Saturday, June 30, 2012

Apparently I Don't Have a Corner on Awkward

I'm off to Thrillerfest in a week where, among other things, I'll have a variety of meetings and a panel or two.

I am awkward in public. I can express myself fairly well when I have the luxury of time and the written word, but often talking feels like squeezing big thoughts through a tiny toothpaste tube which mangles them on the way out. It's frustrating and nerve-wracking.

But I'm not alone. Some of you may know that I am a big fan of singer Chris Knight. Listen to any of his work and I think you'll agree he's a brilliant songwriter. But in person? He's pretty much a disaster. And I'm not talking about his accent, either; I actually like that accent. He just can't seem to get a coherent thought out beyond the most banal observations.

In this clip, the interviewer valiantly comes at him from just about every angle, giving him opportunity after opportunity to expound on his life, his work, his process. This is about as good as his responses get:

"Way it works is, if I feel like writing, I write; if I don't, I don't."

Uh...yeah. And this is the guy who wrote "Down the River."

Anyway, I feel for this poor guy. And his publicists. We're two of a kind, he and I.

Oh, hey, if you're thinking of coming to the workshop I'm doing with my agent Barbara Poelle (Craftfest, Wednesday July 11, 9:45am "Where Does the Story Start?") - fear not. For some reason, teaching doesn't count. Put me in front of a classroom and I figure out what to do. Promise.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Release Day....MERCY, belatedly!

I'm over a week late in remarking on the release of my latest book, A BAD DAY FOR MERCY. But I have a pretty good excuse - last Tuesday, I was in Yosemite National Park for the annual family trip with all of these pals:

They're a motley lot, it's true, but we managed to have a splendid time under the towering trees and breathtaking cliffs and sparkling waterfalls and blue blue skies. No campfires allowed around the tent cabins, but as you can see, we made do with snacks and camaraderie.

But back to MERCY!  This is the fourth in the Stella Hardesty crime series, and you can read a little more about it here. Meanwhile, here's a few early reviews:

"Solid...Littlefield makes sure her feisty heroine has plenty to do."
   —Publishers Weekly

"Pitch-perfect prose and good balance between humor and dangerous goings-on...another winner." 4 stars
   —RT Book Reviews 

"It would take a hardened reader to resist Stella's charm, wisdom, and the humor...A Bad Day for Mercy will add to Stella's reputation for ingenuity and heart."
   —Lesa Holstine 

"Who wouldn't love Stella?...I am well and truly smitten!"
   —Susan Tunis 

"A Bad Day for Mercy speeds along at a nonstop pace...fresh and original."  —Jen Forbus, Shelf Awareness 

"A celebration of eccentricity, grit and love...Littlefield's series takes the mystery genre in new and welcome directions." —Richmond Times-Dispatch 

"A terrific addition to this incredibly original and entertaining series. For those who haven't yet discovered the wonder of Sophie Littlefield, it's high time to join the fun!"
   —Dark Faerie Tales 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Late Bloomers

Yesterday at lunch with friends, we were talking about late bloomers. Turns out all three of us were. At nineteen, all of us were struggling to figure out who we were, and were littering the road behind us with mistakes and sometimes tantrums. Life was just plain *hard* for us and we didn't know why. One friend shared that an older man told her, during that long and difficult year, that "these are the best years of her life" - and she broke into tears.

Wow, was that a comfort as I think about a certain young person I know and love who is struggling at the moment. There's so much pressure to be accomplished at an age when, I think, we're meant to be sort of wobbling around learning by trial and error. The biggest mistakes teach the biggest lessons, and the most spectacular failures mold people in fascinating ways, so that a few decades later the early disasters are the people I most want to get to know.

In my back yard are six new rosebushes, planted in March and lovingly tended by the gardener in the house (not me these days). One of them seemed like it was never going to bloom. I kept bending its canes to make sure it hadn't died, occasionally snipping off a bit to check the inside for color, and it wasn't dead, but it sure was taking its sweet time. We almost gave up on it. And then - the other day, well into the middle of JUNE, mind you, when all the other rosebushes were in glorious bloom, it decided it was time. I LOVE THIS ROSEBUSH. I wish I could remember not to give my young person a hard time, as I left the rosebush to figure out its own path. I am quite sure that this will be my favorite rose in the garden, and by the time fall rolls around it will have produced some beautiful blooms of its own.

So, that analogy may have been a little heavy-handed, but I don't care, it really works for me today.

the little guy who finally decided to get started


takes all kinds, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kirkus reviews HANGING BY A THREAD

Pretty pleased with this review for my September young adult novel!
A serial killer may be stalking Winston, Clare’s tiny northern California beach town. A boy may have been murdered during the Fourth of July holiday last year. Now, a girl, Amanda, has disappeared. Clare and her mom have returned to their ancestral home in Winston, where Clare has made one friend. Rachel helps sell the outfits Clare designs from bits of vintage clothing. The more she learns about Rachel, however, the more Clare wonders if the girl is stable. Clare’s isolation continues within her own family, as she quarrels with her mom. Meanwhile, other families appear to be breaking up all over town. When Clare acquires a torn jacket, she touches it and has an alarming vision that she’s certain will somehow lead her to Amanda. She also falls for Jack, Amanda’s old boyfriend, who was accused of the crime at the time. Can she trust him? As Clare delves more deeply into the tangled relationships of the townsfolk, she pieces the mystery together just as she pieces old clothing together, and she thinks she knows whodunit. If she’s wrong, though, she may become the next victim. Littlefield writes a nifty little mystery and hits the right buttons for the current paranormal craze. Throwing in fashion design and a hot romance with a hunky bad-boy type also boosts interest, but well-drawn family and friend relationships form the heart of this story. The author plays fair by sprinkling in some teensy but real clues that should steer alert readers toward the solution.
Intriguing and entertaining. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Get Your Pulp, People

Now here's a cheap thrill I can heartily recommend: BEAT TO A PULP, ROUND 2 is a great new noir anthology, summer reading for the discerning badass. Hats off to editors David Cranmer and Matthew Mayo - and, as always, James O'Barr for that fine cover.

There are some stunning stories in here, including one that made me laugh so hard in a bar that I slid down several stairs on my ass; one whose wordstyling had me googling the author to find out where he's been hiding all my life; and one that broke my flinty heart.

As for me, I had the honor of writing the foreword.

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to bring this to your attention - I blame my crazy hardcore life (uh, cue the kids and puppies).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Author Photo!

My brilliant photographer friend Gigi Pandian took my new photo - what do you think? Gigi made the process fun, which is saying a LOT because I really hate having my picture done.

This is the version I think I might use for the next Stella book (out in Spring '13). Sassy, right? I'm tempted to do another contest and send a book to anyone who can identify that bathtub, but Bethany's been there too :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Waste of Courage

If you're an introvert like me, you know how daunting the prospect of meeting new people can be. Excruciating, even. I liken it to writing the first thousand words every day: hate the process, love the result. 

I get that I can't expect to make new friends without the first awkward (for me, anyway; other people make it look easy) interactions. I've been wanting to make some new hiking friends, so the other day I gathered up my courage and set out to meet up with a Bay Area hiking group doing an informal 4-miler down in Sunol.

But I guess it wasn't meant to be. I was running a little late, and there was a pileup on the freeway, and - oops - i was out of gas. Half an hour after I was supposed to meet at the trailhead, I was finally coasting off the exit ramp praying that the last few teaspoons of fuel would get me to the Arco.

Well, I know when I'm beat. I turned around and did my standard Las Trampas hike instead. An easy hour round trip, and Dog didn't seem to mind - no ticks this time, either!

And that night I patched myself up with the introvert's cure - OLD friends! :) The ones who have to love you because you've been down a long road together. (I have to remind myself that there was once a day when I didn't know Steve and Juliet either....almost unimaginable!)

If anyone can identify this place (hint: Oakland) I'll send you any book I've written. :)