Author Spotlight: Ursula Wong

04242015 - purple_trees2_ft_onlyAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Ursula Wong, one of the authors who visited us for the Insanity Tales signing. Ursula Wong is a retired Computer Engineer who lives in Massachusetts with her husband and daughter. She has a passionate interest in the craft of storytelling. Her work has appeared in the Spinetingler and Every Day Fiction online magazines. She is a winner of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project fiction contest and her work will appear in their upcoming e-book. While her roots are in rural New England, Ursula has traveled widely. She scuba-dives, swims, and is an avid hiker. Purple Trees is her first novel.

Thank you for joining us, Ursula! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?

In Purple Trees, Lily Phelps is orphaned and in debt at seventeen. Her dark, hidden past causes her to see ghosts. This scared, naïve girl must grow up fast if she is to find work, happiness, and build a future, but the weight of the past threatens everything she loves. Because of her terrible secret, Lily must protect her family from the worst danger of all – herself.

Amber Wolf should be out in the summer of 2015. Its timeframe is 1944 when Russian soldiers invade Lithuania and ravage the countryside and the people. After her mother is murdered, young Ludmelia Kudirka flees to the safety of the forest. Vowing vengeance, she joins the partisans fighting for freedom in a David-and-Goliath struggle against the mighty Soviet war machine.

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

The setting for Purple Trees is rural New England in the 1960s through the 1980s. Families put money into modernizing their barns according to new standards defined by the milk industry, while they cooked their meals on stoves heated by wood. Rotary phones connected to party lines. Bathrooms were just off the kitchen so that heat from the wood stove could warm the room.

What was the inspiration for Purple Trees? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

A key concept to Purple Trees concerns broken ties within the family. Many issues can contribute to this, such as death or divorce. I wanted to explore family love in the case of a woman who survived a childhood trauma so great that it subsequently affected her relationship with her children.

While Purple Trees centers on Lily Phelps as a distressed woman struggling with a past that twists her perceptions, the story is also about love, family, neighbors, self-sufficiency, and coping with things we cannot control. Lily, in her unique way, excels at coping.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Purple Trees? How 04242015 - ursula_4_favoritedid you overcome that challenge?

Even though she has many secrets, Lily shows us many truths. The greatest and most touching, is the ability of children to put the needs of others first. One challenge in writing the novel was constantly getting into Lily’s mindset, and revealing with absolute truth, the world as she sees it.

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

Purple Trees, the story of a woman trying to save her family from her disturbing past, is on Amazon.com

My website is https://ursulawong.wordpress.com

I am also a member of www.thestoryside.com

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

Go to my website and subscribe to my email list for stories, book giveaways, and events. https://ursulawong.wordpress.com/subscribe-to-my-email/

Once again, thank you for being our spotlight author, Ursula!

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Events Buzz Monday: Stealthy Spring

soapbubblesGoodness gracious, everyone, April is almost over!

Have you donated a book yet to the Worcester—The City That Reads book drive? It’s only going on until April 30th. Donate gently used books suitable for K-8 students—or buy one of our books and get an additional 10% off for donation.

There’s also still time for you to win a $50 gift certificate by telling us when you see our ad on WCCA TV 13! Just tell us what day and time, or what show it was paired with, and we’ll enter you into the contest.

And summer, of course, is getting closer. Teachers, educators and parents, please don’t forget to send your school summer reading lists as soon as possible to orders@anniesbooksworcester.com so we can make sure we have your students’ books!

Starting on Sunday, May 3rd, we’ll be open an extra hour every Sunday, so that means you can shop at your favorite Worcester bookstore until 6PM on Sundays!

Here’s a NEW ANNOUNCEMENT too! Our little “bigger on the inside” bookstore on 65 James Street will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on May 2nd with an all-day event of sales (10% more on ALL BOOKS!), treats, and other giveaways—including two raffles every hour from 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM for a chance to win FREE NEW BOOKS from 12 of the genres you can find at our store!

Actually… we’ve got more new announcements, so keep on reading…

Now, onto our events! Below is our ongoing list with updates, but watch our website and Facebook page for even more updates!

THIS WEEKEND:

This Friday, April 24 from 7:00-8:30 PM, our friends, the Worcester Storytellers, return with their monthly open mic—and for April, they are featuring Glenn D’Alessio!

Coming in May:

Sunday, May 17, All-Day: Oziana!

Join us in celebrating the 115th anniversary of the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We’ll be doing Oz crafts, eating Oz treats, and more! Special guest Ryk E. Spoor, best-selling fantasist and author of Grand Central Arena and other urban fables, will drop in for a visit and signing of his newest book Polychrome. Stay tuned for a few more Oz surprises!

Sunday, May 31, starting at 2:00 PM: Literary Genre Trivia

Our popular trivia event makes its triumphant return this month! Test your literary grit for store prizes, socialize with other book-lovers, geek-out over your favorite authors. Join us for a fun Sunday afternoon!

As a reminder, our regular events are…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, 7PM every Monday

Hafta Craft & Storytime Family Drop-in, the third Sunday of every month from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by an adult for duration of stay.

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. For the complete updates and schedules, follow Worcester Storytellers on Facebook!

Literary Genre Trivia [returning in May]on the last Sunday of every month starting at 2:00 PM.

As always, watch the ABSW calendar and our Facebook Page for more details about our events.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Jane Sutcliffe

04172015 - Sutcliffe CoverAnnie’s Book stop of Worcester is happy to host children’s author, Jane Sutcliffe on our Friday Spotlight blog. Jane was part of our Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators this past Saturday, April 11th.

Thank you very much for joining us, Jane! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

I am the author of over two dozen nonfiction books for young readers, ranging from picture books to middle grade books. My latest book, The White House is Burning: August 24, 1814 was a Notable Social Studies book and was named a Blue Ribbon Title by the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books. My newest picture book, Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk, will be out next year.

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

Many of my previous books have been biographies. Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be is not all that different. It is a biography, not of a person, but of a masterpiece of Western art, from its humble beginnings as an unwanted block of stone to its creation by the artist. As familiar as we all are with the iconic David, many people do not realize that Michelangelo was not the first artist to try to carve that particular block of marble. From the first, Michelangelo saw his David—in finished form—in the stone, and then spent three years, day and night, carving away what was not David to complete his work. The result is not only a triumph of vision but also a lesson in sheer muscular determination.

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 always do extensive research before I start the writing process—sometimes too much. Research for me is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Much of my reading for Stone Giant involved not only Michelangelo but other Renaissance artists as well. In a biography collection written in the sixteenth century I came across a fascinating story about a monster painting that Leonardo da Vinci did as a teenager. The monster was supposedly so realistic that it frightened Leonardo’s father half to death. I thought it was a pretty cool story—no one thinks of Leonardo as a teenaged prankster—but it clearly did not belong in Stone Giant. There was only one thing to do. I set aside my research on the David and started writing a picture book about Leonardo and his scary painting. Leonardo’s Monster was published by Pelican in 2010.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do 04172015 - Sutcliffe photoyou think draws readers to these kinds of books?

I’ve always been a bit of a nonfiction nerd. I am hooked by the words “true story.” No matter how scary or mysterious or funny a story is, isn’t it always made better by those words?

I also love the research process in nonfiction. I know that my story is already there in all those details, just waiting to be revealed in the writing. That’s something that Michelangelo would have understood. Writing a nonfiction book really has a lot in common with sculpture. When the artist first saw the block of marble he was to carve, he saw David—his David, the David we have come to know so well. Michelangelo saw his task as simply carving away what was not David. Nonfiction writers are sculptors of words. Our job is to recognize the story that’s waiting in the research and to carve away whatever doesn’t belong. And never, EVER, to add anything extra. How cool is that?

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

So glad you asked. Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk will be published by Charlesbridge in 2016. It is a description of seeing a Shakespeare play at the original Globe, told using Shakespeare’s own words—words that are very much a part of what we say today. It is the story of how phrases like “household words” became, well, household words. And it’s pretty funny, too. Plus it features the wonderful illustrations of John Shelley, who also did the illustrations for Stone Giant. I’ve seen a sneak peak and they are awesome!

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

The usual places—bookstores, online bookstores, or directly from the publisher. I usually have a few in my trunk, too.

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

Hmmm, not sure about the awesomeness part, but I’m always happy to be followed on Twitter (@jane_sutcliffe) or liked on Facebook (search for Jane Sutcliffe, Author).

Thank you, once again, Jane, for the interview and for joining us for the Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators!

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Events Buzz Monday: News, Crafts and Storytime!

04132015 PB panel cropped

Picture book authors Jane Sutcliffe, Joan Duris, Sandra Horning, and Heather Lang at our Carnival of Children’s Authors & Illustrators.

Greetings from the bookstore that’s “bigger on the inside” on 65 James Street! We have had a wonderful weekend here with the Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators and “Together, A Message” with Diane Lewis.

Even more New Arrivals have fallen into our hands! We’ve got some beautiful art books including Edward Gorey and Aubrey Beardsley. Besides those, we’ve also gotten even more cooking and craft books—and to make room for these books, new titles are going out on our Sidewalk Sale carts!

And here is a quick list of other important news points:

  • We’re still hosting donations for Worcester—The City That Reads. Donate gently used books suitable for K-8 students.
  • Enter to win a $50 gift certificate by telling us when you see our ad on WCCA TV 13.
  • Teachers and educators—send your summer reading lists to orders@anniesbooksworcester.com so we can make sure to stock up.

Now, onto our events! Below is our ongoing list with updates, but watch our website and Facebook page for even more updates!

THIS WEEKEND:

This Sunday, April 19, we’re starting our new regular event of Hafta Craft and Storytime Family Drop-in! Craft tables will be set up for families from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM. At noon, we’ll be reading Angelina Ballerina and Angelina and Alice by Katharine Holabird as well as Mother’s Day Mice by Jan Brett. Join us for a morning of family-friendly mouse-making crafts, stories, and creativity. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Also this month:

Friday, April 24, 7:00 – 8:30 PM:

Worcester Storytellers featuring Glenn D’Alessio

As a reminder, our regular events are…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, 7PM every Monday

Hafta Craft & Storytime Family Drop-in, the third Sunday of every month from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM. Children must be accompanied by an adult for duration of stay.

Literary Genre Trivia Night and Literary Genre Trivia Reprise WILL RETURN in MAY on the last Sunday of every month starting at 2:00 PM.

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. For the complete updates and schedules, follow Worcester Storytellers on Facebook!

As always, watch ABSW calendar and our Facebook Page for more details and updates.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Stacy DeKeyser

One Witch CoverAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to welcome Stacy DeKeyser to our Friday Spotlight. DeKeyser, one of our guests for our Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators, is the author of ONE WITCH AT A TIME and four other books for kids. Her books have been listed among the Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year, Amazon Editors’ Picks, KIRKUS REVIEW’s New and Notable Books, and state award lists in Utah, Missouri, and South Dakota. She lives in Connecticut.

Thank you very much for joining us, Stacy! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?

I write for upper elementary and middle school kids. My latest two books are re-imagined folk and fairy tales: The Brixen Witch is my version of the Pied Piper legend, and One Witch at a Time is “Jack and the Beanstalk.” I like to call my books “the unabridged versions” of these old stories. Readers can expect fast-paced adventure and characters they will fall in love with.

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

I love all my characters in One Witch at a Time, but Susanna Louisa really surprised me. She grew up a lot as the story progressed, which was something I didn’t really plan. It was one of those things I could only learn by sitting down and writing the story.

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think 04102015 - DeKeyser photodraws readers to these kinds of books?

I love writing re-imagined fairy tales, because to me they have so many unanswered questions or lapses in logic. For example, why is Jack smart enough to outwit a giant, but dumb enough to trade an entire cow for a handful of dried beans? So I wrote my own version, to fill in the blanks and discover the rich layers that are lurking under the surface of these classic stories.

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

I love every single bit of it. Every new book is a new challenge, which is scary but exciting too. I love writing a new chapter, and finding out what happens next. Sometimes I’m really surprised. Greatest lesson: Nothing will happen in my writing career if I don’t sit down and make it happen.

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 Scout decorates my office with her toys, and she takes me for a walk every day, so I can get fresh air and exercise, as well as think through a story problem and look for birds and chase squirrels. (Well, somebody chases squirrels.)

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

Anywhere books are sold, in stores or online. If you don’t see it on the shelf, the bookseller can order it for you and have it delivered to your home.

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

Lots of ways!

At my website: stacydekeyser.com

Facebook: Stacy DeKeyser Writes for Kids

Twitter: @StacyDeKeyser

Pinterest: pinterest.com/stacydekeyser

Thank you again for joining us, Stacy! We look forward to having you in person at 65 James Street this Saturday, April 11, for our Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators.

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NEW ARRIVALS THURSDAY – April 9, 2015.

Polychrome2Hot off the presses and hot on our shelves…. The beginning of a new month means new book releases in hardcover and in paperback for adults and for children in a multitude of genres.

For adults:

* INSIDE THE O’BRIENS [hardcover] by Lisa Genova, author of STILL ALICE

* THE GRACE OF KINGS [hardcover] by Ken Liu, co-author of THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

* THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE [hardcover] by Ann Packer, author of THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN’S PIER

* POLYCHROME [paperback] by Ryk E. Spoor, author of PARADIGMS LOST

For kids and teens:

* DOLL BONES [new in paperback] by Holly Black, co-author of THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES

* JUST ELLA and PALACE OF MIRRORS [paperback reissue] by Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of RUNNING OUT OF TIME

* PALACE OF LIES [new in hardcover], also by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the third entry in her PALACE CHRONICLES series

Keep an eye on our shelves for more new and exciting releases.

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

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KIDS AND TEENS WEDNESDAY – April 8. 2015.

nescbwi[This week’s installment of KIDS AND TEENS WEDNESDAY was written by ABSW owner Patty Cryan.]

If you come to our event this Saturday, April 11th with members of the New England chapter of SCBWI [Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators], you’ll find a fine spread of titles spanning many age ranges, genres and interests.

* Stacey DeKeyser is the author of the middle grade fantasy novels THE BRIXEN WITCH and ONE WITCH AT A TIME, inspired by such classic fairytales as “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”, as well as the young adult realistic novel JUMP THE CRACKS.

* Joan Duris is the author of B IS FOR BERKSHIRES, an alphabet book illustrated with gorgeous photographs and full of fascinating facts about western Massachusetts.

* Sandra Horning is the author of the early reader [Level 1] of CHICKS!, covering one family’s exploration of nature’s lifespan from egg to chick to grown hens and roosters. In addition, she has written two picture books – THE GIANT HUG and THE BIGGEST PUMPKIN.

* Heather Lang is the author of two non-fiction picture books focusing on the biographies of extraordinary women. QUEEN OF THE TRACK tells the story of Alice Coachman, Olympic high-jump champion and her journey from rural Georgia to victory at the 1948 Olympics. THE ORIGINAL COWGIRL shines a spotlight on the wild adventures of Lucille Mulhall, a trailblazer of the 1890’s who dazzled rodeo audiences with roping and lasso skills.

* Ann Haywood Leal is the author of the middle reader novels THE FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE and ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER, both of which deal with difficult issues that many emerging teens can relate to.

* Jane Sutcliffe is the author of numerous biographies and non-fiction for various ages. Two of her illustrated titles include THE WHITE HOUSE IS BURNING, depicting the events of August 1814 during James Madison’s presidency, and STONE GIANT, exploring the backstory behind the creation of Michelangelo’s masterpiece “David”.

* T.J. Wooldridge is the author of the middle grade fantasy titles THE KELPIE and THE EARLE’S CHILDE, which follow the adventures of Heather MacArthur, her friends and family, and a number of fantastic creatures from Celtic mythology, as well as the middle grade science fiction novel SILENT STARSONG, which explores disabilities and the powerful bonds of friendship.

All titles are available for purchase or reorder here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, located at 65 James Street. All authors will be speaking and signing throughout the day on Saturday, from 11AM to 5PM.

We hope you’ll join us.

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