Tag Archives: sophie littlefield

Nerdies for Favorite Things of 2009

Hope you all are enjoying the holidays. Me, I’m having so much fun with family, I need more gigabytes in my brain to store all the memories being made.

I get grateful this time of year for 1) making it this far and 2) all the wonderful experiences I had in the last 12 months. So, between all the eating and social gatherings, I present to you my Nerdy Awards for favorite things this year.

Most Valuable Preposition: Up. Apparently, the best way to make sure a movie is good is by putting this two-letter word in the title. Up and Up in the Air tie for best movie I saw this year. Both are perfect blends of comedy and poignancy, light and dark, entertainment and explorations of what makes us human.

Best Reasons for Staying Home Wednesday Nights: Glee, Modern Family and Cougar Town. Wednesday nights are always a party in my house, as I sing along to Glee then laugh my face off with Family and Cougar. You’ve probably heard plenty about the first two but may not know that Cougar‘s cast, led by the game Courteney Cox, has really gelled into one hilarious ensemble.

Most Unique New Voices in Crime Fiction: Chet the Jet from Spencer Quinn’s Dog on It, Pietro Brwna from Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, and Stella Hardesty in Sophie Littlefield‘s A Bad Day for Sorry. The field is crowded with cops and detectives but this year, I met fresh new characters starting with Chet, a dog who narrates the adventures he has while solving crimes with his human partner, Bernie. Brwna is a hit man turned jaded medical intern who uses a deadly weapon I’ve never seen used before. And Littlefield introduced us to a 50-year-old, slightly overweight woman who helps abused women keep their partners in line partly by using S&M restraints. These books are all first in a series so discover them now before the next installments come out (Chet’s new case, Thereby Hangs a Tail, arrives January 5).

Best Noir Debut: Richard Lange‘s This Wicked World. This is Lange’s first novel but it reads like he’s been writing them forever. Worthy of a place on my shelf among the genre’s greats.

Best Avoidance of Sophomore Slump: Gillian Flynn with Dark Places. Her debut, Sharp Objects, was so stunning, I wondered if her second novel would measure up. I was thrilled, then, to find Flynn delving even more deeply into the female psyche’s dark, twisted side in Places. Few writers can write about damaged, prickly women and make them so mesmerizing.

Fattest Books I Finished in Shortest Time: I got lost in Kate Morton’s gothic, 560-page The Forbidden Garden for 3 days, while my eyeballs were glued to the 512 pages in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire for 34 hours, finishing it in almost one sitting, minus a few hours of sleep.

Most Soul-Shaking Book: Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. This non-fiction tale of a star football-player-turned-soldier gunned down by friendly fire in Afghanistan ripped me apart and made me re-evaluate how I live my life. A searing read I won’t forget anytime soon.

Funniest Person I Least Expected to Be: Brian Williams on 30 Rock. The veteran NBC Nightly News anchor made me laugh hard when he unexpectedly showed up on Rock, telling Tina Fey he wanted to audition for her show within the show by doing a stand-up act. The punchline wasn’t funny at all but Williams’s hammy, goombah delivery was very much so.

Favorite Movie Trend: Women 45 and over kicking ass at the box office. Sandra Bullock had two big hits (The Proposal, The Blind Side), Meryl Streep had three movies (Julie & Julia, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, It’s Complicated), one of which may win her a third Oscar. And Sigourney Weaver returns as sci-fi queen in Avatar. I hope this trend continues so I can stop watching actors get older while their female co-stars get closer to infancy every year.

Best Performance by Any Actor, Male or Female: Mo’Nique in Precious. Not so much a performance as a terrifying inhabitation of a nightmarish character.

Most Memorable Movie Quote: I just met you and I love you.” —Dug the talking dog in Up.

What were some of your favorite things this year?

Bouchercon Daydreams

All week, I’ve been reading reports about Bouchercon 2009, which took place last week in Indianapolis. (To my international readers: It’s an annual mystery convention held in a different U.S. city every year where fans can hobnob with writers.) The festivities sound like a blast (check out blogger Jen Forbus‘s recap), making me really eager for next year’s B’con in San Francisco, which I plan on attending.

I was so excited, I even came up with some panels and authors I’d love to see at the 2010 convention:

  • Lee Child discussing “Maximizing the Hurt in Your Fight Sequences”
  • Sophie Littlefield on “How to Write 50,000 Words a Day and Get Buff Arms While Doing It”
  • Charlie Huston on “Who Needs Quotation Marks?”
  • Harlan Coben on “Deadly Sidekicks Can Wear Pink”
  • Sue Grafton speaking about her next challenge, “Tackling the Chinese Alphabet”
  • Gregg Hurwitz on “Writing Your First Novel at Age 12, Getting Published at 12.5”
  • James Patterson on “Whittling Down Your Chapters to Just One Comma”
  • Robert Crais and Michael Connelly demonstrating “Effective Greco-Roman Wrestling Moves to Subdue Bad Guys” (This panel will cost extra)

If you’re planning on going, which authors and panels would you like to see?

Monday Nerd Bits

golden gate

Photo © Pop Culture Nerd

Just got back from a gorgeous week in San Francisco visiting family. Didn’t get a chance to write or read much but did get to hang out with the lovely Sophie Littlefield (click here to see us misbehaving), author of the kick-ass A Bad Day for Sorry.

I promise a full week of articles ahead but for now, because the plane was delayed and I got in late, I just have a few nerd bits for you:

  • The NY Times posted the first review of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Am I the only person in the world who hasn’t read The Da Vinci Code and doesn’t really care about Symbol? I’m WAY more interested in Jon Krakauer’s new book, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, which also comes out Tuesday. Krakauer can make nonfiction read like the most heartstopping thrillers around.
  • Tonight at 9 p.m. PST, I’ll randomly select the three winners of Phillip Done’s charming book, Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind, so get your entry in here if you haven’t already. I really enjoyed Done’s tales of the kids he’s taught and think you will, too.
  • Within the next week, I’ll have another fantastic giveaway. This time, it’ll be the latest installment in a series by a huge, bestselling author. Check back to see who it is and enter because I’ll also be giving away three copies of that.
  • Oscar season, as well as the new TV season, is ramping up in Hollywood, which means lots of screenings for the next few months. This week, I’ll be seeing Jane Campion’s Bright Star and some of ABC’s new shows like Cougar Town and FlashForward. I’ll report back on these events (the stars are scheduled for Q & A).

Have a mind-blowing Monday and I’ll see you on the nerd bus.

Nerd Chat: Interview with Sophie Littlefield, Author of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY

bad dayBefore I introduce you to author Sophie Littlefield, let me introduce you to the heroine of her debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry.

Stella is a 50-year-old vigilante who, Peter Finch-like, got mad as hell after years of abuse by her husband and decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore. When the story begins, she’s gotten rid of hubby and is running an underground business helping other women stand up to their loser boyfriends/spouses, using whatever method necessary (including S&M restraints).

The prologue below describes a day on the job:

Whuppin’ ass wasn’t so hard, Stella Hardesty thought as she took aim with the little Raven .25 she took off a cheating son-of-a-bitch in Kansas City last month.

What was hard was making sure it stayed whupped.

Especially on a day when it hit a hundred degrees before noon. And you were having hot flashes. And today’s quote on your Calendar For Women Who Do Too Much read Find serenity in unexpected places.

“Fuck serenity,” Stella said. And she shot the trailer.

You wanna read more, don’t you? You’ll have to pick up the book! It’s an intense, crazy ride that involves Stella taking on a client whose husband has disappeared with her baby. Stella is tenacious and blunt like a female House but without the limp, so she’ll not only verbally assault a bad guy, she can kick his ass, too. If you’ve ever had revenge fantasies about the people who have done you wrong, you can avoid jail time by living them out through Stella.

For FAQs about Sophie, the book and her tour, click here. But first, enjoy our Nerd Chat as Sophie talks about sex toys, zombies, cussing in front of church friends and finding the silver lining in rejection.

PCN: You wrote nine unpublished novels before this one. What was the first thing you did when you heard Bad Day was going to make it into bookstores?

Sophie Littlefield: I screamed and screamed. I was at my son’s high school lacrosse game when I got the news, so no one really minded. I also spun around in circles for a while and thanked the Big Guy (God as Stella/I understand Him) about a hundred times.

PCN: You’ve gotten glowing reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, to name a few. Anything you want to say to all the people who rejected you?

SL: That would take a very long time, because I swear I was rejected by every literary agent in America in the course of a decade of submissions. You may think I’m exaggerating, but when I come across an agent who didn’t reject me, I want to go “Where have you been hiding yourself, Cupcake?” and buy them a drink.

Littlefield & Barbara Poelle

Sophie & Barbara

As far as what I’d say to all the others? I would say “Thank you.” Because they made it possible for me to end up with Barbara Poelle. Here are just ten random reasons why Barbara is the perfect agent for me:

  1. She doesn’t mind if I cuss
  2. She doesn’t mind if my characters cuss
  3. She never told me to make my characters prettier or skinnier
  4. She finds my social gaffes amusing
  5. She breaks into song inexplicably; so do I (though I’m a little shy about it)
  6. If you tell her a sappy story about anyone, it could be the guy who did your taxes or even a Republican, she always goes “awwww”
  7. You can’t gross her out when describing the gory scenes you plan for your imaginary horror novel
  8. She likes the right people, the ones who are cool on the inside, where it counts
  9. She never, ever tells me to slow down or calm down or take a break
  10. She loves her job as much as I love mine

PCN: Wow, I want her to be my agent and I don’t even need one. When’s the last time someone did something that made you want to go all Stella on them? Are family and friends a little more afraid of you now knowing what you, er, Stella can do?

SL: Sadly, people are not quaking in fear. I think it’s because I’m deceptively friendly-ish. The other day a person of my acquaintance pissed me off extremely and I don’t think he ever knew it, because on the outside I had that well-brought-up-Midwestern-gal-grimace/grin going on.

But as soon as he sauntered off, I did this thing that my daughter taught me. You take your thumb and forefinger and place them in front of your face, then close one eye so it looks like you are holding the person’s head delicately in your fingertips…and then you squeeze, imagining their skull being crushed like a grape. Oh, is that ever satisfying.

So what did this guy do, you’re wondering?

PCN: Well, yes.

SL: He told me how to do my job. My writing job, the thing that is born in my soul and flows in my veins. Yes, ma’am, in the name of “career advice” (that I had not asked for) he had the nerve to tell me I was doing thing A wrong and needed to do more of thing B and stop doing thing C. And I was like, Oh yeah, remind me again when I’m waving at you from the top of the New York Fucking Times Best-Seller List, buddy. Well, I was all like that on the inside, anyway. On the outside I think I said “I’ll have another beer.”

PCN: What was his job?

SL: He is another writer, and a very, very gifted one. Which just goes to show you that smarts ain’t everything.

PCN: Hmm, you’ll have to tell me who it is, off the record. But enough about him; let’s talk sex toys. How much research did you do on those gizmos in the book to make sure they’d work as effective restraints for bad guys?

SL: Hee hee hee.  Well, that’s kind of funny, actually. I didn’t start out planning to write about gizmos. In fact, I was kind of woefully short of gizmo knowledge. All I wanted to find out was the name of those plastic disposable handcuffs the law folks are using these days, and I Googled “restraints.”

Ahem.

Some of Stella's tools

Some of Stella's tools

Turns out the bondage community is super creative and imaginative and resourceful…The first website I landed on was an eye-opener, I’ll tell you that. I just couldn’t look away.

And then it hit me: all those gags and collars and spreader bars would make excellent tools for an out-of-shape middle-aged lady to keep a fellow where she wanted him, no matter what she intended to get up to with him. So that became my excuse.

I’ll be honest…it’s fascinating. You think you’ve seen it all, and then some creative person comes up with something new! God bless the irrepressible human spirit, is what I say.

PCN: Stella gets into some wild scrapes. Any interesting scenes that didn’t make it into the final edit?

SL: Yes indeedy. In the early draft of the Stella story, she just flat-out killed all the abusers she encountered. I’d come up with all kinds of methods of death-dealing and places to stash the bodies. I was even keeping a list to use in future books in the series.

Then my editor, Toni, gently explained that a murderous Stella wouldn’t fly with readers—she had to leave her “parolees” alive. At first I was disappointed. But now I think Toni was right—Stella’s convictions don’t allow her to kill unless it’s in self-defense. It’s made her a stronger character.

PCN: You’re currently on your first book tour. Any interesting experiences so far?

Sophie, scared, at Book Passage

A nervous Sophie at Book Passage signing

SL: I’ve only done a few events so far and the sound of my own heart pounding in my throat, and the feeling that I’m about to hurl, have cut down on my noticing skills. (I get nervous. I’m naturally shy and awkward.)

I will say it was “interesting” to read my prologue—which contains the words “ass,” “bitch,” and “fuck” in the first couple of paragraphs—out loud to a hometown crowd that included my kids’ elementary school teachers, librarian, and principal. And some friends from church. And my friend Adrienne’s darling parents.

PCN: Nice. Did anyone say anything to you afterwards?

SL: To my amazement, every single one gave me a compliment or encouragement or, in one case, a fierce hug with a wink and a whispered “keep kickin’ ass.”

Before the event I had considered toning myself down, perhaps censoring the passages or substituting “bleeps” for the cuss words. But then I thought, if I can’t start being myself now, at the age of 46, then when??? I don’t want to save up all my zest and vitriol only to unleash it in a fevered deathbed torrent. I think that would be confusing for everyone, don’t you?

PCN: Very! I’m glad you’re letting some of it out now through Stella. I think she’d make a great cinematic character. Has Hollywood come calling?

SL: Ha ha, well, there’s been some fun moments where I thought, “Oh goody, this is where I get my ass in US magazine!” So far, no follow-through, though. My experienced author friends tell me this is how it goes; Hollywood’s just an ongoing tease.

PCN: If it does happen, who would you like to play your kick-ass mama? I think Stella’s guns weigh more than most of the well-known 50ish actresses working today.

Wynonna Judd

Wynonna Judd

SL: Ain’t that the truth? I had a hard time coming up with actresses to play either Stella or [her client] Chrissy, since they’re both a little plump (putting them squarely in line with the average American woman, I might add). What do you think about Wynonna Judd?

PCN: Can she act?

SL: I don’t know if she can, but I think she’d make a great Stella, even if she’s a little young. She looks like she has attitude to spare. If she’d be willing to bulk up a bit, I think Felicity Huffman would be aces.

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

PCN: How about Geena Davis? She’s about the right age and we know she can do the outlaw-with-a-gun thing from Thelma & Louise.

SL: Oh, Geena’s pure genius!  She’s going to have to eat a few cheeseburgers and frump up a little, but she’s perfect. And you know what, I bet she and I end up being BFFs once they start shooting. We’ll probably go shopping together and stuff, maybe double-date for the Oscars.

edharris

Ed Harris

PCN: And Sheriff Jones?

SL: There’s only one man for the job: that devilishly handsome Ed Harris. Sigh.

PCN: That’s even better than I imagined! Switching gears for a bit, you have a YA book coming out next year called Banished. What’s harder: writing as a 50-year-old woman, 16-year-old girl or a zombie?

SL: Okay here’s a giant secret—writing them was easy because they’re both me.  Stella’s me in a few years if someone unwisely pushes me just a little too hard. And Hailey, the heroine of my young adult series, is me at sixteen: gawky, insecure, angsty, and sensitive.

As for zombies…come on, they’re zombies! Aren’t you insanely jealous I get to write about them and get paid for my efforts?

Me & Sophie

Me & Sophie

PCN: Oh, I’m one itch away from shoving you down the stairs (it’s a compliment; see explanation here) so let’s wrap this up, for your sake. Final question: If you had a Calendar for Women Who Do Too Much like Stella’s, what would be the quote for this year?

SL: Oh, you’re good, Elyse. Hmmm. (Thinks hard.) “Careful what you wish for, sister, because once you get out of your own way you’re going to get more of it than you ever bargained for.”

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