Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

Mike Maden pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Thriller author Mike Maden. Mike has written several of the latest Tom Clancy novels, so if you are a Tom Clancy fan, you will love his work! Mike will be speaking to us on a ZOOM call on Wednesday, June 10th, at 7:00 PM, so if anyone would like to join in, please RSVP on our Facebook page.

The first question we always ask an author is if they can briefly tell us a little bit about themselves and their writing.  This was Mike’s response:

 

I’m living proof it’s better to be lucky than good. I write thrillers and, more specifically, techno-thrillers. My fiction writing career began in 2013 with my first published novel, DRONE, and three subsequent books in that series, followed by a four-book series in the Tom Clancy franchise featuring Jack Ryan, Jr. The fourth Clancy book is coming out June 9th titled FIRING POINT.

 

 

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

After first stopping at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, readers can go to my website MikeMaden.com for links to print, ebook and audio book versions of my work. Like they say in the ads, you can find my stuff “Wherever books are sold.” (I’m not sure why the ads say that. You’re not likely to find them wherever books are NOT sold, are you?)


How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?


My awesomeness is in very short supply—microscopic, actually—so it is highly rationed and not generally available to the public. However, the rest of my shtick I can be found on Instagram (MikeMadenBooks), Twitter (@MikeMadenAuthor) and Facebook (@MikeMadenAuthor). Conveniently, MikeMaden.com has all of those links as well.


For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from your work?

I’m a techno-thriller writer which are thrillers with a focus on weapons and technology. There’s lots of action, of course, and I try to highlight current or near-future technology that readers may not be aware of. I write fiction but I always try to tell the truth; in fact, it’s easier to do that in fiction. Sometime the genre veers to easily into violence for violence’s sake. While I have a lot of gray in my wardrobe (to my wife’s chagrin) I loathe it in art. I do believe in moral clarity but also in moral complexity. That’s why I research the historical and political contexts in which my stories take place. I need to understand what motivates the good guys but to build really important and well-motivated villains, I need to know why the “bad guy” thinks he (or she) is actually the hero of the story.

 


What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

If I could only share one piece of advice to other writers it would be this: Know thyself. If I could only recommend one book—and, in fact, it’s the only book I recommend to new writers—it would be Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. Finding your way as a writer is the most important part of your journey; the writing itself flows out of that knowledge. “Why?” is always a better question than “How?” because the former almost always solves the latter both for yourself and your characters—and who are we kidding, they’re one in the same, aren’t they?

the war of art

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

 

My favorite tool is my giant white board—which is actually a 4’ x 8’ piece of white panel board I bought at Home Depot for about $15 (https://www.homedepot.com/p/EUCATILE-32-sq-ft-96-in-x-48-in-Hardboard-Thrifty-White-Tile-Board-346428/308731683). I use a lot of “mind mapping” to brainstorm my way through each story problem—or just dream. I do all of my writing on my laptop (MacBook Air) and I break the first draft completely on Scrivener which is the best word processing program in the world to do it—and it’s very inexpensive (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview). I need gallons of coffee to jumpstart my day and sustain the adventure and I migrate between a sitting desk and a standup contraption that works marvelously.


While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

That’s a great question! It totally depends. First off, I start my day in meditation and I have a music sequence that helps me get there. Second, I journal—often to other kinds of music to set the mood. During my actual writing time, there are periods when I need absolute silence. Other times, I might use a playlist of music I’ve built up for the particular novel to get me to the place I need to be for an intense action scene or what have you. Mostly I listen to space music or classical—anything without words. But even instrumental music if too complex or distracting can suck away some of the RAM I need to do the hard work of story problem solving.


Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?


My current novel, FIRING POINT, is the first novel I’ve written without one of my two dogs at my feet. Literally at my feet. We lost Stella two years ago. She was the one who would curl up inches away from me for hours while I wrote. After she passed, her sister Lucy took over the writing gig but we lost her last year as well. My wife has always been an important part of my life but she’s content to leave me alone to pound the keyboard so it’s just me in the office these days. HOWEVER, once the first draft is finished, she jumps right in and is always my first, best reader. Better still, she reads the entire manuscript to me out loud. Can you imagine? Here’s my pro tip for the day: audiobook sales are becoming a huge percentage of total book sales. By doing an “audio” edit, I’m creating prose that will read and sound better for readers like Scott Brick (www.scottbrick.net) the amazing talent who has read all of my Clancy stuff.

Firing Point


Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?


I prefer dark roasted, pour over black coffee first thing in the morning before working out. Then more of the same after I get home. And a couple of gallons more before I finally hit the rack after nailing my word count.


What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?


The most challenging problem I have with the writing process is the bleary-eyed fellow who stares at me in the mirror every morning. My theory of writing (stolen from others brighter) is that we read for an emotional experience. Ironically, it’s a writer’s emotions (particularly fear in its various guises) that keep writers from writing well or even writing at all. It’s amazing how many times the voice in my head (whom Pressfield personifies as “Resistance”) tells me I’m a fraud, the story is terrible, etc. Suddenly my fingers freeze, hovering over the keyboard, paralyzed with indecision. It’s only my slavish devotion to a daily word count that saves me from that waking nightmare, day in and day out.

A secondary problem is this: learning to discern between the “editor” and the “creator” in my head. Maybe Left Brain/Right Brain is a physiological myth but it’s a useful metaphor. I like to think of the two competing forces as the cranky Old Editor vs. the reckless Toddler Artist. In reality, you need both to make a novel work. It all comes apart when you put them both in the room at the same time—the Editor will always dominate. The trick is to tell each one that they both get to come out and do what they do best but only when you give them permission to do so. The Toddler plays—day dreaming, doodling, Mind Mapping, whatever—but then the Toddler needs to go and take a nap every now and then. The Old Editor can then wake up from his nap (sorry, I’m a guy; your Editor will vary) and come out and straighten things up: typos, split infinitives, wooden dialogue, plot logic problems, etc. Then the Editor goes back to napping and the rotation continues. An Outline looks like an Editor’s document because of its orderliness. It keeps you on track as you write but even the Outline is only fully realized when the Toddler gets to throw out crazy ideas and see what sticks as it’s constructed. I suppose it’s a constant game of musical chairs between the Editor and the Toddler—but with only one chair which happens to be the one you’re sitting in. Here is the critical challenge that all creatives must overcome: most forms of structure kill creativity (SOPs, anyone?)—but every form of creativity needs some form of structure. Your first task as a writer is to figure out the relationship between those two opposing forces, and like the nuclear force that binds together the nucleus of every atom (which should split apart because of like-charged particles) you must find a way to hold them together to form a greater whole.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy writing day, Mike. We are looking forward to speaking with you on ZOOM next Wednesday, June 10th at 7:00 PM!

 

As we expected, we’re feeling antsy about re-opening.  Two months and counting, and it already seems like forever.

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So, it’s only natural…and actually very gratifying…to hear from customers they, too, are feeling the same way.

We’re finally allowed to have curbside pickup, but only for pre-arranged orders.  By law, that’s still the best we can do for now.

The only hard fact we have about re-opening is it can’t happen before June 8, 2020.  Everything after that is still too vague to allow us to pin a date to our door, our web site, or to use in response on the phone.  The Massachusetts web site showing the details is here: When Can My Business Reopen?

As we’ve said previously, the best we can do is to plan for what will be allowed next.  In this case, we’re taking names and contact info so we can get in touch if the next step is private appointments.  It’s hinted that’s what’s coming for “non-essential” stores like ours.  But, when Thomas Jefferson said “I cannot live without books,” he’s given us a little solace with the notion that, eventually, books are as essential and as American as anything in our culture, and our time and our re-opening will come.

In planning for what’s next, we’re still receiving all the new book releases, more than ever before, ramping up for what we planned would be an epic Summer season for readers.  We’re also working on web-based author events.  We’ll sponsor these so you can stay at home and still enjoy an opportunity to see some great authors…some are local, but we’re trying to make these events world-wide, too!  We’re still running monthly specials, still discount EVERY new book from cover price, still have some pricing well below the deepest of wholesale club deep discounts, still have a growing and deepening selection of new releases, and we’re still Worcester’s neighborhood full-service bookstore.

When we re-open, you’ll see we’ve updated our sale carts, prepared for your Summer reading, enhanced our History section to a full bookcase near the front of the store, added to our Westerns section, gotten many other things ready for you, and you’ll be able to take a closer look at our familiar store and explore it all over again.  We will still do mail order, just like we’re doing now.  And special orders.  And we expect to continue curbside pickup until more is allowed.

But, for now, we’re all trying to find another ounce of patience, hoping you’ll be with us through the current situation, and with us in person when we’re finally allowed to welcome you back in!  We certainly understand those of you struggling to wait.  When the law and the situation tell us it’s prudent, we’ll be eager to re-open our doors!

Stephanie Laurens

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on best-selling Historical Romance Author Stephanie Laurens. When asked to tell us briefly a little bit about herself and her writing, this was her response:

I’ve been a published author for 30 years, and have steadily published historical romances throughout that time, with 40 New York Times bestsellers, and one #1 NYT. I am currently working on my 78th title, and have recently released the latest in my Cynster Next Generation novels.

Next question: Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

All my titles – from the 1st to the 77th – are readily available online, as digital, print, and audio editions, and print editions for most titles are also available via bookstores. We have good news for readers wanting print editions – we’re moving to Ingrams as a distributor for our print editions, so bookstores everywhere will have easier access to all our latest and upcoming titles.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

The best source of information is my website: www.stephanielaurens.com which is kept up to date with a monthly Letter to Readers, as well as descriptions and details for all my titles, existing and upcoming. There’s also a link to register for my email newsletter, which carries the most up to date info plus links for contests. We’re also on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorStephanieLaurens/

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from you?

I write historical romances which always include a mystery, an intrigue, or an adventure of some sort. The setting is usually England or Scotland – although I have written 2 quartets, one of which, The Adventurers, is set in East Africa, and the other, the Black Cobra Quartet, follows 4 separate journeys from India to England. The time period ranges from 1780 to 1852 – essentially Georgian, Regency, and early Victorian. Most of my works are set in what is generally considered “Regency” – 1810 to early 1820s. My books are usually standalones that form part of a larger ongoing series. In the case of my best known and most widely lauded works, The Cynster Novels, which have now expanded into The Cynster Next Generation Novels, the stories are connected via the family, with the heroes and heroines from one book appearing in the background of other volumes. Other series include The Bastion Club Novels (a group of 8 returning secret agents) and The Casebook of Barnaby Adair Novels, which revolve about a couple who are adept at solving crimes, especially those within the upper echelons of society. Later this year, I will complete the quartet of The Cavanaughs – another family related to the Cynsters – and will also publish the fourth volume in the more lighthearted Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas Chronicles. (See below for book 1 covers)

Cynster cover

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

I started writing this particular brand of historical romance because those were the books I enjoyed reading myself. As a research scientist having to read dry scientific works all day, I used to reach for a historical romance to unwind. I’ve always said that it was my sheer good luck that what I enjoyed reading and writing about was exactly what a lot of other readers enjoyed reading! In many ways, it really was that simple, and a 30 years career has followed. I firmly believe that being able to escape the pressures of modern daily life by stepping into a world that, while easily recognizable and peopled by characters we can relate to, is nevertheless totally divorced from our here and now, being able to follow those characters through challenges to a happy ending, whatever that ending might be, is what draws readers to historical romance and also historical mysteries.

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

To build a career and reach an audience, you have to persevere. That means you have to keep writing and publishing books over many years. Success rarely comes quickly (and if it does, it’s more likely to be a flash in the pan). However, continuing to write doesn’t mean writing the same thing, the same sort of book, over and over again – keep evolving and follow your instincts and write the books you really want to write. Chances are, some readers at least will really want to read them.

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

I have a black labradoodle named Clio (the muse of history). She’s now 2 years old and keeps me in line. She gets me out for a walk first thing in the morning, then she sleeps while I write, but keeps an eyes on me to make sure I get up and have my morning tea. I can’t work longer than 1:00pm without her being beside me, nudging me to get me up for our long lunchtime walk. Then she naps again until it’s time for my afternoon tea—and her dinner. She starts reminding me about 3:00pm. And then she naps again until about 6:00, when she’s back by my side nudging me to close down the computer and go cook dinner. Not that she gets anything for that – she just has it fixed in her head that come that time of day, I should leave the office and go into the kitchen! She is ultra-rigid about routine and me doing what she believes I should!

Stephanie, thanks so much for taking the time out of your very busy writing schedule to answer our questions!

It’s a somber but hopeful Memorial Day here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside.

On the one hand, the number of cases from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be alarming, and we are proceeding with every caution to keep our employees and customers healthy.  We very much appreciate the support that we have been shown by people placing mail order requests and just calling or dropping us an e-mail to ask how we are.

On the other hand, according to the Governor’s Office, today is the day where we can add curbside pickup for prepaid merchandise to our current mail order service, as part of Phase 1 of the four-phase “Reopening Massachusetts” plan.

curbside

As a retail outlet, we are told that we cannot reopen the retail storefront to the public until the start of Phase 2, the date of which seems to be no earlier than June 8, 2020, and may be pushed back even further.  We are still debating the merits of “appointment-only shopping” to occur either on or before that date.  Please call us at 508-796-5613 or e-mail us at info@anniesbooksworcester.com to put your name on the appointment list.

We have been trying a variety of virtual events on Zoom during this lockdown; our thanks to everyone who tuned in and took part in our science fiction panel, our middle grade fantasy panel, and our author talk with Lois Lowry.  Coming up on Saturday, May 30th at 2pm, we have Storytime With Selina; please join us!

Pride Month is fast approaching, and we’ll be offering specials on LGBTQIA titles, as well as hosting a variety of authors and creators on Zoom. Please keep an eye on our Facebook events.

We’ve added some features to our website for new title releases as well as favorites. Our listings are updated regularly.

Again, many thanks to our staff and to our customers for helping us pull through these difficult months. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve you, and we are grateful for your understanding and your patronage.

May your world be full if wonderful words!

lois image

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on acclaimed Young Adult Author Lois Lowry.  Ms. Lowry will be on a ZOOM teleconferencing call with any of our customers who would like to hear her speak on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 at 2:00 PM. See our Facebook Events page to RSVP!

 

When asked to tell us briefly a little bit about herself and her writing, this was her response:

 

I’ve been writing books for young people for 45 years and I think I have almost 50 published books now. The best known two are NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER, both of which are frequently used in schools.

 

 

 

 

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

Any bookstore or any library!

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I have a website   www.loislowry.com   which is in serious need of updating but the guy who is supposedly doing that appears to have dropped off the face of the earth.  In these pandemic times, everything is so chaotic. So I hope people will forgive the fact that the website is very out of date.

 

What kind of research went into writing On The Horizon?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 

ON THE HORIZON comes from my own childhood memories superimposed onto real past events.  It was both challenging and exhilarating to find the connections between Young Me and American History…specifically, Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. But that was, ultimately, the purpose of the book: to make clear how connected we all are, to one another, on this fragile planet.

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out On The Horizon?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

The frustrating thing was the timing of the release of ON THE HORZON. I was scheduled for a lengthy book tour: many cities, many events, a chance to talk to readers and answer questions.  All of it was cancelled, of course.  So I’ve been trying to make up for it with virtual events, for which it has been a pretty steep learning curve…but also fun.  Last night, during a ZOOM meeting with a book club in Kentucky, one person had a kitten continuously trying to climb up her sweater. And I had my phone ringing in the background, and my dog woofing to go out. But you know what? All of that makes it both intimate and very human.

 

horizon from lois

 

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

 

I felt very connected to Claire, in the book SON, the fourth book in THE GIVER quartet. I think I felt that way because of how passionate and dogged she was in her search for her lost son.  I myself lost one of my sons, so I understood that feeling of loss.

 

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

A book of mine called THE WILLOUGHBYS was published some years ago, but it has just become a popular animated movie on Netflix. So the publisher asked me to write a sequel, and The WILLOUGHBYS RETURN will be published in the fall. Also…a book I wrote ten years ago opens during the 1918 flu epidemic, so it is very timely now and is being re-issued with a new jacket; that one is called LIKE THE WILLOW TREE.

 

willoughby's return

 

What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?

 

I travel a great deal…have been to every continent. It doesn’t detract from writing because my BRAIN always goes with me. And my imagination.

 

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

 

I have a home in Maine, a small house in the Portland area, where I am now sitting, plus a summer home that I love, a 1769 farmhouse in western Maine.  In both places I have a room that is my work space (at the farm, it’s a room just off the barn…there are still feed bins in it). It’s important, I think, to have a serious space dedicated to one’s work…I even refer to both places as “my office.” Otherwise, it would be too easy for people to view writing—especially writing for young people—as a lighthearted hobby.

 

What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?

 

That I once was a contestant on Jeopardy.  And later became an ANSWER on Jeopardy,

 

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

 

My elderly Tibetan Terrier, Alfie, is always at my feet, snoozing.

 

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?

 

For those interested in writing….or illustrating…for children, the SCBWI (Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators) is a supportive and vital organization  Go to their website and read about what’s available through them; it’s well worth the modest dues.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to spend time with us, Lois! We are looking forward to speaking with you on May 23rd!

collage of lois's books 628

The “new normal” has given us all a challenge in having to handle a lot of information. We hope all our readers and customers will bear with us as we try here to communicate what is a lot of information here as best we can, largely in chronological order. Our customers have been calling and asking a lot of questions, and this is our best effort to give an update that will inform and answer as many of those questions to day as possible.

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Like many of you, we at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester were awaiting today’s update from Governor Baker, since he has said he would make certain information available on Monday, May 18th, based on the determination of the Reopening Advisory Board.
His conference at 11AM today gave specific guidance as to how Massachusetts will reopen its economy…which is information that is still subject to change…but offers us better insight into how and when we can work to re-open our business, in stages. More is posted at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-four-phase-approach .
We want to anticipate how we might best serve our customers.

We are already open to do mail order, and ship to your door, anywhere in the world, regardless of this update. Call or e-mail us. We will carry on with this part of our operation beyond the COVID-19 emergency, and remain an option for customers concerned about venturing out too soon…and those who simply find it a more efficient way to shop.

Previous guidance we received from the City of Worcester told us we could already be open to do curbside pickup. That conflicts for our business with the State timetable, and we will not challenge that timetable. For now, the actual store is closed to customer traffic. Customer safety, as well of the health of everyone, is the primary concern.

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-when-can-my-business-reopen

But, as approved by the State of Massachusetts, as stated for Phase 1 of re-opening for retail shops, we will re-open to allow curbside pickup on Monday, May 25, 2020, during normal Springtime business hours. This will require arranging orders by phone or e-mail in advance, and will work best with payment by credit card in advance, but we will also accept payment by check at the time of pickup. Again, please write or call and arrange such orders in advance. And, be aware during this phase we are prohibited by law from having customers enter the store to transact business.

The next question we all still need to answer is “When does Phase 2 start?” The Massachusetts government web site says “Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer before moving to the next phase.” So, we know we will not enter Phase 2 any earlier than June 8, 2020. This will depend on how well we are fighting COVID-19, and a lot of other factors. It’s not “set in stone” at this point. We’ll keep you posted in this blog and elsewhere as well as we can. The State of Massachusetts has to tell us still on what date this will start. Phase 2 will allow “browsing inside the store with restrictions.” We still need more specific guidance, but we anticipate this will work best using appointments, giving customers and their families the run of the store for solid blocks of time. We’ll say more on this below.

Therefore, starting immediately, we will start taking customer names, with phone numbers and e-mail contact information, with the expectation of some initial reopening period where we could offer private appointments to one customer or one family at a time.

If this happens, it’s an opportunity to have the whole bookstore to yourself. Sit, read, browse, ask questions… your own store, all to yourself.

We will start taking your names immediately to anticipate Phase 2.

If the appointment-only system is something we use, we will start making phone calls from the top of the list, as soon as we feel it’s time, and giving all of you the chance to make this convenient for you. At that time, we’ll also communicate any limitations or restrictions we’re told to enforce. We simply need the State to tell us what date this can start.

We’ll basically take out an appointment book within our normal hours and work as much as we can with your schedules so you will have enough time to shop.

Phase 3 certainly still includes Social Distancing, and seems it will begin no earlier than June 29, 2020.

Phase 4, the last phase, still anticipates some Social Distancing as the “new normal,” and seems to start no earlier than July 20, 2020.

As stated on the State of Massachusetts web site, the state government reserves the right to take longer to reach the next stage, or to step backwards to earlier stages, as appropriate to care for the health and safety of all. We fully support those efforts.

We suspect an effective vaccine might change this timeline, but the reality of this situation is there is no firm guarantee we’ll see one on any given date. We’re trying to be safe and work to do our best in a difficult situation.

We also reserve the right to consider any special circumstances and use the appointment-only system rather than a full re-opening on an exact date suggested by the State of Massachusetts. But, we surely depend on their guidance to form decisions, and we will not open any facet of our business early in violation of the law.

Of course, we’re hoping the situation improves immediately, and we’re hoping there’s good reason not to need some of these plans. But, as your neighborhood store, we also know how important it is to be able to shop for your needs and those of your family. We’ll continue to do all we can to help.

We are still waiting for more details from the Governor’s Office before we can announce our guidelines and timing to resume donations and trade-in. We are planning on a dedicated day during which we can handle expanded quantities from our customers, but we do not yet know when we can announce that in full. For now, guidance on curbside pickup and mail order is the most we feel free to give for Phase 1, with the note that our web site has also been updated with special listings of new books, some with enhanced discounts sure to compete with pricing elsewhere.

As always, thank you for your patronage and support.

—-Patty and the staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

Author Celia Rees

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on British Author Celia Rees.  Up until now, she’s written mainly YA, with over twenty books published in the UK and worldwide. This is her first Adult novel.

I asked her where people can find her work (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!):

My YA titles: Witch Child, Sorceress, Pirates! Sovay and The Wish House were published in the US by Candlewick Press and Bloomsbury US. I’m not sure they are still available in bookstores but they should be available on Amazon and in libraries.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I have a website: www.celiarees.com . I’m on Twitter, @CeliaRees , Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/theofficialceliareesfanpage , Instagram celiarees1 , Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/celiarees

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from [newest release/spotlighted release]?

I write mostly historical fiction.  Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is no exception. It is set in Germany immediately after the Second World War. I like to explore periods in history that interest me but what I really love is exploring the lives of those living at the time through my characters, particularly girls and women. The title gives the clue as to what readers can expect: history, cookery with a liberal spicing of espionage.

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

I spend a long time researching, both before and during the writing. I went back into my own family history and spent time in the Imperial War Museum in London reading the letters and papers of women who had similar experiences to my aunt who went to Germany after the Second World  War. I always researched locations. Part of the novel is set in London, so my daughter accompanied me on various research expeditions. We went on a Spy Walk and nearly got arrested looking for a dead letter box behind Brompton Oratory. My most poignant moment was visiting Kensal Green Cemetery to lay lilies on the grave of Christine Granville aka Krystyna Skarbeck, the SOE agent who was my model for Dori, a character in the novel.

Food is really important in the book, so are recipes and cookery books. I travelled to Europe, following Edith, my main character, to Germany. I also went to Italy, following the journeys made in the book. Everywhere I went, I collected menus, made notes on food, collected recipes from those I met along the way and acquired cookery books for reference – specific to place and period.

Miss Graham pic

What was the inspiration for Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook ? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

My initial idea came from a cookery book that I found among my mother’s effects. It was old, the cloth cover stained with old spillages. Interleaved between the pages were recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines going back to the Second World War.  There were also handwritten recipes. I recognized my mother’s writing, my aunt’s and what must have been my grandmother’s. I found no letters so these recipes were the only surviving written connection between them. I knew that was something I wanted to write about but didn’t know how. I kept the book but shelved the idea. Years later, I was in the Imperial War Museum in London, looking at an exhibition about espionage in Germany after the Second World War. The thought came: ‘What if Aunty Nancy was a spy?’ Recipes would be the perfect vehicle for sending messages, especially among women… Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook was born.

This book took me seven years to write, went through nearly as many drafts and a change of agent but I wouldn’t give up on it. I owed it to my aunt.

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

I love all my characters, even the bad ones, or I couldn’t write about them.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

I’m interested in history. I like to explore possible pasts, make the people come alive. I hope my readers do, too.

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

Don’t give up!

How important has the New England setting been to your writing?

New England was central to Witch Child, my first historical novel and to its sequel, Sorceress.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

I am working on a sequel to Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook. It doesn’t have a title yet but it tells the story of Dori, one the characters in the book.

What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?

I swim, walk, do yoga and practice meditation.  I like to cook, read books, watch films and box sets on TV. I like to travel and visit art galleries and museums. You never know where the next idea will come from!

While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

I can’t listen to music, or anything, when I’m writing but each book has a playlist of songs or music that for some reason I found inspirational. With historical novel, playing traditional songs, music of the time, gets me into the period and character.

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

I have a grey tabby and white kitten called Lyra who ‘helps’ by climbing all over me and marching across the keyboard. So far, she hasn’t equalled my daughter’s cat, Luna, who batted the mouse into a bowl of water.

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

I need several mugs coffee in the morning and several mugs of tea in the afternoon.

What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?

It’s all challenging, just different challenges. You just have to keep going and be prepared to ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again’, as the song says.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

Not to listen to other people and trust myself.

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?

Writing is a lonely business and I’d urge writers to join an organization where they will meet others like themselves. In the UK we have the Society of Authors, who help, advise and organize national and local meetings. We also have the much more informal Scattered Authors Society https://scatteredauthors.org   –  A network of children’s writers who share the highs and lows of publishing, along with quite a lot of cake.

Celia, Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer so many of our questions!

 

We here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester continue to abide by the Governor’s Office order to remain closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic until at least 12noon on Tuesday, May 19th.  That may change in light of the four-phase plan proposed for reopening the state of Massachusetts, and may force us to hold off opening our doors to the public until a later date.

Phases

Unfortunately, we do not know where our bookstore falls on that particular scale of phases.  Not many Massachusetts businesses *DO* know, or will know, until an announcement is made, and such an announcement may not be made until Monday, May 18th.

**WHEN** the announcement is made, we will make the determination whether we can safely reopen to the public on either a limited scale or in full operation, to ensure the complete safety of our employees and customers. We may choose to delay our reopening for a day or several days to that purpose.

In the meantime, we continue to offer mail order services.  We also can offer curbside pickup BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, with safeguards in place such as masks and gloves.

Both in the past and during the upcoming months, we have been observing and will continue to observe the mandatory safety standards.

We appreciate your support and patronage, in the past, the present, and the future.

—Patty Cryan and the staff of Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

 

Louise Fein pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on British Debut Author Louise Fein.  Her first book, Daughter of the Reich, is being released this week.  I asked Louise to tell us briefly a little about herself and her writing:

I am an English author, living with my family in the beautiful countryside of Southern England. I always dreamt of being an author – it was my first love, and throughout my life, I have always been writing something, whether that be poetry, prose or diaries. After gaining a law degree and travelling, I settled down to a career in law and banking. But the writing bug never left me and I finally gave in to it, taking an MA in creative writing at St Mary’s university, London. It was during this time that I began work on my debut novel, Daughter of the Reich (also known as People Like Us in the UK).

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)

Daughter of the Reich can be purchased from all major retailers. See the following link for more details on where to buy:

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062964052/?utm_campaign=aps&utm_medium=athrweb&utm_source=aps

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

The easiest place is to check out my website: https://www.louisefein.com where you can find details about my current novel and where to buy it around the world, more about me, my blogs and newsletter, and to find about future novels.

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Daughter of the Reich?

Daughter of the Reich is my debut novel. It is historical fiction, a story of impossible love, set against a tumultuous background in 1930’s Leipzig. Hetty Heinrich is a young girl growing up under Nazi rule. With an SS officer father, a brother in the Luftwaffe and a member of the BDM, Hetty is the epitome of a perfect German child. But Walter changes everything. Blond haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew. As she falls more and more in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, Hetty begins to question everything. Will the steady march of dark forces destroy their world, or can love ultimately triumph?

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 As a writer of historic fiction, research is central to the work that I do. For Daughter of the Reich, I carried out a considerable amount of research. I believe it is vital, to achieve real authenticity in a book, to embed the story in a historically accurate setting. The book is set in Leipzig in the 1930’s. I read as widely as I could, both fiction and non-fiction, relating to Germany in that time period, and anything I could get my hands on about Leipzig. This included reading contemporaneously written diaries, PHD papers, family papers, memoirs, text- books and old maps. I also read accounts of Hitler and his life and a translation of ‘Mein Kampf’.  I needed to understand his mind-set. My book is told from the point of view of Hetty, a young girl who has been brainwashed into Nazism. To get inside her head I had to understand how people had come to believe in this Nazi dream. Ninety percent of my research has not made it into the book, but none of this has been wasted. The book is, I hope, imbibed and infused with the history, not burdened with it. One of the most heart-moving stories of my research is that I got to meet an elderly man named Peter Held who had travelled alone aged thirteen to London as a refugee in 1938. It turned out he had lived in the same street as my father’s cousins in Leipzig and had known them well. He was ninety-four when I met him and he generously recalled and spoke about some incredibly painful memories of what happened to him as a child. Very sadly he died just a few weeks after I had met him, but I was so glad I had that opportunity.

Daughters of the Reich cover

 What was the inspiration for Daughter of the Reich? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

Daughter of the Reich was inspired by the experience of my father’s family, who fled Leipzig during the 1930’s and went either to London or New York as refugees. My father never spoke of his experiences under the Nazi’s and he died when I was only seventeen so I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it with him. I suppose writing the book has in some way been a process of learning and understanding my father’s roots. But I was also inspired to write it because of the unwelcome parallels between the early 30’s and today, for instance, the rise of populism and racial stigma following a deep economic downturn, coupled with the spread of propaganda, or ‘false news’, made possible by the new methods of spreading news (radio and cinema in the 1930’s, social media today. The lessons of the past should never be forgotten.

 What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

Persevere! Writing is a long-game and it takes time and dedication to write and finish a book; to edit, edit and edit, again and again. It takes time to find an agent and gain a publishing deal. But it absolutely is achievable. Read everything. It is the best thing you can do to be a writer. Listen to advice and be open to constructive critic. Above all, just keep going!

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

I am very lucky in that I live in a 400-year-old converted watermill. In the garden we have an Elizabethan barn (dating back 500 years), beneath which runs a small stream, and which used to house a horse and some farm equipment. It has been converted into a library-style writing office, where I have my desk, a rug, couple of sofas and shelves full of books. I share the barn with some tiny birds who nest in the rafters and the odd bat! It is wonderfully peaceful and the perfect place for creativity, although, despite being heated, it is a little cold in the winter! My dog always accompanies me, curling up and sleeping in her basket at my feet while I type. Walking with her helps me solve many a plot hitch.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer the questions for us, Louise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Carver Pic

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Science Fiction Author Jeffrey A. Carver.  Jeffrey A. Carver is a writer of science fiction novels that explore a realm somewhere between hard science fiction and space opera—with believable, well-realized characters, male and female, human and alien, organic and “inorg,” as they say on Shipworld. His popular series The Chaos Chronicles grew substantially with the recent publication of Books 5-6, The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time. Together, the two volumes constitute a single novel, carrying the larger story arc forward.

Carver is also the author of the Star Rigger novels, including the Nebula-nominated Eternity’s End. In addition, Battlestar Galactica fans (2003- series) have enjoyed his novelization of Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries.

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester will be presenting a  Speculative Fiction videoconferencing panel, on Saturday, May 9th at 2:00 PM. Jeffrey is a member of that panel, along with SF writers Steve Popkes and LJ Cohen.  If you are interested in attending our ZOOM event, please log into our Facebook Web Page at:  https://www.facebook.com/events/689350495158992  to RSVP. We will send you the details on how to join in.

 

Our first question to you, Jeffrey, is: Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

All of my books are available as ebooks, almost anywhere ebooks are sold.

Print editions, while out of print in the original publisher editions, are gradually returning under the imprint of Starstream Publications. All of the Chaos Chronicles books are available in Starstream print editions, and can be ordered by bookstores or purchased online. If you want print editions you can send email to: orders@anniesbooksworcester.com and order them from Annie’s to be sent to your home.  There’s also a place you can order online and support other local bookstores:

https://bookshop.org/lists/jeffrey-a-carver-books-from-starstream-publications

Audiobooks, too; many of my books are available in downloadable audiobook from Audible and other retailers. The first four Chaos books recently joined the choir, narrated by the Grammy-winning Stefan Rudnicki. Audiobooks of Reefs and Crucible are planned.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

Science Fiction Worlds of Jeffrey A. Carver, and my blog, Pushing a Snake Up a Hill, all at www.starrigger.net.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.a.carver

Read about the new books here:

https://www.starrigger.net/books/chaos/the-reefs-of-time/

https://www.starrigger.net/books/chaos/crucible-of-time/

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time?

Exciting, far-future space adventure with well-realized characters, cool aliens and robots, humor, and science extrapolation to make you think. See the galaxy! Travel the tides of time! Meet friends you will love.

 

 

 

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

Everything I read, see, and hear is research. If you talk to me, you are research! Still, this pair of books benefited especially from the weekend I spent at the Schrödinger Sessions, a mind-boggling workshop put on by real quantum physicists for the sole purpose of teaching science fiction writers to more intelligently talk about quantum physics in their stories. It was amazing!

 

What was the inspiration for The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

Good question. Come ask me about it at the signing!

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time?  How did you overcome that challenge?

Something else I’ll talk about at the signing. Come listen!

 

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

If you want to write, there’s only one sure way to do it. Sit down and write! (This isn’t just for newcomers. I have to remind myself of it from time to time.)

 

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

I will attach a picture of my best furry friends: Moonlight (cat, who has left us, sadly, since the picture was taken), Captain Jack the border-collie mix, and McDuff (my mother-in-law’s dog, who lives with us).

 

Moonlight Jack Macduff

 

Jeffrey, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We are looking forward to hearing your comments at the event on May 9th!

 

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