Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

Normally our Thursday blog highlights “New Arrivals & Old Favorites”… books that we’ve just unpacked from our publisher partners and wholesale partners.  We’ll post that blog this week on Saturday.  It seemed best for today’s blog to thank everyone who has supported us by reserving appointment slots, and to advise people how our day-to-day business proceeds from here.
We know everyone is getting a bit antsy about how many retail stores aren’t completely open for normal business activity.  The whole world is coping with the COVID-19 epidemic and monitoring attempts to eradicate the disease.  So, as we write this here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside, we understand and you are not alone.  But, patience is essential for the safety of our customers.

Last Friday, Apple Inc. announced they are re-closing eleven US stores, and today made the announcement of quite a few more.  Today, the State of Texas announced it has halted its re-opening plans after a spike in COVID-19 cases.  Arizona and Florida have had substantial jumps in reported cases since they recently proceeded on re-opening business in their states.  Where sufficient precautions weren’t taken and aren’t being taken now, there has been a cost.

We at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester are determined not to increase that cost by failing to use proper caution and the procedure set out by law.  We can do business, we value your custom, and we appreciate you working with us and this situation to keep everyone safe.  There’s a right way to proceed and we’re trying to do it that way.  That is why we will remain appointment-only until the state of Massachusetts declares the opening of Phase 3, for your health and the health of our staff.
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By being months into this situation, all of us have learned a little something about coping in these difficult times.  We are genuinely concerned about the health and safety of our customers, and, of course, our great staff.  In asking you to call ahead for appointments, if you want to come into the store to shop, please know that we need time between groups of customers to clean sufficiently.  This is simply the best thing to do.  It’s also actually the law at this time.  If we need to allow a group in first who scheduled an appointment, and ask you to wait or to come back with an appointment later, it’s all about avoiding the spread of COVID-19, and sticking to the rules in the law.  For now, if you need to come into the store, it’s always best to please call ahead.  And, when it’s your turn, you’ll have the run of the place!

In re-opening, we can’t afford to hire someone to station at the doors all day long to monitor how many people are in the store at one time.  It wouldn’t do much to increase how many people are allowed in at one time anyway, if we could do this, but to keep our pricing modest, we had to decide a Door Dragon was not the best solution for us, as it isn’t best for many others.  In fairness, while we’re allowed to have a certain capacity by law, scheduling appointments and keeping groups (like families) separate, is actually safer, in case someone with the virus actually does enter the store… we get the chance to clean and disinfect between appointments, and prevent some possible contamination.  That seems the best way to go.  This is what works for our operation and for your safety at this stage of economic re-opening.

In spite of the limitations, we’ve had many customers coming in and making up for lost time in shopping for things to read.  We’re very, very grateful so many are choosing to work with us, and are filling our appointment books.  This epidemic has sometimes taken away choices in how to do things.  We chose to re-open, though.  We continue to choose to try our best to satisfy our customers, within the imposed rules.  The situation is incredibly challenging.  We understand as much as anyone how patience is precious these days, and we’re all hoping to get back to more of a normal situation soon.  But, that situation doesn’t exist here and now.  In dealing with it, in partnership with our customers, we wanted to say a little more of what’s going on, and make sure you know all of you have our gratitude for seeing our best attempts on your behalf are always going to be made.

We look forward to hearing from you to schedule an in-store shopping appointment slot or a curbside pickup time, to purchase new titles and old favorites by mail order.
Thank you for your support and your understanding.

As always, the very first and foremost point we wish to say in our weekly updates is THANK YOU. Thank you to our customers who’ve been understanding and supportive through these past few months; thank you to our sales representatives from publishers and wholesalers for supplying us with wonderful titles that we’ve been able to provide through mail order and curbside services.

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For this week, Monday the 22nd through Sunday the 28th, we are still booking appointments, to offer customers private shopping time to be able to have the run of the store, in blocks of either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, for one to six persons at a time. PLEASE CALL IN ADVANCE AT 508-796-5613.  Appointment blocks are available from 11am to 6pm Monday-Friday, and from 11am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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

If conditions permit, we may also offer sidewalk sale shopping this week, and will review the possibility of opening completely on Monday the 29th, although we do expect to have to impose the eight-persons-per-1000-square-feet limit until the state of Massachusetts mandates that Phase 3 has commenced for retail businesses.


We had a wonderful time with our author guests Cat Sebastian and Olivia Waite this past Friday evening during their virtual book talk on Zoom.  Our thanks to everyone who joined us from all over the world to celebrate Pride Month!

A word from our associates at Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts regarding the June LGBTQIA book group discussion:

“Our meeting at the bookstore scheduled for the 27th will work a little differently. We will have the store to ourselves from 6pm-8pm as the store closes at 5 and it will be less of a book discussion and more giving members space to shop and chat. It is limited to only 7 people in the store.”

The June title, LEO LOVES ARIES, is available for purchase.  Please call 508-796-5613 to reserve your copy.


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

Saturday, June 27 at 2PMWilliam Kent Krueger! The bestselling author joins us for a book talk about his titles, including his latest book THIS TENDER LAND. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

Sunday, June 28 at 2PMSarah Beth Durst! This fantasy novelist has titles for both teens and adults, the newest of which is CATALYST. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.


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

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

William Kent Krueger pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Mystery and Literary author William Kent Krueger (Kent).   I asked him to tell us about himself and his writing, and this was his response:

 

Before publishing my two stand-alone novels Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, I was best known as the author of the New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series, which is set in the great Northwoods of Minnesota. My work has received numerous awards, including the Edgar Award for Best Novel, been translated into more than two dozen languages, and optioned by Hollywood. I live in St. Paul, a city I dearly love. I go by Kent.

 

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

 

My works are available anywhere good books are sold, both in stores and through on-line retailers.

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and I have a website: www.williamkentkrueger.com. I post frequently about what’s happening with me and my work, and I keep a calendar of upcoming appearances (virtual visits these days).

 

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

 

Although I typically write mysteries—seventeen in my Cork O’Connor series—I have published two stand-alone novels that I consider companion reads. Ordinary Grace was published in 2013. This Tender Land, my most recent novel, was released last fall. This Tender Land is set in the summer of 1932. It’s the story for four orphans running from the law because they’ve committed a terrible crime—but for the right reason. To escape capture, the embark on a long river journey that eventually leads them down the Mississippi River. I’ve always wanted to write an updated version of Huckleberry Finn. This is my Huckleberry Finn.

 

This tender land

 

What was the inspiration for  This Tender Land? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 Toward the end of my fifth-grade year, our teacher read to the class The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I absolutely loved that story of a kid who was not so different from me having great adventures on the Mississippi. Shortly after that, I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was hooked on Mark Twain. Across all my years as an author, I’ve wanted to write my own river adventure. I tried several times but was never able to find the right structure for the story. Four years ago, I hit on what I believed was the answer. I would pattern the story after Homer’s Odyssey, and the characters in my tale would have encounters that would mirror many of those which Odysseus experienced in his long journey from Troy back to Ithaca. After that, the story came to me fairly easily, though it still took me another three years to complete the work.

 

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

 

The narrator of This Tender Land is thirteen-year-old Odie O’Banion. I love this kid. He’s everything I wished I’d been when I was his age. He’s rebellious, fearless, adventurous, fiercely loyal, and resourceful. In a way, I suppose, through Odie, I experienced the kind of adventures vicariously that I wish I’d had as a kid.

 

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

 

When I used to teach writing, the first thing I would say to my students was this: If you’re here because you think you’ll get rich and famous or you think it’ll be really cool to call yourself a writer, I can pretty much guarantee disappointment. But if you’re here because writing is your passion, because it’s what your heart says you must do, then I can almost guarantee a different experience. And I think in the end it won’t matter whether you become rich and famous. Because you will have spent your life following your heart, and what could be better than that? But I also told them this: If you’re true to that journey, eventually you’ll discover the writer you were always meant to be, and you’ll be writing the stories you were always meant to write, and that’s when the doors will open for you.

 

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

 

I’ve just completed revisions for #18 in my Cork O’Connor mystery series, a novel titled Lightning Strike. It’s a prequel to the series, and I’m quite happy with it. Normally, the book would be released this fall, but due to the coronavirus, publication is being delayed until the fall of 2021.

 

#15, 16 & 17 Cork O’Connor Books:

 

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

 

Until the shelter-in-place order due to the pandemic, I did all my writing in coffee shops. I love the ambient noise in these places. Honestly, it’s much too quiet at home (though I’ve adjusted). Mostly what I need is the coffee and a couple of hours when no one will bug me.

 

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

 

Every writer needs a good editorial eye. If you’re lucky enough to secure a publisher and a good editor, then you’re set. But that’s become rarer and rarer. I was fortunate in that long before I published, I joined a writers’ group, all of us dedicated to writing mysteries. We called ourselves—and I love this—Crème de la Crime. Although writing groups can be problematic, Crème de la Crime was one of the most helpful elements in my development as a writer. My advice, if you’re looking for a group, is to seek out writers who are working in the same genre as you. I believe it’s much more helpful if comments come from others who understand the dictates of your particular genre.

 

Thanks, Kent, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer so many questions for us!

 

WE ARE BACK!!!

Well, we were never really gone, here at your little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside.  We have been doing mail order sales all through the COVID-19 lockdown; we progressed to curbside pickup sales on Monday, May 25th, and now, as of this week, we are open for in-store shopping on a limited basis.

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We are booking appointments for this week and next, to offer customers private shopping time to be able to have the run of the store, in blocks of either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, for one to six persons at a time. PLEASE CALL IN ADVANCE AT 508-796-5613.  Appointment blocks are available from 11am to 6pm Mondays-Fridays, and from 11am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, between now and June 29th.

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


Many thanks to everyone who tuned in to our ZOOM! events this week, with special guests Sara Codair, Felicia Davin, Mike Maden, and Cathy G. Johnson.

Upcoming virtual events for the rest of June include:

Friday, June 19 at 7PM – Cat Sebastian and Olivia Waite! Join us for Pride Month and these two writers of historical queer romance. Co-hosted with Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.

Saturday, June 27 at 2PM – William Kent Krueger! The bestselling author joins us for a book talk about his titles, including his latest book THIS TENDER LAND. Instructions for the Zoom event can be found on our Facebook page.


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

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Gena Showalter pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Gena Showalter. Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of paranormal and contemporary romance novels, as well as young adult, fantasy and soon, non-fiction.  When she isn’t hard at work on her next novel, she’s playing with her menagerie of rescue animals, telling her husband and kids about every cute thing done by said rescue animals, or bingeing favorite TV shows.

Our first question for you, Gina, is, Where can people find your work?

Hopefully bookstores everywhere.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I post often on social media!

Facebook: /genashowalterfans

Twitter: @genashowalter

Instagram: genashowalter

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

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer LOL  It all depends on what you, the reader, likes.  I hope I have something for everyone!  I like to write a variety of tales: dark with moments of humor, light with moments of darkness, series, standalones, paranormals, contemporaries, young adult novels, funny, heartbreaking, quirky.  My males tend to be alphas, and my females tend to be warriors.  I always utilize snark.  But.  Having said all that, if I had to pick one book for new readers to sample, I’d suggested The Darkest King.  I poured my heart and soul into that book.

Readers can expect a strong alpha male with an equally strong female, snark, battles, mythology, and a whole lot of steam!

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What was the inspiration for The Darkest King?  What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to finished book?

From the very beginning, my inspiration for The Darkest King was the hero himself, William the Ever Randy. He’d appeared in other books and always stole the show.  I wanted to create my absolute best story for him.  This brutal prince of hell with a warped sense of humor deserved the best.  Just ask him!  Here’s a bio he wrote about himself:

“Vote sexiest male alive for always, William the Ever Randy—aka the Panty Melter—is best known for killing his enemies in wildly inventive ways, frontstabbing his friends, getting cursed by a scornful witch, and sleeping with anyone breathing.  When he isn’t deep-conditioning his glorious mane of hair, he’s drinking too much whiskey and reminding the world why he’s the best—at everything.”

I took his bio and blew up his entire world with a feisty killer unicorn shifter—the only woman on the planet who can break his curse: if ever he falls in love, the object of his fascination will kill him.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

The Glass Queen hits bookstores July 28th!

Once Upon a Time meets Game of Thrones in book two of Gena Showalter’s magical, romantic dark fantasy series, in which the fairy tales we know and love are prophecies of the future.  Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil, where villains may be heroes and heroes may be villains, it all depends on who you ask.

Ashleigh Ansklelisa may be called the Glass Princess due to her weak heart, but Saxon, king of the Avian, knows she is the most dangerous creature in all of Enchantia, in this Cinderella retelling that sweeps readers into a magical land filled with treacherous enemies, unexpected allies, forbidden love, and dangerous magic!  Can destined lovers find their way to each other, or will evil win the day?  Everything changes at the stroke of midnight as one determined princess fights for her legacy, her love, and the crown that is her destiny.

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Gena, thank you so much for spending the time out of your busy day to answer our questions!

 

Mike Maden pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Thriller author Mike Maden. Mike has written several of the latest Tom Clancy novels, so if you are a Tom Clancy fan, you will love his work! Mike will be speaking to us on a ZOOM call on Wednesday, June 10th, at 7:00 PM, so if anyone would like to join in, please RSVP on our Facebook page.

The first question we always ask an author is if they can briefly tell us a little bit about themselves and their writing.  This was Mike’s response:

 

I’m living proof it’s better to be lucky than good. I write thrillers and, more specifically, techno-thrillers. My fiction writing career began in 2013 with my first published novel, DRONE, and three subsequent books in that series, followed by a four-book series in the Tom Clancy franchise featuring Jack Ryan, Jr. The fourth Clancy book is coming out June 9th titled FIRING POINT.

 

 

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

 

After first stopping at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, readers can go to my website MikeMaden.com for links to print, ebook and audio book versions of my work. Like they say in the ads, you can find my stuff “Wherever books are sold.” (I’m not sure why the ads say that. You’re not likely to find them wherever books are NOT sold, are you?)


How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?


My awesomeness is in very short supply—microscopic, actually—so it is highly rationed and not generally available to the public. However, the rest of my shtick I can be found on Instagram (MikeMadenBooks), Twitter (@MikeMadenAuthor) and Facebook (@MikeMadenAuthor). Conveniently, MikeMaden.com has all of those links as well.


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

I’m a techno-thriller writer which are thrillers with a focus on weapons and technology. There’s lots of action, of course, and I try to highlight current or near-future technology that readers may not be aware of. I write fiction but I always try to tell the truth; in fact, it’s easier to do that in fiction. Sometime the genre veers to easily into violence for violence’s sake. While I have a lot of gray in my wardrobe (to my wife’s chagrin) I loathe it in art. I do believe in moral clarity but also in moral complexity. That’s why I research the historical and political contexts in which my stories take place. I need to understand what motivates the good guys but to build really important and well-motivated villains, I need to know why the “bad guy” thinks he (or she) is actually the hero of the story.

 


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

If I could only share one piece of advice to other writers it would be this: Know thyself. If I could only recommend one book—and, in fact, it’s the only book I recommend to new writers—it would be Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. Finding your way as a writer is the most important part of your journey; the writing itself flows out of that knowledge. “Why?” is always a better question than “How?” because the former almost always solves the latter both for yourself and your characters—and who are we kidding, they’re one in the same, aren’t they?

the war of art

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

 

My favorite tool is my giant white board—which is actually a 4’ x 8’ piece of white panel board I bought at Home Depot for about $15 (https://www.homedepot.com/p/EUCATILE-32-sq-ft-96-in-x-48-in-Hardboard-Thrifty-White-Tile-Board-346428/308731683). I use a lot of “mind mapping” to brainstorm my way through each story problem—or just dream. I do all of my writing on my laptop (MacBook Air) and I break the first draft completely on Scrivener which is the best word processing program in the world to do it—and it’s very inexpensive (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview). I need gallons of coffee to jumpstart my day and sustain the adventure and I migrate between a sitting desk and a standup contraption that works marvelously.


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

That’s a great question! It totally depends. First off, I start my day in meditation and I have a music sequence that helps me get there. Second, I journal—often to other kinds of music to set the mood. During my actual writing time, there are periods when I need absolute silence. Other times, I might use a playlist of music I’ve built up for the particular novel to get me to the place I need to be for an intense action scene or what have you. Mostly I listen to space music or classical—anything without words. But even instrumental music if too complex or distracting can suck away some of the RAM I need to do the hard work of story problem solving.


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 novel, FIRING POINT, is the first novel I’ve written without one of my two dogs at my feet. Literally at my feet. We lost Stella two years ago. She was the one who would curl up inches away from me for hours while I wrote. After she passed, her sister Lucy took over the writing gig but we lost her last year as well. My wife has always been an important part of my life but she’s content to leave me alone to pound the keyboard so it’s just me in the office these days. HOWEVER, once the first draft is finished, she jumps right in and is always my first, best reader. Better still, she reads the entire manuscript to me out loud. Can you imagine? Here’s my pro tip for the day: audiobook sales are becoming a huge percentage of total book sales. By doing an “audio” edit, I’m creating prose that will read and sound better for readers like Scott Brick (www.scottbrick.net) the amazing talent who has read all of my Clancy stuff.

Firing Point


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 prefer dark roasted, pour over black coffee first thing in the morning before working out. Then more of the same after I get home. And a couple of gallons more before I finally hit the rack after nailing my word count.


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


The most challenging problem I have with the writing process is the bleary-eyed fellow who stares at me in the mirror every morning. My theory of writing (stolen from others brighter) is that we read for an emotional experience. Ironically, it’s a writer’s emotions (particularly fear in its various guises) that keep writers from writing well or even writing at all. It’s amazing how many times the voice in my head (whom Pressfield personifies as “Resistance”) tells me I’m a fraud, the story is terrible, etc. Suddenly my fingers freeze, hovering over the keyboard, paralyzed with indecision. It’s only my slavish devotion to a daily word count that saves me from that waking nightmare, day in and day out.

A secondary problem is this: learning to discern between the “editor” and the “creator” in my head. Maybe Left Brain/Right Brain is a physiological myth but it’s a useful metaphor. I like to think of the two competing forces as the cranky Old Editor vs. the reckless Toddler Artist. In reality, you need both to make a novel work. It all comes apart when you put them both in the room at the same time—the Editor will always dominate. The trick is to tell each one that they both get to come out and do what they do best but only when you give them permission to do so. The Toddler plays—day dreaming, doodling, Mind Mapping, whatever—but then the Toddler needs to go and take a nap every now and then. The Old Editor can then wake up from his nap (sorry, I’m a guy; your Editor will vary) and come out and straighten things up: typos, split infinitives, wooden dialogue, plot logic problems, etc. Then the Editor goes back to napping and the rotation continues. An Outline looks like an Editor’s document because of its orderliness. It keeps you on track as you write but even the Outline is only fully realized when the Toddler gets to throw out crazy ideas and see what sticks as it’s constructed. I suppose it’s a constant game of musical chairs between the Editor and the Toddler—but with only one chair which happens to be the one you’re sitting in. Here is the critical challenge that all creatives must overcome: most forms of structure kill creativity (SOPs, anyone?)—but every form of creativity needs some form of structure. Your first task as a writer is to figure out the relationship between those two opposing forces, and like the nuclear force that binds together the nucleus of every atom (which should split apart because of like-charged particles) you must find a way to hold them together to form a greater whole.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy writing day, Mike. We are looking forward to speaking with you on ZOOM next Wednesday, June 10th at 7:00 PM!

 

As we expected, we’re feeling antsy about re-opening.  Two months and counting, and it already seems like forever.

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So, it’s only natural…and actually very gratifying…to hear from customers they, too, are feeling the same way.

We’re finally allowed to have curbside pickup, but only for pre-arranged orders.  By law, that’s still the best we can do for now.

The only hard fact we have about re-opening is it can’t happen before June 8, 2020.  Everything after that is still too vague to allow us to pin a date to our door, our web site, or to use in response on the phone.  The Massachusetts web site showing the details is here: When Can My Business Reopen?

As we’ve said previously, the best we can do is to plan for what will be allowed next.  In this case, we’re taking names and contact info so we can get in touch if the next step is private appointments.  It’s hinted that’s what’s coming for “non-essential” stores like ours.  But, when Thomas Jefferson said “I cannot live without books,” he’s given us a little solace with the notion that, eventually, books are as essential and as American as anything in our culture, and our time and our re-opening will come.

In planning for what’s next, we’re still receiving all the new book releases, more than ever before, ramping up for what we planned would be an epic Summer season for readers.  We’re also working on web-based author events.  We’ll sponsor these so you can stay at home and still enjoy an opportunity to see some great authors…some are local, but we’re trying to make these events world-wide, too!  We’re still running monthly specials, still discount EVERY new book from cover price, still have some pricing well below the deepest of wholesale club deep discounts, still have a growing and deepening selection of new releases, and we’re still Worcester’s neighborhood full-service bookstore.

When we re-open, you’ll see we’ve updated our sale carts, prepared for your Summer reading, enhanced our History section to a full bookcase near the front of the store, added to our Westerns section, gotten many other things ready for you, and you’ll be able to take a closer look at our familiar store and explore it all over again.  We will still do mail order, just like we’re doing now.  And special orders.  And we expect to continue curbside pickup until more is allowed.

But, for now, we’re all trying to find another ounce of patience, hoping you’ll be with us through the current situation, and with us in person when we’re finally allowed to welcome you back in!  We certainly understand those of you struggling to wait.  When the law and the situation tell us it’s prudent, we’ll be eager to re-open our doors!

Stephanie Laurens

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on best-selling Historical Romance Author Stephanie Laurens. When asked to tell us briefly a little bit about herself and her writing, this was her response:

I’ve been a published author for 30 years, and have steadily published historical romances throughout that time, with 40 New York Times bestsellers, and one #1 NYT. I am currently working on my 78th title, and have recently released the latest in my Cynster Next Generation novels.

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

All my titles – from the 1st to the 77th – are readily available online, as digital, print, and audio editions, and print editions for most titles are also available via bookstores. We have good news for readers wanting print editions – we’re moving to Ingrams as a distributor for our print editions, so bookstores everywhere will have easier access to all our latest and upcoming titles.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

The best source of information is my website: www.stephanielaurens.com which is kept up to date with a monthly Letter to Readers, as well as descriptions and details for all my titles, existing and upcoming. There’s also a link to register for my email newsletter, which carries the most up to date info plus links for contests. We’re also on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorStephanieLaurens/

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

I write historical romances which always include a mystery, an intrigue, or an adventure of some sort. The setting is usually England or Scotland – although I have written 2 quartets, one of which, The Adventurers, is set in East Africa, and the other, the Black Cobra Quartet, follows 4 separate journeys from India to England. The time period ranges from 1780 to 1852 – essentially Georgian, Regency, and early Victorian. Most of my works are set in what is generally considered “Regency” – 1810 to early 1820s. My books are usually standalones that form part of a larger ongoing series. In the case of my best known and most widely lauded works, The Cynster Novels, which have now expanded into The Cynster Next Generation Novels, the stories are connected via the family, with the heroes and heroines from one book appearing in the background of other volumes. Other series include The Bastion Club Novels (a group of 8 returning secret agents) and The Casebook of Barnaby Adair Novels, which revolve about a couple who are adept at solving crimes, especially those within the upper echelons of society. Later this year, I will complete the quartet of The Cavanaughs – another family related to the Cynsters – and will also publish the fourth volume in the more lighthearted Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas Chronicles. (See below for book 1 covers)

Cynster cover

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

I started writing this particular brand of historical romance because those were the books I enjoyed reading myself. As a research scientist having to read dry scientific works all day, I used to reach for a historical romance to unwind. I’ve always said that it was my sheer good luck that what I enjoyed reading and writing about was exactly what a lot of other readers enjoyed reading! In many ways, it really was that simple, and a 30 years career has followed. I firmly believe that being able to escape the pressures of modern daily life by stepping into a world that, while easily recognizable and peopled by characters we can relate to, is nevertheless totally divorced from our here and now, being able to follow those characters through challenges to a happy ending, whatever that ending might be, is what draws readers to historical romance and also historical mysteries.

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

To build a career and reach an audience, you have to persevere. That means you have to keep writing and publishing books over many years. Success rarely comes quickly (and if it does, it’s more likely to be a flash in the pan). However, continuing to write doesn’t mean writing the same thing, the same sort of book, over and over again – keep evolving and follow your instincts and write the books you really want to write. Chances are, some readers at least will really want to read them.

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 a black labradoodle named Clio (the muse of history). She’s now 2 years old and keeps me in line. She gets me out for a walk first thing in the morning, then she sleeps while I write, but keeps an eyes on me to make sure I get up and have my morning tea. I can’t work longer than 1:00pm without her being beside me, nudging me to get me up for our long lunchtime walk. Then she naps again until it’s time for my afternoon tea—and her dinner. She starts reminding me about 3:00pm. And then she naps again until about 6:00, when she’s back by my side nudging me to close down the computer and go cook dinner. Not that she gets anything for that – she just has it fixed in her head that come that time of day, I should leave the office and go into the kitchen! She is ultra-rigid about routine and me doing what she believes I should!

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

It’s a somber but hopeful Memorial Day here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside.

On the one hand, the number of cases from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be alarming, and we are proceeding with every caution to keep our employees and customers healthy.  We very much appreciate the support that we have been shown by people placing mail order requests and just calling or dropping us an e-mail to ask how we are.

On the other hand, according to the Governor’s Office, today is the day where we can add curbside pickup for prepaid merchandise to our current mail order service, as part of Phase 1 of the four-phase “Reopening Massachusetts” plan.

curbside

As a retail outlet, we are told that we cannot reopen the retail storefront to the public until the start of Phase 2, the date of which seems to be no earlier than June 8, 2020, and may be pushed back even further.  We are still debating the merits of “appointment-only shopping” to occur either on or before that date.  Please call us at 508-796-5613 or e-mail us at info@anniesbooksworcester.com to put your name on the appointment list.

We have been trying a variety of virtual events on Zoom during this lockdown; our thanks to everyone who tuned in and took part in our science fiction panel, our middle grade fantasy panel, and our author talk with Lois Lowry.  Coming up on Saturday, May 30th at 2pm, we have Storytime With Selina; please join us!

Pride Month is fast approaching, and we’ll be offering specials on LGBTQIA titles, as well as hosting a variety of authors and creators on Zoom. Please keep an eye on our Facebook events.

We’ve added some features to our website for new title releases as well as favorites. Our listings are updated regularly.

Again, many thanks to our staff and to our customers for helping us pull through these difficult months. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve you, and we are grateful for your understanding and your patronage.

May your world be full if wonderful words!

lois image

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on acclaimed Young Adult Author Lois Lowry.  Ms. Lowry will be on a ZOOM teleconferencing call with any of our customers who would like to hear her speak on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 at 2:00 PM. See our Facebook Events page to RSVP!

 

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

 

I’ve been writing books for young people for 45 years and I think I have almost 50 published books now. The best known two are NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER, both of which are frequently used in schools.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Any bookstore or any library!

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I have a website   www.loislowry.com   which is in serious need of updating but the guy who is supposedly doing that appears to have dropped off the face of the earth.  In these pandemic times, everything is so chaotic. So I hope people will forgive the fact that the website is very out of date.

 

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

 

ON THE HORIZON comes from my own childhood memories superimposed onto real past events.  It was both challenging and exhilarating to find the connections between Young Me and American History…specifically, Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. But that was, ultimately, the purpose of the book: to make clear how connected we all are, to one another, on this fragile planet.

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out On The Horizon?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

The frustrating thing was the timing of the release of ON THE HORZON. I was scheduled for a lengthy book tour: many cities, many events, a chance to talk to readers and answer questions.  All of it was cancelled, of course.  So I’ve been trying to make up for it with virtual events, for which it has been a pretty steep learning curve…but also fun.  Last night, during a ZOOM meeting with a book club in Kentucky, one person had a kitten continuously trying to climb up her sweater. And I had my phone ringing in the background, and my dog woofing to go out. But you know what? All of that makes it both intimate and very human.

 

horizon from lois

 

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

 

I felt very connected to Claire, in the book SON, the fourth book in THE GIVER quartet. I think I felt that way because of how passionate and dogged she was in her search for her lost son.  I myself lost one of my sons, so I understood that feeling of loss.

 

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

 

A book of mine called THE WILLOUGHBYS was published some years ago, but it has just become a popular animated movie on Netflix. So the publisher asked me to write a sequel, and The WILLOUGHBYS RETURN will be published in the fall. Also…a book I wrote ten years ago opens during the 1918 flu epidemic, so it is very timely now and is being re-issued with a new jacket; that one is called LIKE THE WILLOW TREE.

 

willoughby's return

 

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

 

I travel a great deal…have been to every continent. It doesn’t detract from writing because my BRAIN always goes with me. And my imagination.

 

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

 

I have a home in Maine, a small house in the Portland area, where I am now sitting, plus a summer home that I love, a 1769 farmhouse in western Maine.  In both places I have a room that is my work space (at the farm, it’s a room just off the barn…there are still feed bins in it). It’s important, I think, to have a serious space dedicated to one’s work…I even refer to both places as “my office.” Otherwise, it would be too easy for people to view writing—especially writing for young people—as a lighthearted hobby.

 

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

 

That I once was a contestant on Jeopardy.  And later became an ANSWER on Jeopardy,

 

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 elderly Tibetan Terrier, Alfie, is always at my feet, snoozing.

 

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

 

For those interested in writing….or illustrating…for children, the SCBWI (Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators) is a supportive and vital organization  Go to their website and read about what’s available through them; it’s well worth the modest dues.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to spend time with us, Lois! We are looking forward to speaking with you on May 23rd!

collage of lois's books 628

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