Author Spotlight: Anna Belle Rose

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on author K. Francoeur, who writes sweet romances with strong heroines under the pen name Anna Belle Rose. We’re also excited to host her at our 65 James Street store on Saturday, May 5, from 1:00-3:00 PM to talk about her books, give us a reading or two, and sign copies of her books—including her latest title, More than I Can Say.

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog, Kris! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?

My name is Kris Francoeur, and I use the pen name Anna Belle Rose. A Vermonter now, I lived in Massachusetts for quite a bit of my young life, as my grandparents all are from the West Brookfield/Ware area – the “real” Annabelle Rose lived in West Brookfield for most of her life. While I always wrote, it wasn’t until my middle son was born that I actively started writing contemporary romance novels. Squeezing writing and editing in around work, my family, alpacas, chickens, bees, a spinning wheel and fiber business and two masters’ degrees was difficult, but my family kept encouraging me to keep at the writing and submitting of my works, and in June 2017, I was offered my first publishing contract by Solstice Publishing. Two more contracts followed soon after. To date, two of my novels have been published, and one is in pre-publishing editing right now, with an anticipated release date late spring 2018. Beyond writing contemporary romances, I also am in the process of writing a memoir on grief and gratitude.

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

Each of my romances has a very strong, perhaps too strong heroine – a woman who is perfectly capable of running her own life in every way possible. But each of them has a past that haunts them, or a current reality which makes them feel they are less than desirable to the men they love. All of them want to “have it all,” and don’t know how to get there.

That One Small Omission features Maggie, an educational psychologist who absolutely adores her two small sons, but struggles with the loneliness of being a single parent in Vermont. When she meets Andre on a work trip, she knows that he is the man of her dreams, but doesn’t tell him the whole truth about her life. When he finds out about what she had omitted, it seems like there is no hope for them to have a future together.

The Phone Call features Kat, a writer who met Alex during her last year of college. She knew that she was already head over heels for him, and when he told her to call him, she really thought he’d answer the phone. She made the call, but never connected with him, and that night her life spiraled out of control for a long time. Now that they have met again, can she trust him enough to tell him about everything that happened? Can they figure out how to make their love work now they have a second chance?

More than I can Say (spring 2018) features Georgiana, a school principal in northern Vermont. Wicked smart, stubborn and independent, she’d given up the idea of finding true love after her divorce. When her new boss moves to town and accompanies her on a work trip, she tries to fight the mutual attraction, finally giving in to have a fling with him. After they return home, she tries everything she can to keep her distance, deep down afraid of the power of their love.

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

My upcoming release came from several sources of inspiration. We had traveled to Seattle, and I always knew I wanted to incorporate Seattle into a novel. Then last year, we spent quite a bit of time in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and I knew that the setting had to be changed to be more specific. Then, the character of Georgiana and her twin brother and his best friend just kept popping up in my brain until I finally gave them the time and attention they so deserved.

 

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

Georgiana is my favorite of my heroines so far, maybe because she’s the one I’ve been working with most of the time lately. The funny thing is that when my “final” draft went to my editor (Sutton Mason – fabulous editor), I was so excited because I LOVED this character. About a week later, she sent back a note with her first round of edits, and she said that she had started out really liking Georgiana, but by mid-book, she hated her. I took that comment really hard, had a day of being really mad and sulking, then re-read Sutton’s suggestions, and realized that I was reading my work seeing how Georgiana was in my head, but I wasn’t presenting it as well as I could on the paper. I spent a long weekend in the Northeast Kingdom re-working the novel, and came away even more in love with her has a character.

 

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

I started writing romances because the characters of Kat and Alex kept running around in my brain – and I just plain love happily-ever-afters. I think so many people want to read something that makes them smile in the end.

I also am in the process of writing a memoir, which is a new experience for me, and that book I hope will help others through the grief process of losing a child.

 

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

Keep writing! Don’t give up!

 

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

Two of my three novels take place almost exclusively in New England, and the third keeps visiting there (actually visiting West Brookfield!). It has been so important to me because the sights, smells, sounds and rituals of New England are part of my blood, and I want to share them with others. Realistically, I also don’t feel I should write about places I don’t know well, because it would come across as less than authentic.

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

We live on our small family farm in Vermont, and we try to be as self-sufficient in our food supply and heating as possible. We are passionate about vegetable gardening, sugaring, beekeeping, and our fiber animals. Writing tends to happen at night, once the work and chores are done for the day. I also am a passionate New England sports fan, and I love writing with the Sox or Patriots on in the background.

 

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

Google docs is my best writing friend! My writing space is wherever I can sit or stand, and as I type directly (instead of handwriting anything), I use my laptop, tablet or phone wherever I am. Using google docs has allowed me to be much more mobile and productive, as I don’t always need to have a computer with me to be able to write.

When I’m ready to really edit, I print pages, put them in a 3-ring binder, and use colored felt-tip pens for marking them up (never red). For that process, I like to sit in my favorite comfy chair in my living room.

 

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

Silence when writing, music (preferably Twiddle, a Vermont band) when editing.

 

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?

When I get stuck, visiting the alpacas and chickens helps clear my head and get me back to writing.

 

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?

I always have water/seltzer on hand when I’m writing or editing, and when I’m editing, chocolate is usually around too.

 

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

Currently my novels are available in print and e-book on Amazon, Solstice Publishing, Barnes and Noble, and some local books shops.

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

I try to have a pretty lively social media presence, and can be found on FB, Twitter and my author’s webpage/blog. My sites are:

Website: www.authorkfrancoeur.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/authorkfrancoeur

Twitter: @KFAnnaBelleRose

 

Thank you, again, for joining us on our blog, Kris!  We are excited to see you in two weeks, on Saturday, May 5, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at our 65 James Street location.

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Events Buzz: End of April

We hope all of our local friends and family had a wonderful April Vacation, whether they were traveling or home. We had a wonderful time at our two Drop-In Craft days on Monday and Tuesday, and a lot of fun at our Doctor Who Discussion Night, so thank you to everyone who came out—even in crazy weather!

This is the last full week of April, so check out our great deals on poetry. From our sales cart to our Local Poets display, we’ve got a great variety of verse for folks to enjoy—but come May, we may be highlighting a few different (yet still really cool) things.

We do still have the donation box for Worcester, The City That Reads. The box will be by the register through May 15. Donate new or gently used books for PreK through 8th Grade, and they will be distributed to Worcester students for summer reading. To find out more, check out www.worcesterreads.org.

So what’s happening THIS WEEK at our 65 James Street location?

THIS SATURDAY, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM, get ready to Light it up: Three on a Match dark authors.

Join three dark literary authors for an afternoon of chilling tales—and maybe even some spooky mad libs!

Melissa Crandall is the author of the Pushcart-nominated short stories “Dreams on Racks” and “The Cellar.” Comfortable writing fiction or nonfiction, her work has appeared in Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Allegory, Amoskeog: The Journal of Southern New Hampshire University, in the collection Darling Wendy and Other Stories, STRIDES (North American Riding for the Handicapped, now PATH International, and ASPCA’s Animal Watch. Online, she has contributed to Animal Bliss (animalbliss.com), The Drunken Odyssey (the drunkenodyssey.com), and her own blog The Wild Ride: Caretaking Mom Through Alzheimer’s (melissacrandall.wordpress.com). Crandall was one of twelve writers chosen to participate in Connecticut Humanities’ 2015 endeavor The Great Connecticut Caper. She is the author of the fantasy novel Weathercock, and media tie-in novels for Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and Earth 2.

You can contact her at www.melissacrandall.com.

 

  1. Elmer Munson writes down all the weird and potentially criminal things that are screaming in his head. Some just give him a headache, but others eventually become stories. He tries to share his writing time between all things strange and unusual and the horrors of everyday life. Works include the novel Stripped, the novellas “Camp Hollybrook” and “Celery Hand Duran,” and the short story collection Tales From the Underground. There’s plenty more to come, as he generally has about thirty projects in progress simultaneously. That’s what coffee is for. You can follow his (mis)adventures at gElmerMunson.com, but be sure to bring soap.

 

Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s someday-house in Florida will have a lanai and a pool bar. The first chapter of her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart, and her Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World is a collection of ghost stories set in the Disney Parks. Her short fiction has appeared in close to a hundred publications, including The Adirondack Review, Barbaric Yawp, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, New Pop Lit, Quail Bell, Carpe Articulum Literary Review, and several anthologies. She holds an MFA from Goddard College and is the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony winter residencies. She is guest editing an upcoming volume of the Ink Stains anthology series for Dark Alley Press. She occasionally co-hosts the horror film podcast Dark Discussions and volunteers at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. She and her husband, Nathan, live in the Connecticut woods where she still sleeps with the lights on. Visit her online at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

 

Three on a Match is a collection of three novellas. Crandall’s “Thicker than Water” takes place in 19th-century Connecticut, where Cora Coleman’s life in a seaside village is a collection of everyday tasks stitched together by a dark family secret. When tragedy strikes, vicious gossip spawns accusations of enchantment and sorcery. Arrested and brought to trail, Cora insists that she’s innocent…but will enough evidence be brought forth that even she begins to wonder? In Munson’s harkening to classic pulp and grindhouse, “Alls Well that Ends,” police officer Angel Lewis has problems—with anger management, a frustrated and distant wife, a precocious daughter … and bourbon. The one thing he doesn’t have a problem with is busting baddies—until a typical call turns into a shocking bloodbath, and he discovers that one of those baddies has been holding more than just a grudge. As everything Angel’s ever believed is shattered, will he be forced to make an unenviable choice? In Schoonover’s “Splendid Chyna,” Cece is confident that a violent past is behind her, so she moves her recently blended family into an upscale residential development in Kissimmee. Initially, she ignores her neighbor’s disturbing tales about the property’s former theme park status … but soon, she suffers from terrifying visions, discovers strange objects in her son’s things, and witnesses her daughter’s erratic behavior. As it dawns on her that a dark thing is lurking, it becomes clear that although she’s done with the past, it’s not done with her—and she may be doomed to repeat it.

And THIS SUNDAY, April 29, 1:00 – 3:00 PM, join us for David Moore’s Small Town, Big Oil.

In the fall of 1973, Aristotle Onassis arrived on the New Hampshire Coast to scout out plots of land. Greek oil shipping tycoon and the husband of President John F. Kennedy’s widow, Aristotle was one of the world’s richest and famous men who was convinced his plan would go off without a hitch. His project had already received the support of governor, Meldrim Thomson and publisher of the Manchester Union Leader, William Loeb. Small Town, Big Oil retells the story of three incredible women—Nancy Sandberg, Dudley Dudley, and Phyllis Bennett—who when faced with the decision to support a plan that would decimate the beauty of the seacoast town, led the 1,254 residents to respond with a strong no.

David Moore is an award-winning author for iMediaEthics.org, and a senior fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He spent ten years in the Army, 21 years teaching at the University of New Hampshire, and 13 years working with the Gallup Organization – before rejoining UNH. His previous books include The Super Pollsters, How to Steal an Election, The Opinion Makers, and The First Primary (the latter co-authored with Andrew Smith).

May is just around the corner, so here’s a look at what’s happening! Mark your calendars.

Saturday, May 5, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Sweet Romance, Strong Heroines with Anna Belle Rose.

Sunday, May 6, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Lisa Rosinsky, Editor, Poet, YA Author.

Friday, May 11, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – Jim Zebrowski Returns for Another Astronomy Night.

Saturday, May 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Experience Amateur (Ham) Radio for All Ages.

Thursday, May 17, 7:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night.

Saturday, May 26, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Dali by E.M. Hamill.

 

Want a peek at June, too?

Saturday, June 2, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – PRIDE Event: Great Reads by Transwoman Authors.

Thursday, June, 7, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – The Future of Newspapers with Dan Kennedy.

Saturday, June 9, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – PRIDE Event: Authors of Queer Romance.

 

More events are being added, so keep an eye on our Facebook Events Page and our website to plan ahead!

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 TODAY, April 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 May 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, DIFFERENT SATURDAY, May 26.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Kristi Petersen Schoonover

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Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on our friend, Kristi Petersen Schoonover! Kristi has been to our store several times, and we’re very happy to host her again, along with her friends and colleagues, Melissa Crandall and g. Elmer Munson. They’ll be here on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM for an afternoon celebrating scary stories, dark humor, and their collection of novellas. The authors will talk about their work, read, sign—and possibly break into mad libs for this haunting event.

Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s short fiction has been featured in several magazines and anthologies; most recently, she curated Dark Alley Press’ Ink Stains: Volume 7 anthology, which focused on the subject of decay. She holds an MFA from Goddard College, is the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony residencies, and is a co-host on the Dark Discussions podcast, which covers speculative films. In her spare time she enjoys birding and volunteering at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (she’s also really digging AMC’s new dark drama, The Terror). She lives in the Connecticut woods with her husband, occult specialist, and co-host of Shadow Nation, Nathan Schoonover, and still sleeps with the lights on.

 

Welcome back to the store and blog, Kristi! Thanks for joining us again. What was the inspiration for Three on a Match’s “Splendid Chyna”? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

The full story of how “Splendid Chyna” came to be is included in Three on a Match’s back matter, but in short, the first shot was a missed opportunity to visit a Kissimmee attraction called Splendid China, the mixer was that it closed, fell into ruin and became a dangerous place where vandals reigned. I added a splash of my Florida dream house, a pinch of a dear late friend of mine, and a twist of Asian horror and shook vigorously…but that was all the easy part. The tough part was making the mystery work without giving it away, but without being confusing, and the initial drafts had some problems. It was worked and re-worked for close to a year before it was ready to submit to the publisher.

 

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

This is the perfect question to answer for “Splendid Chyna!” I’ve set a lot of my stories in New England—especially when I was a younger writer—because I grew up here, and it was what I knew. I still set stories in New England if the market calls for it or if I’m in the mood, but lately—especially in the past five years—I’ve been exploring other options because I want a challenge. Let’s face it, New England is easy. It’s grey, dark, cold (even in summer) and cheerless a lot of the time. One of the scariest stories I ever read was Alison Lurie’s “The Pool People,” and it was such a stunning surprise because it was set in a bright afternoon at a sunlit-filled home on Key West. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to stay away from New England if at all possible. I’ve learned that stories in exotic places or fun locations—like “Splendid Chyna”’s modern home in a Kissimmee gated community just down the road from the Disney main gate—can be just as effective if done well.

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

I have a very exciting how-to guide that’s coming out in early summer, but other than that, right now there are some competitions I’m judging, and I have a few short stories that need thorough polish. Since I’ve no new ideas right now, I’m going to focus on cleaning up those.

I’m also going to be curating a second anthology for Dark Alley Press in 2019, but I’m enormously proud of the rewarding year I spent pulling together Ink Stains: Volume 7, and I’d encourage anyone out there who enjoys dark fiction to check it out anywhere they buy books or here: http://bit.ly/inkstains7

 

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

For me, the hardest part is actually not writing—more specifically, knowing when your body doesn’t want to do it. Yes, there’s the theory out there that “you’re not a writer unless you’re writing every day, so you should force yourself”—but that’s never worked for me. If my body has no fiction it wants to spew at the moment, that’s my cue to shift my focus to other things that get pushed aside when I’m knee-deep. It’s also a chance for me to spend more time reading. I use the down time to my advantage—and I usually find that taking that time to rest improves the quality of my fiction when I come back to it. But it’s not easy to do. As a writer, you feel like you have to be doing it all the time. You don’t. You just have to be at peace with when you’re not doing it.

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Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)  And how can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

My short works are featured in several magazines; anybody interested can visit https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/where-to-read-me/ to get links to the (still available) online journals I was published in. I also have a store page for links to anthologies at https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/store/. My novel Bad Apple and novelette “This Poisoned Ground” are available both through Amazon and through the publisher Dark Alley Press’ website at http://www.darkalleypress.com/. Your local bookstore can also order them! Here’s where people can stalk me:

Website: https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kpschoonover

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristipetersenschoonover

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kpschoonover

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/KristiPSchoonover

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kpschoonover

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kristi-Petersen-Schoonover/e/B0046Z8VYW

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kpschoonover

 

Thank you again, Kristi! We’re looking forward to hosting you, Melissa, and g. Elmer Munson for our Light it Up: Three on a Match celebration of literary horror on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM!

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Events Buzz: Mid-April Updates

We are halfway through April—and it’s already been quite a busy month!

We had a most wonderful time at all of our events this weekend! Thank you to everyone who came out for our Friday the 13th Dark Poetry Open Mic with Featured Readers with Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Morgan Sylvia, doungjai gam, and Trisha J. Wooldridge; our afternoon with Ed Kurtz and his latest release, At the Mercy of Beasts; and our afternoon with sculptor and public artist Nancy Schön! We hope you all had as much fun as we did.

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Ed Kurtz reading from AT THE MERCY OF BEASTS

Besides our fabulous events, there’s plenty of other great reasons to stop into the store!

We’ve got a display of our local poets right by our register! Support your Worcester-area poets as well as your local bookstore.

We’ve got our sales carts—including one for poetry since it’s National Poetry Month. Weather depending, they’ll be outside or somewhere in the store. Regardless of where you find them, they are a treasure of great prices on books!

And we still have the donation box for Worcester, The City That Reads. The box will be by the register through May 15. Donate new or gently used books for PreK through 8th Grade, and they will be distributed to Worcester students for summer reading. To find out more, check out www.worcesterreads.org.

So what’s happening THIS WEEK at our 65 James Street location? Quite a bit!

This week is April Vacation Week for Worcester and Auburn, so we’ve got two great Drop-in Crafts events! Selina, who designs our craft events, has outdone herself to create a variety of projects to offer folks of ALL ages—children and grown-ups alike—to entertain, to be proud of, and to bring home!

THIS MONDAY, April 16, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, we are Making Universal Monsters. Join us for a variety of crafts involving Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, and more!

THIS TUESDAY, April 17, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, our crafts are all about the Monsters of the Deep. From decorating giant squid to creating a magnet-fishing game, Tuesday’s projects are swimming with fun!

Each day offers multiple options for crafts at a variety of levels, from coloring pages to creating masks, puppets, and games. Remember, though, all children must be accompanied by an adult at all times! (That’s why we came up with fun stuff for adults, too!)

And then, THIS THURSDAY, April 19, starting at 7:00 PM, come out to our Doctor Who Discussion Night.

ABSW has a sizable representation of Doctor Who merchandise, and owner Patty Cryan is a long-time fan of the series—the world’s longest running science fiction serial! This month, as we celebrate “April is the Cruellest Month,” we are looking at the Eldritch Monsters who have plagued the Doctor through Classic and New Who! Which are your favorite indescribable, unspeakable horrors?

And there’s still plenty happening for the rest of the month!

Saturday, April 21, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers discuss Small Change by Roan Parrish.

Our April discussion book is Small Change by Roan Parrish. Join us to talk about this wonderful book and eat some tasty snacks! Copies of the book are available to purchase at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. Small Change is the first in a series that is set in the Middle of Somewhere universe. It features crossover characters from that series but stands on its own. The Small Change series will include M/F and M/M romances.

Saturday, April 28, 1:00 – 4:00 PM – Light it up: Three on a Match dark authors.

Join three dark literary authors for an afternoon of chilling tales—and maybe even some spooky mad libs!

Sunday, April 29, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – David Moore’s Small Town, Big Oil.

Find out about the New Hampshire three women who led a small town against a big oil company that would destroy their coastline!

And here’s what’s happening in May!

Saturday, May 5, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Sweet Romance, Strong Heroines with Anna Belle Rose.

Sunday, May 6, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Lisa Rosinsky, Editor, Poet, YA Author.

NEW LINK: Friday, May 11, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – Jim Zebrowski Returns for Another Astronomy Night.

Saturday, May 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Experience Amateur (Ham) Radio for All Ages.

Saturday, May 26, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Dali by E.M. Hamill.

More events are being added, so keep an eye on our Facebook Events Page and our website to plan ahead!

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 April 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 April 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 April 21.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

 

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Author Spotlight: Melissa Crandall

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine their spotlight on Melissa Crandall, one of the authors who will be at our 65 James Street bookstore on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM for our Light it Up: Three on a Match event. Melissa, along with Kristi Petersen Schoonover and g. Elmer Munson, will share an aftenoon celebrating scary stories, dark humor, and their collection of novellas. The authors will talk about their work, read, sign—and possibly break into mad libs for this haunting event.

Melissa Crandall is the author of the Pushcart-nominated short stories “Dreams on Racks” and “The Cellar.” Comfortable writing fiction or nonfiction, her work has appeared in Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Allegory, Amoskeog: The Journal of Southern New Hampshire University, in the collection Darling Wendy and Other Stories, STRIDES (North American Riding for the Handicapped, now PATH International, and ASPCA’s Animal Watch. Online, she has contributed to Animal Bliss (animalbliss.com), The Drunken Odyssey (the drunkenodyssey.com), and her own blog The Wild Ride: Caretaking Mom Through Alzheimer’s (melissacrandall.wordpress.com). Crandall was one of twelve writers chosen to participate in Connecticut Humanities’ 2015 endeavor The Great Connecticut Caper. She is the author of the fantasy novel Weathercock, and media tie-in novels for Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and Earth 2.

Thank you so much for joining us, Melissa! For those not familiar with you, what can you tell us about yourself an your work?

I’ve been writing since I was about 7. I’ve always had a tendency to write where my interests lay, so my first stories were about animals. In later years, that morphed into collaborative works written with friends, many having their basis in old television shows (Here Come the Brides; Alias Smith and Jones; the original Star Trek) or favorite books (Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series; Elfquest). I cut my professional writing teeth on media tie-in books, but have since branched out into original fiction, as well as nonfiction.  I don’t write in any particular genre, although I’m drawn to fantasy, horror, and the so-called “literary” niche. My nonfiction has dealt with subjects as diverse as personal dynamics in a blended family, my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, canine epilepsy, and elephants. I was born in Upstate New York.

 

What character have you loved or hated the most while writing? And why?

Up until recently, I’d never hated any of my characters, even the badly-behaved ones. But then I wrote a story for the collection TRICKS AND TREATS called “The Cellar.” There’s a character in there named Uncle Daddy who truly gives me the creeps.

An important lesson about villains came to me via my novel WEATHERCOCK. I learned that in order to write a three-dimensional “bad guy,” I needed to understand that they have their reasons for doing what they do, just like the hero/ine. In some cases, the villain is only a villain from the perspective of the hero/ine. In the villain’s own mind, they’re doing the right thing. That gave me a lot to think about, and it’s helped add breadth to my characters.

04282018 - Melissa author pic

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

I don’t like the word “genre.” May as well use “pigeonhole,” they’re both limiting. When I first began reading—back before the last Ice Age—there was just a handful of genres (romance, mystery, science fiction, western) and “literary fiction” (uttered in a very lofty British accent, if possible). Now there are so many genres and sub-genres that it’s ridiculous. A writer can’t say they write fantasy, they have to parse it down even smaller into urban fantasy or high fantasy or whatever, not for the good of the writer or reader, but because the world loves its categories. So for me to say I’m drawn to fantasy doesn’t really tell a reader what to expect from me.

I never feel that I “choose” how to tell a story. Rather, the story tells me how it wants to be told, and if I’m smart, I take that advice. I don’t set out to tell a story with a hidden message, although readers often tell me that’s what they’ve gleaned from one of my tales. That’s part of the PFM (Pure F***ing Magic) of writing. Non-writers have asked, “How do you write?” as if there’s a simple explanation or formula I can offer. Truth is, I don’t know how it happens. It just does. It’s the way I’m wired. I’ve been both immensely grateful for it, and simultaneously driven mad by it. I’m not certain anyone sane really wants to be a writer.

As to what draws readers to particular books, fiction is all about escapism. In our wildest fantasies, how do we see ourselves? The adventurer? The sleuth? The captive princess? The roving scientist? The vengeful cowboy? Fiction satisfies our particular craving.

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

Lots of stuff I wish someone had told me back when I was starting out. Leave your ego at the door. Develop a thick skin. Don’t take rejection personally. Don’t be so wedded to your deathless prose that you miss opportunities to grow and learn as a writer. Take the Craft seriously, and don’t cut corners. Writing is hard work. Read, read, read all sorts of stuff, not only one genre. Edit, edit, edit (at least three times, preferably six … or more). Take critique graciously, even if you don’t  agree, but bear in mind that if you get the same comment from three different people, you might want to take a long hard look at that section because they may be right.

 

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

It has to be what’s occurred over the past three years as I researched, wrote, and now await editing notes on my nonfiction book, THE MAN WHO LOVED ELEPHANTS.

In a nutshell: Back in 1997, while living in Portland, OR, I spent an evening in the Washington Park Zoo elephant barn standing watch on the herd matriarch, Belle, who’d undergone life-saving surgery on her foot. It was my good fortune to be partnered with senior keeper Roger Henneous, who’d been with her for almost 30 years.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m long gone from Portland, but the memories of that night remain clear and have become incredibly insistent that they be written about. An innocent query to the zoo (now the Oregon Zoo) about elephant care put me in touch with a former keeper, who offered Roger’s contact info. Since January 2015, he and I have spoken long distance at least once a week, usually for 2-3 hours at a time. What I thought would be a short story, or perhaps an essay, became a full-length book which is now being considered by a publisher. (An essay—“Return of the Elephant Man”—recently appeared in JEMA, the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association.)

 

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

For me, it’s the stasis that occurs when one project is finished (and I use that term loosely) and in the hands of an editor. It’s difficult for me to move onto the next project when I know I’ll have to come back to the first one after the editor’s notes arrive. I’m still working on overcoming that, so if anyone has suggestions …

 

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

A good deal of my earlier stuff is out of print, so used bookstores like The Book Barn in Niantic or online at Abebooks.com is a good place to search. My recent stuff (Weathercock; Tricks and Treats; Three on a Match) can be purchased directly from me, or on Amazon.

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

You can find me online at http://www.melissacrandall.com. 

 

Thank you for the great interview, Melissa!  We look forward to having you and your Three on a Match co-authors at our 65 James Street store on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM!

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Events Buzz: Shower of April Events

Have we got a busy next couple of weeks for you! We could even call it an… April Shower of Events!

But first, a few quick news bits.

We’ve got our sales carts ready—including one for poetry since it’s National Poetry Month. Weather depending, they’ll be outside or somewhere in the store. Regardless of where you find them, they are a treasure of great prices on books!

And if you’re feeling like you want to shower some literary gifts, we still have the donation box for Worcester, The City That Reads. The box will be by the register through May 15. Donate new or gently used books for PreK through 8th Grade, and they will be distributed to Worcester students for summer reading. To find out more, check out www.worcesterreads.org.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who came out this weekend to our Phantom of the Opera Celebration! We had a wonderful time talking trivia, Lon Chaney, and many ways books, movies, television, and more have imagined our favorite Opera Ghost! Special thanks to author Paul McMahon for his presentation on Lon Chaney!

Now, here’s what’s coming in the next TWO weeks!

Friday, April 13, 6:00 – 9:00 PM – An Evening of Dark Poetry open mic and featured readers Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Morgan Sylvia, and doungjai gam.

Poets Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Morgan Sylvia, doungjai gam, and Trisha J. Wooldridge will be reading at 6:30, 7:15, 8:00, and 8:45 with open mic segments in between each featured poet. Sign up early for reading slots, and the open mic starts at 6pm SHARP!

Bring your favorite dark poetry for this Friday the 13th celebration of verse!

Saturday, April 14, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – At the Mercy of Beasts with Ed Kurtz.

From the author of Bleed and The Rib From Which I Remake the World comes a triptych of historical horror novellas. A pair of Texas oil men strike something more valuable than crude that turns avarice to murder—and summons something that should never have been awakened—in “Black’s Red Gold.” In “Kennon Road,” a disillusioned American corporal stationed in Baguio in the wake of the Philippine-American War discovers the gruesome truth behind the Filipino legend of the man-eating Manananggal. And on the lonesome desert highways of the American Southwest, a trucker befriends a haunted, hitchhiking Vietnam veteran with whom she confronts the horrors waiting in the hills and caves to feed in “Deadheader.” Monsters both human and otherworldly converge in Ed Kurtz’s At the Mercy of Beasts.

Sunday, April 15, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Make Way for Artist Nancy Schön.

Nancy Schön is best known in Massachusetts for her “Make Way for Ducklings,” based on the beloved children’s book, sculpture in the Boston Public Garden and  her “The Tortoise and the Hare” in Boston’s Copley Square, which greets Boston Marathon runners as they cross the finish line. She’s done many other public sculptures based on children’s literature. “Sal’s Bear” graces Maine’s Botanical Gardens, as do “Lentil and His Dog” in Hamilton, Ohio. Each of them posed unique challenges and each generated original, unforgettable results. She explains what goes into making a beautiful and tactile work of public art, from the wax maquettes to the casting in bronze, from dealing with budgets and logistics to the diplomacy required for dealing with public places and elected officials. Her story encourages anyone trying to express themselves, whether artist, athlete, dancer, musician or writer, for she demonstrates that drive and determination (when coupled with an undeniable talent) can overcome any roadblock and produce remarkable results.

April Vacation Week Drop-in Crafts (Children must be accompanied by an adult):

Each day offers multiple options for crafts at a variety of levels, from coloring pages to creating masks, puppets, and games. There are even projects adults will enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 7:00 PM – Doctor Who Discussion Night.

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester hosts their monthly Doctor Who Talk on Thursday, April 19, from 7:00-8:00 PM. ABSW has a sizable representation of Doctor Who merchandise, and owner Patty Cryan is a long-time fan of the series—the world’s longest running science fiction serial! This month, as we celebrate “April is the Cruellest Month,” we are looking at the Eldritch Monsters who have plagued the Doctor through Classic and New Who! Which are your favorite indescribable, unspeakable horrors?

Saturday, April 21, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers discuss Small Change by Roan Parrish.

Our April discussion book is Small Change by Roan Parrish. Join us to talk about this wonderful book and eat some tasty snacks! Copies of the book are available to purchase at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. Small Change is the first in a series that is set in the Middle of Somewhere universe. It features crossover characters from that series but stands on its own. The Small Change series will include M/F and M/M romances.

Phew! But there’s even more for the rest of April and into May!

Saturday, April 28, 1:00 – 4:00 PM – Light it up: Three on a Match dark authors.

Sunday, April 29, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – David Moore’s Small Town, Big Oil.

Saturday, May 5, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Sweet Romance, Strong Heroines with Anna Belle Rose.

Sunday, May 6, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Lisa Rosinsky, Editor, Poet, YA Author.

NEW LINK: Friday, May 11, 7:00 – 9:00 PM – Jim Zebrowski Returns for Another Astronomy Night.

Saturday, May 12, 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Experience Amateur (Ham) Radio for All Ages.

Saturday, May 26, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Rainbow Readers Discusses Dali by E.M. Hamill.

More events are being added, so keep an eye on our Facebook Events Page and our website to plan ahead!

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 April 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 April 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 April 16.

May your world be filled with wonderful words!

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Author Spotlight: Ed Kurtz

04062018 - Kurtz cover

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on author Ed Kurtz, who will be at our 65 James Street store on Saturday, April 14, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM! We’re celebrating the release of Ed’s latest collection, At the Mercy of Beasts.

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

I’m a Southern writer living in exile in the Northeast by way of the Midwest, with a penchant for American history and 20th century pop culture that finds its way into nearly everything I write. My work can broadly be classified as horror, crime, thriller, and once in a while, western. My novels include Bleed, The Rib From Which I Remake the World, Nausea, Angel of the Abyss, and Sawbones. My short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and has been featured in Best American Mystery Stories and Best Gay Stories.

 

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?

At the Mercy of Beasts, like the preponderance of my work, consists of historical stories, so there’s always a lot of research that goes into that. I was living in Texas when I wrote all three of these novellas, so the setting for the first one, “Black’s Red Gold,” was a given to me. Upton Sinclair’s Oil! was an invaluable resource for that one, to get me to a place of understanding the oil boom of the early 20th century. The second novella, “Kennon Road,” is set in Baguio in the Philippines, which is the hometown of my dear friend and occasional collaborator Billy Sagulo. I dedicated it to him, and I read a stack of books on the Philippine-American War while peppering him and his family with questions to get it right. The final novella of the triptych is set in the 1970s, possibly my favorite era to write about, but I didn’t really know very much about the trucking culture that Americans were so fascinated with back then, so again I had to dig into personal accounts I could find in books and online, but also conversations with a handful of old-school truckers who offered loads of anecdotes that informed the story. It was a heap of fun, and my favorite way to attack any piece of fiction, be it a short story, novella, or novel.

04062018 - Kurtz picture

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

First and foremost, exercise patience and publish well. Too many new writers are too eager to see their names in print and on book covers to stop and consider what’s best for them and the work in the long run. I know this because it’s a mistake I made in the beginning, and I’m fortunate to have learned from it. There are great books and stories out there nobody is reading because they’ve been published by fly-by-night presses with lousy covers and poor editing, and that’s just a shame that can be easily avoided. It’s a “dress for the job you want” kind of thing.

 

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

Next up from me is an epic historical thriller from Crossroad Press, Sawbones, a first-person recounting of a violent revenge spree across the post-Civil War U.S. from a very unreliable narrator, which will be out in July. Then in early 2019, ChiZine is publishing my horror novel Caliban, which concerns a disparate group of deserters from the 1755 Braddock expedition during the French and Indian War who are stalked by a formless, ancient entity in the wilderness.

 

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

I suppose my addiction to buying and collecting old soul and R&B LPs has become writing-related, now that I’m deep into writing a novel that takes place in early 1960s Detroit during the heyday of Motown. Maybe I can write these off as a business expense.

 

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

Most everything I’ve ever published is available through the usual suspects, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, etc.

 

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

I have an author page on Facebook that updates what I’m up to, and I can be found at Twitter, too. My website is down presently, but should be back pretty soon: edkurtzbooks.com.

 

Thank you again for joining us, Ed, and for the great interview!  We look forward to hosting you at our 65 James Street store on Saturday, April 14, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM!

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