Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BEA Report!

As promised, I'm reporting back from Book Expo in New York, where I spent several glorious days last week. This was quite possibly my best trip to NYC yet, for all sorts of reasons. I'm always glad to touch down in NorCal but I'm very glad I got to go.

The view from my room, which reminds me of the illustrations in the Mike Mulligan Steam Shovel story, for some reason

It all started last monday when I rolled into town in time to have lunch with the coolest guy in the world, Jonathan Hayes, who had just returned from touring from his new book, A HARD DEATH. I don't know how to describe Jonathan to you, except to say there is only one person in the world even remotely like him, and I am sorry for everyone who doesn't get a chance to meet him someday.

From Jonathan's I dashed uptown for a meeting with my Saint Martin's/Minotaur people, including my lovely editor Toni and publicist Sarah and the boss man. Now when I say "meeting," you know I mean a big table at this very posh bar where they offered us charcuterie before I could unfurl my napkin. I was pretty sure I knew what charcuterie was, and, in fact, how to pronounce it (with my special Missouri-French accent!) but to be on the safe side, I made Barbara, my intrepid agent, try it all first. Smashing! Our server was loath to let us come anywhere close to dry and we did ourselves proud, I think.

The result of the meeting: we all made a pinky promise, INCLUDING MY PUBLISHER HIMSELF, that we are going to a very secret location to drink champagne when Stella hits the NYT extended list. You know this made me froth at the mouth with determination.

Agent Barbara giving me marching orders in her office before our "meeting"

So day two started as a confusing hair day. I was staying a couple of miles away from Javitz and I knew the walk/subway/bus combo would undo whatever I managed with my flatiron, so I just gave up. But when I got to the Harlequin booth, I didn't even care. There, big as life and lit up like heaven, was *my* cover on a poster. And then Adam appeared. If publishing was a box of cracker jack, Adam would be the prize. And not the crappy fake-mini-comic-book either, a *cool* prize.

me and awesome Harlequin gal Jayne Hoogenberk

I found my friend Rachael's upcoming book A LIFE IN STITCHES in the Chronicle booth - so exciting to hold it in my hands even before it's released!

On Wednesday I did my first radio interview that did not make me want to peel the skin from my arms like a Beater. It was actually fun, for which I give credit to the lovely Kim Alexander of SiriusXM. It was also like eleven seconds long which might have helped.

Then I signed A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY at the MWA booth with my girl Margery, and when I ran out of books I bugged the lovely Clare O'Donohue until she let me be her assistant. Tons of friends running around including Todd and Ken and Steve and Toni and Charlaine and Persia and Andy and...at one point my buddy Ben LeRoy and I escaped to a quiet corner so I could do my introvert freak-out, the one he talks me down from every time I see him. I love that guy.

Pals Toni Kelner, Ken Isaacson, and Charlaine Harris in the MWA booth

How shall I describe my lunch with Barbara and Jamie Freveletti? Obviously there was red meat, martinis, and scheming. But the hours somehow flew by: one minute the place was mobbed, the next I looked up and our waiter - bless his heart - was standing attentively with a pained look on his face while they set up for dinner. It reminded me of the time Nicole Peeler, Juliet Blackwell, and I went to the House of Prime Rib and the poor waiter kept gasping until he swallowed so much air I thought a bubble would reach his heart and he would die right there, in the middle of one of Nicole's stories so I wouldn't have even been able to help him until I heard how it turned out. Yeah. This lunch was like that.

That night, I went to the Harlequin party. Forget my silly babbling for a moment and close your eyes and picture Cinderella at the ball, if Cinderella was a geeky awkward girl from Missouri and the Prince was Margaret Atwood (!!!!) and the pumpkin coach was really the Chrysler Building lit up like - well, like the city itself, only mere blocks away from the rooftop party. Suave foreign publishers fetched me wine, Jayne let me keep hugging her all night, I talked to Rachel Vincent and Julie Kagawa and I even managed to leave before I did anything mortifying. Well, I did that one mortifying thing, but, y'know, that's not a bad record, for me.

Thursday started unconscionably early. Like at 8 am I had to be not only dressed, but made up for a photo shoot. It's a long story but my brother and I are going to be in an article in a magazine in the fall, and they wanted to take our picture in central park. UGH! I hate having my picture taken, and I think Mike does too, and our photographer - who we both adored despite not *wanting* or *expecting* to like her - kept cracking us up with her directions. I got "smaller smile please" most often, and mike got "look positive." We were both told to "act more natural." Ha! She took eleven thousand photos so I'm hoping one might work.

Then mike skipped off downtown for some meeting and I headed for Newark, and from there it rapidly - or rather slowly - devolved into an eight hour wait at the gate, while storms plagued the country's midsection and passengers fought over the outlets and the bookstore closed *juuuuust* as I decided I hated the book I brought for the return trip. But you know what? It didn't even matter that I didn't get home until 3:30am. Juliet picked me up at SFO, which was great except now I owe her HUGE, because how do you pay back a favor like that, and as I slipped into my own bed an hour before I would have to get up again to make pancakes for Junior, I felt warm and happy all over.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For Your Shelf: RIGOR MORTIS

Maybe I'm showing my incipient fossilization, but I believe that publishing has become *too* accessible. It's not really a brave new world, merely a world with far more points of entry and a shocking plague of poor editing.

Words matter, people. They deserve reverent treatment.

RIGOR MORTIS (disclaimer - I discovered this publication because they reviewed AFTERTIME), a horror zine, is one of the most beautifully written and illustrated things I have come across in a long time. It has an online presence here but I encourage you to consider purchasing a copy - as they point out, they're cheap at $3.50 an issue.

You know I'm a bit of a grammar priss, but I read the current issue without cringing a bit. That's really saying something. And the quality of the writing is amazing - smart and funny and accessible.

"For us monster kids," editors Deadvida and Dread write, "it might be easy to forget that the rest of the world doesn't think the way we do."

Well, that's a shame. You guys have a fan here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Big News: MIRA, Adam, & me

I could hardly stand to keep this from you, darlin's, but I was waiting for all the t's to get crossed and the i's to be dotted. I'm thrilled, excited, overjoyed to announce that I'm going to be writing a standalone novel for Mira.

I could go on and on and on about all the ways this is awesome, but I'll stick to just a couple here: first of all, I get to work with Adam Wilson again. He's a dream of an editor - I don't even want to tell you all the ways because I'm afraid you'd steal him. Second, I get to try something I've been yearning to do for about two decades, which is to write in my own weird special mix of...well, let's just call it yet another Littlefield genre-defying mess. I believe the *technical* term is "upmarket," but I confess I don't really know what that means. Oh well, I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Big thanks to Poelle for making it happen, as always.

Meanwhile, from Publisher's Marketplace:

May 11, 2011
Sophie Littlefield's THE MUSEUM OF EYES, in which a family's legacy of murder and abuse are but the first things a mother is determined to keep from her daughter, to Adam Wilson at Mira, in a two book deal, by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Agency (World English).
Foreign: Heather Shapiro at Baror International

Kirkus: "everyone should grab a Littlefield"

ha ha ha! I don't know if that quote is what i like best about this review from Kirkus, or if it's the part where they say everyone should have a mom like Stella. Cheers to that!

Author: Littlefield, Sophie

A pair of female crime-stoppers mete out vigilante justice.
Stella Hardesty and her assistant Chrissy Shaw (A Bad Day for Pretty, 2010, etc.) are looking for the flash drive showing Stella pummeling a wife-beater that Priss Porter is using to blackmail her into disposing of a man’s corpse in the trunk of her Mercedes. As they rifle through Priss’ digs in Prosper, goons appear. Using guile, firepower and cleavage, the dynamic duo stop them cold and learn that they too were seeking a flash drive but at the instigation of a female judge. Before you can so much as sniff a sex scandal in the making, Priss, her brother Liman and the corpse go missing; Stella’s love, Sheriff Goat Jones, finds her scarf in the abandoned house; and the race is on to uncover who’s a victim, who’s a perp, and whether Stella’s career as a punisher of abusive males will send her to the slammer. Stella’s liberal belief that it’s OK to be gay is tested when her beautician daughter Noelle enters a series of lesbian affairs. Stella and Chrissy discover that Priss’ main source of income, the Elegant Company, provides escorts for lonely ladies like that judge. Also in the mix is Priss’ old, possibly current beau, Salty Mingus, whose wife takes exception to his romantic leanings. There’ll be standoffs with several of the Elegant escorts, men turning to mush at a glimpse of Chrissy’s endowments, and some snappy repartee and motherly advice from Stella before bodies emerge from a pond and the sheriff sighs with relief when he doesn’t have to arrest his gal pal.

If we all had mothers like Stella, this would be a better world. Fans of quirky mysteries straddling the line between tough and funny need to grab a Littlefield pronto.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Library Journal on SCANDAL: "more fun than cotton candy"

Thanks for the nice review, LIBRARY JOURNAL!!

Littlefield, Sophie. A Bad Day for Scandal. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2011. c.290p. ISBN 9780312648374. $24.99. M
Priss Porter has another thing coming if she thinks Stella Hardesty, locally renowned vigilante against wife beaters, is available to be a cleaner for someone’s murder. Confronted with the dead guy in Priss’s car trunk, Stella then realizes that Priss, a desperate bully, will blackmail her with compromising photos of Stella on her flash drive. Now on a mission to retrieve the flash drive, Stella comes up short when Priss, Priss’s brother, and the dead guy totally disappear. Stella and her colorful ensemble of family and friends unearth (among other things) a dysfunctional male escort service in Kansas City, which helps explain Priss’s desperation. VERDICT This caper is more fun than eating cotton candy on a Ferris wheel. Littlefield’s zesty dialog and astute observations make this irreverent third series entry (after A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty) fly by. The zaniness evokes Janet Evanovich or Harley Jane Kozak; the story itself, Ben Rehder, who writes so well about good old boys behaving badly. [Library marketing.]

Paperback PRETTY out today!!

Hey darlin' people, if you've been waiting for the paperback version of A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY, today's the day! Read it now and you'll be all caught up for A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL, which will be out next month.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Come See Us at the Summer Cons!

This is an exciting summer for me. So much fun stuff going on, including appearances at several writers' conferences, where usual suspect Juliet Blackwell and I will be giving workshops, coaching aspiring authors, and giving our very first ever keynote address.

Juliet and I love nothing more than talking writing with like-minded people, as anyone who's ever had the good fortune (or in some cases misfortune) to encounter us on the road are aware. Seriously, we can not shut up on the subject, especially if there's a drink involved. That's why we're gobsmacked at the genius of one of our hostesses for installing us IN THE BAR to give a workshop.

Julie and me at some conference or other, talking about...something

Aw, just kidding. We actually think that, since we devote most of our lives to our craft, we have some wonderful things to share with our fellow wordsmiths, and we'd be honored if you attended any of these events. Complete details are available on my web site.

P.S. Juliet refused to go to Thrillerfest with me, so when I'm in New York I'm partnering up with my fabulous agent Barbara Poelle to give a workshop during Craftfest. I'm also helping out with Agentfest (geez, that's a lot of fest-ing) so I hope you'll come say hello if you're there.

June 17-19 finds us at the Crested Butte Writers Conference, where we'll be speaking on a number of craft topics including "Creating Emotional Depth" and "Where Does Your Story Start?" We're in good company with a great bunch of fellow authors, agents and editors.

A week later, June 24-26, you can catch up with us at the Poisoned Pen Conference at the The Arizona Biltmore. We *love* this hotel and the PP gang. Seriously, we can't get enough. We'll be brainstorming with aspiring authors at two "Perfect Pitch" sessions.

In July, I'll be at Thrillerfest in New York City, which I like to pretend is my home away from home. Barbara and I will be putting a fresh spin on "Creating Emotional Depth" on Wednesday at 11:00 am - it's bound to get raucous.

Barbara and me in Florida last summer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Thanks for the kind words, Booklist!!

From the May 1st issue:

With things heating up between self-styled vigilante Stella Hardesty and sexy sheriff Goat Jones, Stella finds both her relationship and her livelihood at risk by the possibility of blackmail. Priss Porter, generally disliked for turning her back on Prosper, Missouri, returns to the small town and demands Stella’s help in disposing of a body. If Stella refuses, Priss threatens to tell all how Stella’s “covert benevolent aid society” for abused women actually operates. When Priss and her brother disappear, Stella becomes a person of interest, forcing her to do her own sleuthing, all the while worrying about how her spirit-of-the-law tactics conflict with letter-of-the-law Goat. This third in this series (after A Bad Day for Pretty, 2010) is livened up with Stella’s daughter Noelle’s concerns about her sexuality, the development of Chrissy Shaw as Stella’s assistant, and plans to celebrate Easter in grand style. But it’s fiftyish Stella, healthy and toned after her recent injuries, who continues to carry the day, as always, in this sassy mix of comedy and mystery.

Brazilian BANISHED cover!

Oh I do just adore this....kinda hot, right?