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Lori Rader-Day | Running with Juliet

Little Pretty Things
Lori Rader-Day




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July 2015
On Sale: July 7, 2015
Featuring: Juliet Townsend; Madeleine Bell
303 pages
ISBN: 1633880044
EAN: 9781633880047
Kindle: B00OEW75SA
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by Lori Rader-Day:
Death at Greenway, October 2021
Add to review list
The Lucky One, February 2020
Under a Dark Sky, August 2018
The Day I Died, April 2017


I’m not a sporty person but I pay attention to the bigger contests—living in Chicago, we mostly pay attention to the Stanley Cup—but only in sports I don’t mind watching. This is how I ended up watching some of the matches in the World Cup recently.

Notice I didn’t say “Women’s World Cup.” Do we have to call it the “Men’s World Cup”?

Me? I’m an out-of-shape writer whose closest brush with athletics was making a single basket on my fifth grade basketball team. OK, I also played powder puff football in high school, but I didn’t understand the rules in the slightest. I was recruited to block for the defensive line and block I did. Later in life I taught myself to run, using the deserted weekend streets of my town as my training ground, but my plan came to a quick end as soon as the weather turned cold and those streets turned slick. I don’t need much encouragement to fall down and hurt myself; ask anyone. I mean ANYONE. In high school, my sport was the yearbook staff.

In short, I was never one of these gorgeous, lithe women tearing down the soccer pitch with their ponytails flying behind them.

So how did I end up writing LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, a book about former track team rivals whose friendship dissolves over a contest neither of them wins?

Because I wanted to talk about competition between women and girls, real and imagined, actual and societal. I probably could have chosen some other sport- as-metaphor-for-life—I mean, that’s what baseball is for, in my opinion—but since I also wanted to write about a young woman stunted in her life, a high school sport fit the bill.

The fact is, I cared less about the sport than I did about the friendship between the two young women, and the decisions I needed the protagonist, Juliet Townsend, to make. The women in the story had to care about running and quality shoes and things like that. What I really wanted to talk about was being on a team.

This all sounds very organized for a writer who prides herself on writing by the seat of her pants, but I’ve found that it’s best to take a little time to figure out the most important aspects of a protagonist’s character. I don’t write biographies or list out eye color and height or anything. Nothing so rigid. But I do want to know what the character wants more than anything else, what she would do for it, how far she might go—because I’m the one who has to take her there.

In Juliet’s case, I concentrated on her past life as a runner and her present stuck in a bad job and a bad life, all of which she blames on her former best friend. Clearly, she’s immature. She’s going to make other bad decisions. She’s going to say dumb things. She’s not going to see the big picture. See how quickly a single characteristic starts to build out a character’s life?

This is all inside baseball (ha, more sports metaphors!) for writers. What I hope readers see is a woman a little young for her age, a little sheltered, a little too willing to take what she doesn’t have—a character who has the chance to grow, and will let readers run alongside her.


Did you play sports in high school or where you on the yearbook staff? Leave a comment below and be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of LITTLE PRETTY THINGS.

About Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery, THE BLACK HOUR, published in 2014 by Seventh Street Books. They had so much fun working together, that they are doing it again: Her next mystery, LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, will be released by Seventh Street Books July 7, 2015.

Her fiction has been previously published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, TimeOut Chicago, Crab Orchard Review, Freight Stories, and in the anthology Dia de los Muertos (Elektrik Milkbath Press), and others. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult chose her story as the grand prize winner of Good Housekeeping’s first fiction contest.

Originally from central Indiana, Lori grew up frequenting the local libraries, reading all the Judy Blume and Lois Duncan she could get her hands on. Then she discovered Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. Lori may have wandered off the mystery writer path a few times, but she thinks we all knew she would get back there eventually.

She studied journalism at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, but eventually gave in to her dream and studied creative writing at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Now a decade-long resident of Chicago, she has a favorite deep dish pizza and she is active in the area’s crime writing community. She is the vice president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and a member of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland, the International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Crime Writers. Chicago is a really great town in which to be a mystery writer.

She is represented by Sharon Bowers of Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management.

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Juliet Townsend is used to losing. Back in high school, she lost every track team race to her best friend, Madeleine Bell. Ten years later, she’s still running behind, stuck in a dead-end job cleaning rooms at the Mid-Night Inn, a one-star motel that attracts only the cheap or the desperate. But what life won’t provide, Juliet takes.

Then one night, Maddy checks in. Well-dressed, flashing a huge diamond ring, and as beautiful as ever, Maddy has it all. By the next morning, though, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy—she’s the chief suspect in her murder.

To protect herself, Juliet investigates the circumstances of her friend’s death. But what she learns about Maddy’s life might cost Juliet everything she didn’t realize she had.




28 comments posted.

Re: Lori Rader-Day | Running with Juliet

Library staff
(Marissa Yip-Young 6:03am August 24, 2015)

This sounds like a good read!
(Barbara Semeraro 9:00am August 24, 2015)

Just call me Juliet . I didn't get to do any of the sports are the extra things in school. I wanted to but it required you to stay after school and I couldn't do that . We lived so far out in the country , Mom couldn't drive and Daddy was too tired when he came in from work to take us or go get us at school. If the school bus didn't run ,we didn't go . When I grew up ,got married ,Dad said he would give us some land to build a house on , I told him "no thank you " .I want to live close to a school where I could take my children to whatever they want to do or join in school . And , so I did .My husband didn't always like me going or taking the kids to school events , but I said if it was a school event, book club , basketball game or whatever I would be behind the kids. I think it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. Your book sounds real exciting and I'd love to read it . Thanks for this giveaway .
(Joan Thrasher 11:30am August 24, 2015)

Tried sports, but I wasn't much good. Most of my
extracurricular was outside of school - Guides and art
(Deb Philippon 12:12pm August 24, 2015)

This looks like a terrific read! Thanks for the contest!
(Susan Patterson 4:23pm August 24, 2015)

Neither! Library Club!
(Sally Rader 8:06pm August 24, 2015)

I was a part of the thespians. I participated in the school musicals and talent shows.
(Heidi Ingalls 8:52pm August 24, 2015)

If there was never another sports event, I wouldn't even
notice. I think people go crazy making their babies train and
taking drugs. That's nuts! So I don't watch any of it unless
it's the special Olympics.
(Dagmar Finch 4:33am August 25, 2015)

I was good in volleyball as a server. I worked so did go out
for a sport. My 5 kids were all on the swim team.
(Leona Olson 7:06am August 25, 2015)

Not a sporty person, but very much a book person. And rooting for the
underdog. Yayyyyyyy. This book sounds verrrrrrrrry interesting.
(Kantu Malhotra 9:07am August 25, 2015)

yearbook staff - really!
(Beth Elder 12:20pm August 25, 2015)

When I was in high school in 1958-1961 (yes, I am ancient) school sports for women was not the norm. I did play softball however as that was "girl friendly" at the time. I was more into debating club, drama club, the year book staff and all the more inside activities but not by choice, just by the way things were. In college I played tennis every day however and also worked at the newspaper office of the school too. Thank you for the great sounding book contest.
(Cynthia Blain 3:11pm August 25, 2015)

I was never athletic. I tried a number of sports - baseball, volleyball and
badminton. I was active in a youth group which I really enjoyed. I'm more
of a social animal than a lady jock.
(Judy van Ryn 4:16pm August 25, 2015)

I was on the yearbook staff,newspaper and dabbled in sports.I enjoyed them all.
(Dixie Neitzel 5:14pm August 25, 2015)

Was on a swim team.
(MaryEllen Hanneman 5:36pm August 25, 2015)

Only in gym class. I was in Choir, swing choir, honor society and
took a lot of business classes like bookkeeping.So no I'm not the
real sporty type either.
(Nancy Luebke 7:32pm August 25, 2015)

Your book sounds very intriguing, it's been added to my TBR
list. Thanks for the opportunity!
(Jennifer Lessard 12:44pm August 26, 2015)

I am about the least coordinated person I know S so no sports
playing go me. I also was pretty shy so I didn't join any
clubs like yearbook. Just stuck to myself.
(Maria Smith 8:50pm August 26, 2015)

I was definitely not in sports in high school. Even now getting on the elliptical is a major undertaking... I was in several clubs in school and in a German play.
(Flora Presley 9:45pm August 26, 2015)

Neither, I was with drama club.
(Fred Holmes 11:03pm August 26, 2015)

Yes I played basketball and was on the yearbook staff.
(Virginia Clayton 7:12am August 27, 2015)

Sports, ahhhh, NO. I lettered being on the forensics team.
A letter not so highly coveted in high school. I did
however, learn to play a mean game of ping pong.
(LaCinda Jameson 7:50am August 27, 2015)

I wasn't on either but I was on the school newspaper staff. It was a lot of fun!
(Kristine Murphy 9:25am August 27, 2015)

Thanks for the contest
(Becky Pollard 9:41am August 27, 2015)

I grew up at a different period of time. World War II had just ended when I graduated from high school. The school still had basketball girls and boys teams, and was trying to get a football team established again. At least we still had a glee club and I was a member of it.
(Anna Speed 11:54am August 27, 2015)

I did not play sports in high school as there was only cheerleading for girls
way back then.
(Nadine Stacy 6:07pm August 27, 2015)

I played sports!
(Denise Austin 6:28pm August 27, 2015)

I was on the track and field team because throwing things
was a great stress relief!
(Mary McCoy 8:55pm August 27, 2015)

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