Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Jenna Glass. I say Jenna Glass, but she is also known as Jenna Black, but I will let her explain:

 

I write practically every variety of speculative fiction there is under the names Jenna Black and Jenna Glass. Under Jenna Black, my series include: Guardians of the Night (paranormal romance); Morgan Kingsley (urban fantasy); Faeriewalker (YA fantasy); Descendant (urban fantasy); Replica (YA dystopian); and Nightstruck (YA horror.) My current series, The Women’s War, written under the name Jenna Glass is feminist epic fantasy.

 

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

 

Most if not all of my books should be available (possibly by special order, especially for the older titles) from any bookstore.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on Twitter as @JennaBlack, where I’m fairly quiet these days except for RT’ing cute animal videos. I post most frequently on Instagram as @JennaBlackBooks, where you can see photos of my art, my dog, and (occasionally) my books.

 

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

 

My current series, The Women’s War, is a feminist epic fantasy series. The first two books, The Women’s War and Queen of the Unwanted are out now, and the third and final book, Mother All, comes out in July 2020. The series is set in a world that starts off extremely patriarchal, but everything changes when three women cast a spell that makes it so that women can no longer be forced to conceive or carry children. This new reproductive freedom forces society as a whole to begin to treat women more like equal citizens than like chattel.

 

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

 

There were two equally distasteful inspirations for this series. The first being when Todd Akin made the ridiculous claim that women who were victims of “legitimate rape” rarely got pregnant. I thought to myself “gee, maybe I should write a story about a world where that was true, because it’s certainly not the case in OUR world.” I quickly abandoned the idea, thinking the concept too political and openly feminist for the type of fiction I wanted to write.

 

 

.Fast forward to 2016 and the horror of seeing Trump win the election. I was shocked and horrified and scared for the fate of women (as well as many others). I harkened back to that old feminist idea that had rattled around in my head for years and decided that I would channel some of my rage and fear into developing it into an actual story. I began working on it (literally) the day after the election, brainstorming the world I would set it in and thinking about the magic system I wanted to use. And it took on a life of its own almost immediately.

 

When I wrote The Women’s War, I gave myself permission to write whatever I felt like writing and to worry about whether or not it was marketable later. In doing so, I realized that I was actually quite burnt out on trying to write to the market, that concerns of whether or not my book would sell were actually destroying my love of writing. Writing this series made me fall in love with writing all over again.

 

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

My other creative passion is Zentangle ® drawing. For those not familiar with it, Zentangle is a meditative drawing technique wherein you draw repetitive patterns. Each pattern is broken down into super-easy steps, so that you can create intricate and complex looking drawings that are actually very simple to do. And you can expand from there. I have in the last couple of years started using these Zentangle patterns to create fabric designs, and more days than not, I am wearing clothes made from fabric with my own designs printed on it. If you’re interested in seeing some of my fabric designs, you can visit my shop on Spoonflower.com  https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/jennablackzen

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 current furry helper is Dash, the rescue dog. We’ve had him for a little over two years. He was rescued as a puppy, then lived with a family for about five years before they surrendered him to the rescue, unable to deal with his behavior issues. By the time he came to live with us, he’d had a good deal of training with his foster mom, so he’s generally pretty well behaved. However, he likes to bark at every single noise, so he “helps” by interrupting a lot by voicing his opinion of the car that passed by, the dog that just barked, the person who had the audacity to talk outside his house, etc. Regardless, he is the four-legged love of my life. Half border collie, half rat-terrier, 100% the cuddliest, sweetest, smartest dog I’ve ever had.

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

By far the most challenging part of the writing process for me is overcoming self-doubt. I had a lot of practice with this, as my “first” published book was actually the 18th novel I’d completed over about 16 years of trying to get published. Once upon a time, I thought that finally breaking through and getting published would put an end to that self-doubt. (That was before I knew any published authors; once you meet a few, you realize that the self-doubt never goes away.)

It’s a battle every time I sit down to write, every time I send off a novel to my agent, every time my agent starts submitting to publishers, every time the reviews and sales numbers start coming in. Somehow, I’ve managed to publish 22 books anyway. I know now that it will NEVER come easy.

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

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author and CEO Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler. Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler is founder and CEO of Alignment Strategies Group, the New York-based consulting firm that helps CEOs and their executive teams optimize organizational health and growth. She is the author of OPTIMAL OUTCOMES: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life (HarperBusiness, 2020), which was selected as a Financial Times Book of the Month. She is a keynote speaker at Fortune 500 companies, public institutions and leading startups, including Google, Harvard Law School and the United Nations.  A former counterterrorism fellow with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, she earned her Ph.D. in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and has taught conflict freedom at Columbia for a decade. 

 

The places where people can find her work (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!) are:

 

www.jengoldmanwetzler.com

 

www.optimaloutcomesbook.com

 

www.alignmentstrategiesgroup.com

 

I asked Jennifer how we can follow her work and share her awesomeness, and her response was this:

 

You can follow and share my work at:

 

My author website: www.jengoldmanwetzler.com

 

My book website: www.optimaloutcomesbook.com

 

My company website: www.alignmentstrategiesgroup.com

 

My Psychology Today column: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/achieving-conflict-freedom

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jen-goldman-wetzler/

 

What was the inspiration for Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home and in Life? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

In 1973, one of my mentors, Dr. Morton Deutsch, widely considered the father of conflict resolution, wrote up his research in a book called the Resolution of Conflict. His research showed that conflict typically led to more conflict, and cooperation led to more cooperation. He called these the “conflict loop” and the “cooperation loop.” When I learned about these loops, all I could think was, “How can we break free from the conflict loop? And how can we get from one loop to the other?” Then I spent the next 13 years answering those questions, and the answers lie in the book I recently wrote, Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home and in Life.

 

My research began with a fellowship from the US Department of Homeland Security in 2002, and since then, in my work as an instructor at Columbia, and as CEO of the consulting firm I founded, Alignment Strategies Group, I’ve used the Optimal Outcomes practices to help graduate students and leaders at Fortune 500 companies, fast-growing, innovative startups, global non-profits, and universities turn around some of the most challenging situations they’ve faced in their personal and professional lives. I hope that my book helps set you on a path to do the same.

 

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

In your book, Optimal Outcomes, you place a priority on conflict freedom over conflict resolution. Would you clarify the difference?

Conflict resolution says that conflicts can be resolved by meeting your own and others’ interests in ways that allow all parties to win. But some attempts to resolve conflict have failed so many times, trying to “solve” them becomes futile. Conflict freedom helps us stop trying to resolve something that has shown itself to be unresolvable. Instead, it shows us how to methodically free ourselves from the mindsets, emotions and behaviors that have gotten us stuck. It helps us achieve optimal outcomes, which take into account the reality of the constraints we face, as well as our imagined best-case scenario. Optimal Outcomes are often different from what we thought we wanted, but more satisfying than we ever imagined possible.

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

I love to go hiking and backpacking. With a backpack on my back, walking through the mountains, I’m often at my happiest. Luckily, this kind of activity can support the writing life quite well. In fact, while writing Optimal Outcomes, I went on a multi-day solo backpacking excursion into the White Mountains of New Hampshire with the main purpose of listening to my emotions—noticing as they arose and fell away and sometimes asking what messages they had for me. This experience helped me write the chapter in Optimal Outcomes about the role of emotions in conflict and how we can use our emotions as catalysts for constructive action.

Thank you for answering these questions for us, Jennifer!

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on  Cozy Mystery Author Alex Erickson.

 

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

 

 I am an introverted metalhead who spends an inordinate amount of time cuddling kitties. I am contradiction. I am, in a word, boring, and I like it that way. I also hate, hate, hate talking about myself or putting the spotlight on ME as a person. But I am thankful for those who do enjoy my books or my company, even when I’m too nervous to say much more than a mumbled “hello.” And when it comes to my writing, my only hope is that, no matter what genre or tone, someone finds joy in it, something to connect to.

 

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

 

 In most cases, everywhere! The only exception (for now) is Dial ‘M’ for Maine Coon, which is a Barnes and Noble exclusive until the end of August.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 I am admittedly bad at posting on social media, but I do post updates on releases on both Twitter –  https://twitter.com/author138 – and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alexericksonbooks – as well as my website – https://alexericksonbooks.com/

 

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

 

I currently write cozy mysteries. They are meant to be fun, despite the murder and deception taking place within them. Whenever a reader picks up one of my cozies, they can expect a story that will hopefully be entertaining, fun, and has pets of the (sometimes) cute and cuddly kind. In Death by French Roast, we get to explore a bit of the unsavory history of the town of Pine Hills, so it is a little different in that we’re working with a cold case, but you still get the same characters—and cats—that you’re used to!

 

 

 

 

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

 

The full release of Dial ‘M’ for Maine Coon will happen at the end of August. It was a year-long Barnes and Noble exclusive, but will soon be purchasable everywhere. After that, the next Bookstore Café novel, Death by Hot Apple Cider, will release near the end of October.

 

 

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

 

Three things: Reading (duh), music, and gaming. I can’t sit still, can’t just stare mindlessly at the television for hours. I HAVE to be doing something that makes my mind work or I get bored and twitchy. I read daily and the genre doesn’t matter, though I tend to drift toward mysteries, thrillers, horror, and sci-fi/fantasy. I listen to music quite a bit and have three guitars I’m terrible at playing. And when I can get together with my friends, we usually game—both board and online video games. How do I find time for it? I don’t sleep! Okay, I sleep, but tend not to consider bed until well after midnight. And since I don’t spend more than an hour or so watching television, and I rarely leave the house, I have lots of spare time to do whatever I want.



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

 

I’ve written more than just cozies! I wrote a series of urban fantasy novels under the name E.S. Moore, which are currently out of print, but can still be found in used book stores. I hope to reissue these books in the near future as e-books, and in doing so, hope to fix some of the newbie writer issues that cropped up in them. If you follow me on Twitter (yes, yes, I know, I’m bad about posting there, but hope to fix that!) or on my website, I’ll be announcing the Kat Redding rereleases there when they are ready to go!



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

 

 

SILENCE! And I mean absolute silence. If people are talking down the street and I can hear it, it distracts me. A cat sneezes in the next room, I pause. It’s the same with pretty much everything I do. I can’t read if there’s any noise at all going on around me. I can’t watch TV or focus. My mind latches on to every sound and insists on analyzing it, considering it, and that’s not very conducive to work.



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?

 

Of course! I have three tuxedo cats who all help out differently. Loki tends to leave me alone and spends most of my writing time sleeping somewhere out of the way. Luna likes to sit on the armrest of my chair and demand pets. If she does not get them, she’ll trample me and my laptop, which can be a hinderance. And Jinx . . . Oh Jinx. He makes sure I can’t focus by meowing, jumping up onto the table where he knows he’s not supposed to be, and gets behind the TV to mess with the cords until he’s chased off. I’m pretty sure he hears voices that tells him to be as distracting as possible and he doesn’t hesitate to oblige them.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to those who would put you down. Not everyone is going to love what I do. Some of them are going to be very, very mean about it. And, yes, those criticisms will sting, and they will stick with you, but they don’t define you. I set out trying to make everyone happy, and all I did was stress myself out. All I can do is write the books that make ME happy, the ones that my faithful readers would love to read. Nothing else matters. If someone doesn’t like the book, that’s okay. Constructive criticism is great. Abusive attacks and insults shouldn’t even register, and don’t deserve my attention.

 

Thanks so much for taking some of your time away from the kitties to answer the questions for us, Alex! Please give them a pet for us!

 

It’s a brand-new month here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside. Today’s snowstorm means that we closed early today, for the safety of our employees and customers.   But there’s still lots to do and to tell  you about.

February’s publisher specials cover the genres of history and sociology, literary fiction,  poetry and biography,  and international intrigue. Get a discount of 42% off these titles: LAND by Simon Winchester; THE. FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah; STUDYING WITH MISS BISHOP by Diana Gioia; and THE SCORPION’S TAIL by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

A new month early in a new year means new productions based on books. We’ve got many of your favorites here. Explore Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse in SHADOW AND BONE; spend time with Sally Rooney’s NORMAL PEOPLE: return to Arrakis with Frank Herbert’s DUNE; and many other upcoming films and series.

 

One of our bestselling Regency romance series has become a “must watch” streaming series on Netflix.  Julia Quinn’s BRIDGERTON  sequence keeps finding new fans, and we’ve got the books that started it all.

 

Take a look at some of our picks for picture books for Valentines Day. You’ll find old favorites and new friends on display, with more titles arriving every day.

 

Have you seen and listened to our YouTube videos? This week we interviewed Marc Cameron and Sue Miller, and we read selections from picture books by Dean Morrissey, Cindy Ward, Ian Falconer, and more! Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and never miss an update!



Between the current government restrictions due to COVID-19 and the latest Nor’easter, we at ABSW know that it can be difficult to find things to be happy about.  We hope that what we do for you, by bringing you new and pre-read books, audio dramas, greeting cards, kitchen towels, tote bags, jigsaw puzzles, and other goodies, has helped just a little bit in brightening your days.  You as our customers and friends have certainly brightened ours over time, and you are ALL our Valentines.

Thank you for making our shelves your destination.

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

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on children’s book illustrator and author Kim Smith. I asked Kim to tell us a little about herself and her work, and how she would like us to introduce her. This was her great response:

 

 

I am a New York Times Bestselling children’s book illustrator and author. My first written and illustrated picture book, Boxitects, came out last year. I’ve also illustrated over 30 picture books including Bringing Back the Wolves (Kids Can Press); the PopClassics picture book adaptations of popular films including ELF, Home Alone, and E.T. (Quirk Books); and the Ice Chips chapter book series (HarperCollins Canada). In addition to illustrating picture books, I’ve created images for things such a posters, puzzles, magazines, and advertising. I live in Calgary, Canada, with my dog Whisky (who has made cameos in several of my picture books) and husband.

 

 

 

 

 

Where can people find your work?

 

 

My work can mostly be found in the children’s section of libraries or bookshops! It can also be found online at Kimillustration.com

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

I can be followed on Twitter @kimdraws or on Instagram @kimillustration

 

 

What kind of research went into your last project?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the final product, but you loved discovering?

 

 

My book, Boxitects, was the last book I had to do a significant amount of research for. The book is all about a girl named Meg who loves to create things out of boxes. I spent hours pouring over different things and ways people built with cardboard. I found photos of huge forts, life sized furniture, vehicles, and all sorts of neat STEM machines and marble runs. The things people can build with cardboard, glue, and tape are just incredible!  I even found these wonderful annual cardboard boat races, to see who could make the fastest and least soggy boat from just cardboard and duct tape. I would have loved to include a race like this in the book, but it didn’t make the cut.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

I love hiking and getting out of the house and into nature. I live a short drive from the Canadian Rockies, and I usually when I have a day off I like to get out to the mountains for a day of adventure. Kananaskis Country and Banff National park are my favourite places to go in Alberta. Last year on a hike, I even ran into a grizzly bear for the first time. It was scary at the time but, luckily, the bear took off in the other direction. They are incredibly fast! After a day in the mountains, I always feel recharged. By the time I get home I just want to start creating again!

 

 

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

 

 

If I’m writing or doing a first pass of thumbnails for a picture book, I need to work in silence. But once that’s done, when I’m working on sketches or final artwork, I always have something on. Depending on how I’m feeling, I jump from podcasts to music to audiobooks. My favourites at the moment are Radio Lab, 99% Invisible (audio book and podcast), and the Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper albums.

 

 

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

 

 

My work space is just a bedroom converted into an at home office. It has a good sized window that I can watch thunderstorms roll into the city in the summer, and watch beautiful sunsets in the winter. I love home design shows so I’ve tried to channel inspiration from them when I set up my office. I have several house plants on shelves (some recently deceased) and a few antiques pieces scattered around. I have a separate spaces for traditional work and digital work so I can keep my computer clean. I’m pretty proud of the way it looks. The only thing I’ve run out of is book shelf space, so often there are piles of books lying around on the floor until I can figure out a place to put them.

 

 

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

 

 

The most challenging part of the publishing process is starting the pictures! At the beginning I always get nervous. Staring at a blank page, I have fleeting thought like what happens if I can’t make these pictures look good or what happens if I can’t figure out the right way to draw a certain illustration. There’s a lot of self doubt sometimes. Although, as soon as I put pencil to paper (or stylus to screen), it always works itself out one way or another. Sometimes I have to draw a page several times in order to discover the right idea. I just have to trust the process.

 

 

Well, it certainly does work itself out, you have some incredible illustrations out there, Kim! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Kristina McMorris. Kristina McMorris is the author of two novellas and five historical novels, including Sold on a Monday, which spent five months on the New York Times bestsellers list. Initially inspired by her grandparents’ WWII courtship letters, her works of fiction have garnered more than twenty national literary awards. Prior to her writing career, she owned a wedding- and event-planning company until she had far surpassed her limit of YMCA- and chicken dances. She also worked as a PR director of an international conglomerate, as well as a weekly TV-show host for Warner Bros. and an ABC affiliate, beginning at age nine with an Emmy Award-winning program. She lives in Oregon with her husband and their two sons, ages fourteen and sixteen going on forty.  

 

 

When I asked Kristina to tell us a little about herself and her writing, this was her great response:

 

 

Sure! I’m a native Oregonian (so have never minded the rain!) and married mom of two boys. I consider myself an “accidental author,” since I had no plans of becoming a creative writer until about fifteen years ago, when my grandmother shared a secret collection of her WWII courtship letters from my late grandfather; I loved their story so much that I decided to try my hand at a novel. And ever since then, I continue to come across nuggets of history that are so compelling I can’t help but share them with readers through storytelling!

 

 

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

 

 

They most definitely should! Aside from other fabulous indie stores, they can find them at the usual large chains (Target, Walmart, etc) and online retail sites.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

Facebook and Instagram are where I typically share big book news and updates. And my e-newsletter (which I send out only a few times a year) is a great way to keep up with my latest. They can sign up easily at http://www.KristinaMcMorris.com

 

 

What was the inspiration for Sold on a Monday?

 

 

As you know, for the characters in this story, their journey all started with a picture—and that’s exactly what prompted me to write the book. When I first stumbled upon an old newspaper photo of four young siblings in Chicago being offered for sale, I was completely stunned. As a mom myself, I wondered what could have possibly pushed a parent to that point. Potential answers to that question ultimately became the foundation of Sold on a Monday.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

I love writing historical fiction for the same reason I love reading it—because it’s what I like to call “literary Advil,” in that you get the sugar coating of a story on the outside without realizing how much good stuff (i.e. history) you’re getting on the inside until you’ve digested it, and think, “Wow, I actually learned a lot too!”

 

 

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

 

 

I’m on the homestretch of writing my latest WWII novel, largely inspired by a secretive branch of British Military Intelligence that is so unique I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. I can’t share much more yet, but I am SO excited for the book to reach readers soon!

 

 

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

 

 

Oh, my goodness—definitely silence. I’m so envious of those cool writers who can sit in a corner at Starbucks or Panera, soaking in all the music and chatter while still somehow churning out coherent chapters. That is definitely not me!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Vanilla-almond tea with honey and vanilla creamer in my huge Yeti tumbler, which my in-laws gave me as a Christmas gift. Verges on magical, really. It holds thirty whole ounces, so allows me to keep working for hours before needing a refill.

 

 

That sounds delicious! Thanks for answering these questions for us, Kristina. Stay safe, and good luck on your latest book!

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on YA author Rachel Hawthorne. She will tell you what other names she writes under, and what types of YA books she actually writes in the paragraph below. I had asked her to tell us briefly a little about herself and her writing, and how she would like us to introduce her, and this was her response:

 

 

Under the name Rachel Hawthorne, I write contemporary and paranormal romance for young adult readers. I’ve also written historical romance for teens under the name Lorraine Heath and Jade Parker. I’ve written a vampire series with my son under the name J. A. London. I enjoy writing books for teens, bringing them stories that are fun to read. 

 

Most of my work for teens, however, has been done under the name Rachel Hawthorne so that is how you may introduce me.

 

 

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

 

 

https://www.harpercollins.com/products/trouble-from-the-start-rachel-hawthorne?variant=32205675003938

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

Check out my website: rachelhawthorne.net

 

 

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

 

 

I write stories with emotion, teens usually dealing with an issue and through love finding a way to overcome challenges. In Trouble from the Start, the hero is known as a troublemaker at school, always getting into fights, not making the grades needed to graduate. The heroine graduates in the top of her class is the perfect student. He and the heroine are at odds—then her cop father brings him home to live with them for the summer. And she sees a very different guy from the one she knew at school, a guy she finds herself falling for.

 

 

What was the inspiration for [newest release/series release is part of/spotlighted release]? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

I like wounded or tormented heroes, and I wanted to write a story about a guy who never seemed to get a break. The hero isn’t the troublemaker everyone thinks he is but pretends to be in order to keep a secret. It’s a story that had been with me for a while. I like stories where opposites attract. Good girl/bad guy. The steps to bring it from inspiration to the finished book mostly involved just writing the story. I don’t outline so I usually have to do several revisions to get it polished and smooth enough for publication.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

 

 

I love weaving stories, creating characters with whom I’d like to be friends, and ensuring everyone gets their happy ever after. The actual writing is my favorite part, falling into the story and seeing where it takes me. I do enjoy the other aspects—polishing it further with the copy editors, seeing it typeset into galleys, getting a peek at the cover. It’s all exciting, but it’s the writing that matters the most to me.

 

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t try to second guess what the reader wants in the story. I need to write it as I initially see it. Sometimes an editor will ask for some changes, but the first draft needs to be as I envisioned the story. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Publishing is a team effort. Everyone at the publishing house wants it to be the best story it can be, so I have to be willing to listen to their ideas or suggestions. I don’t have to always take them, but I can’t be offended by them.

 

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

 

 

Last summer I went to London and Rome for two reader events. It was wonderful to meet so many readers from other countries. It was also fun to research the areas. Visiting different places tends to open up the well of creativity and start story ideas flowing.

 

 

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

 

 

When I’m writing I listen to a thunderstorm CD. I’ve been doing this ever since I started writing more than 25 years ago. It now serves as a trigger that it’s time to start writing.

 

 

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

 

 

The most challenging part of the writing process is to actually sit down and write the story. As much as I love writing, it always seems a bit intimidating to look at the blank page and to know I have to fill it with words. With 80,000-100,000 words. I tend to think of my stories in terms of scenes. A scene is more manageable than 400 blank pages. So I just have to sit down and write a scene. And then the next scene and the next scene.

 

 

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

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight science fiction and  fantasy author Catherine Asaro. Catherine has authored about thirty books, including science fiction, thrillers, and fantasy. Her novel The Quantum Rose and novella “The Spacetime Pool” both won the Nebula® Award. She is a multiple Hugo nominee and winner of the AnLab from Analog magazine. Her most recent books are The Vanished Seas and Lightning Strike Book II, both of which came out in July 2020. Her next book will be The Jigsaw Assassin, from Baen/Simon& Schuster.

           

Catherine has appeared as a speaker at many institutions and as a Guest of Honor at cons across the US and abroad. She served two terms as president for SFWA and is a member of SIGMA, a think tank that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security. She danced for many years, both ballet and jazz, and she also appears as a vocalist at clubs and conventions. Her most recent single, the Celtic-themed song Ancient Ages (written by Arlan Andrews) placed on the Blast-FM top 100 in 2020.

 

Catherine can be reached a www.catherineasaro.net, and she has a Patreon page at www.patreon.com/CatherineAsaro.

 

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

Well I’d certainly suggest they try Annie’s Book shop first!

My out of print work is available from Starflight Music and Books:  catherineasaro.net/starflight-books-and-music/

My in-print titles can be found at any of the following places:

Amazon.com

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

Aunties Books

Barnes and Noble

Books a Million

Books & Co.

Books at Park Place

Books Inc

Book Review

Chester County Books

Diesel

Flights of Fantasy

Half Price Books

IndieBound

Joseph-Beth

Mysterious Galaxy

Pandemonium

Poisoned Pen

Powell’s Books

The Twig

Uncle Hugo’s

University of Washington University Bookstore

University of Wisconsin University Bookstore

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

Well, bless your heart, what a nice thing to say. I’m at the following sites:

Catherineasaro.net (newsletter signup at catherineasaro.net/contact/)

http://www.patreon.com/CatherineAsaro

I interact with readers the most on my patreon page. Also, since I now write full-time, the Patreon page helps me support myself and pay the bills.

Other places I can be found are

facebook.com/Catherine.Asaro

twitter.com/Catherine_Asaro/

goodreads.com/author/show/34854.Catherine_Asaro

linkedin.com/in/catherineasaro/

catherineasaro.wordpress.com

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

My most recent release is a science fiction mystery. It’s part of the Major Bhaajan Mysteries. These are all stand-alone novels involving the PI Major Baajan. They are mysteries, science fiction, and action adventure.

A lot happened the year I finished The Vanished Seas. My husband became ill and eventually passed away, leading to my being many months late in turning in the book. I can’t stress enough how kind everyone at Baen was to me during this time. I’m fortunate to have such an amazing publisher.

I’m probably best known for the Saga of the Ruby Dynasty, also called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. All my Ruby Dynasty books are available from either Baen or Starflight Music and Books. I also wrote some thrillers and a few fantasy novels, which can be found at Starflight as well. Readers can find more details and a complete list of my books at catherineasaro.net under the menu item “Books.”

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

I’ve always loved to make up stories, ever since I was a child. Even my earliest memories, those hazy images from when I was one or two years old, involved imagining stories in my mind. And they always tended to adventure and science fiction. As to why I was drawn to those areas, I couldn’t say. Perhaps it is encoded in my DNA!

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

Keep writing! This field involves a lot of rejection if you go the traditional route, and it can get frustrating. Don’t let it convince you to give up.

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

I started writing seriously when I lived in Cambridge, MA. I was working on my Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at Harvard. My work involved applying the mathematical methods of physics to problems in quantum scattering theory. Theoretical physics is applied math, which is why at places like Cambridge University in England (the original Cambridge! J) put applied math and theoretical physics together in one department. The Chemical Physics program at Harvard is an interdisciplinary program based in chemistry but spanning the math, physics, and chemistry departments. To get my doctorate, I had to show proficiency in all three areas. My specialty was theoretical atomic and molecular physics. I was doing a lot of math, writing pages and pages of equations, and I needed some way to let my brain rest, a chance to recharge.

So I decided to write science fiction with an eye toward publication. It provided the release I needed. I wrote the first draft of The Last Hawk, a book about role reversal in many different environments. Reversing the roles was cathartic, I think, to help me deal with the environment I encountered on a daily basis. Back then, even less women entered theoretical physics, very few at all. I was one of the first in the chemical physics program. Sometimes I got weary from dealing with it all. Writing The Last Hawk offered a way to handle the stress. I was pleasantly surprised when The Last Hawk received a Nebula nomination in 1999 for best novel.

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

I just sold another novel to Baen, another Major Bhaajan mystery. It’s called The Jigsaw Assassin. Bhaaj gets thrown head first into the monster-infested seas of Imperialate politics! With five cantankerous parties all arguing with each other, all blaming each other for a series of murders, Bhaaj has her work cut out trying to figure out who did what and why.

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

It is surely an understatement to say that this has been a difficult year for the entire world, still in the throes of a global pandemic.  2021 will be upon us in a few days.  The wider world watches in hopes of a successful vaccine; our smaller worlds of families and friends carry on as best they can.

At our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, what comfort we can offer takes the form of words written by others.  Words that can inform, words that can help us escape.  As booksellers, we try our best to offer something for everyone at a time when it’s needed.  We thank you for all your support through 2020, and we look forward to being here to serve you throughout 2021.


new-year-design-with-2020-turning-into-2021-free-vector

Some things to point out as the Old Year ends and the New Year begins:

1] Further restrictions in store capacity limits have been put in place as of Saturday, December 26th, per the Governor’s Office, and will remain in place until at least January 10th. The new in-store limit is ten [10] persons, which includes customers and staff.  If concerned, please call ahead for a “shop by appointment” timeslot; you can also arrange for curbside delivery or make use of our mail order service.

2] A reminder that due to the continued COVID-19 restrictions, we MUST limit quantities of donated or traded-in books to ONE BAG OR ONE BOX per person per day. The suggested maximum number of books in said box or bag should not exceed twenty [20] books.  This is for your safety so that we can sanitize items before reshelving them.

3] Our hours this week are as follows: MONDAY 12/28 – 9AM TO 8PM; TUESDAY 12/29 – 9AM TO 8PM; WEDNESDAY 12/30 – 9AM TO 8PM; THURSDAY 12/31/2020 [NEW YEAR’S EVE] – 10AM TO 6PM; FRIDAY 1/1/2021 [NEW YEAR’S DAY] – 10AM TO 6PM; SATURDAY 1/2/2021 – 10AM TO 9PM; SUNDAY 1/3/2021 – 10AM TO 5PM.  

4] Between now and Sunday, January 3rd, all *new* holiday books are marked down to 50% off.  Many non-holiday titles are marked down as well, as we get ready to do our annual inventory.  

5] While we still cannot host in-store events such as the Spinning Yarns textile social, the Rainbow Readers LGBTQIA book discussion group, or the DOCTOR WHO monthly meetup, we continue to bring you blog interviews and video meet-and-greets with authors, artists, and creators from all over the world.  Check out our Youtube channel for the latest playlists.

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

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