Events Buzz Monday: Plots And Plans For A Great Summer!

The weather outside our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside is hazy, hot and humid, building up for an overcast and rainy week to come.  But inside you can find some of the coolest books, gifts and events in the whole city of Worcester.

If you’re missing the sun this week, pick up a copy of our June new book special, IF I WAS THE SUNSHINE by Julie Fogliano and Loren Long.

sunshine

Many thanks for those who attended Saturday evening’s Rainbow Readers book discussion group, and to those who stopped by for our small but stalwart Bloomsday memorial.

We are continuing to add in-store and offsite events to our repertoire, and are happy to solicit ideas from the New England community.

july2019

Here’s our schedule of upcoming events for the remainder of June and for the month of July:   

As a reminder, the majority of our events here at ABSW are free and open to the public. Check out our page on SocialWeb.net!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 17, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 24, 7PM-9PM – The Free People’s Artists Workshop! This critique group meets on the fourth Monday of each month. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

SPECIAL EVENT: Friday, June 28, 7PM-10PM – Fancy Nancy Pajama Party! Start your summer off right with an evening of dress-up fun and fabulousness.  Wear your fanciest pajamas! Bring your favorite stuffed animal! It’s a Fancy Nancy pajama party! Join us for crafts, stories, games and more! PREREGISTRATION ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED! Space limited to 25 children. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.] 

RECURRING EVENT: Sunday, June 30, 2PM-3PM – Doctor Who Monthly Meetup! Join us for a monthly meeting of fans as we talk about the world’s longest-running science fiction series and its classic and modern incarnations – television, novels, audios, comics, and more. This is a kid-friendly and adult-friendly gathering; all are welcome.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, July 1, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, July 8, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 11AM-2PM – Pete the Cat’s Christmas In July! It’s a mixed-up groovy bag of holiday activities celebrating the world’s coolest feline, Pete the Cat! Join us for Christmas in July with Pete-themed games, songs, crafts, and activities.
PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Space and supplies are limited. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.]

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 6PM-8PM – Book Signing with Lauren Acampora!  An evening of spinechilling suspense… The award-winning author of the story collection THE WONDER GARDEN will be here to read from and sign copies of her new novel THE PAPER WASP.

SPECIAL EVENT: Sunday, July 14, 1PM-3PM – Book Signing with Marjan Kamali!  Acclaimed author Marjan Kamali enchanted us in 2013 with TOGETHER TEA, and will be here to read from and sign copies of her new novel THE STATIONERY SHOP.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, July 15, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 20, 6PM–8PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month. All are welcome!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, July 22, 7PM-9PM – The Free People’s Artists Workshop! This critique group meets on the fourth Monday of each month. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

SPECIAL EVENT: Wednesday, July 24, 11AM-2PM – Let’s Go To The Moon! Craft Day A drop-in craft day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s manned moon landing in 1969. We’ll have an assortment of astronomy crafts to make and take home, as well as space books for sale! Children must be accompanied by parents at all times.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, July 29, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

SPECIAL EVENT: Wednesday, July 31, 2PM-8PM  – Harry Potter Day! Stay tuned for details about our annual celebration of The Boy Who Lived!

Exciting things are happening at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside… more opportunities to serve the Worcester community… more book talks, more author signings, and more workshops.  Keep an eye on the Events Calendar on our website for more details.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight – Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst photo

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Fantasy author Sarah Beth Durst. Sarah is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Girl Who Could Not Dream. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She grew up in Northborough, Massachusetts, and now lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. For more information, visit her at sarahbethdurst.com.

 Thanks for being here with us, Sarah Beth. Our first question for you is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)

 You can find my books wherever books are sold.

 How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 My website (www.sarahbethdurst.com) has info on all my books, including excerpts if you’d like to get a taste of what my books are like.  I’m also on Twitter (@sarahbethdurst), Facebook (www.facebook.com/sarahbethdurst), and Instagram (www.instagram.com/sarahbethdurst).

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

 I write fantasy for two reasons:

  1. Dragons are awesome.
  2. I believe fantasy is (or can be) a literature of hope and empowerment. By engaging with classic themes such as the survival of the human spirit in the face of impossible odds and the triumph of good over evil*, fantasy can act as both an escape from darkness and as a light to guide you through darkness.

I love that feeling when you close a fantasy book and the world seems a little more magical than it was before — and you feel a little stronger than you were before.

* At first, I accidentally wrote “the triumph of good over email” — which may also be true.

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

Lots of sea monsters!  And lots of dragons!

I write fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids.

My newest book for adults is The Deepest Blue, an epic fantasy about an oyster diver who is about to marry the love of her life when an unnatural storm hits her island.  To save her family, she has to reveal that she has the power to control the bloodthirsty nature spirits that plague her home.  After the storm ends, she’s arrested by the queen’s soldiers and brought, with other women of power, to an island of spirits and left without food, water, shelter, or weapons.  Whoever survives will become heirs to the queen.

And my next book for kids is SPARK (coming May 14), about a girl and her storm beast (a.k.a. lightning dragon) — and how even the quietest voice can change the world.  When a shy girl and her lightning beast discover that their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep cost, they must defy authority to spread the truth.

 

The Deepest Blue

 

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

Right now, my cat is sitting on top of me, and I’m reaching around her to type — and that’s how I write most of my books.

I sometimes wish I could write in cafes or coffeeshops like so many other writers.  Or outside, on a beach or by a lake.  But the truth is that I eavesdrop too much in cafes, and outside, there’s too much glare on my computer screen.  Also, outside has mosquitoes.  I write best at home, at my desk, with a bag of Raisinets nearby. 

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

I love listening to music while I write.  I find it helps keep me focused — I think it distracts the hypercritical part of my brain, which is especially key when I’m working on the raw first draft and need to be in creative mode.  Sometimes I even set up book-specific playlists.  For instance, when I was writing THE DEEPEST BLUE, I listened to the soundtracks from Wonder Woman, How to Train Your Dragon, and Moana.

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

My debut novel for kids, INTO THE WILD, was set in my childhood hometown.  In that book, fairy tale characters are living in secret in our world, specifically in Northborough, Massachusetts.  The Agway rooster comes to life.  And Bancroft Tower in Worcester transforms into Rapunzel’s tower.  I even have a scene set in Spag’s…

My two most recent books aren’t set in this world at all.  THE DEEPEST BLUE takes place in a land full of bloodthirsty nature spirits, and SPARK features a world where dragon-like storm beasts and their guardians control the weather.  But New England did shape who I am as a writer and as a person.  I grew up in Northborough (which we spelled without the “ugh” at the time), and I wrote my very first story in Mr. Bostock’s fifth grade class at Lincoln Street Elementary School.  I kept writing through middle school and high school at Bancroft School in Worcester, encouraged by wonderful teachers such as Ms. Tsang (Elizabeth Johnson).

 

Spark cover

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 the writing itself.  I love the act of stringing words together to bring characters and a world to life.  That’s not to say it always goes smoothly.  But whether it’s going well or not, I am happiest when writing is a part of my day.

I think that’s actually the greatest lesson I’ve learned: You have to love the journey.

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

Ignore writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Every writer has a different process.  Some outline; some don’t.  Some write a little every day; some write a ton over a short stretch of time then recover.  Some write slowly and meticulously; some write quickly and then revise multiple times

The key is to find what works for you.

Also, be kind to yourself.  You wouldn’t pull up a carrot to see how well it’s growing, so don’t critique your own story before it’s done developing… unless that method works for you, in which case ignore this advice too.

But you should still be kind to yourself!  And if you ever get stuck, just add a dragon.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thank YOU very much for taking the time to answer our questions, Sarah Beth!

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Events Buzz Monday – When Cliches Ring True!

That saying about, “So many books, so little time” fits like a glove here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside.  We’re [happily] buried under shipments of new and pre-read books in our attempt to fulfill your needs for required school summer reading, as well as titles to indulge in just for fun, from the latest thrillers, memoirs and beach books to some tried-and-true old favorites for every age from one to one thousand.

summertake2

We are still compiling lists from the various schools, and are more than grateful to make copies of the ones you’ve already received, so that we may serve you better as Worcester’s independent full-service bookstore.

Our thanks to our marvelous guests from this past weekend, and to those who came out to meet them.  Autographed copies of books by Erin Dionne, Rajani LaRocca, and Jeff Hecht are available for sale here, either in-store or via mail order.

And we’re planning even more fun this summer!

Here’s our schedule of upcoming events for the remainder of June and a sneak peek at the month of July:   

As a reminder, the majority of our events here at ABSW are free and open to the public. Check out our page on SocialWeb.net!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 10, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, June 15, 6PM–8PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Ardulum: The First Don by J. S. Fields. The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month. All are welcome!

[June is Pride Month across the United States; we carry a full line of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books for a range of LGBTQIA readers year-round.]

IN-STORE SALE: Sunday, June 16, 10AM-5PM – Bloomsday 2019: Celebrating James Joyce’s ULYSSES! Bloomsday is named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of the Irish author James Joyce’s seminal work, ULYSSES, which is set entirely on June 16, 1904. Cities around the world hold some sort of Bloomsday celebration for decades. The Worcester version involves readings in several locations approximating the sites visited by the characters of the novel in their own ramble through Dublin, June 16, 1904.
Copies of ULYSSES, as well as DUBLINERS and A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, are available here for sale at heavily discounted prices at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, for those of you participating in this year’s ramble.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 17, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 24, 7PM-9PM – The Free People’s Artists Workshop! This critique group meets on the fourth Monday of each month. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

SPECIAL EVENT: Friday, June 28, 7PM-10PM – Fancy Nancy Pajama Party! Start your summer off right with an evening of dress-up fun and fabulousness.  Wear your fanciest pajamas! Bring your favorite stuffed animal! It’s a Fancy Nancy pajama party! Join us for crafts, stories, games and more! PREREGISTRATION ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED! Space limited to 25 children. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.] 

RECURRING EVENT: Sunday, June 30, 2PM-3PM – Doctor Who Monthly Meetup! Join us for a monthly meeting of fans as we talk about the world’s longest-running science fiction series and its classic and modern incarnations – television, novels, audios, comics, and more. This is a kid-friendly and adult-friendly gathering; all are welcome.

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 11AM-2PM – Pete the Cat’s Christmas In July! It’s a mixed-up groovy bag of holiday activities celebrating the world’s coolest feline, Pete the Cat! Join us for Christmas in July with Pete-themed games, songs, crafts, and activities.
PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Space and supplies are limited. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.]

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 8PM-8PM – Book Signing with Lauren Acampora!  An evening of spinechilling suspense… The award-winning author of the story collection THE WONDER GARDEN will be here to read from and sign copies of her new novel THE PAPER WASP.

Exciting things are happening at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside… more opportunities to serve the Worcester community… more book talks, more author signings, and more workshops.  Keep an eye on the Events Calendar on our website for more details.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight – Erin Dionne

Erin Dionne pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Middle Grade and Children’s Book Author Erin Dionne, who will be signing her new book at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Saturday, June 8th from 1-3 PM along with Middle Grade and Children’s Book Author Rajani LaRocca. Erin is a mom, college professor, and children’s book author (not always in that order). She loves to write about kids who face real-life challenges and who are on the “outside” of their community.

Thanks for being here with us, Erin. The first question we’d like to ask you is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)

They should check here first! They can find my books anywhere books are sold, and libraries, where they can read them for free.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

I’m on too much social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. You can find links to all of my sites on http://www.erindionne.com

Thank you for having me! I’m so excited to be at Annie’s!

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

I like to say my books are “smart with heart.” Much of what I write are contemporary humorous stories for and about kids at pivotal points in their lives—dealing with friendship changes, realizations about the role of adults in their lives, or school issues. Secrets of a Fangirl deals with many of these issues, and centers around the idea that sometimes we hide who we really are to impress people we probably shouldn’t be friends with in the first place. There’s also movie makeup, lacrosse, lies, and a science fair project gone off the rails.

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 did a lot of research on cons (fan conventions), cosplay (dressing in costume to go to cons), and fan culture. When I was first thinking about this book, back in 2014, I corralled a bunch of college students from my classes, fed them pizza, and asked them to talk to me about their fandom and con experience so I could figure out what threads I wanted to explore in the story. A lot of them talked about cosplay hierarchy—how making your own costume is the best way to go (and the more realistic you can make it, the better), while purchasing a costume is looked down upon. I found this so interesting!  There was also a lot of conversation around sexism and ageism in cons and fandom. Although I didn’t get into the politics of costuming at cons, a lot of the book revolves around sexism and ageism.

Fangirl cover

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

I love all of my characters, but in this book, I really fell in love with Hannah, a minor character. I wanted readers to not be totally confident in whether or not she’s on the main character’s side. I hope that came across!

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?

By far, my favorite part of being a writer is connecting with readers. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from a reader (of any age) that they connected with my book and characters. And as a children’s book author, I get to go out into the world and talk with kids at school visits or via Skype—so I get to see their enthusiasm for good books. As for lessons, the biggest one for me has been that small acts of support and kindness to kids and aspiring writers mean more than we realize. I’ve had people circle back to me years later and tell me how my interaction with them was meaningful in ways I’d never expect. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.

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

Critical! With one exception, all of my books have been set in a fictional village outside of Boston. And my 2014 novel, Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, is a love letter to Boston—and revolves around the Isabella Stewart Gardner art heist!

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

Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t.

Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Erin, and we look forward to seeing you here this Saturday!

 

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Events Buzz Monday – The Whirligig Life!

Our heads are spinning in the best possible ways here at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside.  So much to see, so much to do… new books are arriving daily, our stockpiles of required summer reading titles for students from preK through high school are growing, and the weather is utterly gorgeous!

June is Pride Month across the United States, and we continue to carry a full line of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books for a range of LGBTQIA readers.

junepride2019

And don’t forget Father’s Day!

fathersdisplay2019

Here’s our schedule of upcoming events for the remainder of June and a sneak peek at the month of July:   

As a reminder, the majority of our events here at ABSW are free and open to the public. Check out our page on SocialWeb.net!

RECURRING EVENT: TONIGHTMonday, June 3, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

signings062019

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, June 8, 1PM-3PMBook Signing with Erin Dionne and Rajani LaRocca! The author of the middle grade novel MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM and the author of the middle grade novel SECRETS OF A FANGIRL will be here to read from and sign their books.

SPECIAL EVENT: Sunday, June 9, 1PM–3PM – Science Talk with Jeff Hecht! Join us in welcoming science fiction author and technology writer Jeff Hecht for a far-out afternoon. He’ll be signing his newest book LASER BEAMS, DEATH RAYS, AND THE LONG STRANGE QUEST FOR THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 10, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, June 15, 6PM–8PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Ardulum: The First Don by J. S. Fields. The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that meets once a month. All are welcome!

IN-STORE SALE: Sunday, June 16, 10AM-5PM – Bloomsday 2019: Celebrating James Joyce’s ULYSSES! Bloomsday is named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of the Irish author James Joyce’s seminal work, ULYSSES, which is set entirely on June 16, 1904. Cities around the world hold some sort of Bloomsday celebration for decades. The Worcester version involves readings in several locations approximating the sites visited by the characters of the novel in their own ramble through Dublin, June 16, 1904.
Copies of ULYSSES, as well as DUBLINERS and A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, are available here for sale at heavily discounted prices at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, for those of you participating in this year’s ramble.

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 17, 7PM-9PM – Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social! Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

RECURRING EVENT: Monday, June 24, 7PM-9PM – The Free People’s Artists Workshop! This critique group meets on the fourth Monday of each month. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

SPECIAL EVENT: Friday, June 28, 7PM-10PM – Fancy Nancy Pajama Party! Start your summer off right with an evening of dress-up fun and fabulousness.  Wear your fanciest pajamas! Bring your favorite stuffed animal! It’s a Fancy Nancy pajama party! Join us for crafts, stories, games and more! PREREGISTRATION ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED! Space limited to 25 children. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.] 

RECURRING EVENT: Sunday, June 30, 2PM-3PM – Doctor Who Monthly Meetup! Join us for a monthly meeting of fans as we talk about the world’s longest-running science fiction series and its classic and modern incarnations – television, novels, audios, comics, and more. This is a kid-friendly and adult-friendly gathering; all are welcome.

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 11AM-2PM – Pete the Cat’s Christmas In July! It’s a mixed-up groovy bag of holiday activities celebrating the world’s coolest feline, Pete the Cat! Join us for Christmas in July with Pete-themed games, songs, crafts, and activities.
PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Space and supplies are limited. [Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.]

SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday, July 13, 8PM-8PM – Book Signing with Lauren Acampora!  An evening of spinechilling suspense… The award-winning author of the story collection THE WONDER GARDEN will be here to read from and sign copies of her new novel THE PAPER WASP.

Exciting things are happening at our little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside… more opportunities to serve the Worcester community… more book talks, more author signings, and more workshops.  Keep an eye on the Events Calendar on our website for more details.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

Posted in Announcements, events, Hello from Annie's, Monday | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Author Spotlight – Rajani LaRocca

Rajani pic

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Children’s Book Author Rajani LaRocca, who will be signing her new book at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on June 8th from 1-3 PM along with Children’s Book Author Erin Dionne. Rajani was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area with her wonderful family and impossibly cute dog. She is a writer of stories for children, doctor of adults, and baker of too many sweet treats. Her debut middle grade novel, MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM, is inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the hours she’s spent watching competitive baking shows.

Thanks for being here with us, Rajani. Our first question for you is, Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)

You can find my work anywhere books are sold, in bookstores and online. In addition to Midsummer’s Mayhem, I have several forthcoming picture books that will publish in 2020-2022.

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

My website is: https://www.rajanilarocca.com/   You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @rajanilarocca, and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rajanilaroccawriter/. You can also follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18056266.Rajani_LaRocca

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

Midsummer’s Mayhem is an Indian-American middle grade mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking. It’s about 11-year-old Mimi, who dreams of winning a baking contest in her town to finally prove she’s not the least talented member of her large family. But she loses her best helper when her food writer dad returns from a business trip eating everything in sight and mysteriously unable to distinguish between delicious and disgusting food. Mimi follows strangely familiar music in into the woods behind her house, where she meets a golden-eyed boy and bakes enchanting treats with him using exotic ingredients they find together. Then everyone around her starts acting loopy! Mimi must use her skills, culinary and deductive, to figure out what’s going on. In the process she learns that in life as in baking, not everything can be sweet. . .

Midsummer's Mayhem cover

 

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?

Some of the research involved finding appropriate lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to weave into the book (in the story, Mimi’s older brother is acting in a local theater production). It was fun to sift through Shakespeare’s beautiful words looking for specific themes that related to my story.

I also had to do quite a bit of culinary research to come up with the recipes for the book. That was challenging at times, but I was willing to risk burned fingers and an expanding waistline for my art. I tried to come up with unusual and complementary combinations involving herbs and spices, and I also took some of my favorite childhood desserts and reinvented them as baked goods. I managed to come up with at least one frosting that my daughter says is quite addictive!

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

Midsummer’s Mayhem is set in a fictional town called Comity, which is modelled after my own hometown of Concord, MA. Comity, like Concord, has a lot of famous people who have called it home. . .and in Midsummer’s Mayhem , we find out why! Another important aspect of the setting is the Comity Woods, which are inspired by the conservation areas in Concord. The woods are the backdrop for all kinds of magic and mischief!

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

My debut picture book, Seven Golden Rings, will publish in 2020 with Lee & Low Books. It’s a story set in ancient India about Bhagat, a boy who tries to save his family by earning a place in the Rajah’s court. Seven golden rings will determine whether he succeeds. This story teaches kids the basics of binary numbers!

I also have forthcoming picture books from Candlewick and Abrams in 2022, and some others I can’t talk about yet!

I’m working on two middle grade novels as well.

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

I love cooking, baking, reading, and traveling with my family. When I’m not writing or doing these things, I’m a primary care doctor. I make time for what I love by scheduling some of these activities ahead of time; my family also reminds me when it’s time to take a break.

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 dog Boomer is the sweetest, cutest companion I could ask for. He reminds me to live in the present, to walk in the sunshine (or the rain or snow, as the case may be), and to eat snacks whenever they are available. His beautiful amber eyes inspired a key aspect of one of my favorite characters in Midsummer’s Mayhem.

Rajani's other half

 

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

To me, the most challenging part of writing and publishing is the waiting. . .and there is a lot of it! When I was submitting to agents, the waiting was tough. But nothing compares to the excruciating waiting of being on submission to editors. My way of dealing with this challenge is to try to keep busy writing another book—and that’s why it’s so great to have multiple projects going at once.

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

It’s important to surround yourself with the right people—ones who help you. I’ve been fortunate to find wonderful critique partners who are so positive and supportive but also give me real and useful feedback on my work. And I wouldn’t be able to survive the rollercoaster of publishing without my endlessly supportive husband and incredible children, who believe in me even when I find it challenging to believe in myself.

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

These organizations have helped me learn the craft of writing and connect with fellow writers:

SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) www.scbwi.org

The Writers Loft https://www.thewritersloft.org/

Grub Street in Boston  https://grubstreet.org/

Writers.com

The Highlights Foundation https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/

The Writing Barn http://www.thewritingbarn.com/

Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Rajani, and we look forward to seeing you here on June 8th!

 

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Remembrance And Honor – Memorial Day 2019.

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We will not forget those who died to protect us, nor will we forget to cherish those who continue to serve.

Heartfelt thanks to our country’s active and retired military.

—The staff of Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester.

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