Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lovely Review from Crimespree

This one is special indeed, because the members of the Crimespree gang feel like old friends (that's Ruth and Jon Jordan in the picture)...

Sophie Littlefield
June, 2010
Minotaur Books

Stella Hardesty is back, and in a big way. Sophie Littlefield’s debut novel A BAD DAY FOR SORRY garnered much buzz and every possible award nomination. A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY FIRMLY establishes her as a new brand of writer. Stella is a new and unique female protagonist. Her small town setting and day job running a sewing store on main street may suggest cozy but her hard-boiled attitude towards any human who’d lay a hand on another makes this series one that keeps the reader turning pages.

The book starts with both a twister and a twist. Stella’s new found relationship with Sheriff “Goat” Brown is about to get even more complicated as a third individual adds even more baggage to a pair we’re already cheering on. But it’s the unearthing of a body as a result of the tornado that propels this story forward. A woman’s body has been found and the main suspect is someone Stella has dealt with in the past.

Can she prove that Neb Donovan did not commit this cold case of a murder?

It’s a joy when a new writer holds you’re attention from beginning to end. It’s a treat when she has something so new to say.

A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY; entertainment, the mystery way.

- Ruth Jordan

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Day Off

I'm not very good at leisure.

This was true even before I started writing all the time. I've never been able to sit still for long, and I'm perplexed by the notion of relaxing in a lawn chair or on a beach or hammock or couch. I'm fidgety and distractible and I just need to get up and do stuff.

But lately I've been working a little too hard and coming a little bit uncomfortably close to burnout. It was time to step away from the keyboard, and luckily it was also time, today, for one of my very favorite traditions - the summer's-end Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk trip we've been taking for over a decade.

The first time we did this, Junior was too little to ride any but the baby rides and we had to watch T-wa like a hawk around the water because, at six, he was more enthusiastic than cautious. Today, T-wa - still more enthusiastic than cautious - drove us all down to Santa Cruz and Sal, officially taller than me at 5' 9.5", was plenty big enough for all the rides. Beloved Auntie K came along, so poor T-wa had to deal with three adults backseat driving.

One of us thinks it's warm enough to swim - one of us doesn't

Some things haven't changed at all. T-wa still has to get in the water first thing, even though it was cold enough that I was wearing mittens on the beach. (I've learned, after all these years, to pack tons of layers.) Everyone is allowed to eat all the junk food they want and the evening must end with fried cheese, more a curiosity than a delicacy, even though everyone is required to take at least a nibble (even Auntie K, who was feeling very nauseous after all those rides). Speaking of rides, I go on every single one and so does Junior. She and I have iron constitutions for this sort of thing. Everyone else gets queasy on the spinny ones, while we just wish they would go faster and last longer and do more upside-down scary stuff.

The sky was blue enough to break your heart, the tide pools and distant mountains gorgeous enough to more than make up for all the ticky-tacky, and the sand got in my lip gloss and shoes and hair. The kids said "thank you" and "I love you" a lot. Everyone but the driver fell asleep on the way home.

Auntie K and Junior in the bumper cars

I'll be a new person, a renewed writer, tomorrow when I get back to the task. It may take me a few paragraphs to transition back to the desolate torment in which I left my characters, and I'll take a break when the kids finally stumble out of bed to make chocolate chip pancakes.

I ought to do this more often.

Here's the thing. No one - not even people who love their jobs, cry with happiness because they get to do what they love, live and breathe words as though they were oxygen - no one can do it all the time without coming up for air. Sometimes, I come a little too close for comfort. Other than my kids, I forget to pay attention to life beyond the book. And that's a mistake.

Cleave too close and you stop surprising yourself. Forget to breathe and you'll forget to question, poke, upend, and U-turn as well. Get too enmeshed and you might as well turn in your membership card, 'cause you ain't gonna be writing anything worth reading.

I often take pot shots at people who make the opposite mistake - the ones who never make time for the chair. Now, humbly, I admit that the opposite problem is still a problem. And I pledge to try a little harder to do better. Because life is rich, and I almost missed it. Those garlic fries were worth every greasy bite. Hanging upside down a hundred feet up, screaming all the while, was splendid. And seeing my sister helping my kids grow up...well, yeah, a little teary here. Thanks, Big was a good day.

Auntie K, Bob, T-wa and Junior considering what to nosh on first

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A New Deal and an Upbeat Publishing Tale

I'm thrilled and delighted and just plain excited to tell you that I've signed on to do two more young adult books for Delacorte. These will follow BANISHED (October '10) and UNFORSAKEN (October '11), probably in fall '12 and '13. I don't know what they're going to be about yet, and that's actually kind of exciting. There's something sparkly and wonderful about a book that's still just a little thought-cloud, a sense of possibility that's both exhilarating and inspiring.

This deal means even more to me because BANISHED went through a lot of rewriting and revising before we all agreed it was ready. I will be honest with you: I had a lot to learn about writing for young adults when I turned in that first book. When BANISHED comes out in a couple of months, it will be a very different story from what it used to be, and far better: tighter, more focused, more suspenseful, and more compelling.

My wonderful editor, Stephanie Elliott, worked really hard with me through several revisions and I credit her with fixing what was frankly a problematic book. At any point, she could have (and was probably tempted to!) thrown her hands up in despair and pitched the whole project; instead she kept coming back and trying again.

I kind of shiver and feel faint when I think of what might have happened without her help. I shed more than a few tears over this book; I had days when I doubted my ability to make it work. But I didn't give up and neither did Stephanie and neither did Barbara, who was always ready to talk through the latest edits. I am really big on thinking of my books as team projects and it's never been more true than with BANISHED.

The fact that we went on to do a second book together and now look forward to two more is, i think, one of my proudest milestones on my writing journey. It's just one more example of what is, in the end, a simple formula for writing success:

work passionately + love your job + listen to smart people + don't give up = published book you can be proud of

Here's the deal report from Publisher's Marketplace:

Children's: Young Adult
Sophie Littlefield's next two untitled paranormal young adult novels, following her zombie novels BANISHED and UNFORSAKEN, to Stephanie Elliott at Delacorte, in a two-book deal, by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Agency (NA).

RWA Was a Blast (No Thanks to the Mouse)

I got back from Orlando last Tuesday night, but it's taken me a while to get myself sorted out. I think it was the heat. No, the humidity. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" - a midwesterner's most beloved commentary on summer weather, which is lost on us Californians...

Anyway, I had a great time with my SFRWA friends and also the ones I only get to see at conferences. We got in halfway through the Literacy Signing and hit the ground running and didn't stop. Because I'm now writing for three houses, I had lots of events to attend, which is both pinch-me-please wonderful and a little intimidating. Luckily I had roommates (and friends in a second room that we sort of treated like our own, wandering back and forth all hours of the day and night) to lend me jewelry and critique my makeup and take compromising photos of me (tattoo sleeve and naughty net gloves, anyone?) and bum drink tickets off.

Our hotel made me grumpy. I know it's my issue that bunking in a gated plot of land where you can't escape terrible overpriced food and weirdly-costumed "cast members" and bizarre souvenirs (a mouse-ear colander? really?) makes my skin crawl, but the refusal to vaccuum our floor or bring us towels or give us directions was just plain rude. And the front desk person who made my friend sad? I poxed her, but good.

Enough of that! One of my favorite parts is always cheering for our chapter members who are nominated for Golden Hearts and Ritas. This year Carolyn Jewel was up for two Ritas, and both Grace Chow and Elisa Beatty were up for Golden Hearts. Elisa won!

Here I am with two of my roommates, Juliet Blackwell and Lisa Hughey. We were on our way to the Awards dinner on Saturday. This is the only picture I have with any Disney scenery in the background...probably because I was usually scowling whenever I had to confront MouseWorld. "Have a magical day," indeed. Aw, heck, I'll keep my bitter core to myself...
Me and my agent, Barbara Poelle. We always have more fun together than we're supposed to. I think it's in the AAR bylaws or something.
Here I am with Tawny Weber at the PASIC party. I was a cross-eyed mess by the time I got there after a long schmoozey evening - the only networking I did was to jump in front of a nice lady at the dessert table and take the brownie she had her eye on - but Tawny's the kind of person who can make you feel calm and happy even when you thought you were down to your last nerve.

Here's Susanna Einstein with my friends Rachael Herron and Adrienne Miller. Susanna is Rachael's agent, and she's really smart - I learn stuff every time I talk to her.

Here I am at the Literacy Signing with Carrie Lofty. One fun thing I didn't realize when I did my first signing is that you get to see the same people from time to time, which lends a nice element of stability to an otherwise chaotic and slightly nerve-wracking event. Carrie's funny and smart and fun, and so is my regular Saint Martin's Press signing buddy, Sheila Roberts. (Yeah, I know that "Littlefield" and "Roberts" aren't exactly in alphabetical order...but we like it that way.)

Here's my pal Alex Sokoloff and new friend Louisa Edwards at the St. Martin's signing.

My PensFatales friends - my local gals - my dear ones - aren't they all beautiful?!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crimespree Nomination

Came back from RWA (will post pix soon) in Orlando to discover some very nice news indeed - A BAD DAY FOR SORRY has been nominated for a Crimespree award!

Big thanks to all the folks over at Crimespree who've been so sweet to me since I was a beginning beginner, long before I ever had a publishing contract. They're good people and they knock themselves out to support authors, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Here's the full list. It's especially fun to be up with my friend Jamie Freveletti along with a nice showing from my publisher, St. Martin's/Minotaur.

Favorite Book of 2009:
• Bury Me Deep, by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
• Tower, by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman (Busted Flush Press)
• Trust No One, by Gregg Hurwitz (St. Martin’s Press)
• The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, by Charlie Huston (Ballantine Books)
• The Amateurs, Marcus Sakey (Dutton)

Favorite First Book 2009:
• The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley (Delacorte)
• Running from the Devil, by Jamie Freveletti (Morrow)
• Even, by Andrew Grant (Minotaur)
• A Bad Day for Sorry, by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur)
• The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville (Soho Crime)

Best Book in an Ongoing Series for 2009:
• The Silent Hour, by Michael Koryta (Minotaur)
• Shatter, by Michael Robotham (Doubleday)
• The Shanghai Moon, by S.J. Rozan (Minotaur)
• Walking Dead, by Greg Rucka (Bantam)
• Truth, by Peter Temple (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)