Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

Cindy Baldwin Pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Middle Grade Author Cindy Baldwin. Cindy is the critically acclaimed author of WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW (an Oregon Spirit Book Award Honor, Indies Introduce, and Indie Next title) and BEGINNERS WELCOME.  As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter.

Beginners Welcome is scheduled to be released on February 11. I asked Cindy where people could find her work  (Besides Tower Books –though they should totally check here first!), and here was her answer:

I love pointing readers to one of my local indies, AnnieBlooms.com, where they can order signed and personalized copies of my books! I also highly recommend readers use IndieBound.com to find independent bookstores near them. Otherwise, my books should be available just about anywhere books are sold!

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

You can find me on Twitter @beingcindy, on Instagram @cindybaldwinbooks, and on Facebook at fb.me/cindybaldwinbooks.

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

I love writing books that are grounded in the real world, but have just a little bit of something magical. In my first book, Where the Watermelons Grow, that’s bees that make magic honey. In Beginners Welcome, it’s the fact that even though Annie Lee’s daddy died unexpectedly a few months ago, his presence is still clear in her apartment—his shaving cream appears in the sink every morning, his record player plays his favorite songs without being turned on, his coffeemaker starts to brew his favorite blend even when it’s empty. Magic also appears in the form of Ray, the pianist Annie Lee befriends, whose music makes magic lights appear that only certain people can see. There’s something that’s really compelling to me about this blend of reality and magic; it always feels like a reminder that life is bigger than we sometimes realize, and that even when we’re really struggling, magic is all around us.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Beginners Welcome?  How did you overcome that challenge?

Beginners Welcome was a really hard book for me to write. A big part of that is because it’s the first thing I wrote after accepting a publishing deal with HarperCollins for Where the Watermelons Grow—which means it’s the first thing I wrote while trying to deal with reviews, sales numbers, and the ups and downs of publishing a debut novel. Because Where the Watermelons Grow was really well-received in a lot of ways, I spent a lot of time worrying that nothing else I could write would ever measure up! Ultimately, I had to keep putting my head down and doing the very best that I could with the story I was working on, without letting myself be distracted by other things. I had to just accept the doubts and worries I felt and keep writing anyway, trusting that at some point, I would feel better. And I did! Thanks to the brilliant guidance of my editor, Alexandra Cooper, I was able to take the raw material of the book and revise Beginners Welcome into something I love deeply and am very proud of.

Beginner's Welcome

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

I always tell people that I love to write middle grade because I really like child psychology, and the time between age 10 and age 13 is an especially fascinating one. It’s during those years that you really start to recognize the world around you as being both bigger than you realized, and more separate from you. You’re trying to figure out how you fit into everything—your community, your family, your friend groups. It’s a time of heightened emotions, and a moment where you’re not really a kid anymore, but you’re not quite an adult, either. So many middle graders are caught in a space of wanting to be treated like a grown-up, and developing enormous maturity and responsibility—but also having things that they love from childhood and don’t want to let go of. I love exploring all those tensions and questions in my books. And, in a big way, I always find myself writing books for the kid I used to be: a kid who had some pretty big challenges and often felt lonely and isolated because of them. A kid who really needed reassurance that even if things were hard, and even if my life looked very different than my friends’ lives, I still had value and I still could find great happiness.

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

Find writer friends! Very few writers are able to make it without having a vibrant and supportive writing community. This is important for things like craft improvement, because talented critique partners can be the difference between a book finding an agent and not—I firmly believe that one of the reasons I found representation for Where the Watermelons Grow and not the books that I had queried previously is because I had finally found several critique partners who challenged me and were strong in the ways I am weak. But writer friends are also important because whether you’re a hobbyist who just wants to write for fun, or you someday become a published author, writing can be a very emotionally taxing calling. Publishing, in particular, can be brutal, and you’ll need people around you who understand what you’re going through and can lift you up when you’re down.

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

I wouldn’t necessarily say this is something that most people don’t realize about me, because I’ve become increasingly open about this on my social media over the last few years. But I’m disabled and chronically ill, and that’s something that I’ve recently tried to share more publicly. For a lot of years, I knew I wanted to be an author, but was not sure if I could manage to make a writing career work with my health challenges. It wasn’t until I saw a couple of published authors talk about their own disabilities that I felt like maybe there really was a path forward for me. You can’t be what you can’t see! In so many ways, my health issues—especially cystic fibrosis, a serious genetic disease I was born with, which requires extensive daily maintenance—have informed and shaped both the things I write about and the structure of my writing life. My biggest wish would be that children and adults who follows my career and worries that they may not be able to make it as a writer because of their own unique challenges will be able to find hope in the things I’ve shared.

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us, Cindy!

 

Steven Popkes pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Speculative Fiction author Steven Popkes.  I asked Steven to tell us about himself and his writing, and this was his response:

My father was an engineer with the heart of a poet. My mother was a writer with the heart of an engineer. So I became a science fiction writer.

My day job is as a software engineer in aerospace. Right now I’m working on the Dream Chaser vehicle intended to supply the ISS.

 

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

Annie’s first, of course. For the ebooks, first would be bookviewcafe.com and second, Amazon. The print versions are available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Annie’s is clearly the first choice.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I have a blog I keep up regularly. (http://popke-blog.blogspot.com/) In addition, since I do most of my publishing with bookviewcafe.com, that’s a good place to go. They also have a newsletter.

 

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

I’m interested in how human beings navigate novel situations. Simple Things is a story collection so there is a broad swath of things that happen to people and how they deal with them. Welcome to Witchlandia looks at what is now called “paranormal” and back in the seventies was called “psionics” in the context of athletic or cognitive ability. It’s a crime novel. Crime novels are interesting in the way they allow you to take characters out of their comfort zone.

 

witchlandia cover

 

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?

Welcome to Witchlandia is deeply embedded in both Boston, Massachusetts and Columbia, Missouri. (Part 1 is in Columbia. Parts 2 and 3 are in Boston.) Since the main character has the ability to fly, her ability comes under FAA rules. I’m a pilot and this was very interesting to me. However, I could only reference a few aspects of flight in the book.

Simple Things is a story collection and covers a lot of ground. One story, Jackie’s Boy, involves a young boy and an intelligent elephant navigating a post-apocalyptic landscape. They end up at (or near) the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Given their environment, I couldn’t explore the sanctuary there. However, it is a wonderful place and I happily shout out to them now: http://www.elephants.com

 

simple things cover

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

I have a new novel, God’s Country, coming out in July. If you were to ask the question what do recreational drugs, the discovery of a higher beings, prostitution, cults and biochemistry have in common, the answer would be God’s Country.

 

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

I do a lot of woodworking and gardening. Like anything else, you have to make time for that which (or who) you love.

 

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

Music without words or words in a language I don’t know. I listen to a lot of Japanese pop music.

 

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

 

 

It’s another very, very warm week outside the doors of our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside. We have a heat advisory warning effective through Tuesday night.  But inside our doors we are happy to offer shoppers a refuge from the scorching temperatures.

sun2

We are now fully open for shopping, but are observing a capacity limit of fifteen [15] persons.  We continue to ask that you call ahead before bringing in large amounts of books for donation or store credit; a bag of ten to twenty books is fine, but multiple cartons are difficult for us to handle at this time, due to space and manpower concerns.

A reminder of our summer hours, which are:

MONDAYS THROUGH THURSDAYS: 10AM TO 8PM 

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS: 10AM TO 9PM

SUNDAYS: 10AM TO 6PM


An important change from our last update.  Due to technical difficulties, we will be re-evaluating which of our events will be hosted in-store and which will remain virtual ones, between now and the end of 2020.  But we continue to work towards bringing you a full assortment of events and store specials for you to choose from.


Our curbside and mail order service remains a viable choice for those of you concerned by the current COVID-19 map.

Many thanks to everyone who continues to show their support for Worcester’s full-service independent bookstore.  We are grateful for your patronage.

May your world be full of wonderful words!

RaeAnne Thayne

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on contemporary romance author RaeAnne Thayne. When asked how she wanted to be introduced for this blog, and to tell us a little bit about herself and her writing, this was her response:

 

I’m RaeAnne Thayne and I write heartwarming small-town stories about real people struggling through life’s inevitable challenges to find their happy-ever-afters.

 

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

 

My books are generally available anywhere and readers can see what’s new and upcoming at my website, http://www.raeannethayne.com

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I have a newsletter which can be found at my website (www.raeannethayne.com/news) and I’m active on social media. I’m most present on Facebook @Author RaeAnne Thayne and can also be found on Instagram and Twitter at @RaeAnneThayne .

 

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

 

I write heartwarming, emotional small-town contemporary romance about real people going through difficult things. My latest book, SUMMER AT LAKE HAVEN, offers gorgeous scenery, puppies, a heroine who sews wedding dresses and a sexy single dad British hero who tries hard to do the right thing. This is the final planned book in my Haven Point series and features a heroine who has appeared as a secondary character in most of the previous books. I was thrilled to finally have the chance to tell Samantha Fremont’s book!

 

Summer at Lake Haven

 

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

 

As Ian Summerhill, my hero, is a fisheries biologist, I researched many obscure facts about Kokanee salmon in this book. If you ever need to know the difference between anadromous and non-anadromous salmon, I can help you out! I loved learning about migration patterns of these amazing fish. I also studied a lot about being a puppy mom, which was so fun. Our family got an adorable new dog during the writing of this book but she was almost a year at the time of adoption and was past most of the problem behavior in puppies, fortunately. It was still fun to read about puppy behavior and watch YouTube videos.

 

What was the inspiration for Summer at Lake Haven? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

I knew from the first book in the series that I wanted to eventually write Samantha’s story. It took me all other ten books in the series before I could come up with a hero for her and I loved Ian Summerhill from the moment I thought of him. I actually plotted this book more than two years ago with friends at our annual beachhouse plot group (with Jill Shalvis, Marina Adair and Skye Jordan) and had to write three other books first before I could get to Sam’s story. By the time I started to write it, the characters felt like old friends.

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Summer at Lake Haven?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

This was the final book in the series and it’s always hard to say goodbye to a series I have loved as much as Haven Point. In the last book, I knew I had to revisit all the previous people whose stories I have told. This book was more than just Samantha Fremont’s story. It also had to be a farewell of sorts to the couples in ten other stories. It was tough to manage all those people in the relatively small space of one novel. Also, while I was writing a story about a heroine who was a dressmaker sewing a wedding gown, I realized I had never written the story of the bride-to-be. I knew my readers would be asking about Gemma Summerhill, the hero’s sister who is marrying her hero, Josh Bailey. At the last minute, I decided to write a novella for Josh and Gemma to satisfy those inevitable questions from my readers. The novella is included in both the digital and print versions of the book.

 

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

 

The world sometimes feels ugly and mean, especially for those who spend time on social media. While we might have dozens (or hundreds) of “friends” in our virtual network, sometimes it feels as if we are hungry for true human connection. I think small town books remind people that community still matters, that neighbors can still help neighbors and that kindness and compassion are desperately needed in our world.

 

 

RaeAnne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! 

 

Jennifer E pic

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fantasy Author Jennifer Estep (pronounced Eee-step). Jennifer will be in on our Zoom event on Saturday, July 25 from 7 – 8 PM, so don’t miss it! Details on how to join the event are on the Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester Facebook Events Page.

 

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

 

Hello, My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author.

 

 

My most recent book is Crush the King, book #3 in my Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. I’m also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series. I’ve written more than 35 books, along with numerous novellas and stories.

 

 

In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, doing yoga, and reading fantasy and romance books. I also watch way too much TV and love all things related to superheroes.

 

 

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

 

Indie bookstores for the win! J

 

Any indie bookstore should be able to order my books, and you can also find them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Audible, and all the other usual online book retailers. Most of my books/series are available as ebooks, print books, and audiobooks.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

For the latest news on my books, readers can visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow me on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for my newsletter. Here are some more places to follow me online:

 

Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/

 

Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstepAuthor?fref=ts

 

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep  (@Jennifer_Estep)

 

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580315.Jennifer_Estep

 

Newsletter signup: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-jennifer/newsletter/

 

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jennifer-estep

 

Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2QeDW4j

 

 

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

 

 

My books contain a little bit of everything—action, adventure, magic, danger, and romance. I write in first person, and my books usually focus on the heroine—who she is, what her goals are, etc. Basically, my books are just fun, fast-paced action-adventure stories where the heroine saves the day and get the guy in the end.

 

I also love writing fight scenes, and I enjoy describing/talking about food in my books. So don’t read them while hungry. LOL.

 

 

What was the inspiration for Crush the King and your Crown of Shards epic fantasy series? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

I’ve always wanted to write an epic fantasy series, ever since I started reading epic fantasy books back in high school. Over the years, I tried several times to write an epic fantasy book, but it just never quite clicked for me.

 

Then, a couple of years ago, I was talking with my agent about coming up with a new series, and I decided to try writing epic fantasy again. I thought about the things that I do best as a writer—first person point of view, fight scenes, food talk, etc.—and started thinking about what kind of fantasy world would let me showcase all those things. Eventually, I settled on the idea of having Evie, my heroine, become a gladiator so she can save her kingdom from her evil cousin, and my Crown of Shards series just took shape from there.

 

 

CTK

 

 

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

 

A SENSE OF DANGER will be released on Thursday, Nov. 12. This book is for Audible Originals, so it will only be available as an audiobook. I will be self-publishing the ebook/print book versions at a later date.

 

I’m hoping to self-publish Elemental Assassin #19 sometime in spring/summer 2021.

 

Also, CAPTURE THE CROWN will be released in summer 2021. It’s the first book in a new trilogy that is set in my Crown of Shards world. CAPTURE THE CROWN is set about 15 years after the events of CRUSH THE KING and focuses on a grown-up Gemma Ripley (from PROTECT THE PRINCE).

 

PTP

 

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 reading and talking about books, as well as doing yoga, spending time with friends/family, and watching movies/TV. Also, as a result of spending so much time at home this year, I decided to try a paint-by-numbers kit. I loved paint-by-numbers kits when I was a kid, and it’s been really fun to get back into that. Plus, it’s a great way to relax at the end of a long day of book work.

 

For me, it’s really hard to find a good work/life balance. As an author, there is always something to do, whether it’s writing a new book, doing social media, etc. So it can be difficult to turn off the computer and do something else, but I’m trying to get better about making more time for myself and doing the things that I enjoy doing.

 

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

 

I have a pretty basic setup—a laptop, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I also have a large dry-erase board that I use to keep track of monthly deadlines.

 

But I do have some fun stuff too, including a Wonder Woman mug and a collection of Captain America Funkos. I also have a spider-themed knife that one of my friends gave me in honor of the Spider, aka Gin Blanco, the heroine of my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. J

 

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

 

I always joke and say that I need “dead freaking silence” to write. LOL. I’ve tried to write to music, but I usually just end up tuning it out, so I write in silence.

 

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 will often snack on gummy bears or some other sugary treat while I’m writing/editing/working. Happy reading, everyone! J

 

 

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

We’d like to start off this week’s Events Buzz with a huge THANK YOU.

Thank you to our customers and friends; thank you to our staff; thank you to our wholesale and publisher suppliers; thank you to our author colleagues.

You’ve all borne with us in these uncertain times over the last few months, and we are very grateful for your support.  This little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside would be impossible to continue without you.  We are thrilled to see everyone again in person.

party

With the transition to Phase 3 issued by the Governor’s Office on July 6th, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is pleased to announce that we are now fully open for shopping, but are observing a capacity limit of fifteen [15] persons.  We continue to ask that you call ahead before bringing in large amounts of books for donation or store credit; a bag of ten to twenty books is fine, but multiple cartons are difficult for us to handle at this time, due to space and manpower concerns.

We have resumed summer hours, which are:

MONDAYS THROUGH THURSDAYS: 10AM TO 8PM 

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS: 10AM TO 9PM

SUNDAYS: 10AM TO 6PM

Not everything is back to normal, however.  We will be re-evaluating which of our events will be hosted in-store and which will remain virtual ones, between now and the end of 2020.  But we DO plan to bring you a full assortment of events and store specials for you to choose from.


Those of you who were not able to take advantage of our curbside and mail order service when we were closed to the public, or who were unable to make a shopping appointment during the earlier MA reopening phases, may have missed out on our monthly publisher specials.  These are deeply discounted, even above and beyond our usual offerings.

July’s specials are SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay and THE FAMILY ROMANOV by Candace Fleming. Our previous specials between April and June, all of which are still in stock, include:

  • REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD by Ann Patchett
  • THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix
  • QUEEN OF THE UNWANTED by Jenna Glass
  • WOW, NO THANK YOU: ESSAYS by Samantha Irby
  • UNDONE by Glennon Doyle
  • TIME AND AGAIN by Jack Finney
  • I’M STILL HERE BY Austin Channing Brown

All are discounted between 40% and 44% off retail price.


We had a WONDERFUL time with mystery / suspense authorJ.A. Jance on Zoom this past weekend.  Our thanks to the author and to everyone who logged in.

Upcoming events at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside:

IN-STORE EVENT: Saturday, July 18 at 6PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses BEHIND THESE DOORS by Jude LucensThe Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month. All are welcome! Please call 508-796-5613 to RSVP.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, July 19 at 2PME. C. Ambrose [Elaine Isaak]! This author goes by two names – but writes wonderful fantasy stories under both of them. Elaine’s THE SINGER’S LEGACY series and E.C’s DARK APOSTLE series capture your imagination, as will her talk on her newest books. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday, July 25 at 7PMJennifer Estep! This bestselling author of many urban fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, an epic fantasy, and even a paranormal romance series will talk about her latest books. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday, August 8 at 2PMMary Robinette Kowal!! Mary Robinette Kowal is the Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of the Lady Astronaut series and historical fantasy novels, an award-winning puppeteer who even worked for Jim Henson Enterprises, and a voice over actress, who reads her own audio books! Come meet this fascinating lady speaking about her newest book THE RELENTLESS MOON. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

IN-STORE EVENT: Saturday, August 8 at 6PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE by Kaia SonderbyThe Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month. All are welcome!  Please call 508-796-5613 to RSVP.

 


Again, as always, thank you for your understanding, your patronage, and your support of Worcester’s independent full-service bookstore.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

JA Jance credit Mary Ann Halpin Studios

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Halpin Studios

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Mystery author J.A. Jance.  J.A. will be joining us for a one hour Zoom event tomorrow, Saturday, July 11th at 2:00 PM, so don’t miss it! Details are on Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester’s Facebook Events page.

I asked her to tell us about herself and her writing, and how she wanted us to introduce her, and this was her wonderful response!

Please introduce me as J.A. Jance.  My name is Judith Ann, but when my first publisher realized I was writing first-person police procedurals, they decided no one would read a book like that written by someone named Judy.

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

My books are in stores and libraries all over the world.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?


I have a weekly blog that is published on my website, http://www.jajance.com, each Friday.  The blog provides a window on my world and often deals with the complexities of writing and living.


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


I write murder mysteries, usually with a distinct sense of place.  The Joanna Brady books are set in southeastern Arizona where I grew up.  The Walker Family books reflect what I learned during the years I worked as a school librarian on the Tohono O’odham reservation west of Tucson.  The Beaumonts span the nearly forty years I’ve made my home in Seattle, with some of the early ones—written in the mid-eighties—now considered historical fiction.  The Ali Reynolds books are usually set tin and around Sedona, Arizona, one of my favorite places on the planet.


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?


Because the intended murder victim in this book is an archbishop in the Catholic Church and because I am NOT a Catholic, I had to do a good deal of research.  I was surprised to learn that there are no eulogies in Catholic funerals.  I also discovered that non Catholics are allowed the sacrament of confession.


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


Archbishop Francis Gillespie has been a character in the background of the Ali Reynolds books since book number five.  This is Ali # 15.  The only way to find more about him was for me to write a book about him.  It turns out he’s exactly the kind of straight-arrow guy I always thought he was.


What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Credible Threat?  How did you overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge was finishing that book on a tight deadline in order to write the next Joanna on an equally tight deadline, something that was made more difficult by one of our little dogs severely injuring her back and spending the better part of a month as a paraplegic with me as her primary care giver.  Then Coronavirus came along and both of those deadlines became meaningless as pub dates were delayed. 

Credible Threats cover

 

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


The character I love most is always the one I’m writing about next as opposed to the one I’m writing about NOW!

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


I’ve always loved mysteries and it was only natural that I would write them.  I think readers like to enter a world where the bad guys really do get what’s coming to them.

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?


One of my favorite parts is going on the road and meeting my readers.  Meeting my readers is also why I answer all my own e-mail.  I like to know how what I have written has been received.  I’ve heard from readers who have told me that Beau’s struggle with alcohol has helped them with their own sobriety issues.  And I have always LOVED going on book tours.  I’m saddened that, for now at least, book tours and speaking to large venues of any kind are activities that are off the table.

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


When I purchased my first computer the guy who sold it to me fixed it so that when I booted up in the morning, these are the words that flashed across the screen:  A WRITER IS SOMEONE WHO HAS WRITTEN TODAY.  Those are words that inspired me when I was still and unpublished writer, and they are words that inspire me now.

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


I like to write about places I know and I’ve spent very little time there.  And my goal in writing the Walker Books was to bring reservation life alive to people who would never set foot in Arizona.  That said, a character from Great Barrington, Massachusetts plays an important role on one of my Joanna Brady books, Remains of Innocence.

 

 

 

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

Question: What would be your dream job?

Answer:  Being a writer has always been my dream job and I’m so fortunate that I get to live my dream.

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


I’m working on the next Ali Reynolds book right now.  Being in lockdown hasn’t fueled my creativity, but I’m gradually thinking my way into my book.  In my experience, writing books takes more thinking time than it takes writing time.

 

 

 


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


Four years and a half years ago, I weighed in at 265 and wore size 26 pants.  That year at our annual physical our doctor said that unless my husband started walking, he’d be in an electric cart within two years.  Knowing he would regard a cart as tantamount to a death sentence, we started walking the next day.  It took time to work my way up to 10,000 steps (around five miles) but I did it, and I walk those steps almost every day.  According to the pedometer on my phone, as of today, I’ve walked 7,542,739 steps.  I’ve also lost 60 pounds and am wearing size 16 pants.  Not bad for someone who didn’t start exercising until half-past her 71st birthday.

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


Addiction?  I’d have to say walking.

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

I am more than six feet tall.  I have long legs and long thighs.  My office is my laptop on my lap.  Right now, I’m working in the family room.  If it were warmer, I’d be out on the back porch, preferably with a long-haired dachshund pressed against my leg.  In our family I write the books; my husband writes the checks.  In other words, he handles the business end of the business, but the truth is, I couldn’t do what I do if I had to do what he does as well.

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

They’re always surprised by how tall I am.  “You don’t look that tall on your book covers,” they tell me.  That’s because, on book covers, I’m usually sitting down.

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?


Last year at an event in Newport News, Virginia, I got to meet one of my idols, Lt. Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter.  It has been an incredible blessing to get to know Joe and his wonderful wife, Kathy, and for the four of us to become friends.

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


When I’m writing I have to listen to classical music.  If I’m doing easy listening music, even if there are no lyrics on the air, the lyrics to all those old songs are stuck in my head, and they get in the way of my being able to write dialogue.

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 companions are a pair of long-haired miniature dachshunds, Mary and Jojo.  Jojo is happy to tuck herself into the chair beside me and snooze away.  Mary, on the other hand, does NOT like electronic devices of any kind.  She will come up to me and literally move my fingers off the keyboard, all they while delivering reproachful looks.

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?

COFFEE, always black and never decaffienated!


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


Starting a book.  How do I get over it?  I keep writing.


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


If I can start a book, I can finish it.


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

Sisters in Crime is an organization that has addressed and continues to address the still remaining disparities in the reviewing of female authors’ works as opposed to male authors’ works. With over sixty books in print, and despite the fact that I’ve made the New York Times Bestsellers List countless times, I’ve been reviewed by them one time only.


Thanks so much for taking so much time out of your busy writing day to answer all of our questions, J. A. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

 

 

Josh G Pic - Credit Mindy Tucker

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author and Comedian Josh Gondelman.  He used to write for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and now he’s a writer/producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime.  His debut essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results is out now!

Question number 1: Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)

You can find my stuff at www.joshgondelman.com where you can order my book or listen to my standup albums, and you can see some things I’ve helped to write and produce by watching Desus & Mero on Showtime!

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I try to update the website pretty frequently, but for the most up-to-the-minute Josh Gondelman news, follow me @joshgondelman on Twitter and Instagram.

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

Honestly, I usually describe my sensibility as “friendly,” which I do think sums up a lot of what I do, but doesn’t give a lot of detail beyond the general vibe. I write all sorts of different comedy things from tv (Last Week Tonight, Desus & Mero) to short humor pieces for The New Yorker, to standup for myself. Nice Try is my first essay collection, and it’s full of personal stories told in a way that I hope people will find funny and pleasant. I really wanted to write a book that would be a delightful and comforting (and funny) reading experience. I mean there are ideas and themes, but my #1 goal was for people to read the book and come away thinking: “What a lovely time that was!”

Nice Try Cover

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process? 

The best best part of being a writer is getting to meet people I admire and learn from them up close and hear the kind of little secrets and preferences and works in progress that you get to experience when you’re in a room with someone and not reading their beautifully composed work or seeing their public-facing interview answers to questions. (I’m sorry that’s what these are!) The other best part is when people read something I’ve written and say “I’d never thought of it that way!” or “Ahh! Yes! I agree with you, but I’ve never been able to put words to that idea!” That is very gratifying too!

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

Oh wow that is big! I don’t know that I would tell other writers how to do their jobs, but one thing I always appreciate in writers is when they are fans of writing! Being a reader is so important, just to develop, but I think being a fan is part of being a good community member. Like, sure you could read in a cave and never tell anyone the great things you’ve learned. But it’s so generous and helpful to champion the work of other people. It’s so refreshing when people are enthusiastic about others’ work and don’t try to be cool. (This isn’t a rare quality, but it is one that is a bummer when people don’t have it.) In that spirit: I’m really enjoying Danny Lavery’s upcoming book as well as Super Pumped, the book Mike Isaac wrote about Uber. And I can’t wait to read Samantha Irby’s new essay collection!

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

SO IMPORTANT! Not that everything I write takes place in New England, but growing up in Massachusetts was so formative for me in ways I’m still realizing. Growing up in this nexus of academic culture and sports culture felt like my brain was always on the edge of a warm front and a cold front colliding, and I think it helped me develop a diverse set of interests and vocabulary. And for better or worse I have a very New England work ethic, where when I see people on Instagram vacationing my brain instinctively goes why are they not at work??? Plus, I’m very loyal to Dunkin’ Donuts.

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

I wish I had more fascinating and esoteric pursuits, but my favorite things to do are to see live music and watch basketball. Seeing a band play is the best way I know to take myself out of my working/writing brain and just enjoy something for an hour or so. I’ve gotten much better at just grabbing tickets to a concert when I see them on sale instead of going back and forth about whether I might be busy that night, or worrying about who might come with me. If I don’t schedule fun stuff on my calendar, I’ll just fill all my time with work stuff, which is not healthy, so I make sure to really intentionally clear space in advance to see a band or a play or have a nice dinner date with my wife! (Also, outside of writing, I have accumulated a collection of sneakers that is bordering on problematically large.)

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?

Yes! My wife and I adopted a senior pug a few years ago, and she is very helpful with the writing process. She’s a great listener and never offers cruel judgements on my ideas. But also just having a dog gets me out of bed to walk her and gets me out into the world when I’d otherwise sit and stew and procrastinate all afternoon sometimes. It’s great to have a schedule imposed on my by a furry little tyrant who doesn’t know how to use a toilet. (There’s a long essay about her in the book, too!)

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

July is just around the corner, and here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, we are proud of our independence, and we continue to bring in new titles and to plan new events just for you.

turningcalendar

We are hoping it means that Phase 3 in the reopening plan for the state of Massachusetts will commence on July 6th. For now, we continue to be open by appointment only, to offer customers private shopping time to be able to have the run of the store, in blocks of either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, for one to six persons at a time. PLEASE CALL IN ADVANCE AT 508-796-5613.  Appointment blocks are available from 11am to 6pm Monday-Friday, and from 11am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

[Yes, this means we will be open on Saturday, July 4th, and hope to have our sidewalk sales carts out for additional shopping fun, weather permitting.]

We also please ask that you make an appointment before dropping off books for donation or for trade credit, since we currently do not have a full staff.

Curbside pickup options remain available for prepaid orders; again, please call 508-796-5613 to make arrangements. In addition, please take advantage of our mail order service – we ship parcels nationally and worldwide, and have done so for more than ten years.


Even in this most unusual of years, many of our local elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools have suggested summer reading lists, and we are proud to offer a large selection of titles and choices for our community of students. Keep an eye on our website for an index of books available.

In the meantime, for those looking for a fun read, please check out our fresh releases and recommended favorites!

Many thanks to our guests William Kent Krueger, author of THIS TENDER LAND, and Sarah Beth Durst, author of CATALYST, during their virtual book talks this past Saturday and Sunday on Zoom.  We appreciate everyone who joined us online!

 


Upcoming virtual events at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside:

Saturday, July 11 at 7PMJ. A. Jance!! The creator of the Ali Reynolds books and other mystery / suspense series joins us to talk about the newest release CREDIBLE THREAT. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

Sunday, July 19 at 2PME. C. Ambrose [Elaine Isaak]! This author goes by two names – but writes wonderful fantasy stories under both of them. Elaine’s THE SINGER’S LEGACY series and E.C’s DARK APOSTLE series capture your imagination, as will her talk on her newest books. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

Saturday, July 25 at 7PMJennifer Estep! This bestselling author of many urban fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, an epic fantasy, and even a paranormal romance series will talk about her latest books. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

 


Again, as always, thank you for your understanding, your patronage, and your support of Worcester’s independent full-service bookstore.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

adam Stemple headshot

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fantasy Author Adam Stemple. When asked how he wanted us to introduce him, this was his response:

 

My name is Adam Stemple and I am a writer, poet, musician, and web designer.  I primarily write fantasy, but I’ve also sold a few historical and literary stories.

 

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

 

You can find my work in your local independent book store! They’ll probably even order it for you if they’re not currently shelving it!

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

adamstemple.com, patreon.com/adamstemple, @adamstemple4 on twitter, instagram.com/adamstemplebooks

 

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

 

I primarily write fantasy. Dark and urban when I write on my own, YA and middle grade when I write with Jane Yolen (my mother!). My latest book is the rare collaboration with JY that isn’t for kids. The Last Tsar’s Dragons is a novella put out by the wonderful Tachyon Books. We took the Russian Revolution, and added dragons.

 

Adam and Jane

 

What was the inspiration for  The Last Tsar’s Dragons?  What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

The Last Tsar’s Dragons started life as a short story in The Dragon Book, a collection of short stories edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. It’s a fun collection with the likes of Dianna Wynne Jones and Gregory Maguire adding stories to the mix. We felt like we had more to tell, and pitched it to Tachyon as a novella. Expanding a short story is an interesting task. We added another viewpoint character and a small framing device while fleshing out the characters that were already in the story. I felt that by lengthening it, we were really able to explore some thematic elements—the corruptive nature of power, for one—that there just wasn’t room for in the shorter form.

 

Last Tsar's Dragons

 

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

 

The character I loved and hated were the same: Rasputin. Just a fascinating, wicked man who you hated, but loved to write.

 

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

 

Anyone who tells you how to write is just trying to sell you something. If they tell you what works for them and suggest you try it, then they’re worth listening to.

 

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

 

My only award-winning book, Pay the Piper (Tor), which won the 2006 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book, was set in Western Massachusetts. Coincidence? I think not.

 

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

 

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