Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

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!

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on contemporary romance author Mona Shroff. Mona has always been obsessed with everything romantic, so it’s fitting that she writes romantic stories by night, even though she’s an optometrist by day. If she’s not writing, she’s making melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles or riding her bike or doing her favorite thing, reading.  Alone time is precious, but Mona is just as likely to be raising a glass of wine or her favorite gin and tonic with friends and family. She’s blessed with an amazing daughter and a loving son who have both gone off to college. Mona lives in Maryland with her romance loving husband and their dog, Nala.

My first question for you, Mona, is where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

My books, THEN, NOW, ALWAYS and THEN THERE WAS YOU are available at Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble , as well as many independent bookstores a (which I recommend supporting!) and of course Amazon.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I am fairly active on IG (@monashroffauthor) and FB (Mona Shroff, Author), and a little active on Twitter (@monashroffwrite)

 

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

 

I write contemporary romance that is heartfelt.  My latest release, Then There Was You, is a story about hope. We follow Daniel and Annika, two people who have had horrible things happen in their lives, as they find a way to let love in, and allow themselves to be happy.

 

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

 

I did a lot of online research for Daniel as an ER nurse. But I met a flight helicopter medic and emailed her ALL THE TIME and she was a huge help!

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Then There Was You?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

For me the biggest challenge is getting that first draft out. I overcome that by talking out my characters and the story with a friend. It helps me solidify where I’m going with the story. Getting a book out in the middle of a pandemic is definitely challenging – so I’m doing as many virtual events as I can!

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Writing/Reading romance, you are guaranteed a happy ending. I love that. I love writing the journey of how couples will find love with each other. At times, it may seem impossible, but it always is!

 

 

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 use words to evoke emotion. If I can get you to laugh or cry or root for my characters, then I’ve done my job . The publishing process is hard for me, but I do like getting my book out to people so they can read it.  That’s the point, right? My greatest lesson is also my piece of advice for other writers. Persevere. Get a thick skin and believe in yourself and your work. There are so many opportunities along the journey for rejection, trying to get an agent, then a publisher, then readers, etc. that you have really believe in yourself to keep going, because some days, it can be really hard. But consider this – if you don’t believe in yourself and your own work, then how will anybody else?

 

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

 

I have my third book with HQN coming next year. It’s a story about an Indian female firefighter and a veterinarian – and I’m really excited about it. I also have two more books coming out next year from Harlequin Special Edition.

 

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 to bake. Before I started writing, baking was my creative outlet. Now, it’s my relaxation. I also enjoy hiking with my family and friends. And visiting wineries. But I don’t think that’s considered a hobby! 😉

 

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 have a rescue dog, Nala. She is our covid dog. We adopted her since we are home for shut down, and I love having her around. We are empty nesters, so it’s nice having her company while I write.

 

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

 

I need coffee and water for sure. If I’m drafting – I NEED peanut m&m’s.  Like NEED, NEED!

 

Thanks so much for the answers to our questions, Mona! I also look forward to hearing more answers from you in our interview on March 18th, which will be posted on Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester’s YouTube channel.

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on science fiction author Michael Mammay. He is a retired army officer who has always had a desire to write but never really had the time while he was serving. His first novel, PLANETSIDE published in 2018 and the second two books in that series published each subsequent year. They are mysteries set in military science fiction environments and feature a crusty old protagonist named Colonel Carl Butler. Now he writes full time from his home in Savannah, GA, where he lives with his wife.

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


Pretty much anywhere you buy books. Although if you’re into audio books, I definitely recommend that version, as it’s narrated by the incomparable RC Bray.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on twitter @MichaelMammay, have an author facebook page @MichaelMammay, and my website is MichaelMammay.com

 

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

 

The PLANETSIDE series follows Carl Butler, who is a Colonel nearing retirement in book 1. The military calls on Carl to do one last job – investigate the disappearance of a politician’s son in a distant war zone. When he arrives to the war zone, evidence starts to disappear and it becomes clear that all is not as it seems, and people he thinks are friends might be covering things up. To find the answers, he heads Planetside into the combat zone. Books 2 and 3 aren’t exactly sequels, but the events of the first book still resonate and several of the characters come back. The books have a little bit of a detective/noir feel crossed with elements of military science fiction. They tend to appeal to both science fiction fans and thriller readers, especially fans of something like THE GENERAL’S DAUGHTER by Nelson DeMille or the Jack Reacher series.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

A lot of what went into PLANETSIDE came from my last tour in Afghanistan, and veterans of that war or people familiar with it will likely recognize some similarities. I also use my military experience in general to bring realism to the characters and their interpersonal relationships. I try to write realistic military characters and have them interact the way that professional soldiers really do.

 

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

 

When I was in the military, I had a conversation with a friend of mine (who happened to be a senior officer) and we were talking about great army leaders – the kind of people where if they asked you to do something, you’d do it without question because you trusted their leadership. And that led me to the question: What if that person wasn’t as trustworthy as you thought? And that was the genesis of PLANETSIDE.

 

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

 

Carl Butler is the main character, and I do enjoy writing him, but I think my favorite character is from the first book – Colonel Elliot. I like her because she was never supposed to be an important character, but then I was writing a scene where Butler was supposed to come in and run over her and get the information he needed to continue his mission, and Elliot absolutely wasn’t having it. Like the character almost wrote herself, and the whole thing came out in a way that I never anticipated. And she became a much more important part of the story.

 

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 of writing is after I’ve got a first draft, refining it and adjusting parts of it here or there to make the whole thing work. With stories containing mystery, the whole thing is like an intricate puzzle, and when some of the pieces of that come together, it’s a great feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Other writers are an asset, not your competition. You can’t get better without sharing your work, and the best people to help you get better are other writers.

 

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

 

I left Southern New Hampshire when I was 17 to attend West Point, and I really haven’t lived in New England since, though I’m still a fan of all the sports teams from there. I’d go back and visit my parents, of course, but now they’ve moved south as well, so I don’t make it back that often.

 

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

 

 

What science fiction books do you love? Wow! What a great question. Thanks for asking. I try to read about forty books a year, and about 30 to 35 of those will be books published in the last two years. I think it’s important to know what the genre is doing and who is taking it to new and great places. (The other 5 to 10 I dedicate to going back and reading important works from the past that I missed). Some books I’ve loved from the last few years are NOPHEK GLOSS, by Essa Hansen, THE RAGE OF DRAGONS, by Evan Winter, and the Murderbot series by Martha Wells. I also read everything that NK Jemisin writes—I think she’s the best sci fi/fantasy writer working in our generation. There’s also a debut Sci Fi book called THE LAST WATCH (by JS Dewes) coming out in April, and it’s fantastic.

 

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

 

My fourth novel is already written and in the editing process. It’s tentatively called MISFITS and will be out from Harper Voyager in February of 2022. It’s my first novel that is not in the PLANETSIDE series. It has a younger cast, more military action, and is a bit lighter in tone than my first three books.

 

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

 

I work with a lot of developing writers and teach seminars from time to time. It’s just something I enjoy and happen to be pretty good at.

 

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

 

I have an office, in a very real and legally tax-deductible way. Basic desk, basic desktop computer. It’s the only place that I write. It’s usually messy, as it’s the only room in the house that my wife doesn’t control.

 

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

 

That I have grandchildren.

 

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

 

Absolute silence please. I get easily distracted, which is not helpful to getting words on the page.

 

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

 

My wife has a cat. The cat and I have a good relationship—I don’t mess with her, she doesn’t mess with me. The only time she interferes with writing is when it’s dinner time and my wife isn’t home. She’ll come to my office door and just meow at me until I get up and feed her.

 

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?

 

Bourbon, unfortunately, isn’t particularly helpful to the writing process. I usually keep a big cup of water on my desk. You should drink more water.

 

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

 

Writing on days where you don’t really feel like writing. If you’re going to be a pro writer, you’ve got to write even when you don’t want to. Because deadlines are deadlines, and you can’t miss them too often or you won’t have a job anymore.

 

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

 

That there’s always more to learn. That’s probably a cop-out, but it’s true. I’ll give you another one. Story structure. Learning the structure of a novel absolutely got me to the next level with my writing. Understanding structure leads to better pacing, which makes for a better book.

 

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

 

I came out of a program called Pitch Wars (You can read all about it at Pitchwars.org) and I now mentor there. It’s a contest that pairs developing writers with an established writer mentor. The mentor advises the newer author on their book, helps them revise it, and then they present it in the agent showcase. (Note: The agent showcase for this year literally starts tomorrow (2/10), though my mentee’s entry is not in it as she already found an agent for her book).

 

 

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

 

Yesterday was Read Across America Day.

At present, we are sold out of nearly all our Seuss books, including the discontinued six – And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry StreetIf I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer

We had our usual traffic last week, with parents and educators purchasing Seuss in preparation for Read Across America Day. Today’s announcement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises, made jointly with Penguin Random House, saw us selling through what we had.

We checked with our wholesalers, and they too have sold through.  It seems that we will not be able to restock the discontinued titles in any quantity at present.  We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Very truly yours,

Patty Cryan

Hello and welcome to the windy, blustery month of March! We’re still all bundled up here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, but we’re already thinking SPRING! It’s the season of new books and new beginnings, and we hope to bring those and more to YOU, our customers who have supported us so loyally over the years.


A new month brings a new cycle of publisher specials, where we deepen the discounts on our already-discounted titles on a select few highlighted releases. The following four titles are currently in stock at a discount of 42% off retail prices…

  • DARK SKY by C. J. Box – the newest Joe Pickett suspense novel [hardcover]
  • KLARA AND THE SUN by Kazuo Ishiguro, a new literary novel by the Pulitzer Prize winner [hardcover]
  • DUSK, NIGHT, DAWN: ON REVIIVAL AND COURAGE by Anne Lamott [hardcover]
  • BECOMING by Michelle Obama [paperback]

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Later this month, we’ll be offering two more specials, which are now available for pre-order: the paperback release of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens, and THE DANGEROUS GIFT [WINGS OF FIRE 14] by Tui Sutherland.


Spring also means the return of Daylight Savings Time and longer hours of sunlight. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour this coming weekend!

The flowers will be emerging and the birds returning; we’ve got a great selection of gardening and nature books for you to celebrate the longer days.


The reality of COVID-19 has been with us for more than a year now, and has made many changes in our personal lives as well as how we do day-to-day business here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. We still encourage people to use our mail order service; the shipping and handling fee is only $4.50 whether your purchase is one book or twenty books!

While the Governor’s office has started to relax the guidelines for indoor gatherings, we expect to continue to offer virtual events for the foreseeable future. Have you subscribed to our Youtube channel? If you haven’t, here are some of the great question-and-answer sessions we’ve had with authors like Mary Robinette Kowal, Ben Aaronvitch, Zetta Elliott, Steven Barnes, Alexandra Ivy, Marc Cameron, and Sue Miller.

Upcoming interviews will feature speculative fiction author Cerece Rennie Murphy, poet Curt G. Curtin, speculative fiction author SL Huang, contemporary romance author Mona Shroff, historical fiction author Pam Jenoff, and more!

In tandem with our Youtube Q&As, we have posted interviews with authors, illustrators, editors and other creators each week right here on our blog on Fridays! Check out our archive going back to 2012, and stay tuned for future interviews with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kim Harrison, Susan Wiggs, Stuart Woods, and a host of others.


As Worcester’s full-service independent bookstore, we will continue to bring you the best selection of new and used titles, as well as gift ideas.

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

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

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on cozy mystery author Sofie Ryan. Or is it Sofie Kelly? Maybe I better let her tell you.

 

 

 

The first question I asked her was, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

 

 

I write two cozy mystery series. The Second Chance Cat Mysteries as Sofie Ryan, and the Magical Cats Mysteries as Sofie Kelly. I live on the east coast, I’m married and have one adult daughter. People are always surprised to learn I’m a bit of a math geek. It was my favorite subject in school. And while I’ve been writing since I was a kid—I won a prize in a poetry writing contest in third grade—I didn’t aspire to be a writer when I grew up. I wanted to be a TV director, move to Hollywood and marry Michael Cole from the Mod Squad.

 

 

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

 

 

People can, of course, find my books in Annie’s Book Stop and in bookstores everywhere. The books are also in libraries all over North America and I like to tell readers if you like either or both series, please suggest them to your local bookseller or librarian.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

The best way to learn about my books is to visit my website www.sofiekelly.com and subscribe to my newsletter. The sign-up is at the website. You’ll be able to find out when the next books in each series come out and my husband organizes some fun giveaways.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

My favorite part of the research for Undercover Kitty was going to a cat show. I had so much fun. There were cats everywhere I looked and their owners were so friendly and so happy to answer all of my questions. Before the show I didn’t really understand how the judging process worked. It made a lot more sense watching the judges do their job than it had reading about it, and there was always someone nearby willing to explain what the judge was looking for and why one cat was ranked higher than another.

 

One of the most interesting things I learned was that calico cats aren’t always female.  Male calico cats are rare but they do exist and instead of having one X chromosome and one Y, they have two X chromosomes and one Y. I had no idea. I’m planning on using this piece of information in a future book.

 

 

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

 

 

Maine is one of my favorite places to visit. Everything that’s been said about Mainers being so friendly and welcoming has been true in my experience. They’re always happy to talk about their state. No one has ever made me feel I was a bother or being too nosy. (Writers ask a lot of questions!)

 

 

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

 

 

Hooked on a Feline, the next book in my other mystery series, the Magical Cats Mysteries, which I write as Sofie Kelly, comes out in September. These books feature librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two cats, Owen and Hercules, who have some very unique skills. For this book I got to hang out in music stores and pick the brain of a friend who is a musician. It was a lot of fun indulging my rock and roll fantasies. Plus I got to kill my endodontist, the man who has done two root canals on me. He’s a very god sport and he was very happy to play the victim in a book.

 

 

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

 

 

I used to work in radio and for a big chunk of that time I was a late-night disk jockey. I learned a lot about music. I met some fascinating and eccentric people. And I learned how to sleep anywhere, anytime!

 

 

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

 

 

I like to cook and because I enjoy it so much it’s not a challenge to make time to do that. And I do have to eat. I make everything from brownies to soup to sardine crackers for my friends’ cats. The first time I make something new I’m pretty good about sticking to the recipe, but after that I tend to start tinkering with the ingredients. What if I added this? What if I changed that? It drives my friends crazy because when they ask for the recipe for something I’ve made it always comes with a list of addendums.

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Sofie! They were Purrfect!

 

 

 

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