Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on teen and young adult science fiction and fantasy author Tamora Pierce. She wanted us to say for her introduction, that “Officially I’m Tamora (TAM-er-ah) Pierce; I prefer Tammy.” 

 

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

 

 

 

Random House Children’s Books publishes the books and series set in the Tortall (Alanna/Daine/Kel/Aly/Numair) universe, as well as a couple of collections of short stories I’ve done in the past and TORTALL: A Spy’s Guide, a collection of information, maps, and a timeline for the Tortall universe), so they can be found with online booksellers and major rl bookstores. 

 

 

Scholastic Children’s Books publishes the Circle of Magic books: The Circle of Magic quartet, The Circle Opens quartet, The Circle Reforged (only 3 books so far).  Like the Random House books, they can be found with online and rl booksellers.

 

 

 

Bruce Coville’s Full Cast Audio also offers the Daine books and the Circle books in audio production with characters voiced by individual actors, and often with me as a narrator.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I am on Facebook, with a couple of gatherings of fans as well as my personal website.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Primarily I’m known for what I describe as “girls who kick butt.”  Boys also get to kick butt in my books, and the occasional adult as well, but it all started with my need to write the books I wanted to read as a kid, and rarely found.  Beyond that I have two stages: in the Tortall universe, the basic settings are fantasy variations of medieval Britain, Europe, the western Mediterranean, and northeastern Africa, with some influences from medieval Japan.  Magic is book learned, for the most part, with the exception of the less strong practitioners, who learned from local mages to practice things like healing for those who are common-born. 

 

 

The other world I use is based more on the medieval/Renaissance Mediterranean/Middle East/Central Asia.  Here the magic is two-fold: one is based on book education, with assorted universities and religious centers offering formula teaching.  There are other teachers, but they begin with power that comes through some aspect of the real world: cooking, plants (growing and medicines), metal- or wood-working, sewing, music, the weather.  The books revolve around four youngsters who were homeless until they were discovered by a mage whose power helps him to find youngsters with magic.  He brings them to a community that is part religious, part educational for safety and two dedicates (religious personnel) who specialize in handling damaged magical children.  The first trilogy is about their discovering who they are; the second is their first venture into the world as teenagers, and the next three books are about world-changing events and their involvement.

 

 

My last book is set in the first (called Tortall) universe.  I backtracked a character from the Daine books, her teacher in magic, Numair.  The book is about Numair when he was Arram, a teen student at one of the great schools of learning and magic in the realm of Carthak.  He had been sent there at a very young age when his home mages said they couldn’t teach him anymore (he’s a genius, but mage geniuses can be very dangerous when they’re young).  When he is promoted to the higher school after an epic disaster with a water spell, he becomes friends with Ozorne, an imperial heir to the throne, and Varice, who are both also young for their classes.   The book is about their friendships and learning, their discoveries in the natural world, school politics, epidemics, and the magical creatures they meet along the way.

 

 

I am working on the sequel now. Wish me well—the disease threw me for a loop, and it’s taken me a lot of writing short pieces to get back on track!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

This is always a trick question for me.  The truth is that, unless a character is only one or two sentences and we never see them again, I love all of my characters, or I never would have created one (this includes the animals).  This holds true even for the villains—sometimes especially villains, because I like them to be as real as possible.

 

 

To create a secondary or main character, I have to start with someone real.  When I started writing as a six-grader, all of my characters thought and talked the same way.  I had a brain-flash in class one day, looking at one of my friends.  He would make a good character—I knew how he talked (different from me), how he moved (different from me), and how he thought (different).  From then on I based important characters on people I knew (never tell them, in case they don’t like what you do with their character), or on people I saw in tv/movies or people like professional wrestlers and poker players.  Even though I was writing fantasy, I still had a person and that person’s speech and habits to draw on.  And the characters always grow away from the people I pick as a base.

 

 

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

 

 

Just keep at it.  The more you do, the better you get, so the more you do, and so on.  If you’re stuck and have tried everything you can think of to get one story going (NEVER throw it out—it might give you ideas for something new, or you’ll look at it one day and see where you can keep going), set it aside and start something else.  Sooner or later you’ll be carrying things all the way through to the end.

 

 

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

 

 

SF writer/editor Shawn Speakman asked if there was anything I might like to do for his projected collection (now two collections!) that isn’t what I am known for writing.  I have been studying for forty years on a series of stories set in the part of the Appalachians where I grew up and where my ancestors settled in the 1700s.  I had begun thinking since the 1980s about an extended family who brought psychic talents to the New World with them, and how as the family grew and reproduced, those talents spread.  I mentioned that to him, and he said “great!”  I sent it off to Shawn just this morning—it isn’t even due till July!

 

 

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

 

 

I read.  A great deal, particularly since the advance of Covid.  Mostly I read fantasy of all kinds, but I also read true crime if the case interests me.  I’ve been watching a great many tv programs about The Plantagenets and the House of York; why, I do not know, except that when I get a passion for some area of knowledge, I know it will end up contributing to my writing.

 

 

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?

 

 

History, fantasy, certain parts of the world, zoos and animal rescue (you learn more about animal characters that way), myths and legends, female heroes and people of a different sexuality, cats.

 

 

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

 

 

As I mentioned, I often base characters on real people and animals.  Since I am not at all good at envisioning either, I have bulletin boards of pictures of animals and people I base characters on, as well as physical settings I use as a base.  I have three multi-level sets of shelves for my research books: crafts for kinds of thread, sewing and weaving (European, African, Native American, Asian); historical texts and books about costumes for the areas I am interested in, including a large amount of books on arms, weapons, and warfare; at least two shelves of dictionaries and language books in various languages (for building cultures on); three shelves of travel books (must have photos); books of different societies and cultures worldwide, two shelves of cookbooks for different cultures (I don’t cook but people eat and cook in my books!), and books on houses and buildings.

 

 

And I have shelves loaded with stones, gemstones, statuettes, edged weapons, and presents from fans!

 

 

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

 

 

That I’m shy.  When I’m meeting people in my function as a writer, I’ve learned how to express myself in an outgoing, amusing way.  Then, when I return to wherever I’m staying, I collapse.  I did acting in high school, then audio acting for radio programs that aired in New York, LA, and on NPR.  I also did the narration for most of the Full Cast Audio productions of my books.  The trick was in learning how to combine my love of acting into a way to speak in public about my work. 

 

 

Tammy, thanks so much for answering our questions for this author spotlight. I look forward to speaking with you more in an interview with you coming up in May on Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester’s YouTube channel!

 

 

May is upon us, with days that truly feel like Spring!  Here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, the month of May brings lots of fresh new books and products to rejuvenate your spirits!  We know that this pandemic year has made it feel like “a long, cold, lonely winter”, to quote the late great George Harrison and The Beatles.  But we hope we’ve helped to bring YOU, our customers and friends, a little bit of “sun” in dark times.

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First off, let us share our picks for our May publishers specials, ranging from mystery to historical fiction to urban fantasy to children’s graphic novels to astrophysics and beyond.

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  • HOUR OF THE WITCH [hardcover] by Chris Bohjalian – historical fiction
  • FORTUNE AND GLORY – TANTALIZING TWENTY-SEVEN [trade paperback] by Janet Evanovich – mystery
  • HEMINGWAY’S CATS [mass market paperback] by Lindsey Hooper – contemporary romance
  • THE GOD EQUATION [hardcover] by Michio Kaku – science
  • THE GIVER OF STARS [trade paperback] by Jojo Moyes – literary fiction
  • MAGIC TREE HOUSE GN#1 – DINOSAURS BEFORE DARK [paperback] by Osborne, Laird, Matthews and Matthews – graphic novel
  • NO SLEEP TILL WONDERLAND [trade paperback] by Paul Tremblay – urban fantasy

All of these titles will be discounted 42% off retail price during the month of May. 

 

 


Have you checked out our YouTube channel?  Are you a subscriber?  You won’t want to miss our fresh content!

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We’ve added quite a few more video interviews during the month of April with editors, prose writers, and poets in the fields of horror and dark fantasy.

Upcoming in the month of May we’ll be hosting YouTube interviews with a number of fiction and nonfiction authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists written for children and for young adults.  Keep an eye out for:



The Governor’s Office of Massachusetts has loosened some of the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, but we expect between now and September that we’ll be concentrating less on in-person events such as book signings and craft socials, and concentrating more on continuing to bring you the best in merchandise and customer service for your in-store shopping needs. 

The school summer reading season is just around the corner as well as beach season, hiking season, and other outdoor pursuits. In addition, we continue to replenish our sidewalk sale carts with a variety of reading treasures.

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A few reminders:

  • Our store hours are currently 10AM to 8PM Mondays through Thursdays, 10AM to 9PM Fridays and Saturdays, 10AM to 5PM on Sundays.  We expect to expand hours during the summer months, and we will post those hours when they occur.
  • Appointments are no longer needed to shop, and we will keep an eye on capacity limits for now.  Face masks MUST still be worn in the store at all times by both customers and staff, and please remember to observe social distancing where possible.
  • LIMIT ONE BAG OR ONE BOX OF BOOKS PER DAY FOR TRADE-IN OR FOR DONATION.  [This usually adds up to between ten and twenty books at a time.] We cannot emphasize this strongly enough.  While we do understand and sympathize that many people are doing spring clear-outs, downsizing, or moving at this time of year, here at ABSW we just do not have the capability to process large amounts of donations and trade-ins.  It’s a safety issue for you as well as a manpower issue for us, during the continued limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We very much appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.

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

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on the author of many children’s and young adult books, Margaret Peterson Haddix. I am going to let Margaret introduce herself to you, and tell you a bit about herself!

 

 

Hello! I am Margaret Peterson Haddix, the New York Times-best-selling author of more than forty books for kids and teens. I grew up on a farm in Ohio. After college, I took jobs as a newspaper reporter, a newspaper copy editor, and a community college instructor before writing my first book. And I’ve been writing ever since!

 

 

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

 

 

Of course I recommend Annie’s Book Stop! But I also recommend independent bookstores in general. And I always like to support libraries as well.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

You can find information about all of my books on my website, www.haddixbooks.com. I’m also available on Facebook and Instagram as HaddixBooks, and on Twitter as mphaddix.

 

 

What was the inspiration for [newest release/series release is part of/spotlighted release]? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

For the Greystone Secrets series as a whole, the inspiration was a newspaper column I read more than thirty years ago. It was a strange and tragic story about a mother finding out that about three siblings who had been killed in a car crash—and the kids who died were the same ages and had almost the exact same names as her own children. She was, understandably, quite freaked out. That true story stuck in my mind for decades, but for about 29 of those years, I didn’t think of it as a tale that would inspire anything that I might write. Then, rather randomly a few years ago, I happened to recall that story, and for some reason I saw it from a totally different perspective: If the mother was so freaked out to hear of such a tragedy happening to a family so much like her own, what would it be like to be a kid who found out about such an awful tragedy happening to a family so much like your own? That gave me the first seeds of the idea for THE STRANGERS, the first book in the series, where Rochester, Emma, and Finn Greystone learning about another Rochester, Emma, and Finn who had just been kidnapped. And… then they learn that the similarities between them and the other kids are not coincidences.

 

 

In the newest book itself, THE MESSENGERS, I got to continue exploring the idea of doppelgangers who are—or are not—exact doubles. But I was also inspired by current events, and thinking about how people seek out or do their best to avoid acknowledging or revealing truth.

 

 

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

 

 

I’ll go with the love answer: As in the earlier books in the series, the perspective in THE MESSENGERS bounces between various kids, usually Finn, Emma, and Chess. And while I feel in love with all the kids, I especially enjoyed writing from Finn’s perspective. He’s such a happy-go-lucky kid, so ready to greet the world and everyone around him with joy. Even when I put him into dangerous situations, he still retained his positive outlook and his innate hopefulness. It was impossible not to feel hopeful right along with him!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

A sixth grader at a school visit once announced to me that she’d analyzed all of my books (which then numbered about forty) and told me she’d figured out the common denominator in everything I wrote. This surprised me, since I’ve written in such a variety of genres and even styles: I’ve done science fiction, dystopian/speculative books, historic fiction, contemporary realistic fiction, quasi-fantasy/magical realism… But when that sixth grader told me her analysis, I totally agreed. Essentially, she said I always write about secrets: either a secret someone is desperately keeping, or a secret someone is desperately trying to find out. And it is true that almost every single one of my books could be described that way. I am so fascinated by secrets that I have trouble understanding why any reader wouldn’t want to dive into those kinds of books.  The promise of “You’re going to find out this tantalizing secret if you just keep reading…” is always enough to keep me flipping the pages as a reader!

 

 

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

 

 

The next  book I’ll have coming out is THE SCHOOL FOR WHATNOTS, a stand-alone book that also includes secrets, a mystery, and kids being brave. Oh, it has Whatnots, too.

 

(THE SCHOOL FOR WHATNOTS is due out in February 2022.)

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

 

I have two approaches to this question. My favorite adventure of the writing itself is that moment when everything changes, and it all becomes real to me. One moment I am sitting at my computer typing, and I am completely aware that I am myself and I am typing words showing up on a computer screen. And then I forget that, and I am totally immersed in the story. Yes, I am still typing, and yes, I am still myself, but mentally I am my main character and I am feeling all the character’s emotions and thinking all her thoughts. And when I look around, my eyes don’t see my ordinary office; instead, I feel as though I am seeing through my character’s eyes. I feel as though I have adopted all of her other senses, too—I have become her, as well as myself. This is a feeling that I love when I am reading other authors’ books, and it’s an amazing feeling when I am writing my own books as well.

 

 

Since my writing “career” also includes a lot of traveling around and talking with readers (or, at least, it did pre-pandemic, and hopefully will post-pandemic as well), I have also appreciated all the adventures of going places I wouldn’t necessarily have gone without the invitation of a school or library. Some particular highlights have been going to Ketchikan, Alaska; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Shanghai, China.

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us, Margaret, and for joining us for an interview on the Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester YouTube Channel!

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on someone who works in a publishing capacity other than author. I’d like to introduce science fiction, fantasy and horror editor Ellen Datlow. Ellen, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself?

 

I’ve been editing sf, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over forty years. I was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine for seventeen years, and edited SCIFICTION, the fiction section of the SCIFI.COM website for six years. I currently acquire short stories for Tor.com and novellas for Tor.com and Nightfire (the Tor horror imprint). I’ve also edited a lot of anthologies. I live in NY, and co-host the Fantastic Fiction at KGB (bar) reading series.  (which has been virtual since the pandemic began) but hopes to be live once more by the fall.

 

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

 

Bookstores; If not in brick and mortar bookstores, definitely online and as eBooks and audio books (sometimes). Stories I’ve acquired and edited are on the Tor.com website (the fiction there is free);

 

How can we follow your work, and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on twitter and facebook all the time. I have a website that’s not kept up to date.

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do? 

 

I’m an editor and anthologist. I’m one of several consulting editors for Tor.com

 

As an editor for Tor.com I acquire and edit short stories and novellas for Tor and novellas for the new horror imprint Nightfire.

 

As an anthologist, I come up with anthology ideas (reprint or original), my agent pitches the proposal to publishers, and when sold I solicit, acquire, and edit (the latter, only if I’m working on an original anthology) the stories and put together the anthology.

 

What was the latest release you worked on? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial copy to the finished book?

 

The most recent book I’ve got out is Tool Tales, a collaborative project with my friend Kaaron Warren, from Australia.  It’s a chapbook of photos I’ve taken of some items from my tool collection plus Microfictions written by Kaaron in response to the photos.  It was started as a fun thing to do on facebook a few years ago when we each had some free time. I’d post a photo, Kaaron would write a teeny tiny story (without me informing her what the tool was for- I sometimes did not know what it was for). After we posted each tool/story-either I posted a note about what the tool was or asked my facebook followers to identify the tool.

 

 

We thought that maybe we could get a small publisher interested in creating a more formal/permanent presentation than just having our project live on facebook. Gerry Huntman of IFWG in Australia stepped up and offered to publish it as a chapbook.

 

 

What is your favorite part of being an editor?  Of the whole editing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

I love working with writers to help them to create/communicate exactly what they intend to communicate in a story. I love discovering new writers during my annual reading for the Best Horror of the Year. When I discover a writer whose work I consistently love, I might approach them to write a new story for me-for tor.com or an original anthology.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that I’m still learning how to edit with each story I work on.

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

I’ve got three books coming out this fall

When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson from Titan, an all original anthology with stories by Kelly Link, Laird Barron, Carmen Maria Machado, Joyce Carol Oates, Benjamin Percy, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Elizabeth Hand, Stephen Graham Jones, and others. Out in Sept

Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror (Tachyon) an all reprint anthology. October

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Thirteen (Night Shade) all reprints November

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

A mess. I’ve been using a large, low cocktail table/display case for decades, seated on the sofa -until I moved in December. I’m still using the cocktail table and my antique rocking chair-until I get a new desk that I’ve ordered. But I’m surrounded (right now) by books and magazines I’m still reading/skimming writing up for my Best Horror #13 summary of the year. A glass of seltzer/thermos of water, cup of tea or coffee on the table next to me. I recently bought a very large 27 inch screen computer, which I love. A pen/pencil holder near me. My editing file folders on the floor next to me.

Papers/bills/my favorite pen. A lot of “stuff” that I hope I’ll be keeping in drawers when I get my new desk.

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

I always listen to music when I’m home. I prefer the jazz radio station WBGO (out of Newark) but if they’re not playing anything I like I listen to my pandora stations which include jazz, folk, world, soft rock.

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day editing to answer our questions, Ellen!

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on horror author Kelli Owen. The first thing I always like to do is to have authors introduce themselves, and tell readers a bit about themselves and their writing. So, Kelli, could you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?

 

Born in Wisconsin, I now live in Pennsylvania and most of my stories take place in one or the other, or the road in between, as was the case with my short story Jim’s Meats (found in the anthology Lost Highways: Dark Fictions From the Road). As the author of more than a dozen books, including Teeth, Waiting Out Winter, and the Wilted Lily Series, my fiction spans the genres from thrillers to horror, with a dip into the YA version of both, and back again. Besides being an author, I’ve been a reviewer, editor, and podcaster for genre fiction, as well as, an executive producer for indie horror films.

 

 

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

 

Standard shopping websites such as Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Kelli-Owen/e/B004DAC27W) or B&N, or for autographed copies, see my website’s Stay Home Book Sale at https://bit.ly/shbs20 (started because of Covid-19’s cancellation of appearances and conventions in 2020).

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

The hub would be kelliowen.com — from there you can find all book news and information, social media links, tie-in locations, and even my Patreon should you be interested in supporting the secrets behind my world.

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from your newest release, The Headless Boy?

 

What I write? Everything. I have done humans and creatures, from serial killers to vampires to science gone awry. Ranging from horrific thrillers to psychological horror, with an occasional bloodbath. And while I thought I didn’t quite fit any one area, a colleague decidedly labeled my work while we were on a panel at a horror convention and called it “trauma horror,” which is a nice way to sum it up how I tend to make the reader feel uneasy, rather than scared or sickened.  

 

My newest release, The Headless Boy, falls squarely in ghost story and haunted house territory. It is a quiet, classic horror that creeps in and slowly unnerves you… with a couple areas I’ve been told are truly scary and affected some of the most jaded of my readers. This title was referred to as grief horror, on the level of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary by a reviewer, and I’m quite okay with that assessment.

 

 

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?

 

While I did do some basic research for a particular poison and a couple of antique toys, the most interesting discovery during The Headless Boy research was diedinhouse.com – go ahead, check it out. And please, contact me via social media and tell me if you find anything creepy.

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for The Headless Boy? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

As I’ve said, I tend to write all over the subgenres that fall between horror and thriller, but this particular storyline was developed while watching a haunted house film and deciding that rather than make people uncomfortable (as I’m usually known for), I wanted to write something actually “scary”—scary enough to turn on lights, or put down the book. Considering some of the messages I’ve gotten from reviewers and readers alike, I’d say I hit the mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

My next novel is a coming-of-age story, because everyone has one and it’s time to tell mine. It’s also a period piece set in the 80s, so I’ve had a fun time re-watching movies and researching the news and entertainment from that period. Sure I’m reliving what I remember as a teen, but I’m also seeing some things as an adult looking back. Innocence is a funny thing. You don’t recognize it from inside.

 

 

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

 

I enjoy cooking, entertaining, board games, and involving my family in any of those. I also love to kill plants. That is to say, I keep trying to have and enjoy green things of all sizes (from windowsill herbs to gardens), but I’m not terribly good at it. And I’m a rock picker at heart, meaning I often pick up rocks from just about anywhere—the beach, your driveway, it doesn’t matter.

 

 

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?

 

I love bizarre research books. From ancient symbols to unexpected poisons, my research shelf is full of eclectic treasures. Sure I could Google, but sometimes, just flipping through a book of interesting facts will spark an idea.

 

Also, last year I found a small, antique drawer about six by six inches, which I have begun filling with miniature versions of books. One of my favorites being the inch-high Dracula gifted to me this past Christmas. 

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

Hands down, becoming a colleague to some of my childhood heroes. I began this journey (before I was brave enough to share my own writing) as a reviewer who made contact with those writers, and then several of them asked me to edit for them. A decade later, to consider them friends and find my name in the table of contents with them, or alongside them on bookshelves, is humbling and still takes my breath away on occasion. 

 

 

 

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

 

It truly depends on the story. I’ve used music to guide my mind by using a different playlist for different character’s points of view (POV). I’ve also used it to keep the pace by having a very specific playlist during action scenes. Generally, if I use a playlist for a specific book, I keep to it throughout the book so I remain in that zone (and some of those playlists are available on 8tracks, the link is on my website).

 

For my next book, the one set in the 80s, I’ve cultivated a playlist that only has the music that would have been on the radio during the timeframe I’m writing in. I plan for it to not only keep me in that era, but to perhaps trigger small memories or thoughts along the way.

 

My latest release, The Headless Boy, however, was written in silence. Away from everyone else in the house, written only at night, in dead quiet, with candles burning, while I tried to scare the reader by keeping my own tensions high. Silence can be as much a tool as music can.

 

 

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?

 

We only recently got a puppy, so I haven’t had too much on the furry or feathered end. I did, however, have a one-hundred-year-old toy as a mascot while writing The Headless Boy. Tom Tinker. He can be seen on the cover. I found him on ebay after researching the toys for the book, and he sat next to the laptop the whole time I was writing. The kids find him creepy, but I think he’s charming.

 

 

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

 

Rewrites. I hate knowing something needs to be erased and redone. Not edited, not tweaked, but destroyed with fire and rebuilt from the ground up. It’s painful, and I’ve been known to keep the bad words in a file of shame because I just couldn’t delete them until I was ready to.

 

 

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

 

Don’t be afraid to try. Whether it’s a new genre, a different POV, a style or storyline you’re unsure of—do it. And then make a decision about whether to keep it.

 

 

Thanks so much for your great advice, and for taking the time to answer our questions, Kelli!

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is pleased to bring back horror writer and poet Morgan Sylvia. The first thing I usually ask authors is how they want us to introduce themselves, and tell readers a bit about their writing. This is Morgan’s response:

 

I write mostly horror, with some fantasy, sci-fi, and poetry sprinkled in. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, and started writing for fun at a very young age. My first novel, Abode, came out in 2017 by Bloodshot Books. The next book I did was Dawn: Book One of The Aris Trilogy, from Crossroads Press. That one is a fantasy, one I tend to describe as a mix of Druid/Spartan/Tudors elements set on a post-technological world, with paranormal elements. I’m currently finishing edits on Book 2. I’ve also released two poetry collections. The second one, As The Seas Turn Red, was nominated for an Elgin, which was a huge moment for me. I’ve also been in several anthologies.

 

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

 

The easiest way is to follow my Amazon page,

https://www.amazon.com/Morgan-Sylvia/e/B00SW1JWBC%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

My website!

I’m at www.morgansylvia.com

https://www.instagram.com/msylvia1916/

https://twitter.com/MorganSylvia11

 

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

 

I’ve been told I have a very poetic style. It seems to be more apparent to others than to me, as it’s just how I naturally write. I think that goes back a long way. I used to write pages of what I thought were song lyrics. It took me until my 20’s before it dawned on me that I’m not a singer and that I was actually writing poems. But there’s still something there about the rhythm and flow of words, and the images that they conjure. I’m picky about language and flow that way.

 

 

What was the inspiration for [newest release/series release is part of/spotlighted release]? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

I saw the call go out for this, and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it. I originally just spat out this sort of rough draft for a different song, not realizing that the song was already taken. I made some changes and turned it into Julia Dream, and I just love this piece.

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out [newest release/spotlighted release]?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

I’ll be the first to admit I tend to get wordy. I always write long, so getting things to fit short word counts is hard for me. The editor, T Fox. Dunham, pushed me to chop, chop, chop, and while some of those cuts hurt, it really did make the story shine.

 

 

 

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

 

Do your research on the genre and industry, but realize that this is an art, a craft, and a business. You need the art part for your creative input, the craft part for storytelling, and the business part for success, no matter what level you are at. You can’t just pick and choose from those elements. But you also need to love this, because otherwise you’ll resent the time it takes.

 

 

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

 

Very much! I grew up here, and spent a lot of time walking in woods, driving in woods, and even camping or riding in woods. That atmosphere is just very rich for sinking into thought. Plus, we also have these cool, archaic towns and sceneries and the history behind them. I don’t think our long, dark winters hurt either. Blizzards are perfect reading/writing weather!

 

 

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

 

Gardening and other arts and crafts are at the top of the list. I love going to concerts, though of course that hasn’t happened lately. I’m also enjoying walking my dog and getting back into fitness. I actually enjoy barre and pilates.

 

 

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

 

I work from home, so I have my own dedicated office. One wall is all bookshelves, but it’s still not enough. I have at least as many books in storage as I do displayed. I unfortunately don’t have a lot of wall space, but I have a few pieces of art I love, a comfy chair, and a desk I decoupaged myself. There’s also usually a dog and cat snoozing in there somewhere.

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

That has to be the last reading I did before the shutdowns started, which was a live event at the Salem Witch House with a few other local authors. Sacred ground!

 

 

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 do! I have a floofer princess kitty named Orca, who is just the most adorable cat ever. (I may be biased) We also just adopted a super cute dog, Miko. This poor thing was in a shelter for six years! She is just the sweetest thing. She’s settling in well, and is almost always at my feet when I’m working.

We also have a fat goldfish named Swim Shady.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Morgan! And thanks for doing the interview and reading soon to be on our YouTube channel!

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on urban fantasy author Kim Harrison. My first question to you, Kim, is can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

 

 

My name is Kim Harrison, and I’m best known for writing the long-running, urban fantasy series, The Hollows, but I’ve also written YA, traditional fantasy, accelerated-science thriller, and even scripted a couple of graphic novels. I’ve been a full-time writer for about twenty-five years, having gotten my start in traditional publishing back in the early 2000s.  A good day for me is still one with nothing to distract me from the keyboard.

 

 

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

 

 

My work is available through all the usual outlets, be it paper or ebook, but I have cultivated a great relationship with my local store to provide signed copies, and whereas everyone loves Amazon, there’s nothing like supporting your local store.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I have a great online presence, and can be found at the following sites: https://kimharrison.net/  https://www.facebook.com/KimHarrisonsHollows?ref=ts  https://twitter.com/BurningBunnies Signed copies are at Nicola’s: http://www.nicolasbooks.com/kim-harrison

 

 

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

 

 

My next release is Million Dollar Demon this June 14, and I’m currently working on the next book in the Hollows series.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I have had the time to indulge in many out-of-office hobbies, all of them heavy on stimulating the senses. I bake when it’s cold. When it’s warm, I can be found in the garden focused on creating living spaces for wildlife in my city lot, (sometimes too much wildlife) I knit, going beyond the basics to create my own patterns for dragons and gargoyles. Most recently I have begun to learn how to quilt. The one thing all my outside passions seem to share is that they are tactile with lots of color, texture, taste, or smell. Sitting at a desk for hours at a time robs me of that, and I make a point to indulge my tactile creativity for several hours a day if only to keep me balanced.

 

 

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

 

 

 My office space has evolved over the years from a desk at my kitchen wall, to a free-standing gazebo in the middle of my backyard.  I made a point to be able to write anywhere, having written an entire manuscript while living on a sailboat and several others from an RV in Tucson, but I have to admit that the gazebo in my backyard is my favorite place to write. I’ve spent a lot of effort to make it pleasant, having an ergonomic keyboard and a kneeling chair to help keep my back in line and my wrists moving smoothly. Something I regret the most is the loss of paper copyedits and page proofs as it gave me the chance to get out of my office for a couple of weeks, but all things change.

 

 

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

 

 

When it comes to music, it depends on what I’m doing. Ninety percent of the time, I have soft, no-lyric, almost subliminal music playing in my office. It’s the sort of tonal music you might hear at a planetarium. The other ten percent is divided between silence, and, when I’m stuck or developing a new character, 90’s grunge and alternative rock—played loudly, which might be why my office is in the middle of my backyard.

 

 

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 two four-legged office assistants, a thirteen-year-old chi named Aleix, and (at the time of writing this) an eight-month-old Xolo named Toch (rhymes with watch.) Toch is a huge distraction, but we knew that going in, and he is (was) a Godsend in keeping me focused on good things during the 2020 pandemic. His breed benefits from lots of early, food-based training, and our adventures in stubborn meets inventive insistence might well show up in a manuscript someday.

 

 

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’m a tea drinker, so I’ve always got a cup on my desk. Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of ways to keep it hot, but I’ve had days where it goes cold and forgotten when the muse is strong. I also have what I laughingly call “author chow,” which is any dry, bland cereal with a handful of almonds. My ultimate favorite snack at my desk is Cheez-its, which is why I don’t allow them in the house anymore.

 

 

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

 

 

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that while skill and techniques are absolutely necessary, and contacts such as an agent or writing group make it easier, luck plays its part in finding not just publication, but what most people call “success.” To be able to quit your day job and subsist on earnings from your work is definitely a measure of success, but that number-one position on the NY Times list or the movie deal is so fleeting and rare that it shouldn’t be deemed a measure of skill or talent. Success is finding the right word, the clever turn of phrase. It’s discovering “how” after spending all day knocking your head into your keyboard. But having both hit that number one spot as well as watching my career crash and burn from taking a chance at something new, I have begun to define success as closing down your computer at the end of the day with a feeling of satisfaction.

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Kim!

 

 

Hello from the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside! Spring has sprung, and April is right around the corner.

Wishing those who celebrate a peaceful and blessed Passover this week and a peaceful and blessed Easter next week.

Many of us are still unable to travel to visit with friends and loved ones. To combat this, we’ve brought in some lovely Spring-themed greeting cards from Laughing Elephant which are sure to delight both the giver and the recipient.

Spring also means being able to do more out-of-doors activities, including exploring our neighborhoods. Did you know that Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is an official Pokestop? For those who play Pokemon Go, please feel free to add us to your walking and driving routes!


April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day. This year we’ve made our theme “Folktales and Mythology”, with plenty of old friends and new favourites from Hans Christian Andersen, Padraic Colum, the D’Aulaires, María García Esperón, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Mijangos, Stephen Mitchell, and more!


Traditionally, April is National Poetry Month, and you’ll find many selections of local and international poets on our shelves.

We also have our own tradition at ABSW that “April Is The Cruellest Month”, where we celebrate horror and dark fantasy, halfway ’round the calendar from October’s spooky slot. While we cannot host our customary Dark Carnival as an in-store event due to COVID-19, we’re planning quite a few YouTube interviews and creator spotlights on our blog, featuring horror novelists, horror editors, and horror poets. Keep an eye out for virtual appearances by Linda D. Addison, Ramsey Campbell, Ellen Datlow, Christopher Golden, Kim Harrison, Dean Koontz, Kelli Owen, Meg Smith, Morgan Sylvia, Tim Waggoner, and Trisha J. Wooldridge.

Our monthly publisher specials this time around are a reflection of our April themes. The following four titles will be discounted 42% off the retail price.

  • DEVOTIONS – Mary Oliver [poetry, paperback]
  • HORROR: A LITERARY HISTORY – Xavier Aldana Reyes [literary criticism, paperback]
  • MYTHOLOGY – Edith Hamilton [myths and folklore, paperback]
  • WICKED WOMEN – edited by Trisha J. Wooldridge & Scott T. Goudsward [anthology, paperback]

Thank you, as always, for making our shelves your destination.

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

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on author Susan Wiggs. Susan has been called a Contemporary Fiction writer, a literary fiction writer, a romance writer, a relationship writer – and she really is all of the above. According to Amazon, her books are all about Family, Friends and Fiction. She is an award-winning author with millions of copies of her books in print.

This spotlight with Susan is a bit different than most of the other spotlights – the format is a bit different, and she has graciously taken a lot of time to answer all of our questions. So now, I give you, Susan Wiggs.

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Lost and Found Bookshop? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

SW: That’s a tough one! Depends on who you ask, because every reader reads a different book, bringing her own experience and attitudes and creativity to the story. Some readers say the book made them cry. Others might say the same book made them laugh. I like to think they evoke strong emotions either way. My books usually feature people who need a fresh start, and the unexpected twists and turns they encounter along the way. My newest book, THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP, features a very reluctant woman dealing with tragedy, a failing bookshop, and her elderly grandfather. I suppose readers are drawn to stories that reflect something of themselves back at them.

What was the inspiration for The Lost and Found Bookshop? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

SW: My mom was the inspiration for Andrew (“Grandy”) in THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP. She’s 89 and dealing with dementia, and we’re her caregivers. Every day is an adventure! The shop itself was inspired by the many indie bookstores I’ve visited over the course of my 35 years in publishing. And Peach Gallagher, the love interest…well, he’s a figment of ALL our imaginations!

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?

SW: I loved my foray into exploring the world of bookselling from the bookseller’s point of view. Some of the booksellers I know invited me to shadow them as they went about their business. The bit about the found objects in the walls of the old bookstore is based on anecdotes about the Spanish American War. Soldiers who were about to ship out to the Philippines sometimes hid their valuables in odd places for safekeeping while they were overseas.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Lost and Found Bookshop? How did you overcome that challenge?

SW: The biggest challenge was juggling writing time with taking care of my mom, being a grandmother and mom to grown kids and stepkids, and making sure I have enough time to live deeply inside the story I was writing.

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

SW: I loved Dorothy! She’s Peach’s daughter, and she’s based on memories of myself at that age. I was completely enamored of books and authors. I used to walk into walls while reading a book! I didn’t really ate any of the characters (life’s too short) but I definitely felt for Trevor Dashwood, the super-successful children’s author whose entire bio is based on a lie to cover up his past. 

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

SW: Another San Francisco book! SUGAR AND SALT takes place on the Perdita Street, across from THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP. Sharp-eyed readers will remember the bakery on the street is called “Sugar.” There is a huge story there that burst into being when a gal from Texas opens a barbecue joint next door called “Salt.”

QUESTIONS ON BEING A WRITER:

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

SW: Favorite part: Composing the first draft. Even after all this time, I still love to take out my pen and notebook, my favorite mug of coffee, and watch the story unfold. I write all my first drafts in longhand. 

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

SW: Juggling the deadlines, publicity obligations, and social media. I love interacting with people in publishing and readers and booksellers and librarians, but it’s a challenge to make time for everything. 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

SW: Probably the autumn we spent in France researching MAP OF THE HEART. It was magical, driving through Provence as we explored the places in the book. A close second would be the biking trip through Holland that culminated in a wonderful visit with my publisher in Amsterdam.

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

SW: Overtip. Every. Single. Time. 🙂 

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

SW: Let your natural voice come through. And the way to find that voice is to write. A lot. Every day, if you can. Finish what you start, keep your promises, and don’t stop until you’re proud.

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

SW: The Authors Guild. They advocate for our rights. And the Authors Registry. They collect and distribute payments from foreign entities to US authors.

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU, AS A PERSON

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

SW: I’m an amazing cook! I love having people over. It’s been painful, keeping our distance during the pandemic.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?

SW: Q: What’s the most romantic hotel in the world?

 A: The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. It’s where my love story with my husband started in 2011. 🙂 

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

SW: Reading. I could easily read all day every day. I also love being a grandmother, skiing, cooking with my family, hiking, biking, travel, listening to music, singing and dancing, interfering in my grown kids’ lives. I’m a pretty good knitter and have a knack for home improvement projects. 

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions? 

SW: Reading again, for sure. I love getting together with other writers and talking shop.

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

SW: Depends on the time of year. In winter, it’s sitting in front of the fire with my feet up and my notebook and Lenny in my lap. In the summer, it’s on my patio, looking out at Puget Sound. Same notebook and same little doggie. I do have a proper study, but that’s mainly where I do the business-y stuff and paperwork.

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

SW: Silence, or tuneless “concentration” music in the headphones. Recognizable music is distracting to me because I love music so much! It’s wonderful to live on an island. I can hear the waves, foghorns, ferryboats, sometimes the float planes.

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?

SW: I’ve always had dogs. Lenny is named for the character in OF MICE AND MEN. When I was in 7th grade, I was devastated by the ending of that book, so I rewrote it! Lenny is a tiny rescue chihuahua mix. I brought him home in a shoebox and he’s the cutest thing in the world. You can see his picture all over my social media. 

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?

SW: When on deadline, it’s Red Bull and microwave burritos (I know!). Most of the time, French blue Earl Grey tea from Mariage Freres, all day long. 

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

SW: It was the key to FAMILY TREE for sure–a made-up town based on Putnam, VT. And of course Boston was the setting for my most popular historical, THE CHARM SCHOOL. I adore the northeast and love visiting. My literary agent has a place on Nantucket and I love going there.

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

SW: YES to a visit to Annie’s! You are an institution. But as a writer, I’m in favor of any place that brings books and readers together–the bookstore, the library, or online.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

SW: On www.susanwiggs.com there is a button that will connect you with all my social media channels, so pick your favorite, including Bookbub. I also have a book group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2762173960480511 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of our questions, Susan! It was a wonderful way to get to know you, and I am sure our readers are really enjoying it! And please do come visit Annie’s when this whole COVID issue is finally resolved. We’d love to have you!

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on romance author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The first question I asked Susan was, as always, Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

 

I’m proud to have readers all over the world. My books have been published in over 30 languages. I’m equally proud to be the creator of the sports romance, a genre that didn’t exist until I wrote FANCY PANTS in 1989, followed by my Chicago Stars and Wynette, Texas books.

 

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

 

Everywhere books are sold. (How lucky am I to be able to say that?!)

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

Go to my website as http://susanelizabethphillips.com to sign up for my “monthly” newsletter which, truth to tell, I don’t always get out each month, but I have goals.  I’m also active on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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

 

My next book (June, 2021) is a rom com, the latest in my Chicago Stars series. When Stars Collide.

 

 THE DIVA AND THE QUARTERBACK. He’s Chicago Stars backup quarterback
Thad Owens, always number 2. She’s #1 opera superstar Olivia Shore, a soprano with a grudge. They’re trapped together on a one-month press junket promoting a luxury watch.  It’s not going well.

 

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

 I love being able to connect with readers all over the world.  When I began touring internationally, I saw right away how similar women are everywhere.  We want happy ending stories of love and connection.

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

Nothing gets done without butt in chair!

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

In the summer, I love writing on the screen porch in our Chicago area home. In winter, on the small balcony of our Southern California home. Basically, any place that’s outside is my favorite place to write.

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

 I can have music playing, but only classical—preferably from either the Classical or Baroque periods. (See how picky I am!)  Nothing with lyrics or nothing too dramatic. I have enough drama going on in my head.

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?

This is so boring, but I have a cup of black tea at my side. Irish or English Breakfast. No herbal. No flavor. No frou-frou.  I take it straight. 

Thanks so much for spending the time to answer our questions, Susan!

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