Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on children’s book author Valerie Bolling. Valerie, for those who don’t know you, could you please tell us about yourself and your writing?

 

Well, I’m passionate about creating stories in which all children can see themselves and feel seen and heard, valued and validated. I’m a traditionally published author of five picture books (LET’S DANCE!, TOGETHER WE RIDE, TOGETHER WE SWIM, RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!, and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) and RAINBOW DAYS, a Scholastic Acorn early reader series. Currently, I’m writing a chapter book and board books.

 

I’ve been an educator for 30 years. Next year I will become a full-time author, and I look forward to sharing my love of reading and writing with children during school visits. Having more time to write will be great, too.

 

I’m an active member of the kidlit community – teaching picture book classes (independently and for the Highlights Foundation), serving as a mentor, and presenting at conferences. I enjoy being immersed in a community of creatives!

 

I live in Connecticut with my wonderful husband, who is my biggest fan, and we enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing. linktr.ee/ValerieBolling

 

 

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

 

1. In an independent bookstore nearby

 

2. At a local library

 

3. In an elementary school’s media center

 

NOTE: If my books aren’t in these places, please request them.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

Thank you for saying I’m awesome. I’d love it when readers and writers follow me. I also appreciate book reviews if you like my books.

  

Website: valeriebolling.com

Twitter: twitter.com/valerie_bolling

Instagram: instagram.com/valeriebollingauthor

Facebook: facebook.com/ValerieBollingAuthor

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Rainbow Days: The Gray Day?

 

The books I write feature community, connection, and diversity. On the home page of my website, it says:

 

I write because I want all children to feel at home in a book. I want them to smile, laugh, think, and question. Most of all, I want them to celebrate the diverse world in which we live.

 

My current titles will encourage children to smile and laugh, but I have books coming out in the next couple of years that will also promote thinking and questioning.

 

My most recent title that was released on May 2, 2023 is Rainbow Days: The Gray Day. It is the first book in my Scholastic Acorn early reader series.

 

The series features Zoya and her puppy, Coco, who love to create art together. Here’s a description of The Gray Day:

 

It’s a perfect day to paint outside – until it begins to rain! Zoya and Coco rush back inside with their art supplies. But together – and with a splash of glitter – they find creative ways to brighten the gray day.

 

The second book, Rainbow Days: The Gold Bowl, will be released on September 5, 2023, and the third book, Rainbow Days: The Orange Wall, will make its appearance on March 5, 2024. All books may be ordered now.

 

 

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

Keep at it! Be persistent, persevere, and be patient … and be prepared to face rejection. But don’t give up if publication is your goal. Also, continue to study/learn and create. And give yourself grace as well as others.

 

 

 

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

I’m tall. I’m not exceptionally tall but taller than the average woman at 5’10’’. Since I’ve met so many people via Zoom (and have been communicating with them that way for the past two or three years), when I see them in person for the first time, they often say, “You’re tall!” or “I didn’t realize you were so tall.”

 

 

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

Community is the key to success.

 

Writing seems like a solitary act, but it isn’t. We need our critique partners, agent, and editors to help us produce our best work and have a thriving publication journey. Being connected to writing groups and organizations is also beneficial along with taking classes and attending webinars and conferences.

 

Part of my community is the children for whom I write, so doing school visits and participating in book festivals and other events where young readers will be present is something I enjoy.

 

And, of course, I have a wonderful, loyal community of family and friends who cheer me on and tell others about my books.

 

 

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

    • My critique groups

 

    • SCBWI

 

    • 12×12 Picture Book Challenge

 

    • Black Creators Headquarters

 

    • The Authors Guild

 

    • The Highlights Foundation

 

    • We Need Diverse Books

 

 

Valerie, thanks so much for taking the time to answer so many of our questions! People can order Valerie’s books at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester by sending Email to: orders@anniesbooksworcester.com.    

 

 

 

Julia Kneeland is a children’s book author, who has just released a picture book, JIG GETS LOST, a book about a little dog who gets lost in a big city. This interview with Julia explains the reasons why she wrote this book, and her forthcoming books. This video was originally published on September 28, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RaeAnne Thayne

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Summer at Lake Haven

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Liv Constantine is the pseudonym for sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine, authors of psychological thrillers. In this interview, Lynne and Valerie discuss their newest book, THE STRANGER IN THE MIRROR. They also spoke about some of their other work, and writing in general.
This video was first published on August 26, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on young adult and middle grade author Scott Reintgen. I asked Scott if he could please tell us briefly a little about himself and his writing. This was his response:

 

 

My name is Scott Reintgen, and I am very newly a New York Times Bestselling author. I write fantasy and sci-fi books for both young adult and middle grade. The newest books from me are A Door in the Dark on the young adult side and The Problem with Prophecies in middle grade.

 

 

 

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

 

 

My only work is my books—so I do highly suggest you find them through Annie’s Book Stop!

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

You can find me on Instagram or Twitter. I’m the only Scott Reintgen in existence!

 

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from A Door in the Dark?

 

 

I know readers have a lot of other things they could be doing besides reading my book. I take that challenge seriously, and I always try to write books that will sink their teeth into you from the jump. A Door in the Dark is no exception to that. It’s a fantasy book, but it’s crossed with thriller in a way that will have the pace moving faster than your typical fantasy. It also has one of my favorite plot twists I’ve ever written.

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for A Door in the Dark? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

This is a fun one to talk about. A Door in the Dark comes from the bones of my very first completed novel. I took it out to agents and stacked up a healthy pile of rejection letters. A few of the characters and pieces of the plot were lifted from that first book. I’ve become a much better writer. And the story itself is way better than the original, but it’s a good reminder that nothing is wasted. Sometimes you’ll revisit an old story and find there are some good bones there, a few things worth reviving.

 

 

 

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

 

 

I’m going to shout out Ren Monroe—my point-of-view character. I feel like Ren is going to find a home with the readers who need her. She’s brilliant, but undervalued. Her position in her society—and at her school—does not reflect what she really brings to the table. And she’s unwilling to simply be set aside for not being born in the right family. Ren isn’t just the smart kid, she’s the cunning one too. There’s a dark side—a willingness to do whatever is needed to survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Ok. Here’s my favorite part. I get an idea. It’s only in my head. It belongs to me. I work on it for a while, shaping it into a story, pushing it more and more. And then one day, it’s on a shelf. You pull it off that shelf and now that idea that was only in my head?! It’s in yours! That is literal magic.

 

 

 

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

 

 

I know that A Door in the Dark just came out, but I always want readers to know what’s what. Book two is absolutely on the way. I’ve completed the initial drafts and it’s in really good shape. If you read and love this first book, trust me, more is on the way.

 

 

 

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

 

 

I am a total cliché. I write in coffee shops. All of the coffee shops. I joke that I’ve got 30 different offices all around the area where I live. These are my favorite places to write, even if it does get super awkward when I have to kill off a character and I’m literally crying while I type. That’s very normal for everyone I’m sure.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Keep going. Keep pushing. Adapt and grow. A Door in the Dark was my tenth book, and it just so happens to be the one that landed on the NY Times Bestseller list. You never know how long the road will be but if you do what you love, without apology, the sky is the limit.

 

 

 

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer our questions, Scott, And good luck with A Door in the Dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello from all of us here at the little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, where Spring has sprung! We’ve got a longer newsletter than normal this time around, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

As we observe Patriots’ Day and the start of April school vacation week, we are happy to bring you the good news that we are returning to hosting both in-person events as well as continuing to provide virtual ones. More information can be found later in this post.


Our sidewalk sale carts continue to make great perusal for bargains, parked outside in front of our windows every day when weather permits. It’s a little preview of the best selection and discounts on new and used books in the city of Worcester.

Currently one of our carts is dedicated to our 2023 Educators Blowout Sale – specially priced titles, including multiple copies of books that are used in classrooms throughout the year and are often assigned for school summer reading lists. Check out these titles!


And when you enter the bookstore itself, treat yourself by taking a peek at our ever-changing displays of featured books and publisher specials. They cover many genres and range for all tastes and ages. All are discounted between 25% to 42% off retail price.

  • ONE FOR MY ENEMY – Olivie Blake
  • THE WEIGHT by Jeff Boyd
  • WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN NOW? – Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
  • BLACK HOLES – Brian Cox
  • BORDERLESS – Jennifer De Leon
  • THE WOMEN’S WAR – Jenna Glass
  • IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS – TJ Klune
  • LONE WOMEN – Victor LaValle
  • WARM BODIES – Isaac Marion
  • THE ONLY SURVIVORS – Megan Miranda
  • ONCE THERE WAS – Kiyash Monsef
  • THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION – K. O’Neill
  • DOG MAN: 20000 FLEAS UNDER THE SEA – Dav Pilkey
  • STRANGE PRACTICE – Vivian Shaw
  • CAMP ZERO – Michelle Min Sterling
  • THE PALLBEARERS CLUB – Paul Tremblay
  • THE COMPLETE MURDERBOT DIARIES – Martha Wells

We are proud to be a part on the ongoing cyclical feature “What Worcester’s Reading” in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Our first list of ten titles appeared on March 9th, and an upcoming Sunday edition will spotlight our new round of picks.


Our Youtube channel has more than ONE HUNDRED filmed interviews and Q&As with various creators… writers, illustrators, editors and more! 

Recent guests have included:

Our upcoming guests include:


And now…. Drum roll please!

THE RETURN OF… UPCOMING IN-PERSON EVENTS AT ABSW!

SATURDAY, April 29TH – ALL DAY: Independent Bookstore Day!

Join us for a full day of bibliomania! Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is proud and happy to participate and to show our appreciation for the community of New England readers and authors.

We will be offering numerous specials and flash sales throughout the day, including deep discounts on the titles mentioned in the newspaper feature “What Worcester’s Reading” running in the Telegram and Gazette.

https://www.facebook.com/events/626318345497421

SATURDAY, May 6TH at 6pm: Book Signing with Paul Tremblay, horror and suspense author!

Join us in welcoming back Paul G. Tremblay, author of the horror and suspense novels A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD (adapted by M Night Shyamalan as the major motion picture Knock at the Cabin), SURVIVOR SONG, DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL ROCK and THE PALLBEARERS CLUB, as well as numerous works of short fiction.

We will have Paul’s current titles available for purchase to be signed, and we will be taking preorders for his newest collection of short stories THE BEAST YOU ARE.

We encourage wearing face masks for the protection and comfort of our customers and staff.

If you cannot attend the event in person but wish to have a signed copy, books purchased at Annie’s can be put on reserve for signing and sent to customers via mail order.

Please RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/1653354448459380

Want a peek at June, too?

Saturday, June 10th at 2pm: Book signing with Rajani LaRocca, author of books for kids and teens!

Join us in welcoming back Rajani LaRocca, whose writing career launched with the middle reader fantasy novel MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Her repertoire includes the picture books SEVEN GOLDEN RINGS, BRACELETS FOR BINA’S BROTHERS, WHERE THREE OCEANS MEET, I’LL GO AND COME BACK, and the upcoming release SUMMER IS FOR COUSINS. Her additional middle grade and young adult novels are MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL, RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE [which won the Newbury Honor award], and her newest release MIRROR TO MIRROR.

We will have Rajani’s current titles available for purchase to be signed.

We encourage wearing face masks during the event for the protection and comfort of our guests, our customers and our staff.

If you cannot attend the event in person but wish to have a signed copy, books purchased at Annie’s can be put on reserve for signing and sent to customers via mail order.

Thursday, June 29th at 7pm -Book signing with Elaine Isaak, fantasy and science fiction author!

Join us in welcoming back Elaine Isaak, whose speculative novels include THE SINGER’S CROWN, THE BASTARD QUEEN, THE EUNUCH’S HEIR, AND A SONG FOR THE SEA.

Elaine wears many hats, as a writer, an editor, and a wearable art designer

.

We will have Elaine’s newest title A WRECK OF DRAGONS available for purchase to be signed.

We encourage wearing face masks during the event for the protection and comfort of our guests, our customers and our staff.

If you cannot attend the event in person but wish to have a signed copy, books purchased at Annie’s can be put on reserve for signing and sent to customers via mail order.

More events are being added, so keep an eye on our Facebook Events Page to plan ahead!

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

—Patty Cryan and the staff at ABSW

 

 

Dean James writes under many pen names, including the name Miranda James, best known for Cozy Mystery stories. In this interview, he talks about his best-selling Cat in the Stacks series, primarily his newest book, WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN. He also talks about writing cozy mysteries in general, and gives a bit of advice for mystery writers. This interview was originally published on August 20, 2021,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fiction (and non-fiction) author Kevin Chong. Kevin is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the novel The Double Life of Benson Yu. He lives in Vancouver with his family and is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

 

 

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

 

 

My website: thatkevinchong.com

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

Twitter and IG: thatkevinchong

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Double Life of Benson Yu?

 

 

I write books in which the stories often are about the telling of stories. In The Double Life of Benson Yu, a writer tries to tell a story about his relationship as a boy with an enigmatic mentor figure, but we realize that he’s telling it in a way to evade the truth.

 

 

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?

 

 

The mentor figure, Constantine, is interested in samurais and there are Japanese swords in my book. So I attended classes in kendo and iaido—martial arts that use swords.

 

 

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out [newest release/spotlighted release]?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

 

There’s a twist in the story midway through it. I was writing the first draft and I realized the story had taken a strange turn from the one I started. I needed to rewrite the first part of the book so that the second part wasn’t so jarring. I tried a lot of things. Finally, I decided that the mysterious figure I reveal in part two is seen in part one.

 

 

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

 

 

There’s a character named C. in my novel, who is a cruel, irredeemable character. He does something really vile in the novel. And I wanted to write him enough that he has a dramatic effect in the story, but not a word more.

 

 

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

 

 

We have cats nowadays, and they’re easier to care for, but I miss my old Labrador, Lexy, because the daily walks I needed to take her forced me away from the desk. Often getting fresh air was enough to help me get through a sticky part in a manuscript or allow me the space for a new idea.

 

 

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

 

 

Self-doubt and putting every other task before writing. I think it’s important to make your writing goals bite-sized. Deadlines are extremely motivating too.

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Kevin. I look forward to hearing more from you during our interview which will be shown on our YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Gutman is the author of 80 + children’s books, including the MY WEIRD SCHOOL series, the BASEBALL CARD ADVENTURE series, THE GENIUS FILES, and many more. In this interview with Selina Lovett from Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, Dan discusses his latest book, HOUDINI AND ME, and his new graphic novels. This interview was originally posted on August 20, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Photo Credit: Anita Lashey

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on young adult LGBTQ+ author Robbie Couch.

 

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

 

 

Hi! I’m Robbie. I grew up in small-town Michigan surrounded by cornfields and now live in big city California surrounded by traffic. I read lots of different genres but love writing young-adult fiction. All three of the books I’ve written thus far center the experiences of gay and queer teens, and I have no plans on changing that anytime soon.

 

 

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

 

 

My books can be found at Barnes & Noble, many amazing local indies like Annie’s, and that one website that’s named after a rainforest and starts with an A.

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

Follow me on social media! I’m active on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

 

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out your latest release, If I See You Again Tomorrow?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

 

Because If I See You Again Tomorrow is a time loop romance a la Groundhog Day, the biggest challenge for me was developing the story arcs of my secondary characters who were not stuck in a repeating day. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to portray fully fleshed out characters with their own stories to tell when they’re unknowingly confined to a single box on the calendar. My approach to smooth out this bottleneck was allowing my MC Clark’s own arc to slowly reveal aspects of his relationships with the others, bringing them more to life on the page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

My favorite part of being a writer is having the privilege to take these completely random, mostly terrible—but sometimes good! —ideas in my brain and translate them into prose on a page. I think stories help us learn, build empathy, and empower us to be our authentic selves, and to think I’m contributing to that magic in my own small way is the coolest thing ever. 

 

 

 

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

 

 

I would say challenge yourself to be a story sponge as you move through the world. And by that, I mean absorb the people, places, and things you encounter every day through the lens of a storyteller. Interesting characters, inspiring settings, and jaw-dropping plot hooks are waiting outside your doorstep waiting to be realized! You just have to take a look.

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Robbie. Good luck with If I See You Again Tomorrow.

 

 

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