Spotlight: Jim Zebrowski, Aldrich Astronomical Society

10202017 - Jim Z Aldrich Table at Scout event 05_22_2010

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine their Spotlight on Jim J. Zebrowski, who is conducting our EVENING OF ASTRONOMY event TONIGHT AT 7:00 PM!  Join us at our 65 James Street address for a night of hands-on, interactive night with the stars! See some beautiful slides, learn about space, and if the night is clear, use a high-powered telescope to discover more outside our planet.

Jim J. Zebrowski is the current President of Aldrich Astronomical Society, Inc., a local non-profit astronomical society offering educational programs for adults and STEM activities for youth to encourage an interest in science and star gazing. He has also been a volunteer since 2001 in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Program which is a national public engagement program that communicates the science and excitement of NASA missions of exploration to better understand our solar system and the universe we live in.

Jim is semi-retired from his job working as physicist working as a photolithography process engineer in the high tech sector in Massachusetts for over 30 years building circuits that helped our nation’s defense and our planet explore the solar system and universe using remote sensing devices.

Thank you so much for joining us, Jim! What’s your earliest memory about exploring astronomy? What drew you to the stars?

My father (Joseph Zebrowski) introduced me to astronomy when I was 6 or 7 years old because he had taken a course in celestial navigation when he served in the army air corp during World War II – he helped taxi B17 bombers off the runway to get them ready for combat.  I had so many questions for him that he finally directed me to our local library in Syracuse, N. Y. ( Hazard Branch Library!!) where I used to walk every day to pick up books and read about science and astronomy! 

It always intrigued me that the stars were so far away – how did we know anything about them? How about the planets – especially Mars? Many unknowns that pulled me into wanting to learn more about science and especially astronomy and the space program!

 

What are your favorite things to study in astronomy? Or your favorite things to find in your telescope?

Favorite things to study are the search for extraterrestrial life in our solar system and the search for Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars! I always enjoy looking at double stars, globular clusters, galaxies and of course the nearby planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

10202017 - Aldrich Astronomical Society member Jim Zebrowski talking about Comets

What’s the most important lesson astronomy teaches all of us?

It helps connect us to past cultures who also had many people looking up in wonder at the same skies filled with stars that I try to tell people and especially youth about today. Our connection to the stars is in our DNA – we are all star dust and linked to universe we live in.

 

Is there a particular thing you teach or share with people that gets the most surprise or “I didn’t know that” response?  What is that thing and what can you share about it?

Most people do not appreciate that telescopes are not magnifiers but are essentially light collectors! Magnification is not the most important part of the telescope – I try to explain to people that a telescope’s aperture or light gathering mirror, or lens is the essential part of the telescope that allows the human eye to resolve or separate closely spaced objects in great detail! A typical adult pupil that is dark adapted at night is only 4 mm across – a child’s pupil when fully dark adapted can be up to 8 mm in diameter. Imagine that instead of 4 or 8 mm, I can give you a pupil that would be 150 mm across – that is the real power of the telescope – it allows you to resolve closely spaced objects in space and see the beauty of double stars, planets, craters on the moon or distance nebulae!

 

What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to someone who wants to get into astronomy either as a hobby or as a profession?

To become an astronomer, I learned you need to have a rigorous background in mathematics, which I was not good at, and you have to be willing to spend long hours gathering and analyzing data from any observations you make using the limited amount of telescopes that are available to professional astronomers. Or you can go into public outreach and share your passion for astronomy and space exploration as an amateur astronomer which is wonderful way to learn about the universe you live in!

 

What are some of your favorite resources for stargazing and astronomy?  What are your favorite tools?

The local library is still a great resource along with your local astronomy club – we deliver modified telescopes to local libraries so patrons can explore the night sky from their own backyard by borrowing a tabletop telescope from their library using their library card!  I also highly recommend monitoring breaking news through spaceweather.com or going to the NASA Youtube video section to watch What’s Up for October 2017?  The latter feature offers sky watching and space updates for each month in a really easy to understand 3 minute format!

 

What’s your favorite thing to teach people about astronomy and why?

I want people to not be intimidated by what they do not know – astronomy is the most basic of sciences dating back to as long as humans looked up in wonder at the night sky. It helps connect us to our past and helps ground us for a better future – all it takes is a little effort to begin your own personal exploration of the universe by visiting your local library or by joining your local astronomy club.  I always tell my students or club members that the stars will always be there for you – if you can look up at the stars and know something about them, you are taking the first step to better understanding the world you live in. It is what I would call, developing your cosmic perspective!

10202017 - Jim Teaching

What has been your favorite adventure as an astronomer?

Taking a leap of faith by committing myself to drive across the country to view the total solar eclipse from Tetonia, Idaho on August 21, 2017. I had never driven that far or taken that much equipment with me to any event – it was an amazing experience that I was able to share with my wife and with a few members of my club. It was also an experience that included talking to people as we took our journey across the country – it was an experience of a lifetime!

 

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

Check out the Aldrich Astronomical Society’s website for all current listings and programs at http://aldrich.club

 

Thank you again, Jim, for the great interview! We look forward to your Evening of Astronomy tonight, at 7:00 PM, at our store!

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Events Buzz: Busy October!

10222017 - Abode Cover

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester at 65 James Street continues to FLY through a fabulous October filled with fun events!

There’s so much going on—especially this week with FOUR events!—we’re only going to talk events for this blog!

THIS TUESDAY, October 17, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, join us for Music and Magic with D.J. Butler, author and performer.

David John Butler is a lover of language and languages, a guitarist and self-recorder, and a serious reader. His training is in law, and he’s worked as a securities lawyer at a major international firm and inhouse at two multinational semiconductor manufacturers before setting up in solo practice. He’s a consultant and corporate trainer, teaching business acumen to employees of world-class companies. He started writing fiction in 2010. He’s written novels for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers that spread across the speculative fiction spectrum. His titles include The Kidnap Plot, City of the Saints, Rock Band Fights Evil, The Buza System from a variety of publishers, and he’s the acquisitions editor at WordFire.

Witchy Eye is the story of Sarah, a clever, brave, loyal, xenophobic, and somewhat mean Appalachee witch who learns she is the secret daughter of the dead empress Mad Hannah Penn, and that the living emperor, Thomas Penn, has learned of her existence and wants her dead. It’s epic fantasy—set in an alternate 1815 America.

THIS THURSDAY, October 19, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM, we’re hosting our monthly Doctor Who Discussion Night: Haunted Places.

Join us for an extra-spooky spin as we talk about the different types of haunted places the Doctor has visited!

THIS FRIDAY, October 20, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, ABSW is realy excited to offer An Evening of Astronomy with Jim Zebrowski.

Jim is the president of the Aldrich Astronomical Society, and he’s bringing some cool pictures, hands-on specimens—and if it’s a clear night, telescopes! Join us for an evening of fun for all ages and appreciating the cosmos.

And THIS SUNDAY, October 22, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Author Morgan Sylvia’s Abode, reading, speaking, signing. Creepy haunted houses, modern social media…Morgan gives scares across a variety of media!

But wait! There’s HALLOWEEN Weekend and HALLOWEEN still to come!

Saturday, October 28, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM – Spoooooky Storytime! We love our annual Spoooooky Storytime. Morning stories for younger kids; evening stories for an older audience!

Wednesday, October 31, ALL DAY – Trick-or-Treat: Treats for Costumes! Come in dressed in costume on Halloween and get a special treat from us.

And guess what… We’ve got some amazing events in November we think you’ll enjoy, too!

NEW LINK: November 11, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Pop Culture Trivia and Story time with Ellen Wittenger, author of SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK.

Sunday, November 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Reading, Speaking, Signing with Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.

Saturday, November 18, ALL DAY – Annual Doctor Who Celebration.

Sunday, November 19, 3:00 – 5:00 (special date/time) – Rainbow Readers discusses Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian.

Saturday, November 25, 12:00 – 6:00 PM – Small Business Saturday with Haverhill House Publishing.

November is also National Novel Writing Month, and we’ll be hosting Come Write In sessions on Thursdays, as well as a few other extra times, so keep an eye out for announcements!

And because it’s a busy time of year, here’s a SUPER EARLY sneak peek at a couple of December events we’re excited about!

NEW LINK: Sunday, December 3, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Mindful for the Holidays, exercises for kids and parents to keep cool this holiday season.

Thursday, December 7, 7:00 PM – Spicy Romance for the Holidays with Cecilia Tan.

Saturday, December 16, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discuss Harem Master by Megan Derr.

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!

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 October 23.

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 THIS THURSDAY, October 19.

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, special day and time, November 19, 3:00 – 5:00.

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: Whitney Stewart

11102017 - MindfulKids_Box_Front_RGB_72dpi

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on Whitney Stewart, author of travel stories, children’s books, and a new set of mindfulness activity cards, Mindful Kids. The staff at ABSW were really excited to see a demo of the card set from Barefoot Books, so we worked with the publisher to create a special event this holiday season, where we will bring Whitney to the store and actually practice some mindfulness techniques to help our patrons with holiday stress!  On December 3, from 1:oo-3:00 PM, come to our 65 James Street store to learn a few mindful activities for adults and children, to help make this holiday season a little less stressful.

Whitney Stewart will travel far for a story. She’s trekked in a Himalayan snowstorm with Sir Edmund Hillary, interviewed the Dalai Lama in India, and visited Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. She’s worked as a puppeteer in France and has dug in former WWII battlefields in rural Poland. She is the author of travel stories, multiple children’s books, and her new mindfulness activity cards, Mindful Kids. When she is not writing or traveling, she teaches mindfulness and meditation to children.

Whitney grew up in Wayland, MA and now lives in New Orleans.

Not only did Whitney give us a great interview about herself and her work, which we’re sharing today—but also, she gave us some great information on mindfulness that we’ll share next month!

 

Thank you so much for joining us, Whitney! 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?

Favorite part of writing? I love research and travel. As a nonfiction writer, I do both. What could be more joyful than following your passions? That said, the craft is not always easy. Some days I tear my hair out over word choice. The greatest lesson? That’s a hard one…I’ve learned that I might fail today with one manuscript, but I can turn around tomorrow and succeed with another. That gives me confidence that I didn’t have when I started my career thirty years ago.

 

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

Be gentle with yourself, but not with your writing. Writing takes hard work. Be willing to throw away what you thought was precious text and start over, again and again.

 11102017 - Stewart author pic

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

I have forthcoming children’s books and activity books on mindfulness and on world cultures. Look for them in 2018. I have also been writing a screenplay, so watch out Hollywood!

 

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

As I said, I LOVE to travel. When I was just seventeen, I left Boston and went to Europe. I had a Eurail Pass and jumped on trains and boats from Greece to Norway, making loads of stops in between. Later I traveled widely in Asia and lived for a time in Japan and India. My husband’s family is German, so we moved to Germany for a few years with our son.

Hiking and kayaking are my favorite sports now. New Orleans does not have mountains, so I plan vacations in the mountains when I get the chance. I still love hiking in the Green and White Mountains where I spent so much time as a kid.

When I have free time at home, I read, visit museums, go for a long bike ride, or hang out with friends and family. Sometimes I get excited about cooking vegetarian recipes I’ve never tried. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was fifteen.

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

I have had SO many adventures. Interviewing the Dalai Lama in India has to be my favorite. I will never forget his kindness. I was so nervous to meet him, but he made the conversation easy and left me with such wisdom.

Meditating in remote monasteries and temples in Nepal, Burma, and Japan comes second.

 

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

SILENCE! I wish I could turn off all background noise except bird calls.

 

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

Membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has been invaluable to my career. I have attended their conferences since the 1980s.

Kindling Words is my other essential group for published children’s book writers and illustrators. I loved going on retreat with my uber-talented KW friends.

I also belong to the Author’s Guild, the Boston Author’s Club, and the Woman’s National Book Association.

 

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

Author Website:  www.whitneystewart.com

Barefoot Books landing page:  http://bit.ly/2gZrQPg

 

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

Website: http://www.whitneystewart.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/whitneystewart2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitneyStewartAuthor
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/whitney-stewart/

 

Stop into Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Sunday, December 3, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM to learn some mindfulness techniques to make your holiday season a little less stressful!

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Events Buzz: October, November, and sneak peak at December.

Nylis and Pumpkin

We are having a wonderful October so far at our 65 James Street store! We are working on filling our 2018 calendar with some great new guests and books, but in the meantime, we have a lot of great events happening this year.

In fact, we’ve got some really cool events happening THIS WEEK and NEXT WEEK for you to plan on!

THIS SATURDAY, October 14, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Rainbow Readers Discusses Far From Home by Lorelei Brown.

My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.

My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calmness rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess — anorexia is not a pretty word — and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.

And, if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.

NEXT TUESDAY, October 17, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, join us for Music and Magic with D.J. Butler, author and performer.

David John Butler is a lover of language and languages, a guitarist and self-recorder, and a serious reader. His training is in law, and he’s worked as a securities lawyer at a major international firm and inhouse at two multinational semiconductor manufacturers before setting up in solo practice. He’s a consultant and corporate trainer, teaching business acumen to employees of world-class companies. He started writing fiction in 2010. He’s written novels for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers that spread across the speculative fiction spectrum. His titles include The Kidnap Plot, City of the Saints, Rock Band Fights Evil, The Buza System from a variety of publishers, and he’s the acquisitions editor at WordFire.

Witchy Eye is the story of Sarah, a clever, brave, loyal, xenophobic, and somewhat mean Appalachee witch who learns she is the secret daughter of the dead empress Mad Hannah Penn, and that the living emperor, Thomas Penn, has learned of her existence and wants her dead. It’s epic fantasy—set in an alternate 1815 America.

NEXT THURSDAY, October 19, from 7:00 – 8:00 PM, we’re hosting our monthly Doctor Who Discussion Night: Haunted Places.

Join us for an extra-spooky spin as we talk about the different types of haunted places the Doctor has visited!

NEXT FRIDAY, October 20, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, ABSW is realy excited to offer An Evening of Astronomy with Jim Zebrowski.

Jim is the president of the Aldrich Astronomical Society, and he’s bringing some cool pictures, hands-on specimens—and if it’s a clear night, telescopes! Join us for an evening of fun for all ages and appreciating the cosmos.

Sunday, October 22, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Author Morgan Sylvia’s Abode, reading, speaking, signing. Creepy haunted houses, modern social media…Morgan gives scares across a variety of media!

Saturday, October 28, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM – Spoooooky Storytime! We love our annual Spoooooky Storytime. Morning stories for younger kids; evening stories for an older audience!

Wednesday, October 31, ALL DAY – Trick-or-Treat: Treats for Costumes! Come in dressed in costume on Halloween and get a special treat from us.

And guess what… We’ve got some amazing events in November we think you’ll enjoy, too!

NEW EVENT: November 11, Time TBA – Pop Culture Trivia and YA Fun with Ellen Wittenger, author of SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK.

Sunday, November 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Reading, Speaking, Signing with Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.

Saturday, November 18, ALL DAY – Annual Doctor Who Celebration.

Sunday, November 19, 3:00 – 5:00 (special date/time) – Rainbow Readers discusses Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian.

Saturday, November 25, 12:00 – 6:00 PM – Small Business Saturday with Haverhill House Publishing.

November is also National Novel Writing Month, and we’ll be hosting Come Write In sessions on Thursdays, as well as a few other extra times, so keep an eye out for announcements!

And because it’s a busy time of year, here’s a SUPER EARLY sneak peek at a couple of December events we’re excited about!

NEW EVENT: Sunday, December 3, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Mindful for the Holidays, exercises for kids and parents to keep cool this holiday season.

NEW EVENT: Thursday, December 7, 7:00 PM – Spicy Romance for the Holidays with Cecelia Tan.

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!

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 October 23.

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 October 19.

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, THIS SATURDAY, special date and time, October 14, 3:00 – 5:00.

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!

Posted in events, Kids and Teens, Local Authors, Monday, seasonal, Speculative Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Events Buzz: Happy October

10022017 - pumpkinbat

Happy October, everyone!

It’s our favorite month at Annie’s Book Stop between Halloween and more!

Here’s a quick look at some of our events happening this month!

Saturday, October 14, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Far From Home by Lorelei Brown. Join the LGBTQIA book discussion group each month! Books available at the store.

Tuesday, October 17, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Music and Magic with D.J. Butler, author and performer. Enjoy music and readings from the acclaimed novel Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler—he’s bringing his guitar.

Thursday, October 19, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night: Haunted Places. Join our monthly Doctor Who discussion for an extra-spooky spin!

Friday, October 20, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – An Evening of Astronomy with Jim Zebrowski. Jim is the president of the Aldrich Astronomical Society, and he’s bringing some cool pictures, hands-on specimens—and if it’s a clear night, telescopes!

Sunday, October 22, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Author Morgan Sylvia’s Abode, reading, speaking, signing. Creepy haunted houses, modern social media…Morgan gives scares across a variety of media!

Saturday, October 28, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM – Spoooooky Storytime! We love our annual Spoooooky Storytime. Morning stories for younger kids; evening stories for an older audience!

Wednesday, October 31, ALL DAY – Trick-or-Treat: Treats for Costumes! Come in dressed in costume on Halloween and get a special treat from us.

And guess what… We’ve got some amazing events in November we think you’ll enjoy, too!

Sunday, November 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Reading, Speaking, Signing with Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.

Saturday, November 18, ALL DAY – Annual Doctor Who Celebration.

Sunday, November 19, 3:00 – 5:00 (special date/time) – Rainbow Readers discusses Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian.

Saturday, November 25, 12:00 – 6:00 PM – Small Business Saturday with Haverhill House Publishing.

November is also National Novel Writing Month, and we’ll be hosting Come Write In sessions on Thursdays, as well as a few other extra times, so keep an eye out for announcements!

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!

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 October 23.

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 October 19.

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, special date and time, October 14, 3:00 – 5:00.

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!

 

Posted in Announcements, events, Kids and Teens, Local Authors, Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Author Spotlight: Morgan Sylvia

10222017 - Abode Cover

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on author Morgan Sylvia! We’ve hosted her before during events with the New England Horror Writers and for Small Business Saturday, so we’re extra excited to help her promote her debut novel, Abode! Morgan will be at our 65 James Street address on Sunday, October 22, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, reading, speaking, and signing her new book!

Hi, Morgan! For those unfamiliar with your work, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

I was born and raised in Maine. After high school, I left Maine for Florida to go to school for sound engineering. I ended up falling into the newspaper business instead, and spent 14 years at a paper, including a pretty long stint doing obituaries. In 2013, I decided to move back home and take a leap into freelancing. So here I am, four years later, writing full time.

My work ranges from poetry to fantasy to horror to steampunk to sci-fi. I’m sort of all over the place. I’m told that the fact that I write poetry shows quite a bit in my work. Everything I do tends to be rather dark, in one way or another.

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

Abode came about because of a few things. I wanted to write a straight-up horror story, a haunted house tale. It morphed in the process. I like to try and challenge myself and break conventional rules however much as I can. I was sort of stuck on whatever it was I had been working on, and decided to try and write something in second person, just to experiment with that format. So one day I just sat down and sort of spat out the first chapter in one go. (The book isn’t entirely in second person, but chunks of it are.) While Abode is of course fiction, certain elements of it are directly drawn from my own nightmares and from things I experienced or imagined running around in the woods in Maine as a kid. Other bits and pieces came from local folklore. One element (which I won’t name, because spoilers) was a legend of the Abenaki, who were the First People in the area I was born and raised in. I also had nightmares about a similar beast coming through the snowy forest when I was a kid.

I didn’t write Abode straight through. I would add a bit, work on other things, add a bit, work on other things. It was initially supposed to be a novella, but it just kept growing.

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

Time is a huge issue for me. I love music, so I try to catch as many concerts and shows as I can. This year, I haven’t been to many, but usually I go to a lot more. I also like just exploring the nooks and crannies of New England with the boyfriend, and going to yard sales and antique places. I’m getting very interested in permaculture, and will be delving heavily into that next year. I am also interested in cheesemaking, pottery, foraging, pyrography, and beekeeping. But my current job often keeps me at my desk for 12-14 hours a day. There just isn’t enough time for all I want to do.

Really, I’m a sponge. I soak up all forms of art, especially music. I love watching documentaries, particularly those about ancient societies, the paranormal, and various bits and pieces of history that fascinate me. I suspect the way my writer brain works is that it takes in information from various sources, mixes it up, and spits it out in the form of fiction or poetry. Reading is of course a big one. I also pick up books on any topic that either interests me or may someday interest me. I love research. Walking in the woods is another thing that my muse likes. I have a favorite trail, and whenever I go there, I have some sort of epiphany about my work.

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

Jeremiah was a freaky character to write, because of the sense of menace around him. There were times when I was writing about the main character sitting at his computer and sensing Jeremiah behind him. I got pretty creeped out writing that. It probably sounds dumb, but I actually really scared myself. But I think that’s a good thing. As a writer, I try to set the bar high for my work. In writing horror, I realized that if I couldn’t scare myself, I couldn’t expect to scare readers. So I dug into the box of things, both real and imagined, that have frightened me in the past, and put my characters through as many of them as I feasibly could. I delved into my fear, and I shaped it into words, and then pages.

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

Don’t waste time worrying whether you are good or not. Focus your energy on making yourself good. Learn to be your own worst critic. If you have a weak spot, work on it. Read everything you can about the craft of writing, and keep putting pen to paper. (Or fingertips to keyboard.) Try not to give editors a reason to reject you, but understand that they will. Also, don’t take rejections personally. Just make a ladder out of them, and climb it.

I think really, you just have to put the work in. Creating art isn’t a magical power: it’s one part imagination, and several parts hard work. There are a lot of nuts and bolts to it, and there are a lot of moving parts in this industry. You have to take the time to learn about them.

10222017 - Morgan author pic

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

Music, usually, at least when I’m writing fiction or poetry. For client work, I prefer silence or just familiar classic rock, something that isn’t very distracting. Those who know me know I’m a pretty die-hard metalhead, but I’ve actually got very eclectic tastes. I’m all over the place. I may listen to Johnny Cash and Portishead and Benediction for different chapters of the same book. Just depends on the scene or mood that I am going for. In case anyone is wondering, the biggest chunks of Abode were written to Saturnalia Temple and Electric Wizard.

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

I have two kitties, both black and white. Orca is the fat, fluffy pampered one, and then Diamond is the sleek, athletic hunting version. They like to help by walking across my computer and occasionally sitting on it. I also have a Betta fish, Microfeesh, on my desk, and am constantly having to move one or both kitties away from her bowl. This is sometimes actually helpful, since I do a lot of writing about pets for my day job. When the cats flip my screen around, or knock the mouse off the desk and break it? Not so much.

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

It’s affected my writing in several different ways. It was central to Abode, which is set in Maine. (I actually started Abode when I was living in Tampa: I think part of it stemmed from homesickness for the north.) It definitely played a role in me becoming such an avid reader at an early age. In Maine, when it’s really cold and pitch dark by 3, you can’t really play outside after school in winter. I didn’t have any siblings to play with, just a few neighborhood kids that weren’t always around. Those things, and the fact that my mom was a librarian, sort of created a perfect storm for me to become a bookworm. Those long cold winters are perfect for reading and writing. I was sucking up 2-3 YA books a day in elementary school, and I started writing pretty early. I’m really glad I grew up in a time when we weren’t all constantly plugged in to electronics. I spent most of my childhood either on horseback or with my nose buried in a book or notebook.

Aside from that, there’s a wildness to the land here that is just magic to an active imagination. New England has a rich history and folklore, and there are just stories everywhere.

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

I’ve got quite a few irons in the fire. I have a story in Wicked Haunted, the upcoming anthology from the New England Horror Writers. That tale is called The Thin Place, and while I won’t give away details, it deals in a creepy way with the massive wildfire that hit Maine in the 1940’s. After that, I’m not sure what will be coming out next. I’ve got an ocean-themed poetry collection that I plan to finish and put out myself, and a few fantasy series that I am shopping, a horror novella that is taking shape, as well as several novels in progress. Unless I’m on a deadline, I’m a very slow writer, as I tend to move back and forth from various WIPS at will.

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

Abode can be found on Amazon, as well as at A Freethinker’s Corner. The easiest way to keep up with my work is probably to follow my Amazon author page, which is here.

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

I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, and WordPress, I am also on Instagram: I haven’t used it much yet, but suspect I’ll be leaning more that way going forward. I also dabble in metal journalism, and write occasional articles for Antichrist Metalzine.

Thank you again for joining us on our Spotlight Interview, Morgan! We look forward to hosting you at our bookstore on 65 James Street on Sunday, October 22, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM!

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Events Buzz: September’s not over yet

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Our marketing team had a wonderful time at the New England Independent Booksellers Association trade show last week and are putting together a wonderful events plan for finishing up 2017 and getting into 2018. We’re also especially excited about some new books that we’ll be bringing onto our shelves in the next few months and next year, too.  Keep an eye on our calendar for some new events and perhaps even some sneak peeks at the upcoming books.

We also had a great celebration this past Friday as Worcester Storytellers celebrated their 5th Anniversary with us with featured reader Catherine “Kate” Zebrowski and a great slide show by Barbara Roberts about traveling around the Baltic in a sailboat.

September isn’t over yet!

TONIGHT, MONDAY, September 25,at 7:00 PM, we’ve got the Free People’s Artist’s Workshop, a critique collective for artists and writers. Do you have a work in progress that you want feedback on? Come and join us tonight—and every fourth Monday of the month!

And we’ve got one more great event this weekend—but we’re thrilled about this one.

THIS SATURDAY, September 30, from 1:00 – 3:00 stop by for Jenny Allen, Afternoon of Laughter.

Jenny Allen is a writer and performer. Her essays and articles have appeared for years in many magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, More, The Huffington Post, and Good Housekeeping. Recent essays appear in Andy Borowitz’s anthology The Fifty Funniest American Writers and in In the Fullness of Time: 32 Women on Life After 50. Her award-winning solo show I Got Sick Then I Got Better has been seen in venues across the country and in Canada. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Pre-registration or pre-purchasing books is strongly recommended as we expect this event to fill quickly.

And have you marked your calendar yet for our October events?

Saturday, October 14, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Far From Home by Lorelei Brown.

Tuesday, October 17, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Music and Magic with D.J. Butler, author and performer.

Thursday, October 19, 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night: Haunted Places.

Friday, October 20, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – An Evening of Astronomy with Jim Zebrowski.

Sunday, October 22, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Author Morgan Sylvia’s Abode, reading, speaking, signing.

Saturday, October 28, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM – Spoooooky Storytime!

Wednesday, October 31, ALL DAY – Trick-or-Treat: Treats for Costumes!

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!

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 TONIGHT September 25.

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 October 19.

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, special date and time, October 14, 3:00 – 5:00.

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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