07-18-2010 01:16 PM
07-18-2010 01:20 PM - edited 07-18-2010 01:33 PM
A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, now in paperback, has been nominated for an Edgar® award by the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel, a Barry Award from Deadly Pleasures Magazine and RTBookReviews Reviewers' Choice Award.
tella Hardesty dispatched her abusive husband with a wrench shortly before her fiftieth birthday. Now she's juggling her sewing machine shop and a series of clients seeking help with their own problem husbands while fighting a powerful attraction to the local Sheriff.
Read an excerpt...
Stella Hardesty dispatched her abusive husband with a wrench shortly before her fiftieth birthday. A few years later, she’s so busy delivering home-style justice on her days off, helping other women deal with their own abusive husbands and boyfriends, that she barely has time to run her sewing shop in her rural Missouri hometown. Some men need more convincing than others, but it’s usually nothing a little light bondage or old-fashioned whuppin' can’t fix. Since Stella works outside of the law, she’s free to do whatever it takes to get the job done---as long as she keeps her distance from the handsome devil of a local sheriff, Goat Jones.
When young mother Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help with her no-good husband, Roy Dean, it looks like an easy case. Until Roy Dean disappears with Chrissy’s two-year-old son, Tucker. Stella quickly learns that Roy Dean was involved with some very scary men, as she tries to sort out who’s hiding information and who’s merely trying to kill her. It’s going to take a hell of a fight to get the little boy back home to his mama, but if anyone can do it, it’s Stella Hardesty.
Sophie Littlefield possesses all the verve and confidence of a seasoned pro. This debut novel rings true at every heart-stopping turn, utterly bewitching us with its gutsy, compassionate voice and boasting some of the most captivating, complex characters in crime fiction today.
Littlefield's amusing, sassy debut introduces Stella Hardesty, a widow and survivor of domestic violence, who owns a sewing shop in a sleepy Missouri town. On the side, Stella solves problems and metes out justice on behalf of battered women, like Chrissy Shaw, whose abusive bully of an ex-husband, Roy Dean Shaw, Stella keeps tabs on. After Roy Dean absconds with Chrissy's baby, Stella learns he's involved with local mobsters in a stolen auto parts ring. Chrissy sheds her victimhood to team up with Stella and do battle. After girding up their weaponry, the unlikely crime-fighting duo trick their way into the home of Roy Dean's mob boss, who they suspect has Chrissy's son. Stella discovers that no amount of preparation and righteous anger can prevail over pure evil, at least not without loads of trouble. Spunky, unapologetically middle-aged and a tad cantankerous, Stella barges bravely and often unwisely into danger. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri. Like her heroine, she enjoys quilting and sewing. She lives with her husband and two teenage children near San Francisco, California.
07-18-2010 01:22 PM - edited 07-18-2010 01:29 PM
hen a tornado unearths the mummified remains of a young woman at the Sawyer County Fairground, Stella Hardesty sets out to clear an old friend of the murder....
Maybe a date was a bad idea. Her body might have recovered from the whole killing spree thing, but it looked like her emotions might need a little more time in the airing cupboard before she took them on the road.
Goat's dining room suddenly seemed a little too small. She blinked a couple times and pulled her hand away from under Goat's. Maybe she did want him bad, but she didn't need his pity, or sympathy, or whatever the hell it was that was causing him to turn on the charm.
He sighed and tapped his fingers on the table. "Look, Dusty, you know what you need?"
Stella shook her head, helping herself to an oversize sip from her wine glass.
"You need a little meat on those bones. You're looking awful skinny. Come on, now, try the chicken. It was my mom's recipe."
Stella couldn't help it—she sat up a little straighter and inhaled a nice big breath that set off her bosoms to their best advantage. "Skinny" wasn't a word she'd heard directed her way in a long time. Even shed of those fifteen hospital pounds, she was still on the generous side of womanly.
Well—some fellas liked that...
Stella Hardesty, avenger of wronged women, is getting cozy with Sheriff "Goat" Jones when a tornado blows none other than Goat’s scheming ex-wife, Brandy, through the front door. Adding to the chaos, the tornado destroys the snack shack at the demolition derby track, pulling up the concrete foundation and unearthing a woman's body. The main suspect in the woman’s murder is Neb Donovan---he laid the foundation, and there's some pretty hard evidence pointing to his guilt. Years ago, Neb's wife asked Stella for help getting him sober. Stella doesn't believe the gentle man could kill anyone, and she promises his frantic wife she'll look into it.
Former client Chrissy Shaw is now employed at Stella's sewing shop and she helps with the snooping as Stella negotiates the unpredictable Brandy and the dangerously magnetic sheriff.
This is the thrilling sequel to Sophie Littlefield’s critically-acclaimed debut, A Bad Day for Sorry, which won an RT Book Award, was an Edgar Award Finalist, and is shortlisted for an Anthony and a Macavity Award. Stella Hardesty is a heroine to watch---join her on this next adventure for as fiercely funny and riveting a story as there is to be found in crime fiction.
An amateur sleuth finds a corpse almost as fascinating as the sheriff's blue eyes. Stella Hardesty's after-dinner plans for Sheriff Goat Jones are cruelly interrupted by the intrusion of Brandy, the lawman's not-quite-ex-wife, who screams that she needs protection and a little drink. Back home, Stella checks on Chrissy, her assistant at the sewing-machine repair shop of her late, unlamented husband Ollie. When the phone rings, she's enmeshed in her unofficial and highly illegal second job: meting out justice to wife abusers. Neb Donovan, bless his gentle heart, isn't all that bad, though Stella once had to get him off Oxycontin so that his wife Donna could live with him in peace. Now a tornado has relocated the body of a woman that had been interred under the snack shack at the demolition-derby stadium. Neb, presumably the one who'd poured the concrete over the corpse, has wound up in jail, and it's up to Stella to prove him innocent, or not. Her task involves a lot of sighing over the sheriff's blue eyes and neat butt and even more attention paid to his almost-ex and her current beau, the dastardly Wil [sic] Vines. All will turn out just fine in time for a rescheduled evening with old blue eyes. If you like a little mystery with your romance, Stella (A Bad Day for Sorry, 2009) is the gal for you. Readers who prefer crime to cute may want to give her a pass. Agent: Barbara Poelle/Irene Goodman Agency
Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri. Her first novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, was an Edgar Award Finalist and is shortlisted for an Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Award. It won an RT Book Award for Best First Mystery and has been named to lists of the year's best mystery debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Sophie lives with her husband and two teenage children near San Francisco, California.
07-18-2010 01:37 PM - edited 07-18-2010 01:42 PM
Sophie grew up in central Missouri, daughter of a history professor father and an artist mother. She earned a degree in computer science and made very little use of it. After living in Chicago for ten years, she and her husband packed up the kids and moved to Northern California in 1998.
Most important influences on Sophie's work? The critique group she's belonged to for a decade; her brother, writer Mike Wiecek; and members of the romance and mystery writing communities, who have made for excellent company along the road.
CJ West interviews sophie for the Thriller 30 on BlogTalkRadio (June 2010)
Listen to Sophie's interview with Shannon Devereaux Sanford of WTBQ:
Rebecca Chastain interviews Sophie for Number One Novels (September 2009)
The Pop Culture Nerd invited Sophie for a "Nerd Chat" (August 2009)
Video interview: Keith Rawson chats with Sophie at the Poisoned Pen(August 2009)
Sophie was interviewed by Linda Faulkner for the Author Exchange Blog(August 2009)
Kieran Shea interviews Sophie for Pulp Pusher (August 2009)
Q & A
Where'd you get the idea for A BAD DAY FOR SORRY?
I'd been writing novels featuring women in their 20s and 30s, but I was approaching my mid-forties and those women's concerns no longer held my interest. I was attracted to the idea of a woman's decision to put a stop to decades of mistreatment with a violent reckoning, and then rebuild her life in a form that made sense in the context of her new self-knowledge.
My character, Stella Hardesty, is forced by her circumstances to make radical changes in her life—and her life's work. But I think most women find that middle age brings fundamental shifts in the way they see the world.
As for the setting and voice—seven years of waitressing in rural Missouri and Indiana pretty much did the trick.
Don't readers prefer young, sexy heroes and heroines?
That's what they say. Hot young female FBI agents with long blonde hair, in particular. Also I'm told that readers don't care for women solving problems using violence.
Funny thing, though—when I describe my book to the sort of folks responsible for buying the majority of books in our country (that would be us grown-up ladies), I get lots of support. I think there is plenty of room in fiction for strong, heroic women of every age.
Oh, and by the way—I don't think men come much sexier than Sheriff Goat Jones—at any age. I'm just sayin'.
You write a lot of short stories, but by some measures they're an embattled form. What's up with that?
I love writing short stories. The pace feels natural to me, and I'll often write one if I'm stuck on my novel-in-progress, as a way to keep myself limber. It's also a place to explore darker themes that would be difficult to sustain in a longer work without destroying the possibility of redemption.
A few thousand words is plenty to deliver a knock-out emotional punch, if you use those words wisely: genre fiction at its finest.
You've been a stay-at-home mom for quite a while. How does that prepare you to be a writer?
Sleepless nights—working with distractions—and now, the heightened drama of the teen years...frankly, I don't think the Iowa Writers' Workshop could lay a more solid foundation.
I understand you wrote nine novels before selling. How did you finally get published?
My early efforts didn't merit publication—I'm glad they're long forgotten. Later, I think I was trying to fit a square voice into a round hole—or something like that. Much as I love women's fiction, the dark themes and characters I prefer are a better fit for mystery and suspense.
During the hardest stage of my career, I received several hundred rejections from agents and editors. My seventh novel earned me a spectacularly low score in a major writing competition.
Even after I made the switch to the mystery genre, I had trouble attracting agents' attention. A detective novel made the rounds without scaring up much interest. I wrote A BAD DAY FOR SORRY in an effort to create a wholly original character, defying some conventions in the process. Within weeks of sending out queries, I landed the perfect agent for my work.
What's the best writing advice you've heard?
Let theme emerge from your early drafts.
I've written with far greater confidence since I gave my stories permission to "sneak up" on me. I find that my subconscious mind usually knows what it's doing; my job in the first draft is strictly to get the structure down. Once I discover what I've wrought, layering in thematic exposition is easy work.
What's the worst piece of writing advice you've ever received?
Don't write to the market.
I think that deliberately ignoring the nuances of reader and editor taste is akin to trying to sell snow cones during a Chicago blizzard.
What is your writing day like?
I'm home from driving carpools by 8:00am, and then it's BIC-HOK-TAM until school's out at 3:00. (Long the sacred motto of my critique group, that stands for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard, Typing Away Madly.)
I sometimes sneak in an hour or two after dinner, too. We're not much of a television household, and I gave up my hobbies and outside interests a while ago. (Don't feel sorry for me—I'd rather write any day.)
Not all of that time is spent on writing, of course. I send and receive a couple dozen emails every day from fellow writers—often the encouragement I need to keep going (or resist a nap). I'm learning the promotion ropes, so that's bound to consume its share of my day too.
Do you plot your books in advance—or dive in and hope for the best?
I've tried both. I've created detailed binders full of timelines and character arcs and color-coded sticky notes. And I've written novels with no planning at all. Which works best? I have no idea.
Plans for the future?
Keep writing. I don't take this gift lightly. I cherish every day that I can be a working writer, and I'll do my best to earn the opportunity to continue.
Book two in the Stella Hardesty series is completed, and I'm working on a Young Adult novel.
07-18-2010 01:44 PM
07-18-2010 01:45 PM
June 10, 2010
A Bad Day For Sorry is nominated for a Barry award for Best First Novel.
June 8, 2010
A Bad Day For Sorry is nominated for the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel
June 6, 2010
New York Times Reviewer Marilyn Stasio puts A Bad Day for Pretty on her summer reading list!
June 4, 2010
A Bad Day For Sorry is nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel.
April 29, 2010
A Bad Day For Sorry receives the RTBookReviews Reviewers' Choice Award for Best First Mystery of 2009
April 29, 2010
Congratulations to fellow Minotaur authors Stefanie Pintoff and John Hart on their Edgar wins!
March 30, 2010
A Bad Day For Sorry has been nominated for a Spinetingler Award for "New Voice" (Best First Novel) You can vote here.
March 24, 2010
"At Least I Felt Something" is nominated for a Spinetingler Short Story award.
07-18-2010 01:47 PM - edited 07-18-2010 01:52 PM
Here's a link to Sophie's website: http://www.sophielittlefield.com/
She will be here:
July 28 - 31
Romance Writers of America National Conference
Walt Disney World
Swan and Dolphin Hotel
07-18-2010 01:48 PM
hese short stories have appeared in print and online.
2 0 0 9
Mortification in BEAT TO A PULP
At Least I Felt Something wins second place in the Watery Grave Invitational
Decision Day (PDF), in Thuglit #30
Granny Panties, in Pulp Pusher
Reperations, in Powder Burn Flash
2 0 0 8
Don't Mess With Paige, in Thuglit #28
The Fun Me, Out Of The Gutter #5, November 2008
Summer Girl, YellowMama, November 2008
Anything For You, Fish Anthology, Fish-Knife Award Finalist, July 2008
Sign of the Devil, Muzzle Flash, May 2008
The Molloy Boys Give Their All, CrimeSpace Short Story Competition 2nd place, March 2008
No Exceptions, Pulp Pusher, March 2008
Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, ThugLit #24, March 2008
Rival Passions, Powderburn Flash, February 2008
A Taste For It, Darkest Before The Dawn, January 2008
hese articles (PDF format) appeared in The Lineup, the newsletter of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Heart of the Bay, the newsletter of the San Francisco chapter of Romance Writers of America.
Crafting the Memorable Genre Character: a Foolproof Formula
Make Me Believe He Really Talks That Way: Credible Dialog in Commercial Fiction
What To Expect When You're Expecting...To Publish: A review of 78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE...
Writing the High-Concept Novel
Agent Research: More is Better
Preparing for RWA National Conference
It Pays To Read Industry Blogs
Battling Procrastination—One Day at a Time
07-18-2010 01:58 PM
07-18-2010 03:49 PM
Welcome Ms Littlefield,
I've been hearing a lot about your Bad day books from a lot of sources. Glad to have you visiting us.
07-18-2010 04:00 PM
07-18-2010 10:48 PM
Sophie's been having trouble checking in, which seems to be partly a sign in glitch and partly due to the fact that she's in Yosemite National Park with her family, where internet service isn't great. Hopefully we'll overcome these problems tomorrow!
Sophie - when you are able to sign in - I'm halfway through A BAD DAY FOR SORRY and looking forward to A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY. I hope you're already working on the third book, because I'm definitely going to want more of Stella!
I cracked up at the video clip I posted where you talk about your serenity calendar and how it influenced this series. Brilliant!!
Can you tell us more about how Stella came to be?
07-19-2010 09:39 AM
A BAD DAY FOR SORRY sounds like my kind of book and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!
Kandy - thanks so much for stopping in! I'm looking forward to your visit next week.
Yes, I think you'd enjoy Stella Hardesty, who single-handedly protects the abused women of her county (and more, as the word spreads). The way she gets payback - and ensures the future cooperation of the abusers - satisfies the vengeful side of my nature. And I always love 50ish heroines!
07-19-2010 10:23 AM
I'm here! I'm here! So excited, I finally got a decent connection and now I can chat. I'm looking out on a Sierra mountain meadow from the deck of a cabin we've rented for a few days. My kids and their cousins are still asleep, and the adults are slowly staggering into the kitchen for coffee (we're on pacific time so it's barely crack'o'dawn - at least for vacationers!) We'll be heading out for a hike shortly but I'm going to reply to a few messages first.
07-19-2010 10:34 AM
So Becke asked how my character got started. Whew!
I had written eight novels and had no luck getting them published. Five of them were romance novels, two were women's fiction with a little mystery thrown in, and one was a police procedural/mystery.
I was so frustrated! I know that a lot of aspiring authors know how it feels to pour your heart into a book over and over again, and not be able to find someone interested in taking it to the next step. I tried really hard to focus on all the things they tell you (which really are true, by the way) - -
- it's a rejection of one book, not of YOU
- it could be a thousand different things, none of which have to do with the book, like the publishers already have something similar or that particular subgenre is in a bit of a slump
....and I gave myself pep talk after pep talk but I was just so disheartened. AND, woe of woes, I was in my mid-forties and my kids were nearly grown and if I didn't get published fast, my husband and I had agreed I would have to go looking for full time work. And I wasn't good at anything! Well, I knew computers circa 1995...but who was going to pay me for that?
Anyway, I sat down and wrote what I called my "bad-mood book". I made the character fifty because I figured I'd be fifty by the time I ever saw myself in print. I gave her every bad attitude that I was feeling about middle age - and then I gave her a "hook" to motivate all kinds of dramatic stuff to happen. This was the only serious part of the process - I chose domestic violence, making her a victim of her husband's abuse and imagining how she might become an avenger for women everywhere.
And of course I set her in Missouri Having set novels all over the country, I decided to come back to what I knew best, my home state, even though I hadn't lived there since college.