Author Spotlight: Trisha J. Wooldridge

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine their light on Trisha J. Wooldridge, who will be the featured reader for the August Worcester Storytellers Open Mic and Featured Reader event on Friday, August 25, from 7:00 – 8:30 PM.

Besides also coordinating events and managing consignment at our 65 James Street store, Trisha J. Wooldridge writes short stories, novellas, novels, news articles, and poetry about bad-ass faeries, carnivorous horses, social justice witches, capricious deities, Tarot cards, vengeful spirits—and mundane stuff like food, hay-eating horses, social justice debates, Goth bands, writer advice, and alcoholic spirits. As child-friendly T.J. Wooldridge, she’s published three scary children’s books. She’s a freelance editor of over fifty novels and two anthologies. For 2017, she’s been part of the Blackstone Valley Artists Association Artist and Poet Pairing featured at the Worcester Public Library in May. Her fiction and poetry are also in four other anthologies for 2017, Supernatural Horror; Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a benefit anthology for the Jimmy Fund; Dark Luminous Wings (coming October 2017); and Wicked Haunted, a Journal of the New England Horror Writers anthology (coming October 2017).

Thanks for joining us, Trish! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?

I like writing about the darker, scarier corners of life because I believe you can’t really appreciate the good, joyful, and light things without also knowing and appreciating the full spectrum of life, the choices people make, and the world around us. I also am a firm believer that children can handle the darkness better than adults—and can learn from it better than most adults too.

I’ve been writing since I could run home with vocabulary sentences in grade school, and I’ve been writing stories since about twelve. Most of them will never be shared at this point, but in doing all that writing, I learned how to write better.  I also have been helping others write since grade school, through high school, and through college as a tutor or teaching assistant. Helping others also is one of the best ways to learn how to write.

There’s magic in wordsmithing and being a bard, and I like living in a world where magic exists.

 

What are some of the inspirations for your writing? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished piece?

I get inspiration from all over the place.

With the project I did with the Blackstone Artists Association over the winter and spring, I was paired with an artist, photographer Mike Zeis, who does amazing work. The idea of this project was that we were to inspire each other to create—we’d each create an initial piece, and then we’d trade and create a piece inspired by that initial piece. We decided to meet for coffee, and the conversation with Mike just filled me with inspiration—I wrote the rough draft of my first poem “Unfinished; perfect” that same day. When I received his first piece, a photo of a distorted negative of a church, several things attacked me at once and the piece I decided to finish was “Photographic Salvation,” which is a picture of a dystopian future where all faiths, including Christianity, are persecuted—and the lengths an individual will go for their faith.

With “Manipulation,” which came out in June in the Supernatural Horror anthology, I’d written a flash version of that story some years ago as a way of dealing with a very painful experience with a once-close friend who had borderline personality disorder and was abusing our relationship. I sold the flash (1000-word) version, but one of the critiques I’d gotten suggested I flesh it out more. I did so and sent a 4000-word version to the anthology call, and they chose it!

In Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which came out in July and is an anthology where 100% of the proceeds go to the Jimmy Fund, I sent in the poem “The Circus Under the Bed,” which is actually part of a new children’s book I’m working on of the same title that includes poetry interspersed between chapters of a story about the Dream Figment that live under people’s beds—born from the moment one wakes up from a scary dream.  I play with fears and how fears become real monsters in people’s lives without love and support to balance things out.

My short story, “Cemetery Angels,” which is coming out in Dark Luminous Wings in October was written a few years after my father passed away and is set in the cemetery he and my grandparents are in—St. Stanislaus in Holyoke, MA—and is based on an old news story I remember my mom reading to me when I was young about some young guys robbing people who were didn’t lock their cars while they were paying respects to their deceased family.

Also coming out in October is a story-poem that might or might not have broken my brain, but is very dear to me. “Ghosts in Their Eyes” is 5000 words of a rhymed and metered piece about everything that scares and hurts me about nursing homes…as I’ve recently spent a fair amount of time in them with now-deceased friends and family members.

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What is the biggest challenge in writing and putting out your work?  How did you overcome that challenge?

All of the pieces that have come out this year originate from painful experiences or things that frighten me or disturb me—and it is hard to go into that place in your mind and heart and explore those things you’d rather run away and hide from.

On top of that, I find poetry especially difficult. It’s so much harder than prose, yet it’s so loud in my head when it is demanding I write it.  I hadn’t intended poetry while I was writing The Circus Under the Bed (last year’s NaNoWriMo novel project), but it just kept running in my head and wouldn’t let me focus on the prose until it came out.  Writing my world building in poetry form helped me get a feel for the people and cultures I was creating for my Under the Bed folk.

For “Ghosts…”—that was brutal writing. I was working a minimum of an hour a day, sometimes two or three, and getting out squirts of maybe 200 or 300 words at a time. Normally, I can average around 700-1000 words of prose written in an hour.  I begged for two extensions while I beat this poem into a full plot, into stanzas, arranged the stanzas and the chorus, and then did a polishing proofread.  For those last two weeks, when it was most intense, I found myself even sending texts and email with unintended rhyme and meter!

I overcame them by pushing through, by listening to my heart, and by a lot of work.

 

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

Don’t rush to be published. Make sure what you submit to others or what you finally publish (for those who self-pub) is your very best.  It takes a lot of editing, it takes listening to critiques, and it takes a lot of practice to make sure your work has the most impact.  I see a lot of writers rushing to submit things or self-publish things that aren’t ready, that still have plot holes, that are not well edited… And I hear these people say, “I just want it done. I just want it out there.”

Writers are selling themselves short, and selling their readers short, if they don’t take the time to make sure they are putting out quality work.  None of the things I got published this year took less than several months—if not years, a fair amount of feedback, and a LOT of rereading and fixing before it got to where it is.

Work on several projects, put the effort and time into making them as perfect as possible, and then give them to the world.

 

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

Dark Luminous Wings and Wicked Haunted both come out in October. I’ll be at Rock & Shock in Worcester, the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, and in Salem with the New England Horror writers promoting those in October.

In the less near future…

Besides cleaning up and getting The Circus Under the Bed ready to send out to agents, I’ve got three different novellas that I’m cleaning up to send out to markets—all more in the realm of science fiction and science fantasy rather than straight horror or dark fantasy.  I’m regularly sending out poetry, so hopefully I’ll have more of that out next year too… and a few secret projects.

Oh, and I’m finally working on a mailing list… so keep an eye out for that!

 

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

Animals! I adore animals. I used to volunteer at the Bay State Equine Rescue—until I rescued my own horse, Calico Silver. So, I am officially a “Crazy Horse Girl.” I also have developed a fondness for chickens at the barn where Calico lives… so I do hang out with them too.

I also read Tarot and lead a monthly Tarot Study Group at Generations Herbal Apothecary in Oxford, MA.

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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?

Besides my horse, Calico, I also have a ginormous black bunny, Vash, who—with his siblings—was dropped off at the barn a few years ago.  He is about 11 lbs and nightmare black. He is also the most people-loving of all my furry friends. When he’s wandering around the house, he’ll grab pant legs and tug until you pet him.  If it’s been too long between pets while he’s in his indoor bunny condo (the thing is a too-floor monstrosity the height of a small bookcase and three times the depth), he will start throwing things around and pushing up the top door and until someone comes and loves him. Vash “helps” by making me take breaks from staring at the computer for hours. 

Nylis the Cat is another rescue. My brother originally got her from a shelter as a baby, but then he moved—so she moved in with me.  She likes her adoration in short five minute spurts and she will meow when the assigned petting time comes due. Usually right when I’m in the middle of an intense scene or difficult part. Because that is what cats do.

My special barn friend, who is not my animal companion in particular, but who I’ve formed a bond with is the mini-rooster, Chickaletto,” who lives in the chicken coop across the hall from Calico at the barn. He comes when I call and allows me to pet him. I am one of very few people he lets walk into the coop without having their ankles attacked. 

 

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

I am a big supporter of writers joining groups, clubs, and professional organizations. I wouldn’t be where I am today as an author without the support, the information, and the friendships I’ve found through a variety of places:

Broad Universe

New England Horror Writers

Worcester Writers Collaborative

Worcester Storytellers

Horror Writers of America

Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators

Massachusetts Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

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

Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, which has my novels as well as many of the anthologies I’ve been in over the years, you are likely to find my novels, as well as many of the anthologies I’m part of, in libraries and other independent bookstores around the New England area. You can also check the usual online suspects.  A quick Google search will bring up me and my work and where to buy it!

 

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

My website:  www.anovelfriend.com

My Facebook: www.facebook.com/TrishaJWooldridge

I’m also very Google-able as Trisha J. Wooldridge, T.J. Wooldridge, and A Novel Friend

 

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Events Buzz: Middle of August

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We’re about halfway through August! Have you met your Summer Reading goals? Do you have a new list of books to buy for the semester? Stop into our 65 James Street store! We have shelves and spinners full of classics and reading lists from the local schools!

Are you a teacher or an educator? We’re also in the middle of Educator Appreciation Week at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. We offer a 10% educator’s discount on our new and used books all year ’round, but during our annual Educator Appreciation Week every August, we offer an additional 5% to help you restock your shelves. This means that from Saturday, August 12th through Sunday, August 20th, new books will be 35% off and used books will be 65% off. Store credit may be used on used books during this sale to make your purchase price even lower. Just bring in your MTA card, your pay stub, or your state certification as a homeschooler at the time of purchase. (Please let the cashier know before ringing up your sale.)

We had a wonderful time this weekend with the Rainbow Readers to discuss Misfits by Garrett Leigh and with author Mackenzi Lee as we celebrated the release of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Thank you to everyone who came out!

THIS THURSDAY, August 17, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM, join us for our Doctor Who Discussion Night – Open Topic. “Open Topic” means anything goes—but please no spoilers! Come and talk about our favorite time-traveling doctor!

And next week…

Friday, August 25, 7:00 – 8:30 – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic and featured reader Trisha J. Wooldridge.

Sunday, August 27, 2:00 – 4:00 – Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire Reading, Signing, Q&A. ABSW expects this to be a full event. Pre-register and pre-purchase titles to ensure you get a copy and a seat!

As a reminder, here are our regular events…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, every Monday 7:00 PM (except for when the Free People’s Artists Workshop meets the fourth Monday of the month). Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. Join the Worcester Storytellers for their open mic and featured reader every month. August is Trisha J. Wooldridge! Next meeting is August 25.

The Free People’s Artists Workshop, the fourth Monday of each month from 7:00-9:00 PM. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association. Next meeting is August 28.

Doctor Who Discussion Nights, the third Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. Next meeting is August 17.

The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that will meet once a month, usually on the third Saturdays, from 6:00-8:00 PM. Next meeting September 16.

As always, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

If you had a great time shopping or at any event at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at our 65 James Street location, you can leave us a review on TripAdvisor or leave us a review on Yelp.

 May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Kathleen Rowe

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine a spotlight on Kathleen Rowe, who came out to the store last week to give a talk about the Charles River, including activities families can do on and around the river.

We had a wonderful time chatting with Kathleen at the event. If you missed it, here’s a peek at how cool she is!

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

Although I started out in Colorado, I have come to know and appreciate New England for its natural beauty and culture. I have been interested in the Charles River for a long time, wanting to explore and learn about it then to paint some of its scenes and to write about it.

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

Readers can expect, along with the history of this famous river, places to visit and trails to follow, events to attend, and suggestions for taking to the water.

What kind of research went into writing this book?

The research included many driving/walking trips and many hours of research with books, articles, and websites.

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

When I began researching the river, in Milford, I saw it disappear underground in Milford and after a bit of searching, I found it on the other side of the main street of town behind someone’s back yard.

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

The inspiration for my book was the result of many trips along the river and explorations into its history. I am a curious individual who loves to learn and make new discoveries.

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Exploring the Charles River?  How did you overcome that challenge?

Editing and re-editing took a lot of time and care.  However, I am determined to stay with the process.

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

I think it is my overall sense of curiosity and desire to learn that propels me to learn more. The readers tend to be people who love the outdoors, especially those who want to know where to hike, tour the river in a boat, or fish.

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 this experience has been that it has opened doors for me to present before groups and then enjoy the interaction with my audience. People at these presentations love to reminisce or share their experiences or discuss the places of interest they have found.

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

Discipline is very important. I struggle with getting back into my craft when I have been pulled in other directions. I need a more regular schedule.

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

Besides the obvious interest I have in nature in general and the River in particular, New England is an area where history seems to be more revered, maybe because it goes back farther than in many other parts of the country.

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

I would say that a person needs to be passionate about their subject.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?

I would like to be asked how I acquired this interest – which is in the Preface of my book and which I share with the groups when I speak.

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

I will write more nonfiction on a related topic – maybe in the direction of biographies of notable environmentalists.

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

My other passions include painting, gardening, and reading.

What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?

My paintings include watercolors of natural settings, and I have painted some scenes of the river. 

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

It is usually a bit messy, unfortunately, but it is a pleasant surrounding with art work and a pretty lamp. When I need more light in my workspace (especially during rainy days), I go upstairs to the dining room where there is a lot of light from different directions.

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

I can be a perfectionist, which I often need to put aside when painting and in the early phases of starting a blogpost. BTW the blogposts keep me fresh in my writing and encourage me to research areas where there may be uncertainty.

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

My favorite adventures have been the hikes I have taken with friends.

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

Silence is usually fine. If there is background music, I keep it low.

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 don’t have furry or feathered friends at my side. It would probably help to have a romp with a pet from time to time.

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?

There must be small snacks like nuts and seeds and hot or cold teas (as far away from the computer as possible – learned the hard way).

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

I still need to learn more about promoting my work and publicizing my speaking engagements of which there have been many lately.

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

I have been assisted by membership in Independent Publishers of New England.

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

My book Exploring the Charles River is featured on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at Independent bookstores. You may order from the company who published it: Merrimack Media, Boston. I also maintain a blog at: explorethecharles.com.

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

You may want to be at one of my book talks. I turn up in a variety of places – libraries, bookstores, group residences, and environmental organizations.

 

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Events Buzz: Welcome August!

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It’s August! Have you achieved your Summer Reading goals? Do you still need to find books? We’ve put together our shelves based on lists our local schools sent us, and if we don’t something you need, we can also order it for you. And if you’re on vacation and traveling, we can even send the books to you! Hurry in before summer has hurried out.

A few notable news items…

Congratulations to author Mackenzi Lee, who will be at our store on August 13, from 2:00 – 4:00 PM!  Her latest novel, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue just won the New England Book Award for YA!

Congratulations also to author Morgan Sylvia, whose debut novel Abode will be featured in Library Journal. We got to spend some time with Morgan at the Northeast Writers Conference and are carrying copies of her novel in our Local Author section!

We at ABSW are proud of the fabulous events we put on at our 65 James Street location, as well as some of our offsite locations—and we appreciate everyone in the community who comes out to support us!  August continues to keep us excited with its upcoming events! Take a look…

THIS SATURDAY, August 12, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Rainbow Readers Presents Misfits by Garrett Leigh.

In this 2015 LAMBDA FINALIST, restaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn. Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.

Starting THIS SATURDAY August 12, and continuing through Sunday, August 20, ABSW hosts their annual Educator Appreciation Week, featuring special discounts for teachers and home-school educators. Come in and see what surprises we have for you!

And THIS SUNDAY, August 13, from 2:00 – 4:00 PM, we’re excited about our Rainbow Readers Presents: Mackenzi Lee Reading, Signing, Q&A. Besides being a New York Times’ bestseller and a champion of queer fiction, Mackenzi recently won the New England Book Award for her recent release, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Also, she’s a lot of fun to chat with! You don’t want to miss this fun Sunday afternoon!

And for the rest of the month…

Thursday, August 17, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night – Open Topic.

Friday, August 25, 7:00 – 8:30 – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic and featured reader Trisha J. Wooldridge.

Sunday, August 27, 2:00 – 4:00 – Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire Reading, Signing, Q&A

As a reminder, here are our regular events…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, every Monday 7:00 PM (except for when the Free People’s Artists Workshop meets the fourth Monday of the month). Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. Join the Worcester Storytellers for their open mic and featured reader every month. August is Trisha J. Wooldridge! Next meeting is August 25.

The Free People’s Artists Workshop, the fourth Monday of each month from 7:00-9:00 PM. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association. Next meeting is August 28.

Doctor Who Discussion Nights, the third Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. Next meeting is August 17.

The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that will meet once a month, usually on the third Saturdays, from 6:00-8:00 PM. Next meeting August 12.

As always, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

If you had a great time shopping or at any event at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at our 65 James Street location, you can leave us a review on TripAdvisor or leave us a review on Yelp.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Events Buzz: Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! Also August Events!

Harry Potter American Books

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

Thanks for joining our special Happy Birthday, Harry Potter celebration!  All the titles are in stock, including the brand-new paperback release of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD.  Come see our table display in the middle readers and teen room.

Speaking of children’s literature and favorite books, have you seen our selection of Summer Reading titles? We’ve put together our shelves based on the lists our local schools sent us, and if we don’t something you need, we can also order it for you. Come in before you run out of summer to read those books!

And in just another few days,  we’re having another event for family fun…

THIS THURSDAY, August 3, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, hang out with Kathleen Rowe, author of Exploring the Charles River.

Exploring the Charles River is the perfect guide to fun areas for exploration with friends and family along Boston’s famous body of water, using the river’s course as a pathway, showcasing scenic bridges, walkways, and hidden delights along the Charles in an easy-to-carry paperback that also describes Boston’s rich history.

Author Kathleen Rowe, former English teacher and dedicated environmentalist, will take you on a journey along this famous waterway, narrating her slide presentation of the many scenic and historic sites she has photographed and will invite you to share your own experiences along the Charles.

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And then THIS SUNDAY, August 6, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, join us for Sharon Pywell’s Romance Reader’s Guide to Life.

A haunting, darkly funny and compelling tale of sisterhood that deftly weaves together shades of The Lovely Bones with a pirate romance, The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life proves that sometimes the guiltiest of pleasures contain some essential kernels of truth about life. And you should always be kind to dogs.The novel has been hailed as “Smart, funny, and compulsively readable” (Kirkus Reviews) and “Deliciously entertaining” (Chevy Stevens, New York Times best-selling author).

Sharon Pywell grew up on the edge of Upstate New York’s snow belt.  She has published in a number of literary quarterlies and held residencies at the MacDowell Colony.  Her previous novels include What Happened to Harry and Everything After.  Professionally, she has run dog kennels and dance companies, though she now teaches and writes in Boston.

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And for the rest of August…

Saturday, August 12, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Presents Misfits by Garrett Leigh.

Saturday, August 12 – Sunday, August 20 – Teacher Appreciation Week – Special Discounts for Teachers, Educators and Homeschoolers!

Sunday, August 13, 2:00 – 4:00 – Mackenzi Lee Reading, Signing, Q&A.

Thursday, August 17, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night – Open Topic / The Thirteenth Doctor.

Friday, August 25, 7:00 – 8:30 – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic and featured reader Trisha J. Wooldridge.

Sunday, August 27, 2:00 – 4:00 – Tui Sutherland Reading, Signing, Q&A

As a reminder, here are our regular events…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, every Monday 7:00 PM (except for when the Free People’s Artists Workshop meets the fourth Monday of the month). Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. Join the Worcester Storytellers for their open mic and featured reader every month. August is Trisha J. Wooldridge! Next meeting is August 25.

The Free People’s Artists Workshop, the fourth Monday of each month from 7:00-9:00 PM. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association. Next meeting is August 28.

Doctor Who Discussion Nights, the third Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. Next meeting is August 17.

The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that will meet once a month, usually on the third Saturdays, from 6:00-8:00 PM. Next meeting August 12.

As always, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

If you had a great time shopping or at any event at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at our 65 James Street location, you can leave us a review on TripAdvisor or leave us a review on Yelp.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

 

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Events Buzz: End of July!

Happy last full week of July!

Have you picked up your Summer Reading books yet? We have a great selection in-store, and we can also order them for you. Come in before you run out of summer to read those books!

We have a busy week and weekend closing out the month for you.

THIS THURSDAY, July 27, FROM 7:00 – 8:00 PM we have our Doctor Who Discussion Night. This month’s topic is “Sequelitis.” What episode sequels worked? What didn’t? What episodes should have sequels? Come in and talk about our favorite Doctor!

And then, THIS FRIDAY, July 28, 7:00 – 8:30, we’re hosting Worcester Storytellers. Join us for the open mic; stay for featured reader Dana Laquidara!

After that, THIS SUNDAY, July 30, 12:00 – 4:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Presents: Magical Boy Basil Team. Stop by between 12-2 for informal signing and chatting with the writers, artists, and marketers behind this popular webcomic; stay through 2-4 for a more formal discussion and Q&A! ABSW welcomes Rebeckah Murry and Jill Marie Hacket, the creative team behind the popular webcomic—and now graphic novels—Magical Boy Basil.

And for HARRY POTTER’S BIRTHDAY, on THIS COMING MONDAY, JULY 31, we’re having a special Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! event with stories, games, crafts, and more! Throughout the whole day! Kids must have adults with them at all times.

And only a few days after Happy Birthday, Harry Potter, we’re having another event for family fun…

NEXT THURSDAY, August 3, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, hang out with Kathleen Rowe, author of Exploring the Charles River while she shares ideas and tips for any last minute trips and adventures along the Charles River in Boston, only 45 minutes away from Worcester.

And for the rest of August…

Sunday, August 6, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Sharon Pywell’s Romance Reader’s Guide to Life.

Saturday, August 12, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Presents Misfits by Garrett Leigh.

Saturday, August 12 – Sunday, August 19 – Teacher Appreciation Week – Special Discounts for Teachers!

Sunday, August 13, 2:00 – 4:00 – Mackenzi Lee Reading, Signing, Q&A

Thursday, August 17, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night – Open Topic.

Friday, August 25, 7:00 – 8:30 – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic and featured reader Trisha J. Wooldridge.

Sunday, August 27, 2:00 – 4:00 – Tui Sutherland Reading, Signing, Q&A

As a reminder, here are our regular events…

Spinning Yarns Craft and Audiobook Social, every Monday 7:00 PM (except for when the Free People’s Artists Workshop meets the fourth Monday of the month). Bring a craft and enjoy an audiobook or audio drama with other crafty booklovers!

Worcester Storytellers, the fourth Friday of every month from 7-8:30 PM. Join the Worcester Storytellers for their open mic and featured reader every month. July is Dana Laquidara! Next meeting is July 28.

The Free People’s Artists Workshop, the fourth Monday of each month from 7:00-9:00 PM. Networking and feedback from other artists and creators of all types. Co-sponsored by the Worcester County Poetry Association. Next meeting is July 24.

Doctor Who Discussion Nights, the third Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:00 PM. Join us for a discussion of our favorite science fiction series. Next meeting is, SPECIAL DATE due to travel, July 27.

The Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts is an LGBTQIA book club that will meet once a month, usually on the third Saturdays, from 6:00-8:00 PM. Next meeting August 12.

As always, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

If you had a great time shopping or at any event at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at our 65 James Street location, you can leave us a review on TripAdvisor or leave us a review on Yelp.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

 

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Spotlight: Magical Boy Basil

07302017 - MBB_Chapter_01_Front+Cover

This Friday, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on both our Rainbow Readers Presents guests: Jill Marie Hackett and Rebeckah Murray—the author and artist team behind the wildly popular Magical Boy Basil webcomic that’s now in graphic novel form.

For those unfamiliar with Magical Boy Basil, it’s the story of Basil, who lived a normal life until he met Aaron, the leader of a band of undercover teenage magicians who fight monsters in order to maintain the balance of the universe!

Now Basil has a host of paranormal problems—fantastical mishaps, monsters that want to eat him, and a crew of magical classmates who are not happy Basil knows their little secret. In the meantime, Basil is trying to make new friends, hold his family together, pass algebra, and figure out why Aaron makes his heart pound so hard.

Tenth grade can be complicated.

Jill and Beckah will be at our 65 James Street store on Sunday, July 30, from 12:00 – 4:00 PM.  From 12:00 – 2:00 will be an informal chance to meet the creators and look at their work. Starting at 2:00 will be a Q and A, signing, and discussion of the comic.

First in the interview seat is Jill Marie! Thank you for joining us, Jill. What can you tell us about yourself and your writing?

My training is in visual storytelling for animated films (I have a BFA in computer animation from Ringling College of Art and Design), but the skills are transferable to writing for comics. In addition to writing, I also color Magical Boy Basil.

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

Magical Boy Basil is an LGBT+ webcomic about undercover teenage magicians who battle monsters. The story and artistic style sets a light and quirky tone that evolves as the themes develop over time. It’s one of those growing-up stories, but with magic fights and cute boys who hold hands.

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

Beckah and I love to produce comics that feature LGBT+ leads because they’re the kinds of stories that we wished we had growing up. Either we didn’t have access to the genre at all, or the stories we did have involved sad endings or low production value. Beckah and I put everything we have into our comics as our contribution to quality storytelling for the LGBT+ community.

In addition to being an LGBT+ positive story, Magical Boy Basil is a riff on the “magical girl” genre of anime and manga. (Think Cardcaptor Sakura or Sailor Moon.) Beckah and I both enjoy this genre for its uplifting and episodic nature. The genre is easy to get into and it feels good to read, but it also has massive potential to break down from there and use the safe space created by the genre to explore some heavy topics. We selected the magical girl genre specifically for that quality, since we want to create a story with serious meaning that teens and adults will appreicate while keeping the overall experience fun for the reader.

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

The most challenging part of writing is sitting down and starting. Honestly, overcoming it is a matter of dicipline. Select a time to write every day, and write at that time every day. Set a timer for an hour, turn off the internet, and write for that hour. Develop habits. Get serious and stay serious about working.

I read an article about Anthony Trollope, who in his lifetime wrote 47 novels and a boatload of other non-fiction and short stories. He said that the key to his productivity was requiring himself to write 250 words in a 15 minute block, on repeat, for the value of three hours in a day, every day. Ultimately, that effort would produce about ten pages of quality writing, which resulted in three novels a year for him. The story of how he works sticks with me because it’s really about mastering the art of starting. If you can learn how to self-start, over and over again, you only need to stick with any project for fifteen minutes at a time. Breaking down massive amounts of work into little segments like that makes anything possible.

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

You can read the comic at www.magicalboybasil.com. Most of my personal work for Magical Boy Basil is behind-the-scenes writing and layout, which is all available through Patreon. www.patreon.com/magicalboybasil

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

For weekly updates and conversation, our website is great: www.magicalboybasil.com

To follow weekly updates and news, our newsletter: www.magicalboybasil.com/news

For social media fun and weekly update notices:

Facebook: facebook.com/magicalboybasil
Twitter: twitter.com/magicalboybasil
Instagram: instagram.com/magicalboybasil
Tapastic: tapastic.com/series/magicalboybasil

For behind-the-scenes fun and to support the creation of Magical Boy Basil, our Patreon: patreon.com/magicalboybasil

And finally, to get updates about the publication of new issues, our Kickstarter!: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/firesidestories/created

07302017 - MBB postcard art

Thank you for joining us, too, Beckah! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your art? How would you like us to introduce you?

I’m Beckah, a freelance illustrator originally hailing from Southwest Florida, super Gay, super Demisexual and I really just like to draw characters, costumes and comics (my motto is: “Line-work line-work line-work!”). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can call me Tyrannosaurus Becks (certifiably the best nickname I’ve ever heard in my life). “They” pronouns are preferable, but I don’t mind “She/her” or “he/him” either!

What’s your favorite medium as an artist? Do you vary between projects or pieces? How do you choose the best medium?

Absolutely ink! And graphite. Dry medium, honestly. I’m not much of a painter but I love, love, love strong line-work so most of what I do reflects that. For coloring, if it’s traditional, I’ll use markers but most (almost all) of my color work lately has been digital. As for how to choose the ‘best medium’, I automatically default to pen and ink unless a writer or commissioner requests otherwise. Or if the mood of the piece needs something different.

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

I have arthritis (it set in when I was 28, two years ago). Not something people who first meet me know or realize because I’ve got such a baby-face (I swear I am not my best friend’s son) and it’s not something I share often but it’s become a bit of a driving force for me now. The first flare up was so bad, Magical Boy Basil‘s release was delayed because I could barely curl or move my fingers. The knowledge that someday- sooner than for most- my hands won’t work anymore is terrifying but it’s also what keeps me drawing every day. You have to take advantage of your body while you can because you honestly never know if life (or genetics) is going to throw a monkey wrench or three in your plans.

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

Music is a very important aspect of my work process! I struggle with concentration issues so the music not only inspires me but it keeps me a bit more focused (and energized). It’s a great source of creative input, particularly for writing. Some of what you’ll find on my playlists- Prāta Vētra, Imagine Dragons, Vast, Bastille, Jimmy Eat World, Silversun Pickups, AWOLNATION, Half Moon Run, IAMX and so on. I love finding new music to listen to, though, so if anyone has any suggestions, please share!

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

Being afraid of wasted time is huge for me. It keeps me from experimenting which in turn fosters stagnation in my abilities. It’s difficult for me to remind myself that I don’t have to show anyone anything if I don’t want to, particularly if they’re studies in some new process. I also don’t produce as quickly as a lot of other artists, so that “wasted time” fear really cuts me deep. I think part of the issue is intimidation factor as well. I’m a bit older compared to some of the people I see with a big art presence online, so it’s also a matter of wrestling with feelings of inadequacy.  Yet for as much as I compare myself to others (Don’t do this, guys, at least if it’s not to pump yourself up to improve), I force myself to draw anyway. Lately, I’ve been slowly trying to creep out from under the shadow of “Wasted Time” and try new things- different compositions or small coloring techniques or styles. For me, it’s all a matter of passion and being too stubborn to quit.

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

Practice really, truly does improve your skill set. I know it’s something beginners might get tired of hearing, but there’s just so much truth to it that it’s said for a reason. Likewise, NEVER be afraid to use reference.  NEVER be afraid to copy for practice (replicating a masterwork is part of the curriculum at Ringling, for example). If you use reference consistently enough, eventually you’ll reach a point where you don’t need it as often- your brain’s already supplementing aspects of what you’ve learned from repeated visual observation. And, most importantly, NEVER be afraid to challenge yourself. Draw trees even if you hate them, draw hands and feet especially if you’re not very good at them. By drawing what I’m not particularly good at, I do improve. By pushing myself to start incorporating things like reflected light and ambient light, I improve. It’s a slow process, sometimes I can be incredibly unforgiving to myself, but I’m sticking with it.

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

Recently, most of my work is all for Magical Boy Basil, so you’re totally welcome to come check out all the extras on our site, Magicalboybasil.com. Other than that, I’m working on being less eclectic with my posting! You can find everything not Magical Boy Basil related at paradoxfound.tumblr.com, remurray.com/secret-shop (where I sell things!) or even at thissidewaysbox on Twitter because that also exists.

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

Following and retweets/reblogs certainly help on Twitter (thissidewaysbox) and Tumblr (paradoxfound)! We’ve also got our Magical Boy Basil newsletter and a MBB Patreon (www.patreon.com/magicalboybasil) so it kind of depends on what you want to see. I’m a bit of a shy guy, but if anyone ever messages me I try my best to respond promptly! If you’d like my private tumblr (warning: where I often put NSFW material, my own or others), feel free to ask!

07302017 - Magical Boy Basil art1

 

Thank you, again, Jill and Beckah, for joining us on the Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester Spotlight blog!  We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, July 30, from 12:00 – 4:00 PM at 65 James Street in Worcester!

Pride - Pix Art Printing - 6x9 (landscape)

 

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