Author Spotlight: Angel Martinez

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on author Angel Martinez!  Angel will be at our 65 James Street store for a special Rainbow Readers Presents event on Thursday, March 2, at 7:00 PM.

While Angel Martinez is the queer fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy (sometimes serious and sometimes not so much.) Currently living in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

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

I write speculative fiction because that’s my first love. Science fiction, urban fantasy, a touch of paranormal here and there. Not all of my work is serious, but you’ll always find some serious moments amidst the absurd stuff. Not all of my work is funny, but you’ll find humorous moments amidst the serious stuff. Most of my stories have a romance at the core of things though I would describe them as having the speculative fiction plot as the main driver.

Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists is one of those stories that sits comfortably at the intersection of serious and humorous. Some of the situations are absurd – the characters aren’t. Taro Torres is my first asexual protagonist and I took writing him very seriously since I wanted to have an asexual character who is not at all broken and is comfortable in his own skin. And Jack? Jack Montrose is just one of those characters who finds data more comfortable than people.

 

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 end up doing a lot of odd research for books, mainly to answer “how does this work” questions and “what does this look like” ones. A couple of questions for UTP included such things as how different state lottery commissions work and what an international first class flight cabin looks like.

The most fun I had with research, though, was getting to visit cities virtually I would dearly love to visit in person. The maps! The photos! The stores! The food! Some of the settings in the story I’ve visited in person—Manhattan (many times) and Prince Edward Island (only once, sadly)—and while I’ve been to Germany, I’ve never visited Marburg.

In trying to find a good spot for a particular sort of house in the Welsh countryside, I came across the lovely town of Hay-on-Wye and thought I would virtually walk into town and find a bookstore. What I didn’t realize about Hay-on-Wye (and everyone who knows Wales already did) was that it’s much more difficult to find something that’s not a bookstore. Book lovers’ paradise, with a book festival every year. Someday, I must go during the festival.

Some cool things found during research that weren’t important to the story:

  • Marburg has a lot of grocery stores around the edges of old town. A lot. And German grocery stores look really nice.
  • There are people online who review first class intercontinental flights. Who knew? These reviews include things like snooty, condescending reviews of wine served and the quality of linens. Truly an eye opener.
  • Elephants are a big part of Thai culture (that was not news to me.) In reaseaching the best places to see elephants in Chang Mai, it became evident that any tourist with a conscience needs to choose their elephant experiences carefully. Some elephant tours are all about elephant welfare and preserving wild populations while others exploit the elephants.

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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 speculative fiction because that’s where I’m most comfortable. I devoured science fiction and fantasy as a child (referred to by my parents as literary junk food but they still supported my heavy reading habit.) As a socially awkward child with an overactive imagination, I needed these stories for oh, so many reasons. I write it because I live in the real world—I’d rather not also write about it.

Readers come to spec fic from a variety of different perspectives, but I think there is one common reader experience in spec fic genres. It allows us distance. We may become enormously attached to the characters and emotionally involved in the plot to the point of tears or heart-pounding anxiety or cheers of triumph, but the characters’ lives, their worlds, are not our own. Because of this, we’re able to take that half step back and examine serious issues both societal and personal from a more objective point of view.

 

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

Don’t write in a vacuum. I’ve met too many new writers over the years who think they understand what they’re doing because they’re well-read and have degrees. That’s a good start. But writing is not a solitary activity, all the common wisdom about lonely writers in drafty garrets aside. Writing is a contract between the author and the reader, and if we’re failing to connect on some level, we’re failing to fulfill that contract.

Find people willing to read your work (people who don’t have a stake in your happiness.) Find people whom you know are better at this than you, who have done this successfully. Find a mentor to guide you through the process of publication. Reach out, reach out, reach out—for support, for critique, for fact checking, for sensitivity, for emotional feedback, for simple encouragement. There is nothing more arrogant and more horribly lonely than the solitary writer.

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

After a couple of tough years where a lot of energy had to go into reissues, I’ve promised readers that this will be the year of new releases. The third installment of the Offbeat Crimes series, Skim Blood and Savage Verse, comes out March 7 – paranormal humor. The second Brandywine Investigations omnibus with books four and five will be coming up shortly. There will be more Offbeat Crimes, possibly a new fantasy from Dreamspinner, hopefully the return to the shelves of Sub Zero, which is the last missing ESTO Universe novel, and several other things I’d like to get to but won’t jinx by naming them.

 

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

My work lives at Mischief Corner Books, Dreamspinner Press, Pride Publishing and MLR Press – so those publishers’ web stores and all the distributors they use.

 

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

My website is http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com where I have the release schedule on the front page and news every Thursday on the blog.

You can also find flash fiction for the Brimstone crew every Tuesday on the Mischief Corner Books blog (on mischiefcornerbooks.com)

Optimal stalking can also be accomplished on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2 and on my FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez

Thank you so much for joining us for this interview, Angel!  We look forward to hosting you on Thursday, March 2, at 7:00 PM at our 65 James Street store that’s “bigger on the inside.”

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Website Coupon Sale Continues

Going on now through February 28th… our winter sale, redeemable via printable coupons on our website!

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Print off one of our coupons on the Special Offers page of our website and bring it in to be redeemed for an additional 30% savings on hardcovers, magazines, sidewalk sale items and more!

 

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February Hijinks!

partyIt looks like we’re going to have great weather in Worcester for the coming week – just in time for school vacation.  To give you one more good reason to come into the store here at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, be sure to look at our webpage here .

You’ll find additional discounts on hardcover titles, sidewalk sale books, comics, magazines, and more!

While you’re getting ready to recharge your batteries and forge forward into Spring, stop in and take advantage of sale prices on top of our already-value-priced stock.

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Events Buzz: Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day from your “bigger on the inside” bookstore at 65 James Street!

Still looking for a date? Check out our Blind Date with Books special! At the front of the store are packages of four books with enticing hints written upon them. For $5, you can take a special package home and discover a new love!

You can find more Valentines from us to you on our website under Special Offers. Print out our special coupon and bring it with you.

It appears winter isn’t done showing its “love” yet, so we did postpone our weekend event with Michael Hartigan and his thriller, Stone Angels to Saturday, March 11. We look forward to potentially better weather and a great crowd!

For this week,though, if weather be our friend we have more great events!

THIS THURSDAY, February 16, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM, we’re having our Doctor Who Discussion Night: Love Stories. What has been your favorite love story told in television’s longest-running serial SF show? Come join the discusion!

And THIS SATURDAY, February 18, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM we host the Rainbow Readers book discussion of The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. Books are still available now in the store; join us for a great LGBTQIA discussion.

And then next week, we have are offering some…February Vacation Fun:

Remember, children should always be accompanied by an adult for our events.

Monday, February 20, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Small Animal Crafts.

Tuesday, February 21, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Astronomy Crafts

Wednesday, February 22, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Sing-Along and Little Monster Crafts

Also during vacation week…

Friday, February 24, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic featuring Joey Gould

 

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. Next month features Joey Gould. Next meeting is February 24.

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 February 27.

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. February’s topic will be Love Stories. Next meeting is February 16.

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. January’s book is The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. Next meeting is February 18.

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

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Winter Has Returned

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Winter has finally come back to Central New England, and it suddenly seems it needs to make up for lost time with a couple of big storms bearing lots of snow.

Of course, that’s nothing new for us here at ABSW.  In fact, we welcome it as an opportunity!

First, for those who make it out to our store, we’re currently continuing to run a sale cart dominated by Romance and Historical Romance reads, priced between $0.50 and $2.00. For those of you looking to curl up with a good book, you can find something here for any budget.

Standard pricing for used hardcover books is still just $3.99, with a large selection just marked down to $2.99.

We’ve also got books for just about any interest, from classic literature to mysteries, and very much more. We’ve even got import titles sometimes not available anywhere else in the USA, a selection of vintage books, and things other bookstores just don’t carry, regardless of their size.  Whatever your taste in reading, or, for students, whatever your class assignments, there’s a great chance we’ll have what you want.

But, for those of you who can’t make it in, we also have the ability to ship right to your door.  You can get the same great selection as if you came into the store, without leaving home!  We’re just a phone call away.

We have a selection of new books as well as quality used books.  What we don’t have in stock immediately, we can usually get quickly with our ABSW Search Service, at prices often well below other bookstores. We make it easier and less expensive to get the books you want.

So, in a season suddenly keeping you busy with snow shoveling and slow-motion driving, where you’re struggling to get everything done in your days, let’s us save you something more important than money.  Let us save you time.  Stop in, or call, and see what we can do for you!

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Author Spotlight: Brian McKeown

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Author Spotlight on local author Brian McKeown.  Brian joined us for our Small Business Saturday event, and he has been a feature of Worcester Storytellers. We have copies of his books at the store.

Brian McKeown was born and raised in Birkenhead, England. His father was a docker and his mother was a clippie on the buses. He attended St. Anselm’s College, did a stint with the RAF and the Merchant Navy, and then studied electronics at Birkenhead Tech, which allowed him access to the fledgling computer industry. After being hired by an American computer company, he relocated to central Massachusetts where he has lived for the last thirty-five years. His first book, Enter at A Laughing, is a collection of humorous essays. His most recent novel, Hannah’s Left Hook, takes place in England and is loosely based on the life of his somewhat dangerous grandmother.

Thank you for the interview, Brian. What kind of research went into writing your books?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the books, but you loved discovering?

Some of the most interesting research I did was about the importance of Spam in WWII.  The British lived on Spam during this period, as did the Armed Forces of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.  In fact Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev stated that without Spam, the war against Germany would have been lost.

During the Blitz over Britain during WWII, a bomb hit a train and a truck.  When the firemen appeared, they had to decide which they should put out first.   They chose the truck, because it was full of the canned meat Spam.

There should have been a statue for Hormel!

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What was the inspiration for Hannah’s Left Hook? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

Hannah was loosely based on my maternal Grandmother, and I’ve always wanted to tell her story.  I’ve admired her for her tenacity and her ability to survive and thrive with her family through the tumultuous and difficult times of the first half of the last century.

 

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

I would specifically recommend the Fiction Writing classes that are offered at the Worcester Art Museum taught by Laurel King, without whose advice and support the book would never have been published.

Thank you so much for the interview, Brian. We love having you at the bookstore!

For any one interested in copies of Brian’s books, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester has copies—and if we’re out, we can order them for you.

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Events Buzz: Love and February

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Happy February, with love from your “bigger on the inside” bookstore at 65 James Street!

Have you checked out the displays of love-themed books at the front of the store?

Have you made your Blind Date with Books? Check out our Blind Date bags of 4 used paperbacks at the front of the store. There are a few mysterious words on each bag to give you a hint at what’s inside! Grab your Blind Date and discover a new love for $5 today!

Thank you to everyone who came out to our Assemble Superheroes on Superbowl Sunday! Your crafty created characters will help make the world a better place.

And we’ve got another great event coming to you THIS WEEKEND, too. THIS SUNDAY, February 12, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM, Michael Hartigan shares his thriller Stone Angels. Michael Hartigan is a Massachusetts native whose journalistic work and travel writing has been featured in numerous national and regional publications, including USA Today, The Arizona Republic, Destinations Travel Magazine and the MetroWest Daily News. Hartigan studied English and Psychology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, where much of the Stone Angels story takes place. Stone Angels, his debut novel, is a gritty, fast-paced  “road-trip redemption” story following college senior Augustine Shaw, as he embarks on a road trip from Providence, Rhode Island to Key West, Florida.

And for the rest of the month…

Thursday, February 16, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night: Love Stories. What has been your favorite love story told in television’s longest-running serial SF show?

Saturday, February18, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Presents The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. Books available now in the store; join us for a great LGBTQIA discussion.

February Vacation Fun:

Remember, children should always be accompanied by an adult for our events.

Monday, February 20, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Small Animal Crafts.

Tuesday, February 21, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Astronomy Crafts

Wednesday, February 22, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM – Sing-Along and Little Monster Crafts

Friday, February 24, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Worcester Storytellers Open Mic featuring Joey Gould

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. Next month features Joey Gould. Next meeting is February 24.

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 February 27.

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. February’s topic will be Love Stories. Next meeting is February 16.

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. January’s book is The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. Next meeting is February 18.

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

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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