Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on kids and teens fantasy author Holly Black. Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner and a Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

 

 

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

I write contemporary fantasy, often involving mythic or folkloric beings, with a melancholy bent.

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

 

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is an illustrated novella in the Folk of the Air series. After the conclusion in The Queen of Nothing, many people had questions about High King Cardan, his past, his point of view, and his future. I wanted to write more about him, and I wanted to make the book feel special, so my editor, Alvina Ling, at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, partnered with World Fantasy Award-winning artist Rovina Cai. The result is a really beautiful book that I hope readers will love.

 

 

 

 

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

I listen to music most of the time when I am writing. Specifically, I listen to playlists I create for whatever book I am working on. I find that listening to the same music makes it easier to drop back into the mood of the work. And after years of promising, I’ve finally been putting up my playlists on Spotify.

 

 

 

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

I find figuring out what happens the hardest part of writing, by far! Writing that initial draft is the bane of my existence. I love editing. I love being able to have time to work on the language, and make the individual scenes stronger. But I often have to rip out large sections, rethink moves, and re-outline dozens of times as I work toward getting a book that has a beginning, middle, and end.

So far I think I’ve tried it all – outlining, fast drafting, note cards, whiteboard, three act structure, five act structure, reading the entrails of goats. But none of it has made the process less agonizing! I guess my process just is what it is.

 

 

 

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

Write for your reader self, not your writer self.

 

 

 

Now that we’ve talked about your work, where can people find it? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

On my website, which can direct you further: http://www.blackholly.com

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

On Twitter (@hollyblack) or Instagram (@blackholly)

 

 

 

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

Another month has flown by in this unprecedented year.  November 2020 is almost over; it’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States, and what we are most thankful for, here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, is YOU, our loyal customers.

We continue to do our best to offer a SAFE shopping environment during the current COVID-19 pandemic.   This includes having all employees and customers wearing face masks, enforcing social distancing within the storefront, wiping down and disinfecting surfaces between customer transactions, and having hand sanitizer available for use.

Time does not stand still, and thus we find ourselves here at ABSW ready to shift gears for the winter holidays.  For this week, the hours of operation are:

MONDAY 11/23/20 THROUGH WEDNESDAY 11/25/2020: OPEN FROM 9AM TO 8PM

THURSDAY 11/26/2020: CLOSED FOR THANKSGIVING

FRIDAY 11/27/2020: OPEN FROM 6AM TO 9PM

SATURDAY 11/28/2020: OPEN FROM 9AM TO 9PM

SUNDAY 11/29/2020: OPEN FROM 9AM TO 6PM

These expanded hours are to offer you more choices as to when to shop safely, rather than crowding people together in more limited times and spaces.  In particular, we are opening extra-early on Friday the 27th, the day after Thanksgiving traditionally known as Black Friday, *not* because we’re offering “doorbusters” and extreme discounts at the crack of dawn, but because we want to give you the opportunity to shop at your own pace and your own convenience.  Longer hours of availability mean fewer customers in the store at any one time during the shopping day, which reinforces our safety and capacity measures.

And something that has also been a tradition here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester since 2011 is Small Business Saturday, scheduled this year for November 28th.   For the last several years on Small Business Saturday we’ve brought you multi-author “meet & greet” events spanning a wide range of genres.  This year presents its own challenges to that tradition, but we at ABSW are up to those challenge.

As we stated in our previous update, on Small Business Saturday between 10AM and 6PM, we’ll be running flash sales every hour on varying genres and applying an additional 10% to 30% off our already discounted prices. For example, here’s a sneak peek. From 1PM to 2PM, our flash sale will spotlight titles from our horror and Gothic fiction shelves and our religion, history and reference nonfiction shelves.

How will our customers know what enhanced discounts they’ll be receiving on Small Business Saturday? Any customers making in-store purchases on Black Friday will receive a special coupon with a discount code, good only on in-store purchases made on Small Business Saturday.

The final schedule for genre category sales will be announced on Wednesday, November 25th on our Facebook events page.

Have a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving holiday and, as always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on children’s book author Sheri Sinykin. I asked Sheri how she would like to be introduced, and to tell us a little bit about her writing. This was her wonderful response:

 

 

I considered myself an active writer from 1980 until 2006, when life and family propelled me in another direction.  Early in my career, I wrote stories for children’s magazines.  My first novel, SHRIMPBOAT AND GYM BAGS, was published in 1990, a month before my 40th birthday.  By that time I had collected 156 rejection letters, but I always felt if I gave up trying to publish, I’d never know if I could have made it.

 

During the 1990s, I published several novels for middle grade readers and I was lead author of the Magic Attic Club series of books that had associated dolls.  In 1997, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometrial cancer.  I worried that I would be too scared to take care of her at the end of her life, so I signed up to be a hospice volunteer.

 

Between 2001 and 2003, I earned my master’s degree in writing for children at Vermont College.  While I was enrolled, I worked on a manuscript that eventually became GIVING UP THE GHOST (Peachtree, 2007).  It was inspired by my mother’s battle with cancer, my love of New Orleans (where my middle son attended Tulane University), and my hospice volunteer work.  It was published a year after her death.

 

My only picture book, ZAYDE COMES TO LIVE (illustrated by Kristina Swarner; Peachtree, 2012) was inspired by the little Jewish girl inside me who wanted to know where a beloved relative “would go” after death.

 

 

 

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

 

 

In addition to local independent book stores like Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, my books can be found on Barnes and Noble or Amazon websites.

 

 

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

 

 

Early in my career, my novels usually involved a theme of self-acceptance—a character feeling out of place and wanting to fit in.  These were often inspired by my three young sons, who now have children of their own.  My most recent books grew out of my work as a hospice volunteer.  CALLING COBBER, however, was written over twenty years ago.  The original inspiration came from a haiku I’d scribbled in the margin of my notebook when an African-American author challenged us to write about our own culture, not hers.  What IS my culture? I wondered.  Aspects of my son’s bar mitzvah figured into the plot.  I marketed it for many years but was always told it was “too Jewish.”  Several years ago, I read about a company that was looking for books for Jewish boys and I submitted the manuscript.  An editor at PJ OUR WAY found promise in it and worked with me over a two-year period until it was accepted by their committee.  However, I needed to first find a trade publisher!  My editor at PJ agreed to shop it around for me as I no longer had contacts with editors in the industry.  A London publisher, Green Bean Books, accepted it within a couple of weeks, and CALLING COBBER was finally on its way to publication.  In Jacob (Cobber) Stern, readers will meet a boy whose mother has died, whose father works non-stop, and whose best friend is abandoning him, it seems, for Hebrew lessons.  Cobber’s relationship with Papa-Ben, his almost 100-year-old great grandfather, drives much of the plot, which features a magic show and a friend’s bar mitzvah.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

CALLING COBBER is set in the year 2000, so my biggest challenge was making sure it was accurate historically.  For example, how would Cobber learn magic tricks if YouTube had not yet been invented?

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

I usually find something to love in all my characters.  In CALLING COBBER, I especially love Papa-Ben because much of his personality and history mirror my own grandfather’s Russian immigrant experience.  Boolkie makes me laugh, and I love how Cobber keeps trying to get his needs met, despite many obstacles.

 

 

 

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

 

 

My best advice to other writers is to keep writing, as long as doing so fills your soul.  Love the process more than the results.  Don’t take rejection personally.  Remind yourself that each rejection brings you closer to eventual acceptance.  Take in critique and let it simmer before you respond.  If the suggestion makes your writing better, embrace it.  If not, let it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) is the best organization for anyone interested in writing or illustrating children’s books.  Each state or region hosts conferences or retreats (pre-Pandemic) where members can meet agents, editors, and other authors who share their experience.  Critique groups are also facilitated.  I met my first editor at an SCBWI conference.  For several years I was an SCBWI regional advisor in Wisconsin and was awarded lifetime membership as Member of the Year.

 

 

Thanks so much for answering our questions so thoroughly, Sheri!

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Canadian author, Caryn Lix, author of the YA Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction) Sanctuary series.

 

Hi, Caryn. Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

My name is Caryn Lix. I’m a middle school teacher and an author living in southern Alberta, near the Montana border. I love to write and I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I did a lot of freelance writing prior to Sanctuary, including a book for Reading A-Z and a lot of video game reviews, but Sanctuary was my first published novel.

 

 She also added: I love Japan and I’ve lived there twice (once right after university and once again just a while ago). I recently adopted a baby who is seven months old and amazing. I have the world’s most amazing three legged dog and the world’s most obnoxious boston terrier. I like to read, draw, play games, and devour sci fi in any form.

 

 

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

 

 

Absolutely check Annie’s first! But aside from that, just about anywhere: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chapters for you Canadian types, and lots of awesome indie bookstores.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I am most active on Twitter and Instagram as @missrithenay. I also have a website, www.carynlix.com. If you follow me on insta, you get lots of babies and dogs as well as book stuff, so… bonus!

 

 

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

I often describe the Sanctuary series as a love letter to the things I enjoy. It’s heavily inspired by all my sci fi faves: Alien, Firefly, even the old Star Treks I watched as a kid. There’s probably a touch of cyberpunk in there somewhere, and then a massive dash of survival horror culled from my favorite video games. I still remember playing the first Silent Hill game as a teenager (to date myself), and that moment when you enter a room of phones and none of them work. You give up and start to leave and suddenly the phone rings. The camera zooms in and the music changes and… that moment stuck with me so hard. I want to replicate the feeling of that moment for my readers, the combination of dread and curiosity.

 

 

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

Like most of my readers, I absolutely adore Mia and Alexei. Mia started out as a Pathfinder (RPG similar to D&D) character that I was playing and everyone else absolutely despised because she wasn’t a “team player!” I was like fine, you guys hate her, I’ll put her in a book. Of course, Mia took on her own life and by now is quite different from the original character I was playing, but I fell more in love with her every time she changed. I identify with her spirit and her stubborn refusal to give up even when faced with her own internal cynicism. And I loved writing Alexei alongside her because they’re such contrasts, both so strong in such different ways.

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

I am known for my ridiculous number of hobbies and activities. My husband says if I sit still too long I’m afraid I’ll vanish into the furniture! At various times I’ve dabbled in knitting, taiko, pottery, painting, drawing, cartooning, computer programming, martial arts, yoga, dance, and a whole lot of other things. I study Japanese, read books, cook, all the things. As for time, well…. Being a lifelong insomniac certainly doesn’t hurt, but I also just tend to rotate between the things I enjoy. I’ll go weeks where I’m reading voraciously and get through ten books but don’t touch a video game or do a lick of knitting. Then I’ll get really involved in a knitting project and suddenly I haven’t read anything in weeks.

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

Although it wasn’t related to writing directly, right after my second book, Containment, was published, I moved to Japan for a year to teach in an international school. What was really fun about that was getting to be there as both a teacher and as an author. I loved sharing my writing with my students (it was a bit old for them as I taught grade 4, but they were pretty excited to have an author as their teacher – way more so than my Canadian students!). I also got to talk to the middle school students about my book, find it in an international bookstore in Shinjuku, and now it’s been nominated for a Sakura medal, an award given to writers by international schools in Japan. So all of that was very cool!

 

 

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?

Oh yes. Yes. I do. I have a wonderful dog named Aleiah. She’s a three legged lab mix, and she loves to lie by me on the floor, my silent and constant companion, being wonderful.

Then there’s Archer. Archer is… a special little guy. He’s a boston terrier who thinks he’s a pitbull. We can’t go to the dog park anymore because of him, because he attacks every dog in sight. He’s twenty  pounds of pure anxiety. When I’m writing, he stands on his hind legs whimpering and pawing at me, because WHY IS HE NOT IN MY LAP. Eventually I sometimes pick him up and then he sits on me, perched uncomfortably but triumphant, and gets in the way while I try to type.

 

 

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?

If I had my way I would never not be eating ice cream. Ideally with cookie bits in it. For obvious reasons, I try not to keep it in the house.

Thanks so much for answering these questions for us, Caryn! Also, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester’s YouTube channel!

The nights are longer, you’ll find more leaves on the ground than on tree branches, and here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, seasonal changes are afoot.  We’ve been able to keep our sidewalk sale outdoors this week and weekend due to the lovely temperate weather, but we know that will soon give way to chillier days.

As the Northern Hemisphere moves into mid-autumn and approaches winter, we’re stocking up on new book releases and restocking many old favourite titles.  In addition, our selection of gift items continues to widen in range.  You’ll find kitchen towels, playing cards, leather journals, fridge magnets, jigsaw puzzles and more here at ABSW.  Keep an eye on our always-being-updated webpage.


November, even in the midst of a pandemic, is National Novel Writing Month. We have quite a few books on writing on hand for purchase, including Stephen King’s ON WRITING, Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, and John McPhee’s DRAFT NO. 4.  While we cannot physically host our “Come Write In” weekly gatherings this year, there are plenty of local resources to keep your spirits high and your words flowing.  Please check out the page for NaNoWriMo: Massachusetts: Worcester.

NaNoWriMo

 

 


Our publisher specials for the month of November are FORTUNE AND GLORY by Janet Evanovich, the 27th Stephanie Plum mystery, just released in hardcover, and FIVE PHOTONS by James Geach, dealing with the astrophysics of one of the basic “building block” particles that enable us to observe the known universe, now available in paperback.  Both titles are discounted at 42% off their original prices and are available for purchase in-store as well as via mail order

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And here’s a sneak peek at our upcoming December publisher specials, which can be pre-ordered and reserved for you:

  • THE WATER DANCER [paperback] by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • DEADLY CROSS [hardcover] by James Patterson
  • HOW THE KING OF ELFHAME LEARNED TO HATE STORIES [hardcover] by Holly Black
  • READY PLAYER TWO [hardcover] by Ernest Cline
  • CAT KID COMIC CLUB [hardcover] by Dav Pilkey
  • LET US DREAM [hardcover] by Pope Francis 

The offerings on our Youtube channel continue to grow, between author meet&greets and storytimes, and more! Check us out and let us know what content you’d like to see.

In the wake of the November 6th announcement of the 10pm to 5am curfew imposed by the Governor’s Office, we at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester stand by our decision to postpone any of our in-person gathering events that would exceed fifteen [15] persons, such as book signings, the Spinning Yarns textile social, the Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts book discussion group, our school vacation/holiday craft sessions, and our big annual DOCTOR WHO celebration.

However, supporting local businesses in the time of COVID-19 is more important than ever, so this year we’ll be putting a new spin on Small Business Saturday.

Rather than hosting genre-themed author appearances as we have done in the past, on Saturday, November 28th from 10am to 8pm we’ll be running a sequence of hour-long flash sales, each flash sale focusing on particular genres, discounts ranging from an additional 30% to 50% off our usual sale prices.  Thus, for example, a new history title retailing for $28.99, with our usual discount of 30% off retail, may suddenly be discounted 60% to 80% off retail.

When will these specific genre sales be during the day?  Stay tuned and keep an eye on our Facebook events page.  We’ll announce the final schedule on Wednesday, November 25th to give you time to plan your holiday shopping.  

Thank you as always for making our shelves your destination.

Best,

Patty and the staff at ABSW

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on YA Author Ellen Schreiber. Ellen is the NY Times Best-selling author of the Vampire Kisses series and the NY Times Bestselling manga—Vampire Kisses—Blood Relatives. She is also the author of the stand alone books, Teenage Mermaid and Comedy books and The Once in a Full Moon series.

 

What was the inspiration for Vampire Kisses? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

The inspiration for Vampire Kisses came to me in three phases. A character, an obsession, and Johnny Depp! Lol.

I saw some goth girls swinging on swings one day in the middle of summer. I liked the image of the dark clothes against the bright sunshine. I also wanted to write about a fearless girl, rebellious and headstrong. So I combined both the image and the personality into Raven. Then, I thought she’d be obsessed with something and it popped into my mind, ‘Vampires!’ At the time, in the late 1990’s, the books and movies I was familiar with in that genre were blood thirsty vampires. I wanted to write about the eternal love part of the vampire—why a vampire desires and needs to bond with someone for eternity—and who that would be. So that is how Alexander’ began.

 

Then I thought about Johnny Depp! And I had my mysterious and hot, romantic vampire! 🙂

 

 

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

 

 

 I loved writing the character of Raven. I got to run around in cemeteries and explore haunted houses and do all the fearless things I could never imagine doing in real life. I also loved writing Alexander, as he was so romantic and a perfectly handsome soul mate for Raven. But for sure, Trevor Mitchell, was my most surprising character. I wanted Raven to have some romantic tension with a guy in the beginning of the book and knew that Alexander wouldn’t be appearing in the novel right away.

 

Before I wrote the first Vk novel, I’d just met a guy while waiting for my plane at the airport. He had piercing green eyes and perfectly blonde hair. I decide to use him for the image of Trevor and that is how I began his character. Trevor was supposed to be a minor character in the book, but he kept coming back when I’d write another scene. Scene after scene, he kept popping up and tormenting Raven. It happened so often, that he wound up becoming a main character in the novels and plot points throughout the series.

 

 

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?

 

My favorite part is writing, just sitting down and letting the characters tell their story. I love to get in the zone and have the characters speak and act as they move within their world and react to each other. I am so happy when I can be creative and not worry about anything else but what I’m doing at the moment. And being published, I was so lucky that my editor has always allowed me to be part of the cover design decisions. Meeting her and having that relationship and friendship has also been amazing. And it has been overwhelming to see the books in a store and meet readers at book signings. Every part of the writing process has been exceptional, but meeting the readers who respond to Raven so dearly have been something that I never imagined and they’ve been so inspirational to me, as well.

 

 I also like to go to schools and libraries and talk about the process of writing and publishing. It is really exciting to see young writers so enthusiast about writing and help them to overcome such things as writers block.

 

 

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

 

Just enjoy writing.

 

You can spend months or even years writing a book. And if it is published, you spend a lot of time promoting the book, so you want to enjoy the work itself. Also, I think it’s a good idea to share your work with someone you trust to give you honest and useful advice. It is best to have the work cleaned up as much as possible before sending it off to an agent or publisher and friends, family, or professional editors can be very helpful.

 

 

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

 

 

I love playing superheroes and mermaids with my kiddos. They are so much fun and so creative. They  keep me busy so I write when they are in school or have gone to bed. And I’ve learned so much from them and what their interests are and what is cool to them. I also love to shop at Target and collect funKawaii things that inspire my writing.

 

 

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

 

 

When I’m writing Vampire Kisses, I usually had spiderweb tablecloth on my desk underneath my desktop computer or a spiderweb placemat underneath my laptop. I also would paint my fingernails black. It helped me get in the mood. I like to also decorate the room with pictures and have figures around me—vampires, etc, or mermaids depending on the book.

 

 

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

 

 

That my books were first published in Europe. My brother had several novels published in Europe and when I wrote my first book, Johnny Lightning, he showed it to a publisher in Antwerp. They published it and that is how I was first published. I was so happy to be published! But when the book came out, it was kind of odd because I couldn’t even read them because they were in Dutch, or see them in the European book stores. It took a few more years to get published here in the US. Then I could see the novels on the bookshelves and read them and it was really thrilling! 🙂

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

 

One of my favorites was working on the VAMPiRE KISSES manga series. I love reading manga and when I Was offered the opportunity to turn the Vampire Kisses series into a manga, I jumped at the chance. It was so cool to see the characters and the town of Dullsville come to life! The artists were amazing and so talented. I also had to write new stories and new characters in the manga series, so it wasn’t just an adaptation of the original novels.

 

It was really exiting to have a whole new gang of vampires and write those new characters’ stories. I also loved the process of collaborating with the artists and seeing the characters transform from sketches, to color, to final artwork. It was truly a magical experience!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 I usually write to music—80’s to modern. I play the same song obsessively over and over again. Then I’ll find another that I really like and play it till I can’t hear it anymore. 🙂 It helps get in the mood of a scene that I am writing.

 

 

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

 

 

The editing part I think is the hardest. Before it goes to publication, I tend to obsess over every word or punctuation. But I know I just try to make a decision on what to cut or keep and move on. It is like getting a haircut—trimming up the loose ends to shape it up.

 

 

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

 

 

SCBWI is a great organization. They have workshops and events where new writers can meet published writers, agents, and publishers. They also have a column where they announce the latest news in the publishing business. That is how I found out about sending my book, Teenage Mermaid,   to an editor at HarperCollins who was looking for new authors! And that is how I began being published in the US! 🙂

 

 

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

 

 

Yes! Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester totally rocks!!! Readers can also find my books online at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and Target.com and other independent bookstores such as Jospeh-Beth Booksellers and Books-a-Million.

 

Readers can also find the novels at their local libraries.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

You are so sweet! You can follow me on FaceBook-Ellen Schreiber and twitter @ellenschreiber. And my website is http://www.ellenschreiber.com

When in doubt, try ellenschreiber Lol!

 

 

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

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction author Leife Shalcross. Leife will actually introduce herself, and tell you a bit about her writing, but one thing to note – I believe that she may be our first Australian author!

Here is her introduction:

 

 

Hi! I’m Leife Shallcross, author of The Beast’s Heart. I’m a hopeless fairy tale tragic – I have loved reading them since I was tiny. I’ve also had a bunch of short stories published. One of them, Pretty Jennie Greenteeth, won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. I’ve got a couple more coming out in the next few months, both of them fairy-tale-themed. In 2018, I co-edited an anthology of short Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror stories, A Hand of Knaves. I live in Canberra, Australia, with my partner and two teenage kids and an elderly disaster of a King Charles Cavalier.

 

 

 

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

 

 

There are links to my short stories on my website at https://leifeshallcross.com/

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I’m mostly online on Twitter (@leioss) and Instagram (@leife.shallcross). I have a very neglected FB page and a blog, but I don’t’ update them very often. *guilty face*

 

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Beast’s Heart?

 

 

I write fantasy, dark fantasy and a little bit of soft science fiction every now and then. I really love beautiful words and lush language, and I have a real weakness for stories where the story world is so vibrant and alive it’s almost a character in itself. So that’s what I try to achieve with my work! I use fairy tales and folk tales a lot, because I could not get enough of them as a child and this seems to have done a lot to shape the landscape of my imagination. My favorite kinds of books are the ones you can really get lost in, so that’s what I try to write. Someone once asked me to describe what I do without using words like “author” and “writer”, and I came up with: I create portals to other worlds where people can lose themselves for a little while.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

So much research! For this book it was mostly the historical details like what clothes they wore and what food they ate. I had to research 17th Century French wedding traditions (people got married on the steps outside the church door, not at the altar!) and answer questions like did fireworks exist? One of the most interesting things I found out was that in 17th Century France forks were not yet in common use. There are a fair few scenes in my book with people sitting down to eat together – but you won’t find forks mentioned in the book anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Like I said earlier, my favorite kinds of books are the ones you can really immerse yourself in and forget there’s a whole world out there of COVID-19 and day jobs and cleaning the stove and paying car insurance and… I’m also really drawn to stories that contain an element of wonder at their core. This might be beautiful writing or an unusual setting or the nature of a relationship between two of the characters. But I’ve most often found this sense of wonder in fantasy and science fiction books. I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction growing up, and that’s where my imagination really lives. I spent a long time waiting to grow up and write Serious Literary Fiction before I realized that I really just wanted to write fairy tales about curses and secrets and thorns and magical kisses. So here I am.

 

I also love the way fairy and folk tales provide such strong cultural touchstones. I find these traditional tales are endlessly malleable and can be reshaped again and again to give us new stories and show us new truths, while at the same time they have these deep, deep roots that offer up layers of meaning to explore. I draw mostly on the British and Western European tradition of fairy and folk tales for my work, because that’s the body of folklore I am familiar with, but I love exploring traditional tales from other cultures. It’s just endlessly fascinating.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Find yourself a writing community! Whether it’s online or through your local writers’ center, finding other writers who get what you are writing is really important. Writing is a lonely business, and the right (ha! See what I did there!) community can cheer you on and keep you sane, and also provide critique and feedback on your work and help you develop as a writer. Something no one tells you when you start out writing is just how crazy weird the publishing industry is, and how important it is to understand how that industry works. Actually being able to string words together to create a story really is just half of what it takes. Finding a writing community and building networks with more experienced writers – or writers who just have experienced different areas of the industry to you – is incredibly useful. (And don’t forget to pass on your own insight and experience to newbie writers when you become one of the old hands.)

 

 

 

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

 

 

I am working on a couple of new novels (but I write very slooooowly, so it’s taking ages.) The first one is a Young Adult novel which is a reimagining of Cinderella, where she has faked her father’s death to get him out of his marriage to her horrible stepmother. She then discovers her stepmother is involved in a plot against the throne and, as they say, shenanigans ensue. The other is a historical fantasy for adults set in 18th Century London. It’s got a runaway, cross-dressing, orphaned heiress and a dissolute Viscount and magic and murder and angels and demons. It’s kind of a love letter to one of my favorite writers, Georgette Heyer, and enormous fun.

 

Thank you for having me!

 

 

Thank YOU for taking the time out of your busy day to answer our questions, Leife!

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Kit Marlowe. No, not Christopher Marlowe of the Elizabethan era, but Kit Marlowe, who in her words is “a writer of historical fiction with humour and usually fantasy.” Kit also writes fiction under other names, such as K.A. Laity and Graham Wynd.

 

The first question I asked her was, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

Kit-Marlowe.com and I have a Facebook page, too: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKitMarlowe/

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

The Facebook page is usually good for updates but the website has links to everything that’s out as it comes out. The Mangrove Legacy will be out very soon!

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

 

 

THE MANGROVE LEGACY: A gothic novel of mystery, romance — and pockets!

Mysterious deaths, highwaymen, ghosts, pirates—and a surprising variety of cheeses!

Kidnapped from Lord Mangrove’s funeral cortege, cousins Alice and Lizzie get spirited away by masked criminals, then sold to nefarious seamen until they’re captured by pirates without so much as an improving book to read! The two intrepid young women discover romance, heartache, mysteries, and the vital importance of pockets.

I also write an ongoing series of ‘Absolute Twaddle’ which is just nonsense poetry. Just being silly; most of it inspired by odd image I find in the British Library.

 

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

 

I originally wrote this as a serial at a time when life was terrible and I worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to write fun things. I was wrong. There is always time for fun. Make time for your own fun.

 

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

 

I have always loved spooky stories. Since childhood I was fascinated with ghosts. Reading gothic stories as an adult made me realise there was a whole genre that was fun but sometimes so over the top you had to make fun of it, too. Like Jane Austen did with Northhanger Abbey.

 

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

 

In the coming months I am relaunching the Medieval Adventure series which is based on actual medieval tales. The first couple are based on tales by Marie de France, who despite that name was (probably) living in the court of Henry II. In the Middle Ages ‘romance’ meant adventure. These are fast paced fun stories, not weighty tomes. I do love a weighty tome, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you want something more breezy. Actual medieval tales tend to be compact.

 

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?

 

Tea is a must. I am so lucky that my beloved understands and supports this habit, often bringing me tea while I am writing which is a wonderful way of saying ‘I love you.’

 

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

 

Write to please and entertain yourself. That way at least one person is happy. You really can’t do anything about the rest of the world. It’s all a spin of the roulette wheel as to whether anyone else cares. We’re living in particularly perilous times but as a medievalist I can say history shows us many perilous times even worse than this. Protect the ones you love, stay hopeful and laugh as much as you can.

 

Thanks for answering all our questions, Kit. Good luck with your writing in the future!

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Young Adult Fantasy and Historical Fiction author Amber Lough. I happened to meet Amber at one of our Zoom events, and she very kindly agreed to answer our Author Spotlight questions for us. I first asked her to tell us a bit about herself, and this was her response:

 

 

I’ve wanted to be a writer since 2nd Grade, but my first job after college was in the USAF. After a tour in Iraq, I decided to leave the service and put my energy toward writing novels, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I am a world traveler, a learner of languages, and a lover of the sea. I’m also a wife, a mother to two kids, caretaker of two cats, and a gardener.

 

 

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

 

 

OPEN FIRE can be found at all booksellers and online, but Indiebound and Book Depository are good places to go to first. After that, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

You might also find it in your library!

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I spend too much time on Twitter (@amberlough) and Instagram (amberlough), so that’s the first place you’ll find me. Twitter is where I talk about writing and my personal life, and Instagram is where I post pictures of cats, my garden, and places I travel.

 

 

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

 

 

I write both fantasy and historical fiction, but my stories are all ones that I deeply care about. OPEN FIRE has a character who doesn’t know what she wants all the time – just like me, just like many – and yet she is forced to make a decision that sometimes doesn’t sit right with her. My books aren’t all sunshine and roses, because I try to tackle some hard themes while also (hopefully) making the story exciting to read.

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

SO MUCH research went into the writing of OPEN FIRE. For starters, I bought about 50 nonfiction books (ok, maybe 8) about Russia in WWI, the Women’s Battalion of Death, the Russian Revolution, etc. Then I asked a friend I met on Twitter to meet up with me in Russia so we could both research for our books. Elizabeth Wein and I spent several days in St. Petersburg (with a foot of snow on the ground!) for me and a few days in Moscow for her to research her nonfiction book about Russian women aviators in WWII, A THOUSAND SISTERS. It was the best trip of my life, to be honest. We talked about it here (https://lernerbooks.blog/2020/02/elizabeth-wein-and-amber-lough-on-women-soldiers-in-world-wars-i-and-ii.html).

 

 

What was the inspiration for Open Fire? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

I started writing OPEN FIRE because I was so frustrated that in all of the Russian history classes I took in University, in all the Russian and military history stories I’d gobbled up my whole life, I had never heard of the Women’s Battalion of Death. Of course, that’s because the stories of women throughout history are often forgotten or brushed aside. Worse, some are mocked or said to be more legend than truth. I was insistent that their story be told outside Russia, particularly for an audience that might want to hear about strong, determined women who are willing to die to change the world. At one point, I was asked to add a fantasy element to the story to make it more palatable to a wider audience, but I put my foot down there. I love fantasy–especially historical fantasy—but I didn’t want to blur the lines between legend and truth here. Their story had to be as accurate as can be (for a novel), because they were certainly real women, and not so different from us.

 

 

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 drawn to historical fiction because I want to understand how we ended up here. Diving into a really good historical novel brings the reader into that time period, so they can get a realistic glimpse of it – not as some exotic experience but as a communication between the past and the present. Only then can we see our similarities to people in the past and understand why they did what they did (however horrible), and how easily it could happen again. I think a lot of readers go for the journey, but some are there for this same reason—to understand our current era better.

 

 

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

 

 

For me, it’s scraping out time in the calendar to focus on my writing – and then protecting it to the teeth. As a mother, I often found myself brushing my writing time aside as though it was an afterthought. It’s not an afterthought—it’s vital to me, to my mental health, to my goals in life. And I want my children to see that it’s acceptable to put boundaries on your time like that. That said, there are obviously emergencies. But all in all, I’ve learned that if I don’t write down exactly when I will be writing each week, the time will suddenly fill up with things I need to do for other people and when the week is over, I’ll have written practically nothing at all.

 

 

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

 

 

Certainly! I joined SCBWI when I first started writing seriously, in 2007, and it helped me tremendously. I’m still a member here in Germany, and it’s how I found other writers (who write in English). Community is incredibly important to us writers, because we spend so much time writing alone. We need the network and support of other writers.

 

Thanks so much for answering our questions for us, Amber!

As the year 2020 progresses and COVID-19 continues to influence many of our daily activities, we here at the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside continue to monitor the safest ways of conducting business for our customers and our staff.

Today’s COVID-19 Dashboard for Worcester County

To that end, contrary to what we stated last week, we will be postponing some of regular in-person events indefinitely. Specifically, we are putting our weekly Spinning Yarns social and our monthly DOCTOR WHO meetup back on hiatus until further notice.


We do have events scheduled for this weekend, two virtual, one in-person.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday October 17 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with picture book author Josh Funk, creator of the LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST series!

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.

IN-STORE EVENT, Saturday, October 17 at 6:00PM –Rainbow Readers Monthly Meetup! The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is a LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month.  The title for October, IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bedard, is available for purchase either in-store or via our website.

Please RSVP by phone at 508-796-5613 so that we may observe capacity guidelines.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, October 18 at 2:00PM – Zoom Meet&Greet with Vermont thriller writer S. Lee Manning, author of TROJAN HORSE!     

Please register on Eventbrite! Further details can be found there.


In the meantime, we still have plenty to offer you as Worcester’s independent full-service bookstore.

  • Check out our Youtube channel! We have author interviews and Halloween read-alouds all queued up for you.
  • We offer gift certificates in any amount, either for purchase in-store or via mail order.
  • And speaking of mail order, we are happy to ship purchases anywhere in the United States. The base shipping and handling cost for USPS Media Mail is $4.50, whether it’s for one book or for twenty books. Other items can be shipped via USPS First Class Mail or USPS Priority Mail, and shipping via UPS is also available; please inquire about costs via telephone or e-mail.

Our October publisher specials are flying out the door like witches on brooms! THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury and DON’T TURN OFF THE LIGHTS, an anthology tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s time-honoured SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, are each discounted 42% from retail price.

In addition, we’ve put a number of spooky and horror-themed graphic novels on sale at extra discounts for this season of frights and screams. Check out SUPERNATURAL LAW, OVER THE GARDEN WALL, GHOSTBUSTERS, and more!

Thank you for making our shelves your destination.

Best,

Patty and the Staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

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