04142014 - Steles of the SkyAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester of 65 James Street welcomes award-winning author Elizabeth Bear to our blog today! Bear, a Massachusetts resident and native New Englander, is a writer of fantasy and science fiction and is owned by a Giant Ridiculous Dog. She’s a multiple Hugo award winner as well as a rock climber. She’ll be visiting the store on Saturday, May 10 from 3PM-5PM celebrating the release of her newest book, Steles of the Sky, the conclusion to her first Eternal Sky trilogy.

Thank you very much for joining us , Elizabeth! For those who are not as familiar with your work, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m a bit little-c catholic in my writing, I’m afraid–I’ve written everything from historical mystery to high fantasy to hard science fiction to urban fantasy to supernatural thrillers. Basically, I would say that the common element in my work is that it all concerns people trying very hard to be decent in a difficult universe.

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

I wound up reading everything I could get my hands on on Central Asia and Eurasia in the 8th-14th centuries, with special focus on the Mongolian Khanates. These aren’t in any respect historical novels, although it’s not uncommon for reviewers to characterize them as such–but they bear the same relationship to Central Asian history and cultures as more typical American and British epic fantasy do to the history and cultures of Europe. Which is to say, an inspirational one.

I’m fortunate in that a whole bunch of the personal history of Genghis Khan is pretty well known now, due to a marvelous document known as The Secret History, which was written shortly after his death by an intimate of his family as a personal record of his life. I drew a great deal of inspiration from that.

My favorite story, though, involves finding out how you cook marmot in the field. In modern days, this involves a blowtorch, but two hundred years ago you would have buried the little critter in a bed of coals. Apparently marmot meat is very tasty, but very tough.

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

I have so much love for Hrahima, the Cho-tse. She’s a sort of anthropomorphic tiger warrior-monk who has lost her religion, even though she has an intense and personal connection with the Immanence that her species considers the creative force. It’s as if she doesn’t believe in God, and he drops by once a while for coffee so they can hash that out.

Also, she’s extremely sarcastic, and I very much enjoy writing characters who have a mouth on them.

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

I’m a third-generation nerd on both sides of the family, so the literature of the fantastic is the literature I grew up with. One of my grandfathers was a Howard fan; the other loved Asimov. My dad adores Jack Vance and my mother loves Ursula K. Le Guin.

It would have been weird if I didn’t like science fiction and fantasy, with that background.

I can’t speak for all readers, but for me, the magic of speculative fiction is just that–the speculation, the what-if. The ability to play on big canvases, and the live-without-a-net aspect of having an entire world to explore and invent.

Awe, and the nuances of characterization in big-canvas scenarios. And aliens. And dragons. Which I guess is all three of those things rolled into one.

Definitely dragons.

What else can we expect from you in the near future?04182014 - bear picture

Later this year, my modern-day Las Vegas fantasy, One-Eyed Jack, will be out from Prime. I have also just handed in a Wild West steampunk novel featuring heroic parlor girls and an oft-misrepresented historical character, entitled Karen Memory, and Sarah Monette and I are hard at work on what is currently scheduled to be the final Iskryne novel, An Apprentice to Elves.

I’ve also just sold two big-idea space operas to Gollancz. The first, Ancestral Night, will be out in late 2016.

And I’ve sold three more Eternal Sky novels to Tor. The first of those will be out in 2017.

The current trilogy is a complete arc, though–it comes to an end, I promise! This isn’t one of those fantasy trilogies that just keeps getting longer.

I also did a script for the Zombies, Run! smartphone running game, which will be out a little later this year. (The game is available now, but my episode hasn’t “aired” yet.)

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

Rock climbing and cooking. Not necessarily in that order. I also run, but that’s more a necessary side effect of the second passion than a passion on its own. Ahem.

I’m fortunate to be a full-time writer, so in my case it’s more a factor of needing to find ways to not work all the time. The problem with being self-employed is that the job will expand to fill every bit of space if you let it, and that way lies madness, physical incapacity, and not having any friends.

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

I’m actually pretty careful not to establish writing rituals. Because I travel so much–my partner lives in Wisconsin, and we commute–I need to be able to park it anyplace and get typing. But I do have a preference for airy rooms with good light and someplace I can sit with my feet elevated.

Also, wrist braces. If I have one piece of advice for anybody who’s going to be wearing out a keyboard every 18 months, it’s this: watch your ergonomics, and take care of your wrists.

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 Giant Ridiculous Dog. He’s an 8-year-old Briard, a retired show dog named Ace. He helps by barking out the window, making me go for frequent walks, and sighing heavily when I have been ignoring him for too long.

I also have a stepcat, who belongs to my partner, Scott. His name is Muse, and Scott calls him “the most ironically named cat in the world.” Muse enjoys drooling on me while I try to sleep, jingle balls, and racing around the house like a mad creature.

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?

Tea. My partner refers to me as “tea-powered.” He’s one hundred percent correct.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

As one of the world’s biggest fans of independent booksellers, [I suggest] they absolutely should check locally-owned bookstores first. By supporting stores like ABSW, readers aren’t just supporting a local business–they’re also making sure that their favorite writers are on shelves–and that makes it easier for new readers and new writers to find each other. Which means that the bookstores stay open, and that the writers can afford to keep writing new books. Also, local book stores are staffed by people who love books and read them and can make personalized suggestions of what’s awesome.

Ahem. Sorry. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s one of those things where it’s easy to put a quarter in my slot and get a rant out, so to speak.

My current series, a central Asian themed epic fantasy collectively entitled the Eternal Sky, just completed with Steles of the Sky, is available at Fine Brick and Mortar Booksellers Everywhere in the US and also In The Internets and also at some selected international bookstores. I’m involved in a collaborative fiction project, Shadow Unit, which concerns the adventures of a group of unrealistically sexy FBI agents as they strive to protect humanity from the worst monsters imaginable. You can read that for free at http://www.shadowunit.org, or the episodes are available in ebook form through the usual sources.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

I’m all over the internet! I’m at http://www.elizabethbear.com, and I am username “matociquala” just about everywhere–twitter, tumblr, google plus, livejournal.

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview, Elizabeth!  We look forward to having you at our store on Saturday, May 10, 2014 from 3PM-5PM to celebrate the release of Steles of the Sky!

04142014 - Steles of the SkyOur blog post is a wee bit later than usual, for which we apologize. Hooray technical difficulties!


Anyway, onto the events and news!

Here’s a reminder for our new Spring Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

And a reminder about our Children’s Book Drive:

Big box by the register. Gently used and new children’s books appropriate for K-8. Purchase here and donate/ bring in to donate. Happening through May 15. Help promote literacy for Worcester’s children!

Our comic special:

A newly replenished assortment of comics being sold at half cover price. (Not the ones behind the register–those are special vintage, and though a bit more expensive, also very cool!)

Nooooww, events:

Friday, April 25. 7-8:30 PM: Worcester Storytellers

Diane V. Mulligan reads from her latest novel, The Latecomers Fan Club, after the regular open mic session.

Thursday, May 1. 7PM: Bigelow Free Public Library YA Panel

Offsite event ar Bigelow Free Public Library in Clinton, MA. Three YA authors will share a panel discussing their books and taking questions from the audience.

Friday, May 9. 7-9 PM: Mystery and Romance for Moms

Panel of romance and mystery novelists sharing their books for a cozy and sweet evening. New Info: Line-up includes Judith Arnold, Audrey Nicholson, Penny Goetjen

New Event! Saturday, May 10. 3-5 PM: Award-winning Elizabeth Bear Signs

Award winning science fiction and fantasy author Elizabeth Bear comes in to sign Steles of the Sky, the conclusion to her epic fantasy Eternal Sky trilogy.

Friday, May 23. 7-8:30 PM: Worcester Storytellers

Joe Fusco, Jr., reads from his new collection of essays and poetry, Three Score, after regular open mic.

End quick and dirty transmission of news and events.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Ann04112014 - WHITE KNIGHTie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to welcome Bracken MacLeod to our author spotlight this week! Bracken is the author of Mountain Home and White Knight, and is work has appeared in Sex and Murder Magazine, The Siren’s Call e-zine, twice in Every Day Fiction, and most recently at SHOTGUN HONEY. He also has stories in the anthologies, The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, Anthology: Year One, Femme Fatale: Erotic Stories of Dangerous Women from Go Deeper Press, and the New England Horror Writers anthology Wicked Seasons.

ABSW: Welcome, Bracken! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

BRACKEN MACLEOD: I’m a former martial arts teacher, former college philosophy instructor, and former attorney. It took me the better part of twenty years to admit to myself that I don’t enjoy fighting as much as I thought I did. I’ve been writing longer than I’ve done anything else, however, having started back when I was in grade school. I’ve told the story a couple of times about how I approached a holiday writing assignment in the fifth grade by crafting a splatterpunk battle royal between Santa Claus and H.R. Giger’s xenomorph (SPOILER: Santa kicks the hell out of the alien). Fortunately, I grew up in a different time, and was only sent home with a sternly worded note about what I should be allowed to watch on television. Today, I suspect I would have been expelled, arrested, and put in counseling.

ABSW: For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your forthcoming novella, WHITE KNIGHT?

BM: My work is cross-genre, straddling lines between horror, thriller, and crime. I like to think of myself as a “Secular Horrorist.” Some of my short stories are supernatural, but made-up beasties and indistinct specters don’t scare me like real world terrors like mass shooters and people who pleasure in and profit from others’ suffering. I don’t believe I can make a reader feel an emotion if I don’t feel it first while I’m writing. Therefore, most of my work is firmly rooted in reality. WHITE KNIGHT is seasoned by my horror influences, but I’d be lying if I said it was anything other than a straight up hardboiled crime thriller.04112014 - Bracken pic

ABSW: What was the inspiration for WHITE KNIGHT? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

BM: WHITE KNIGHT was inspired in part by my very first legal job. I’ve been reluctant to write about my experiences in criminal law mainly because I feel those people’s stories are not mine to tell. But this book is told from the point of view of a young prosecutor who is learning that the reality of the job is nothing like what he’d imagined. Burn out, heartbreak, and disaffection with the law is definitely my story. When I was a new attorney, I started out picturing myself strapping on armor to slay dragons. At the end, it felt like I was tying my own noose every morning. This is not a memoir, however. It’s fiction. The first three chapters are as close to me writing anything informed by my old career. From there, I was inspired by my favorite crime writers like James M. Cain, Eddie Bunker, and Andrew Vachss.

ABSW: What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out WHITE KNIGHT? How did you overcome that challenge?

BM: The biggest hurdle was to make the story go the places I wanted while steering clear of the more clichéd notes in hardboiled fiction. A lot of crime novel protagonists start the story at rock bottom. I wanted my character to be growing world-weary, not already a bitter self-medicating drunk. He’s happy in his marriage too, which goes against type. Unlike the character who wakes up alone in a rathole hotel with a pounding hangover and a burning sensation when he goes to the bathroom, my protagonist still has everything to lose. He’s not climbing out of a hole as much as he’s racing toward one he can’t see.

As far as challenges in putting out the book, there haven’t been any yet. Ron Earl Philips at One Eye Press is a pleasure to work with. Between working with him and my other publisher, Books of the Dead Press, I am a very lucky writer indeed!

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

BM: I am a New England man; Massachusetts lives in my heart and imagination like few other places do. That said, while White Knight takes place in the greater Boston area, my novel, MOUNTAIN HOME, is set in northern Idaho. For that book I required a setting that fulfilled all the physical and spiritual needs of the story. I suppose I could written it to unfold in rural New Hampshire or Maine, but having once lived in the Gem State I also felt a special kinship for its unique beauty. Although Idaho and I are not always on speaking terms, there is a lot to love there–there is a lot worth fighting for there. I suppose that’s what’s most important for me as a writer when it comes to setting–do I love the place strongly enough for that to come across in the book? I want to write about universal themes and relatable situations, but I also want the setting to say I cared about where I put my characters. Where they are is important. Yeah, New England is important to me as a writer, but so is anyplace that says something about the story and the struggles that the characters are enduring.

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

BM: There is never enough time to do everything, but I don’t think a writer who doesn’t make time to live is going to have anything worth saying to a reader. I have a lot of interests including camping, travel live music, wine, and tattoos. If it weren’t for camping in Northern Idaho, I wouldn’t have had the idea to write Mountain Home. In that regard, my tattoo artist (Jason Loui at Iron Works Tattoo in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) has been working on a piece on my chest for the last two years now, so that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. (I thought I knew pain until the needle hit my sternum, by the way.) My novel in progress–tentatively titled, “Marked”–is in part about tattooing and what it means to wear your stories and secrets on your skin

ABSW: Where can people find your work?

BM: After looking in Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, natch, people can find my free work at http://brackenmacleod.wix.com/author-site#!free-stories/cb9o and my novel and anthologies at http://amazon.com/author/bracken.macleod.

ABSW: How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

BM: Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/An.Adversary ) and http://brackenmacleod.com are easiest.

Thank you very much for joining us, Bracken! Good luck with all your writing work.

DWM472We at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester would like to announce a special promotion for the month of April!  We have just received copies of DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #472.  The cover price on this issue is US$9.99; we’d like to offer a special price as a “thank you” to those who regularly read our blog.

Between now and May 1st, customers who come in to the bookstore and who mention that they saw this offer in our blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, will be able to purchase this issue for US$5.00!!!  Customers who are not geographically able [within the United States] to get to our bookstore can contact us by telephone at 508-796-5613 or by e-mail at info@anniesbooksworcester.com, and we’ll mail them DWM#472 for US$8.00 postpaid!!!  


In addition, we are offering any of our other magazines at $1.00 off the cover price when purchased at the same time as DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE#472.

This includes back issues of DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, as well as TORCHWOOD, REALMS OF FANTASY, DREADWORKS JOURNAL, and MYTHIC DELIRIUM [perfect for National Poetry Month].

Get some great reading at a great price!

Again, this sale only runs until May 1, 2014.

Thank you, as always, for your patronage and support.

—Patty and the staff at ABSW




04072014 - Poetry displayHappy National Poetry Month!

ABSW on 65 James Street welcomes our visitors with a lovely poetry display at the front of the store. We have quite a few collections from local authors on sale at the store. Definitely check it out for your healthy dose of verse this month!

We’ve also updated our hours for Spring. We will be open:

Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

You may also notice a big box up at the register for a Children’s Book Drive. ABSW has joined with the “Worcester: The City That Reads” program to help promote local literacy. Gently used and new children’s books, appropriate for Kindergarten through 8th grade, may be purchased here and / or donated here to help our city’s children have better access to literature for school and summer reading programs. The drive goes until May 15th.

The store, working with Mike’s Comics, has also acquired some new comics!…well, some old comics that are new to the store. We’ll be selling them at half cover price—with some titles with cover prices as low as 30 cents…and we’re sure at that price some of them won’t last long here. Come in and look at this collection as part of our standing selection of comics priced at half their cover prices. (Vintage comic titles behind the register are NOT part of this half-price sale.)

Besides all this, we also have some events coming up for you to check out!

This April, on Friday April 25 from 7-8:30 PM, Worcester Storytellers returns to feature Diane V. Mulligan reading from her latest novel, The Latecomers Fan Club, after their regular open mic session.

And we’re already planning for May!

On Thursday, May 1st, starting at 7PM, ABSW will be doing an off-site event at Bigelow Free Public Library in Clinton, MA. Three YA authors will share a panel discussing their books and taking questions from the audience. The featured authors are Gina Rosati, author of Auracle; Erin Cashman, author of The Exceptionals; and Diana Renn, author of Toyko Heist and Latitude Zero.

Then, on Friday, May 9th from 7-9 PM, we’re having a special Mystery and Romance for Moms to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early. We’ll have a panel of romance and mystery novelists sharing their books with us for a cozy and sweet evening. More information to come!

After that, Worcester Storytellers returns on Friday, May 23 from 7-8:30 PM, for their open mic featuring Joe Fusco, Jr., who will be reading from his new collection of essays and poetry, Three Score.

Whether you’re stopping in to see our latest selections and sales or checking out one of our events, we welcome you to keep visiting Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at 65 James Street.

And may your world be filled with wonderful words!

Convention table1As April approaches, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester embarks on our convention season!

Some of our friends and staff have already started their busy conventions, and we are planning to go to a few ourselves, which means you may just get some cool pix of our events on our blog.

This week, our Events Coordinator, Trisha Wooldridge, is away at Conbust at Smith College.

Look for us at some of the other local conventions and conferences in 2014!

03242014 Time Bomb CoverWe at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on 65 James Street are firmly determined to see spring and summer! No matter what the weatherpeople tell us!

So, we are already planning our summer hours. Stay tuned to the website and blog for those updates!

And we are also getting our sales carts ready for our Summer Sidewalk Sale. For a little sneak “peak,” expect some really cool used DVDs along with historical romance, suspense, literary fiction, and more!

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for Sunday’s Women of Myth and Legend! While Francesca Forrest had to cancel due to the flu, Terri-Lynne DeFino and T.J. Wooldridge had a wonderful conversation about the various myths and legends that inspire them—along with some fun information about their publishing journeys.

We still have the Worcester Storytellers regular Open Mic night on Friday, March 28, from 7-8:30 PM, who will be mixing things up with some poetry! The featured reader will be Richard Fox, who will be sharing from his poetry collection Time Bomb. And on Friday April 25 from 7-8:30 PM, Worcester Storytellers returns to feature Diane V. Mulligan reading from her latest novel, The Latecomers Fan Club.

As mentioned in our last email, we are postponing our Dark Carnival of Authors Fundraising Event until June 21-22. More information to come for that shortly!

May your world be filled with wonderful words!