Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

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  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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

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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!

 

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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! 

 

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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!

 

 

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