packs more into every page than you'd think possible.

I get to read with Hill tomorrow night in Berkeley and I'm feeling pretty much thoroughly honored by the opportunity. Here's the details from Janet Rudolph:

Join Mystery Readers NorCal in Berkeley at my Home Thursday, February
18 for a literary salon for Edgar Nominees:

Russell Hill and Sophie Littlefield.

2/18, 7 p.m. Berkeley. RSVP for directions.
Potluck hors d'oeuvres and sweets

Read more here.

Don't miss this fun evening.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Playing Dress-Up

I'm not a very dress-up kind of person. But I have to find a dress to wear to the Edgars. I tried a few things on. Junior weighed in - she likes this one:

T-wa, on the other hand, thinks I should wear the apron from the cover. Which I could actually do, because my friend Cyndy made me one to match. Hmmm....decisions, decisions!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Cake

Uhh, do I know anything about football? Nah, not really. I try every few years, but it just continues to elude me. This year, though, at a party at my friend A's house, her mom served a cake that made the entire crazy game worth it. Also, they have this 25-year tradition of lining up rockettes style after the game and singing We Are The Champions. Everyone has to sing and everyone has to kick and sway and it was great.

Yes, those are bloody, dismembered, and buried players on the frosting field. Oh, and one impaled on a goal post.