Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

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Lynsay Sands

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Lynsay Sands.

I asked Lynsay to tell us a little bit about herself and her writing, and here was her wonderful response:

 

My name is Lynsay Sands and I’m the author of the Argeneau series and many hysterical historicals (as my readers tend to call them). I have written over sixty books and twelve anthologies, which probably tells you I really enjoy writing. And I consider myself very lucky to have been able to make a career out of it!

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

 

Other than Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester <G>… readers can find my books at most brick and mortar bookstores (Chapters, etc); online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc); Sci-Fi bookstores; stores that display mass market bestsellers (Walmart, drug stores, grocery stores, etc); Audible; iBook; Kobo, etc.

Online store links… http://www.lynsaysands.net/books/argeneau/immortalangel.html

Amazon… https://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Angel-Argeneau-Lynsay-Sands-ebook/dp/B0839LVDS2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1585452693&sr=8-1

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

LOL… you can follow me on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, newsletter and email. They’re all listed below!

Website: http://www.lynsaysands.net/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Lynsay-Sands-125138040836322/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynsaySands

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lynsaysands/

Tumblr: https://lynsaysands.tumblr.com/

Newsletter: https://sibforms.com/serve/MUIEAC4iIar0Pw8qQUY3Vf94qN9dGob6KVlkTqf7t5S9c3UZoYtbQDa0SbtOEYJX4xLBI8RjFscIxrV0YQT7n55kS4KNZkiXz75kDaFXMCDVfcC6jG9WA34G1nMixVHSjr7VPnjjz_Ui6l2CKFakay0y1NHlzks4TBb4gmSmjLgcEOPkN6qlwjUUKbUqs__MqrMYJ-PVRYQXQcTI

Email: lynsay@lynsaysands.net

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

With the Argeneau series, they can expect an action-packed, fun adventure where the two main characters turn out to be life mates and fall head over heels for one another as they solve a dilemma. And, of course, family and/or friends end up helping them out along the way. The story always starts with a bang and usually ends with a bang as well.

With my Highland Brides series readers can expect an action-packed, fun and funny adventure that inevitably ends up with a wedding and maybe a bairn, or two (or even three 😱) by the end of it. And their family and friends, especially the Buchanans, help them through as they get to know one another.

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

 

The escape from reality and the guaranteed happy ending. Life is full of enough depressing and sad stuff. I like getting away from it to somewhere that I know there will be happiness at the end, that all those struggles and the heartache suffered is paving the way for a happy ending. Guess, that makes me a sap, but . . . oh, 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?

 

The stories are my favorite part. I love finding out what’s going to happen, and that really is how it goes for me. I know a lot of authors plot their stories and know what is happening before they type the first word, but I can’t write that way. The few times I’ve tried to plot first, I just couldn’t write the stories. They were already there in my head, like a movie I’ve already seen or a book I’ve already read. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. So, I tend to start with a scene or character who pops into my head and then I follow the characters around to find out what the heck is going on and where it will all end . . . and quite often, the characters surprise me. I’ll think they’re going to do one thing, and they suddenly take a sharp turn and do something entirely different. I love when that happens! It means the characters have kind of taken on a life of their own in my head.

As for my greatest lesson in the journey so far. . . Well, it’s that everyone isn’t going to like my stories. Or me for that matter . . . and that that’s okay. It doesn’t make my stories bad if someone doesn’t like it, any more than it means there’s anything wrong with me if they dislike me. I don’t like everyone I meet, or every story I read either. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ve learned that I shouldn’t worry so much about what others think. All that noise out in the world, the anger, the put downs, the insults and so on. . . That isn’t really a reflection of me so much as a reflection of those people, and as long as I can face myself in the mirror every day and know I’m a good person doing the best I can . . . shrug . . . That’s what’s important.  

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

Write what you love and enjoy, not what you think will sell or what seems hot right now. If you love it, that will come out in your writing. And if you are just writing what you think others want to read, that will show too. Readers want the real deal; not fake stuff and they can tell the difference.

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

 

Book # 31 in my Argeneau series, Immortal Angel, comes out September 29th. This is about Ildaria and G.G. We first met G.G. in Marguerite’s story, Vampire Interrupted, and then again in Elspeth’s story Twice Bitten. Now it’s GG’s turn and the decision is his on whether to accept the rare gift fate has given him, a true life mate, or fight it like he has his family all these years. As for Ildaria, we met her in Vampires Like It Hot where she was one of Vasco’s most fearsome crew members. Having been on the run for so long, she has a talent for dealing with bad guys, and won’t hesitate to come to the aid of the defenseless. Unfortunately, this skill has also garnered her some unwanted attention forcing her to relocate to Toronto. Luckily there’s a job opportunity there and a potential life mate. Readers have been asking after G.G.’s story for a while so I’m happy to say it’s just around the corner!

And Book #9 in my Highland Brides series, Highland Treasure, will be coming out January 26th! This is Rory Buchanan’s story, another character readers have been asking after for quite some time. Rory is the second youngest Buchanan brother and a renowned healer. When he was younger he always had his nose in a book but as you can see by the cover, Rory is all grown up now. Also I think this story has the largest subset of secondary characters of any of my stories… an entire town! LOL

Book #32 in my Argeneau series, Meant To Be Immortal, is set to come out April 27th. This is about Mac and C.J., two new characters to the scene. Mac Argeneau is one of Katricia’s brothers. (Just to remind readers who Katricia is, she’s Teddy Brunswick’s life mate and lives with him in Port Henry with Elvi and the gang). Anyway, Mac has just moved to a small town not far from Port Henry. No one knows him there so it’s strange that arson would be the first thing to happen to his new home. And CJ is a no nonsense CSIS agent who’s there to investigate a list of complaints against a local officer. However, due to a shortage of manpower, CJ’s been asked to help out by looking into the local fire as a possible arson case and Mac quickly discovers he can’t read her.

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

 

Jeez, how long do you have? LOL. I usually try different projects between books, like learning to play piano and guitar, trying embroidery, etc. But, when there’s time, I like solving logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and lately I’ve been getting into the monthly boxed mysteries (The Deadbolt Mystery Society boxes have been good so far, but found the Finders Keepers boxes to be a bit boring.) Of course I love to read and enjoy discovering new authors and series. I enjoy video games but need to find some new ones. And I have a couple of Bouviers, a Bichonpoo, a Lab and German Shepherd, not to mention a hubby, that need love and attention too so life is pretty busy.  

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

 

I tend to read a LOT, especially when I’m gearing up to write the next book. And if I’m working on the next book in a series then I often will reread the books preceding it or those that had something to do with the characters I plan to write about.

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

 

LOL. My writing space tends to be in a perpetual state of organized clutter!

Before I begin writing I have a tendency to clean my office. Top to bottom it’s got to be spic and span clean! And then I reorganize all the items in and on my desk and the shelves around it. I also have my writing troll sitting somewhere beside me at all times and then I take all that nice neatness and completely wreck it while writing. By the time I’m done the space looks like a tornado hit it. There will be countless half empty coffee cups, my own books with sticky pad notes sticking out of them, plates with toast crumbs on them, and whatnot on my desk, plus crumpled up wads of paper, and a landslide of printed up manuscript pages with edits marked on them everywhere on the floor surrounding my chair. That’s where I throw them once I’ve entered the edits into the computer. It’s very satisfying. Another page done. Ping, it hits the floor. Of course, it’s less satisfying when I hit send on the computer to email it to my editor and then have to gather all those pages together again, but . . . oh well.

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

 

Well I don’t tend to do radio, podcast or video interviews but it’s not because I don’t want to. This may come as a surprise but I can be painfully shy, which I guess goes hand in hand with being a writer. The mere thought of a live interview makes me nauseous. 😬

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

 

The number one thing I need is to write somewhere where I won’t be interrupted by people, or dogs coming in and out, phone calls, deliveries, etc. Interruptions really do kill the flow and I’m often forced to start a new story altogether if I have too many interruptions.

Once I’m somewhere that’s interruption free, I tend to listen to music. All kinds. Pop, classic rock and even classical depending on the story and my mood.

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 five dogs who I love to bits! However, they do not help me with my writing process. The opposite actually because they interrupt me so often if I try to write with them around. Hence why I tend to isolate myself when I’m on deadline. . . Hmmm. . . although, I suppose they do help in a way. I mean, almost every one of my dogs has featured in a book, just under a different name, and sometimes with a different breed type. But, honestly, dogs can do the funniest darned things and so their antics get into my stories.

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?

 

Ice water, coffee, diet coke, and something easy I can heat up as a meal so I can get back to it or I just won’t bother with food. In fact, I used to forget to eat. I’d get so stuck in the stories that when I stopped I’d think, “Oh darn, did I eat today?” The longest I’ve written without stopping is 37 hours. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is NOT good for your health and the doc and family members got on me for it, so for a while I had to wear a watch that would remind me to eat at meal times. It died a while back, but not until after I got into the habit of eating at meal times.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all these questions for us, Lynsay! I promise I won’t ask you for a Zoom interview…

Matt Phelan

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Matt Phelan, Author and Illustrator of children’s books and graphic novels. Matt is the award-winning creator of the graphic novels Snow WhiteThe Storm in the BarnBluffton, and Around the World, and the picture book Druthers. He is also the illustrator of many books for young readers including Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen, Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park, and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal.

Thanks for being with us, Matt. The first question we have for you is, how can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

My web page at:  http://www.mattphelan.com/

Instagram: MattPhelanDraws

Facebook: Matt Phelan Author Page

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do?  What can readers expect from you next (Latest cover, book, comic, movie, etc?) or what is the last thing you worked on?

I am an author/illustrator who creates picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. I’ve also illustrated many books written by other authors, such as Jeanne Birdsall, Linda Sue Park, and Jane Yolen. I’ve been illustrating for sixteen years and have worked on more than thirty books.

I released two books this year. The first is Knights Vs. The End (Of Everything) which concludes my middle grade novel trilogy. I’ve had an absolute blast telling the adventures of the knights and Mel and this book further develops their relationships and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion (if not an ending). It is probably my favorite of the three.

My latest picture book is Turtle Walk which tells the story of a very, very slow walk with a family of turtles. The walk takes so long that they stroll through all four seasons. It was inspired by walking my daughter around our Philadelphia block when she was two. It would take about an hour and she would pause to notice everything. I loved those walks because it forced me to slow down and notice things, too.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you create? What do you think draws customers to these works?

I began my career as an illustrator of picture books and they continue to be the most wonderfully challenging books to create. As an illustrator as well as an author, I imagine all of my books as picture books on some level. My four graphic novels can be seen as picture books for older readers, for instance. The form of the book (picture book, chapter book, or graphic novel) is dictated by the idea itself. What sort of book should this be? I’m grateful to be able to explore different ways of telling a story, and even more grateful to have readers of all ages interested in reading them.

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

After TURTLE WALK in October, I’ll have a picture book called SWEATER WEATHER out next year (hopefully). I am also working on a new, top secret chapter book that is unrelated to the Knights Vs. books. I hope that will also be ready for 2021.

     

What does your work space look like? What do you need to have around you while working?

I work in a 10’x18′ studio in my backyard. It has all of my art supplies, lots of books (some going back to my own childhood), records, CDs, and assorted musical instruments. Everything is a source of inspiration and/or creativity. Add coffee and mix well.

You can see the studio here:

https://www.mattphelan.com/studio-tour1.html

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author?

Trust your instincts. And if something isn’t working, fix it.

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

The Highlights Foundation runs some of the best workshops designed for writers and artists of books for children and does so in an idyllic setting. Also, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a fantastic resource. I had my first break from a portfolio review at one of their regional events, so I owe quite a bit to them.

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us, Matt!

The Autumn Equinox is fast approaching, and that means longer nights and cooler temperatures.  It’s the perfect season to cozy up with books and audios, send out greeting cards to friends and family, and change up your home décor!  We’ve got a fresh selection of items in stock for you to choose from.

As a reminder, our Autumn store hours are:

MONDAYS THROUGH THURSDAYS – 10AM TO 8PM

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS – 10AM TO 9PM

SUNDAYS – 10AM TO 6PM

We continue to add new and exciting highlights on our website at www.anniesbooksworcester.com.  Check out our Fresh Releases And Recommended Favorites, our Staff Picks, and our Kids & Teens choices. 

Our September 2020 publisher specials are VERY special indeed… autographed copies of ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Frederik Backman and SOLUTIONS AND OTHER PROBLEMS by Allie Brosh.  Pick up your copies at a whopping 44% discount off retail!

If you have enjoyed the time you’ve spent in our little store, consider leaving us a review on TripAdvisor or leaving us a review on Yelp. You can also review us on Facebook!

We are slowly moving back to hosting small in-store events as well as virtual events. To that end, we have launched our Youtube channel with author interviews and storytimes, and we’ll be adding fresh new content.  Please subscribe!

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IN-STORE EVENT: Saturday, September 19, 6:00 – 8:00 PM –Rainbow Readers Monthly Meetup! The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is a LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month.  The title for September, OUR BLOODY PEARL by D. N. Bryn, is available for purchase either in-store or via our website.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Saturday, October 17, 2:00 – 3:00 PM – An Afternoon With Josh Funk, creator of the LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST picture book series! Details to be announced.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Sunday, October 18, 2:00 – 3:00 PM – Meet Vermont thriller writer S. Lee Manning, author of TROJAN HORSE!     

Details to be announced.

 

As a reminder, our regular events will resume in October 2020…

STARTING ON 10/12/2020: Spinning Yarns Craft Social, every Monday at 7:00 PM. Bring your craft-in-progress [knitting, crocheting, beadworking, writing, drawing, etc.] and enjoy an evening get-together with other crafty booklovers! IN-STORE EVENT: Pre-registration is suggested so we can observe COVID-19 capacity guidelines.

STARTING ON 10/25/2020: Doctor Who Monthly Meetup, the last Sunday of every month at 3:00PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. IN-STORE AND VIRTUAL EVENT – details forthcoming.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Best,

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

Ken Follett Pic Credit Olivier Favre

Photo Credit: Olivier Favre

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on best-selling author Ken Follett. Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages. Ken’s first success was Eye of the Needle (1978), a spy story set in the Second World War. In 1989 The Pillars of the Earth was published, and has since become Ken’s most successful novel, selling 27 million copies.

 

Ken’s next book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published on Tuesday 15th September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

 

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

 

My books are available in all major bookshops and online retailers.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow me using the below:
Twitter: @KMFollett
Facebook: Ken Follett (Official)
Instagram: Ken Follett Author

 

 

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

 

There were lots of laws in the Dark Ages but they were sometimes ignored with impunity. The only legal case we know much about from this period involves a lord called Wulfbald who defied the king. When his father died he took over his stepmother’s lands. Now, one of the good things about Anglo-Saxon society is that women had the right to their own property, but Wulfbald flouted that law. His stepmother complained to the king, who ordered him to give the land back; he did not. The king fined him, but he did not pay the fine. The royal court then ruled that Wulfbald’s person and all his possession were the property of the king, and Wulfbald ignored that, too. Eventually Wulfbald died, but his wife continued to defy the rulings of the king. And I think this is strong evidence for the view that Anglo-Saxon kings struggled to enforce their authority.

 

 

The Eve and Morn cover

 

 

What was the inspiration for The Evening and the Morning ? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

The Evening and the Morning started with me asking myself what Kingsbridge was like before the cathedral was built. Kingsbridge has now appeared in three long historical novels of mine, and it has come to stand for England. When I tell stories about great dramatic events in England, such as the Black Death or the Protestant Reformation, I do so by saying what happened in Kingsbridge. So the new book takes us back to the turn of the first millennium 1000 AD. It’s called The Evening and the Morning because this period is the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages. But the interesting thing is that around about the year 1000 people start to demand what we now call the rule of law, that is, the principle that legal cases must be decided according to the rules, and judges should not automatically decide in favour of their friends and relations.

 

Once I get an idea, I write an outline of the story. This is a really important part of my creative process. I spend a long time over it, six months to a year to outline a story. I get an idea in my head and I say “ok, what happened before? What happens afterwards? Who are these people? What are these people’s hopes and fears? Who do they love and who do they hate?” I ask myself all these questions and the story gets bigger and longer. It grows organically and I write it down. The first time I write this down, it’s probably three paragraphs, the second time it’s a page, the third time it’s two pages, so it grows. I want you to feel like you have to read one more page before you put the book down and never lose that feeling. You’re constantly saying “one more page” or “one more chapter” because that is the feeling I get when I’m reading a book I really like. You’ve got to have no boring bits.

 

 

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

 

The Evening and the Morning has four main characters. I guess the one I like the best is a young Norman princess. Her name is Ragna, and she is very feisty. Her parents want her to marry this boring French viscount but she meets a very exciting English war lord and they fall for each other. Eventually she goes to England to marry this guy and that’s when she starts to find out who he really is. I won’t tell you anymore, you’ll have to read the book. But I really like her, I think she’s great.

 

 

Ken, thanks so much for taking the time to give us your insights into The Evening and the Morning!

 

BethCato-steampunk-headshot600x900

  Photo Credit:  Corey Ralston Photography 2013

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on science fiction/historical fantasy author Beth Cato. Beth is the author of The Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth trilogy, both from Harper Voyager, plus a short story collection from Fairwood Press called Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories. She writes a lot of short stories and poetry, with work in lots of anthologies and magazines. She lives in the desert on the western fringe of Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, son, and feline overlords.

 

BloodofEarth-triptych_498x250

 

Our first question to you, Beth is, where can people find your work?

 

Everywhere books are sold, I hope! In stores and online. Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester included, of course.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

BethCato.com is the place to be! My social media links for Facebook and Twitter are right there, and I maintain an active blog, too. That means I post the latest book news, but I also do a weekly food blog called Bready or Not that features loads of succulent cookie and bar recipes, plus breads and gluten-free stuff, too. My recipes are eclectic, not unlike my writing.

 

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For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Breath of Earth, the first book in your most recent series?

 

I write science fiction and fantasy, and I like to mash up genres. My debut novel, The Clockwork Dagger, has been described as Agatha Christie blended with the Final Fantasy video game series. Breath of Earth has some mystery influences, too, but at heart it’s an alternate history novel. I rewrote the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire with magic and incredible creatures.

 

BreathofEarth_1000x664

 

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

 

I tried to make most of my historical alterations conscious ones, which meant I took my research to rather, um, obsessive levels. For the complete trilogy–all three are out now–I ended up reading some 75 full books for research. I cite my sources in each of my novels and the full bibliography can be found on my website. I did a research trip to Hawaii for the third book, which was the best tax write-off ever. I went to the Big Island when there when there was still lava flowing at Volcanoes National Park. I had read several century-old travel journals before my trip, and it was interesting to contrast them with a modern adventure. For example, back when folks like Mark Twain visited, people would trek at night right up to the lava lake Halema’uma’u and get close enough to roast hot dogs and singe souvenir postcards. I was quite content with viewing the lava lake from a mile away, on the crater rim!

 

What draws you to writing historical fantasy? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

 

I write the kinds of books I love to read–ones with strong and savvy women, deep world-building, oodles of fun magic, and a dash of wit. I want books that make me think while providing escapism at the same time. From the feedback I get, that’s what readers take away from my novels, too.

 

ClockworkDagger_duology-1000x1328

 

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 three cats by the names of Luke, Finn, and Kylo. Yes, that’s a Star Wars theme. We adopted all three as adults at a cat shelter about two and a half years ago. Luke, in particular, is my writing buddy. He’s a black tabby with a stout build like a bull dog. He usually sleeps on my desk beside my monitor as I work through the day. Woe upon us all if I must go out for a few hours of grocery shopping. He gets anxious if I’m not where I should be, and when I return he is desperate for affection. If I don’t pet him, he tries to head-butt my monitor or walk on my keyboard, and drools profusely all the while. Exasperating as he can be, it’s nice to be loved and missed. In all truth, I cannot function without a cat around.

 

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

 

 

 

Cynthia Voigt

 

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

 

Really, all there is to say about me and my writing is that I do it, and I keep on doing it.  Clearly, I’d like to be introduced as a writer, who is published mostly in the children’s field but who also has a couple of adult novels among her credits.  I’ve been doing this for longer than most of my readers, and many of their teachers, have been alive.

 

Also, I spent a lot of happy years teaching, almost every level from grade 2 to grade 12, with tutorial forays into early reading, always English, as we called it then.  Reading, thinking, and writing:  that’s what I got to teach.

 

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

 

After they leave Annie’s, or if they’re too distant to make the trip?  There are libraries and book stores large and small, and online sources for new and used copies.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

You can follow my work on my website:  cynthiavoigt.com.  My awesomeness however is nowhere to be found.  Stories, yes, awesomeness no.

 

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

 

If I understand inspiration to mean “reason why” and the question becomes What made you write this book? then I can answer it.  If inspiration actually means like a heroic figure mimicking which gets heroic behavior out of me, or gives me enough hope to try, then the answer is different.

 

The first reason why I wrote Little Bird is that I have four grandchildren.  For entirely personal reasons, perhaps having to do with his large dark eyes, the first grandchild book (where the title includes the particular name, although it’s not “about” the particular person) has a mouse as its hero.  The second, again because of the eyes, features a “solutioneer.”  After that, there had to be a third and fourth, a squirrel and a bird, who live on the same Maine farm as the mouse, and a couple of rescue dogs who are not related to me.  Among themselves, the kids refer to “their” books, so there was a lot of pressure to come up with a fourth, and a lot of patience required of a little girl who prefers not to have to be patient.

 

I couldn’t have not written this book.  My yard is home to a lot of crows, and they are interesting to watch as the strut around on the grass, looking for things to eat.  They were also interesting to read about.

 

If inspiration isn’t about the Why of the thing but the Why of Me, the writer, who gets the writing done, then it is up to me to inspire myself.  Nobody else can sit me down to produce word after sentence after paragraph after story.  That’s my job.

 

Little Bird Large

 

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


You know, I like all of my characters, even the villains of the pieces.  It seems to be how I like to work.  A student once remarked, “You like everybody!” and it was a protesting.  But she was right, I liked each one of my students; each one was so much his or herself, and I could try to understand them all–it was endlessly interesting.  It follows to reason that I don’t have a favorite character in this book.  I enjoy all of them, and I enjoy trying to figure out who each one of them is.  I enjoy trying to put my sense of who they are into words that might bright them to life for a reader.  In fact, not only do I not have a favorite character in this book, I don’t have a favorite character in general, or even a favorite book:  each is a treat for me, for his or her or its own reasons.  The reasons vary, and that makes it even better.

 

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

 

Aristotle said, and I agree, that plot is the most difficult.  I expect that’s what the word “challenging” means:  hard for me to do.  I do not feel that I have ever overcome the difficulty.  There are, however, a couple of things I do, that ameliorate it.  First is to make an informal outline of the plot, so I can see the skeleton of the thing and maybe smooth out any particularly unfortunate joints, or where bones are missing.  I like to see the thing whole.  The other thing I have learned to do is write 20 or so pages and then, especially if I feel like “it’s not working” (how I phrase it to myself), start all over again.  This is effective because I know my people better by then.

And that is not to say that the other parts are not “challenging.”  I don’t find any of it easy… or boring, which is part of what keeps me going.

 

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

 

Which is also a lesson I have learned first from teaching and then from writing.  Everybody is different, sometimes in large sometimes in small ways.  I have always described myself as a closet writer.  I think I need to be solitary with my idea, and work it out as best I can, myself, with nobody else adding their thoughts or ideas.  Is this because I’m afraid somebody else will change my idea?  Make me unsure if theirs isn’t better?  One of the things I used to tell my students when they were faced with an essay was: when I was reading what they wrote, I had to listen to them.  I couldn’t interrupt and derail their thought processes.  I have always felt that way about my own writing:  I prefer the face I fall on to be my own, not yours.

Others, I know, profit from the kind of discussion groups offer; I don’t seem to be able to.  But that’s OK because they don’t have to work my way and I don’t have to work theirs.  The real secret is to figure out how to get your best work out of yourself, and people are so different, how could there be only one way?

Note that once I have finished a draft, I am more than happy to hear somebody’s opinion, especially if it is enthusiastic but also if it points up a weakness I have failed to see.

 

Cynthia and Kids


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

 

 

 

Gerald Coleman pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer Gerald L. Coleman. When asked to tell us briefly a little bit about himself and his writing, this was his response:

First, thank you for this opportunity to talk about my work. I appreciate it deeply. I normally go by Gerald L. Coleman. I began using my middle initial when I realized that a google search turns up a professional hockey player and a catholic priest. I am neither of those men. But if you use my middle initial I usually appear in the search.

I’m originally from Lexington, Kentucky. I really began writing with poetry in high school and that became a more serious avocation in college. By the time I was matriculating at university I realized that at some point I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy. I’d been reading it my entire life and I knew that someday I wanted to write it. In the meantime I continued writing poetry, co-founded the Affrilachian Poets, getting poems published, went to grad school, and got on with life. I’m glad I waited. I wasn’t a mature enough writer until now to really write the stories I wanted to write. I’ve been writing scifi & fantasy seriously for the last twelve years. I’ve appeared in several anthologies and have published the first two books in my epic fantasy series.

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 at all the usual suspects: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booksamillion, Powell’s, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and a bunch of other booksellers worldwide. I’m really excited right now about Bookshop.com. It’s a new endeavor meant to compete with Amazon with a focus on indie bookstores. In fact, they donate a percentage of every sale to indie bookstores around the country. So I try to send people that way these days.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

The best way to follow me is my website. You can find me at Geraldlcoleman.com.

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

My main series is epic fantasy. I generally describe it as Wheel of Time (or Lord of the Rings) meets Black Panther. I’ve been reading speculative fiction since I was in elementary school. I started with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Watership Down, and the wonders of the Scholastic Bookfair. I was also reading comic books. I graduated to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings in middle school, followed by The Three Musketeers, The Black Company, Dragonriders of Pern, The Faded Sun Series, Elric of Melniboné, and everything I could get my hands on. What helped move me to write what I write is that as much as I loved all the scifi & fantasy I was reading there weren’t any protagonists in any of the stories who looked like me. So much of my impetus for story is about writing scifi & fantasy from a different perspective. I think it’s one of the things that’s really renewing the genre because of a lot of new writers are doing the same thing.

As for what’s coming from me? I’m working on a scifi novel that I would describe as Star Wars meets Doctor Who meets Black Panther. And I’m working on the third book in my epic fantasy series.

When night falls pic

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

Be courageous in your writing. And by that I mean a few things. I mean be ambitious in the scope of your writing and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and the industry expectations. I see a lot of writers writing to “the market” and listening to a lot of people who say “this is how you should write.” And that’s a death knell for creativity. You end up with a lot of reheated leftovers instead of interesting, new, and exiting fare. And don’t be afraid to write yourself into a corner. There are plot lines that will become apparent but you might scare yourself away from something magnificent because you’re initially unsure of how to write your way out of it. I’ve found that if you trust yourself your subconscious will be working on the problem. If you give yourself time a solution will present itself. But you have to trust yourself.

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

There’s a lot of new things I’ve been exposed to since I began pursuing writing as a career in earnest. One of my favorite things are Cons. After I published the first book in my epic fantasy series, When Night Falls, I began looking at ways to get it out in the world. I found some scifi & fantasy groups, other writers who were working in the genre, and I found scifi & fantasy conventions. I began applying to be a Guest and once I started being accepted and attending I found this whole other world filled with people who loved the sane things I do. It’s been a joyous and fulfilling experience.

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

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.

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!

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