Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Month Ever

So just to round out what was surely one of the best months ever...

First of all, my first-born got a much-longed-for job as a park ranger in the desert this summer, teaching survival skills (including dinosaur escape?)

...and Junior finally committed - she is going to be a Cal Bear in the fall!

I think I'm going to just bask in all this goodness for a while. Sometimes life just sparkles, and it's worth cherishing.
Thank You, Big Guy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Delightful News, Foreign Sales, All-Around Good Times!

So! Remember the other day I said I had a few more exciting bits of news to share? Well, now I can. There are four of them, to be precise - Brazil, Italy, Germany, and the UK. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

You guys know I work with the best team in all of publishing (pause for secret handshake with BP and AbZ), but there are a couple of people I've never introduced here before: Danny and Heather Baror of Baror International, who handle my foreign rights and work closely with my agent Barbara.

Danny Baror
You might think I adore these people because they just found homes for my books in several corners of the globe, and that is true. But what I really love about them? Same thing I love about Barbara: they've hung in with me for *years,* earning about four cents an hour on the time they have invested in me (and that's a generous estimate).

And they never gave up on me.

Heather Baror
I have to admit I don't really know how foreign sales work. I kind of picture Heather at the London Book Festival with a cigarette-girl style box suspended from her shoulders, filled with books. As the festival goes on, the hot sellers go first, and then the lesser-known titles, and finally the really esoteric ones, until she is left with...well, mine. And yet every year she packed them up again and brought them back and tried again.

Persistence, people! It's a grand thing. Here is the deal announcement. I couldn't be prouder to share it with you!

Sophie Littlefield's DOWN IN THE MOON POOL, in which two young men from the North Dakota oil fields go missing, and their mothers must bridge the class divide and form an uneasy alliance to discover the truth behind their disappearance amidst the desolate and hostile landscape of man camps, to Abby Zidle at Gallery, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Barbara Poelle atIrene Goodman Agency (NA).
Rights also to Head of Zeus in the UK; to Goldmann in Germany; to Sperling & Kupfer in Italy, and to Novo Conceito in Brazil, in pre-empts, by Heather Baror-Shapiro at Baror International.
Foreign: Baror International

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Love Today

I started today responsibly enough - I hauled myself into the shop for an annual checkup. Yuck, right? Luckily, I have a great doctor who's known me long enough that we can go through the whole fewer-potato-chips-more-kale conversation pretty quickly.

Then it was time to buy my deal present. One of the first lessons I learned from my agent was that that we should buy ourselves presents to celebrate major accomplishments. Turns out she and I were on the same wavelength with this latest deal - shoes! She thinks mine are too boring, but it was a real luxury to pay full price at Forward Motion where they fondle your feet assess your gait and help you select exactly the right shoe.

(Oh! And for my running geek friends - I bought a few pairs of these Balega Hidden Comfort socks. I've been a Thorlo fan *forever* but I was sick and tired of how matronly they made me look. The fondler salesman swore these wouldn't slip down. We'll see.)

Then it was time to head over to Rachael's for lunch. I should have known something was up when she said she needed a ride to Plot Lunch, but I've had a few things on my mind. It didn't even register that Julie's car was parked right in *front of her house*. (Yes. That is how absent minded I am these days.) Guess what? They were throwing me a Surprise!/Yay for Book Deals/Isn't Life Amazing party! There was champagne, laughing, crying, Julie's bean dip and Rachael's chicken tortilla soup, and even the dogs and cats joined in.

I'm not much of a photographer but I *am* proud of these portraits...

There were also presents: the rose you can see a glimpse of above, in a bottle hand-decorated with yarn (thanks Mary!) and a bottle of blue hair dye.  :)

A couple other wonderful things happened today too. But I can't talk about them yet. All I can say is that persistence is awesome and I'm pretty damn lucky to have a number of folks who never gave up on me :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

School Library Journal review of GARDEN OF STONES

School Library Journal has a great feature called AB4T - "Adult Books for Teens" - and this week reviewer Connie Williams included my book in her roundup. 

LITTLEFIELD, Sophie. Garden of Stones320p. Harlequin. Mar. 2013. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780778313526.  Garden of Stones e1365860995394 Weekly Reviews: Historical Fiction & Reviewer Spotlight
Adult/High School–In June, 1978, sitting at his desk in the dank San Francisco basement of Reg’s Gym, Reg is murdered. Hours later, Patty Takeda listens as police question her mother, Lucy, about her whereabouts at the time of the crime. Puzzled that her mother knows this man, Patty investigates. Seeking information about Reg at his apartment, she discovers a box labeled “Manzanar.” Once the box is opened, Lucy’s story is revealed through pictures and artifacts and later from Lucy herself. Growing up in Los Angeles as the beautiful daughter of wealthy Renjiro Takeda and stunning Miyako, 14-year-old Lucy’s life suddenly changed when her father died. Soon after, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and within weeks the Japanese American community was herded into camps where they experienced the starkest privation and disorder. Lucy discovered that the corruption of the camp overseers surrounded her beautiful mother in a way that caused her to take the most drastic steps to keep Lucy safe. Counterpointing stories between Patty’s 1970’s investigation of her mother’s past and Lucy’s own story, Garden of Stones takes readers into the internment camps and the horrendous decisions one must make when there are few options. Teens will gain insight into the tragic decision that created these camps and will find much to think about.Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Visit to the Japan Society of Northern California

Yesterday I spoke at the annual general meeting of the Japan Society of Northern California. I had prepared remarks about the writing of GARDEN OF STONES, and culled from my collections the most stirring images of life in Manzanar and the other camps and assembly centers. Most of those in the audience already knew all about the subject. I met people whose lives had been touched in various ways by internment, including one gentleman whose grandfather returned to Japan before the war, anticipating the troubles to come, and later his children returned, and then their children went back to Japan, only to have the next generation come to America. It was a fascinating story from an organization whose purpose is to further understanding between two nations.

I also met some fascinating people. In addition to the staff and board of the Society, I met Consul General Inomata and his wife; and Nobuko Saito, who translated hundreds of pages of the personal diary of an internee from Manzanar.

After all of the excitement and, yes, occasional silliness of the last few days, it was a reminder of one of both the honor and the responsibility that comes with writing fiction set in a historical time period.

to the right is Andrew Neuman, president of the society.
and to the left is a very nice gentleman whose name escapes me. :)

with Nobuko Saito, president of Cross Cultural Communications

the event took place at the Public Policy Center in San Francisco

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Life Changes Today

Let me tell you a little story, people. Many years ago, when I dreamed of becoming a real author, I dared to put a voice to it. "I want to write full time," I told a friend. "As my day job."

This friend told me I was shooting too high. That the odds made it all but impossible. That I could always keep writing as a hobby but I should focus on doing something that would pay the bills, something with a health plan and a 401K.

And Lordy Pete, as my character Odell would say, there have been days when I thought I should have listened. Days when I wasn't quite sure how to make the bills line up or how I would ever convince a publisher to take a chance on me when only eleven people bought my last book.

But I had two things that the average bear does not:
1. Barbara Poelle
2. A HELL of a lot of determination

The former speaks for herself.

As for the latter...well, let me put it this way. Last week a certain someone in my life had some minor surgery because her hyperthyroid was making too much calcium. It was like, "you want me to make some calcium, bitches? Watch THIS" and flooding her system with it, and so they had to yank that sucker out.  Well, they haven't invented the surgery yet that will address my overproduction of grit. I'm thinking my blood probably runs with sand, because I just. Can. Not. Stop. I love my job and plan to do it until I am dead, even if I am writing in the bathroom stall on my breaks working at the DMV.

Abby Zidle!!
But guess what? I'm not applying for that DMV job anytime soon, my friends, because yesterday I signed up to write two new books with Abby Zidle, my editor at Simon & Schuster.

The deal is that they are going to pay me a truckload of cash and in return, I am going to go big and fearless. I am going to reach down deep and use every lesson I've learned, every mistake I've made, every dusky dream and wee-hours nightmare I've ever had and Abby and I are going to  build something spectacular together.

I could go on and on about Abby like I usually do, but right now I kind of want to just keep her to myself. It's like I've got my dream date to the prom and I just want to go moon and sigh a little. But I promise you this. After I take a little time off to sweep up the broken china that is my personal life (it's been a hell of a year), words are going to roll.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Hey you guys, I'm delighted to share my spankin' new cover for the 5th book in the Stella Hardesty series, A BAD DAY FOR ROMANCE!

Ha ha ha, I can't stop giggling, I love this one. That, my friends, is a bridesmaid's dress on the cover - yup, at the age of 51, Stella gets to be a bridesmaid :) And she is holding a crossbow.  And would it be giving too much away to say she finally gets a little action (wink wink) between the covers?

A BAD DAY FOR ROMANCE will be available as an e-book on September 2nd.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Introducing Robert Lewis & THE DAMAGE DONE

One of the many perks of my alliance with agent Barbara Poelle (ahem, that's now VP BP following her recent promotion) is the opportunity to meet her other authors, all of whom share a certain....elan. Elan, right? That's the word? Well, about four years ago Barbara introduced me to a fellow bay area author named Robert Lewis and offered me a chance to read his novel. 

Robert's one of those guys who's just naturally cooler than a menthol unfiltered, but he's also (shhhh, don't tell anyone) a really decent person. And he's got the juice. I still remember reading his book while on the treadmill at the gym, pushing myself to go just a little bit further because I couldn't stand to stop reading....well, that novel found its home and is being released today! To celebrate, I asked Robert if he would mind doing a little interview here at my blog.

I know that UNTOLD DAMAGE has evolved over several revisions. What is the biggest difference between the first draft and the one readers will soon hold in their hands?
Well, the story really changed, for one thing. The only characters left from that earlier version are Mallen, Orberon, Chris, and Anna. Oh, and Bill and Dreamo. And really, the world around those characters completely changed; their story and their world became larger, more layered and textured. I don’t want to give too much away, however, the crimes themselves also changed in major ways.
I know your agent rather well, and I've met your editor a couple of times. What's it like to work with your publishing team?
I couldn’t tell you enough how lucky I was to hook up with my agent. She’s like the Captain in those old WW2 films, right? You get blasted into pieces, and she’s there with bandages, telling you that it’ll be all right, don’t worry about your leg being over across the room you’ll grow another one here’s some whiskey and let’s go storm that hill that’s over there. And then on top of that, add in everyone at Midnight Ink. It’s been a blessing for me. I know how menacing and crazy and tough getting that first book out can be, and I was SO f’n lucky to have people like Terri Bischoff and Nicole Nugent over at Midnight Ink in my corner, cheering me on like I’m Rocky in the last round of my fight with Apollo Creed.
You write about a very tough and menacing world, but you're secretly such a nice guy. What gives? 
Hahaha… fooled you: I’m not a nice guy, I just play one on TV. I love telling stories about folks that are down and out but have this incredible strength to carry on and make it through. I know I wish that I possessed some of those character traits. I’m drawn to the darker sides of society because that’s where society’s gold crepe window-dressing is torn away. In the world I write about, it’s about finding a way to survive, finding a way to keep a roof over your family’s head. It’s about trying to figure out how to stay alive in a world that doesn’t care about you unless you can pump money into the system itself, keeping it going and thriving. For the world I write about, the ramifications of failure are not some ten-day stint in rehab, a new reality show, or some other warped version of “notoriety”. No, the ramifications are about life or death on a physical, emotional, or moral level.  
You have a great writer "look."  I would adopt it if I could. It's the argyle sweater over band T-shirt, long hair thing I envy. How did you develop your sense of style?
Soph, you’re crackin’ me up! Well, the only real answer to that I have is that one day I sat down and wondered, “What would a forty-eight year old Kurt Cobain wannabe look like?” and I went from there. Glad you dig it though. I often feel like I’m usually waxing “Shlep”.
Could you please ask Dawn what you're like to live with? (plug your ears!)
Well… here: I’ll have to turn it over to the woman herself and let her tell you. Honeybunch?
Husband? WHAT husband?!?! I never see the bozo. He’s always writing or playing the blues on that guitar of his. It’s like I’m not even MARRIED!”

:)  Okay my friends that's Robert for you. I highly encourage you to pick up his book, because I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked, just like Barbara was those many moons ago...

Robert and Barbara at Bouchercon 2009 in San Francisco

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ritual Beheading...and Zombie Love!

Glad to report the ritual beheading of the lamb cake went off without a hitch yesterday. Had a motley crew of Easter celebrators over, but we paused for this family portrait with my sis and kids:

The lamb cake was decorated by the kids and their friends. It was given a couple of prison tats, including a bloody teardrop signifying a first kill, which would have probably startled my Polish ancestors.

(Wish you could have been here, Dad & Judy.)

In book world news, that Paul Goat Allen's being all awesome again over on the Barnes&Noble blog. In honor of the kickoff of the new season of Walking Dead, he rounds up his favorite zombie sagas. And - Yay! - yet again, I made the list!  It's hard to overstate how much I love that guy - but here's a post in which I tried.