Monday, January 30, 2012

This Makes Me Sad :(

Bad grammar is a *scourge*, people, I'm tellin' ya. A fkn scourge.

My son sent me this great article on mom skateboarders. I checked out the comments and discovered this one: all are f.k.n. tight… we make and sale skateboards… but were in the mid-west.were nobody is cool…there cruisers. but not the big-ones.their smaller. you can ride ramps.with them. but their really fast… you all seem to have an open mind, witch,you need to ride our boards. were all for women skaters.. and your moms,your kids must think your the coolest.. my kids think we are. and crazy. ………..good job ladies……

So here we have some nice person from the Midwest, who meets several of my criteria for excellence - not misogynistic, open-minded, with an appetite for adventure. But AAAAAAUUUUUGGHHHH....reading that hurt my eyeballs. At this rate, it will only be a dozen years or so until we have lost all written communications. We'll just grunt at each other as we skateboard around.

So sad.

Still, *this* is pretty nice. And hey, all you skaters - your moms are right, wear your helmet!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Devil Is My Running Mate

Big, big breakthrough for me: I have found the theme song for my new project: "The Devil Is My Running Mate" by Jason Isbell. It's way too early to talk about the story yet but this song can take me to the middle of the mix that fast.

"Everybody look away.
Look away. Look away."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HORIZON release day!

The AFTERTIME series wraps up today with the release of the third and final installment.

I wrote HORIZON in a breathless burst of adrenaline in 2011 following a series of discussions I had with Adam Wilson (my editor) and Barbara Poelle (my agent). I can’t begin to tell you how important they were to this series: it truly was a team effort, bubbling out of our conversations about how the damaged world evolved, and how the characters would react to each other and the challenges they faced.

I’ve never written anything like this series before, and while I certainly hope I get to write more imagined-world fiction in the future, I doubt I’ll ever dig deeper into my dreams and nightmares than I did in AFTERTIME, REBIRTH, and now HORIZON. I expanded my view of what it means to be heroic, as well as my understanding of the parameters of romantic love.

I've been touched by the response to this series from readers, and the support of some very generous reviewers. In particular, Paul Goat Allen and Jim Killen at Barnes & Noble were wonderful and encouraging, and Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy made me feel like I'd managed to write from the heart.

Here's some advance praise for HORIZON:

“Of the 400+ books that have been reviewed on this site, only one series has received perfect 5/5 ratings for every book: the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield. I can’t really believe it myself, but each book really is that good, and HORIZON is the perfect conclusion.” – All Things Urban Fantasy

“It is the depth of raw emotion that makes this series, and this installment most of all, so compelling.” 5/5 rating - A Book Obsession

“ Love, life-changing choices, chilling and horrific situations revealed through seamless and evocative writing, HORIZON is a must-read for post-apocalyptic and zombie fans!” 4.5/5 rating - Romance Junkies

“Ends with loss and with hope…an amazing series that needs to be read in its entirety.”- Red Hot Books

“What an incredible ending to a great series!” -Badass Book Reviews

“Littlefield has the ability to make you experience every emotion in this dystopian world.” - Blood Rose Books

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Personal Farewell to Borders

I walked by the shell of my local Borders today.

It was a bittersweet moment. I know most people have already processed their feelings about the chain, but I - well, frankly, I didn't think I had any to process. Borders didn't carry my first book in hardcover, and it was a while before they started carrying any of my books at all, so I had a sort of immature petulant response to them - if they didn't want me then I sure as hell didn't want them.

And their customer service, the few times I went in the last few years, really was indefensible. No one knew where anything was. No one *cared* where anything was. The lines were long and they were always, frustratingly, out of the one thing I really wanted.


I remember taking my kids there, years ago, to the children's section, which had little carpeted benches and racks of delightful softcover books that were inexpensive enough I didn't mind buying a stack of them, knowing they'd be scribbled on and ruined. (I am *not* of the books-are-to-be-respected camp, despite my dad's best efforts. Books - like quilts - should be loved up and used up.)

I remember searching, furtively, through the how-to-write section when I was kinda sorta thinking of writing a full length novel. And later, I bought my Jeff Herman guide (remember those?) back when I didn't realize I'd have to query every single agent frog, hundreds of them, before finding my perfect one.

I worked in the cafe on my first manuscript, hoping no one would get close enough to look over my shoulder and see the embarrassing prose I was writing.

And once in a while I just browsed those lovely stacks of magazines, all the ones you couldn't get at the grocery store. Sometimes I bought Ellery Queen. Or Quilters Newsletter Magazine. Or the Atlantic. Or Ms. Or Allure Makeover edition. Or In Touch. I'm a magazine junkie, and on a bad day, it was an easy pick-me-up.

When I took this snapshot, the guy working on the construction, or demolition, or whatever they're doing in there, looked at me like I was nuts.

Not nuts. Just a little wistful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Now Write! Mysteries

I just received my contributor copies of a new how-to book for aspiring mystery authors titled Now Write! Mysteries.

I knew a few of my friends were also contributing essays, but my eyes popped when I opened the book and scanned the table of contents. It seems like every mystery author working today has an essay in here, from A to Z - Emily Arsenault to Elizabeth Zelvin, to be more specific. The essays cover topics ranging from research to revision and everything in between, and many include exercises.

Check it out here!

Oh, and I guess I should mention that my essay is on writing emotion. I re-read it - I think it's pretty good!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Week at Hogwarts - er, Seton Hill

Last week I went to Greensburg, PA with my pals Juliet and Rachael, at the invitation with another dear friend, Nicole Peeler - or "Dr. Peeler," as we got into the habit of calling her last week, since she is a professor in the MFA Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University.

Seton Hill is housed in a series of beautiful old hilltop castle-like buildings. We *may* have done a little secret exploring. There may have been tunnels. And dungeons. And dusty treasures... Just saying.

Rachael, me and Julie holding forth

with Julie and Dr. Peeler outside the hallowed halls

The three of us gave a talk on revision techniques, followed by breakout sessions where we got into the nitty-gritty. We were all impressed by the students' determination to improve their craft. This is something of a hot button for me in this age of "just get it out there"-ism, the apparent belief that quality just doesn't matter like it used to - or editing, for that matter. No such attitudes were on display in this crowd. I'm sure some of those students will publish through alternative paths - on their own or with independent publishers - but the books they are writing will be the best they can create. I say "Bravo" to that.

We also had a lively discussion on Gender in Publishing. While preparing to moderate that one, I did a fair amount of research and discovered some startling things, which I summarized in my MurderSheWrites post last week. Here's just a few more: men in publishing make an average of $40,000 more than women (though they do have more experience, an average of 17 years to women's 11) . Dispiritingly enough, both Oprah's now-defunct book club and Terry Gross's occasional author interviews on NPR's fresh air skew madly to men. All of this despite the fact that the sisterhood of women readers trundles gamely along, still reading more than men in every category but history and biography, and in 2010 surpassing men in e-book reading, a day some predicted would never come.

I think all my friends are ready for me to stop beating this poor horse for a while, but before I do, I'll leave you with a final two quotes from industry professionals. I think they are even more interesting when considered together - in fact, I wish I could have these two over for dinner:

George Gibson, president of Bloomsbury USA:
"Women and men see the world differently and therefore I think it would be healthier to have more men in the business" (responding to figures showing that women outnumber men in publishing)

Tracy Bowling, writer, editor, blogger:
"Unexamined assumptions about what makes good writing can potentially block out forms of writing that emerge from the real experiences and contexts of being in a marginalized group."

A last note: several audience members, in the course of our discussion, admitted that in examining their own reading habits, they saw potential for bias, and pledged to be aware in their future reading choices.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

70s Tidbits

One of the many joys of working on my latest book (GARDEN OF STONES, out from Mira Fall 2012) is that much of it is set in the 40s and 1979. Had no idea how much I would enjoy the research...and, inevitably, the wince-inducing re-immersion in an era I actually lived through, an era of questionable practices and aesthetics...

Here's a couple nice ads for your enjoyment (thanks to RollerBlog)

So I'm always...halfheartedly...promising Julie that I'll pay attention to my carbon footprint blah blah blah. At her house you have to use this weird fake Windex stuff made out of distilled rainwater or something. Imagine her horror if she saw this (seriously? Lysol in the A/C vents??? Even I would hesitate at that!)

Oh, Jeez, if only I had a man in an acetate Santa-shorty-gown...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

School Library Journal on UNFORSAKEN

Nice new review of UNFORSAKEN at School Library Journal...

Gr 9 Up–This companion to Banished (Delacorte, 2010) is fast paced and disturbingly vivid. Hailey Tarbell, 16, is descended from the Banished, a group of Irish healers, and has inherited the power to heal, but it only works if a wounded person is still alive; otherwise, it turns the deceased into the living dead. Hailey is all too familiar with this chilling reality after escaping her hometown and those who wanted to exploit her power to create an army of zombies. Now she has a second chance at a normal life with her Aunt Prairie and adopted four-year-old brother, Chub. However, a new identity and a modicum of safety cannot make her forget who she left behind. When Hailey secretly talks to her boyfriend, Kaz, she inadvertently alerts the enemy to her location and ruins all illusions of safety. After Prairie and Chub go missing, Hailey and Kaz must find and rescue them from the men who will stop at nothing in their quest to build a zombie army. In this sequel, Hailey is still figuring out her powers but is more confident, aggressive, and willing to risk everything to save those she loves. While at times the inclusion of backstory seems to overwhelm the current narrative, it is helpful for remembering elements that could easily be forgotten. Littlefield wraps things up a little too neatly, but readers will still experience nail-biting moments of zombie attacks and heart-fluttering moments of romance that will keep them reading to the very end.–Elizabeth C. Johnson, Fort Vancouver Regional Library, WA

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Resolve - Oh, Hell Yes I Do

I'm good at New Years Resolutions. Generally speaking, when I decide to do something, it gets done. I didn't end up starting 2012 with what's essentially a completely different life than the one I had five years ago by sitting still...

So I have to decide with care. This is only a partial list, but I want to be cautious about how much of my determination I unleash at a time...

1. Be a better writer. If not with every page I write, then certainly with every book. The craft MATTERS. I may not be able to drown out all the noise generated by the changing publishing model (and the idiots who seem to think they're entitled to tell everyone else what to do and how to do it) - but I CAN make sure that the vast majority of my time is spent on *writing* - not marketing and not promoting. These tasks are important, but they are always, always, always far secondary to the work.

2. Keep working on accepting what I cannot change. (Really, if the Serenity Prayer didn't have the whole, y'know, serenity focus, that alone could be my New Year's resolution, every time. I suck at serenity. But the rest of it's genius.)

3. Love well the friends who make my life a joy and inspire me to be better (and let the rest go, in peace).

4. Remember to delight in my great fortune. Because every day's so damn precious.