Thursday, February 4, 2016

Celebrating a Neighborhood Bookstore: Home at Word Up, a #picturebook by Becky Fullan

This blog has featured writers from all over the world, but today I'm keeping it local. Becky Fullan is a friend and fellow writer who volunteers at Word Up, a wonderful bookstore in NYC. She's also the author of their newest publication, a picture book called Home at Word Up.

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Bookstore as Community
by Becky Fullan

In June of 2011, I discovered Word Up Community Bookshop in my neighborhood of Washington
Heights. It was only intended to exist for a month, as a pop-up bookstore and community arts space in an abandoned storefront. The first event I attended at Word Up, which at the time was hosting multiple events each day, featured a group of teenagers presenting passionate, funny, deeply engaging monologues and dialogues about their experiences living in Washington Heights. It was clear to me very quickly that Word Up was a space that was radically local, practically communal and horizontal in its organization, and rooted in books, words, and the arts. The only thing I hated about it was that it was supposed to go away so soon.

It turned out a lot of other people felt the same way, and so we worked to stay, month after month, for a whole year. Then, when we lost our original space, we continued to meet weekly and launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to open a new, more permanent home. In 2013, we reopened in our current location at 2113 Amsterdam, and we have been selling books, offering manifold events, promoting the work of local authors and artists, and otherwise building and contributing to our neighborhood’s communities ever since.

As part of our Indiegogo campaign, we promised to create a picture book telling a story of this unique space. Every piece of the project was dreamed and created by Word Up volunteers. I came into the process after Mary Ann Wincorkowski had created a basic structure and plan for the story, about a little girl who comes to Word Up and discovers the community and possibilities there. I had an incredibly fun job, which was to find the story in this plan, develop the particular characters of this little girl and her aunt, who cared for her, and shape their quest to find a home and a sense of connection in Washington Heights. This was a joy, particularly in attending deeply to the question of what makes a home, and trying to express that as beautifully and succinctly as possible.

Sandy Jimenez did the art for the book, and seeing his art interpret and delightfully expand the concepts in my writing has been an incredibly rewarding part of this process. My favorite piece of art in the book is the very last page, because of the way that it subtly continues the story and artistically enacts our desire to turn this pop-up shop into something that lasts forever.

Becky Fullan, left, perfecting a display at
Word Up Community Bookshop.  (Photo: Emmanuel Abreu) 
The editing, design, and publishing was also expertly orchestrated by Mary Ann Wincorkowski and Veronica Liu, while a team of translators, Daniella Gitlin, Lucy Gitlin, and Mariel Escalante, rendered my prose into gorgeous Spanish. I tend to write with a lot of poetic, figurative language, even (or perhaps especially) in this concise format, and being able to read this skillful translation, done with loving attention to my words and my meanings, has been an extraordinary pleasure. Working with both a visual artist and the team of translators added layers of artistic collaboration to a process that was fundamentally rooted in collaboration and community expression.

We’ll be having a launch party this Saturday, Feb. 5th, at 2 PM, featuring music by Gio Andollo, a reading of the book, and a discussion of its creation. Here's the event page on Facebook. If you are a long-standing friend of Word Up, or if you have never heard of us or been able to visit before, I would be delighted to welcome you to my home at Word Up.

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You can follow Word Up on Twitter and Facebook.
Learn more about Becky Fullan on her blog

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One for Every Taste: My Three Novels Coming Out in 2016

The year 2015 saw a lot of short publications by Anne E. Johnson, but nothing longer than five thousand words. And not for lack of trying. The fact is, when you deal with small publishers, you learn to expect various things not to go as planned.

Giving details would be gauche, so suffice it to say that I lived through a bookless 2015 and now look forward to the 2016 release of three novels, in three genres, from three different publishers. To wit:


SPACE SURFERS (Alban Lake Publishing) 
This YA far-future science fiction adventure takes place on a planet called Soranen and features a pair of twins whose ancestry is a mixture of the Ellarisor and Human species. The teens' secret, illegal jet flights above the planet's atmosphere uncover a great mystery that inspires them to figure out the origins of their Human blood.


FRANNI AND THE DUKE (Sunbury Press) 
Going back to my roots as a musicologist, I wrote this middle-grade historical novel as a celebration of one of my favorite composers, Claudio Monteverdi. It's May of 1608 when a 12-year-old girl named Franni and her older sister enter the glorious city of Mantua. Soon they find themselves working on Monteverdi's new opera in the Duke's impossibly glamorous Palazzo. But when the Duke of a nearby town goes missing and Franni's sister also seems to be in danger, Franni must piece together a puzzle even more complicated than the maestro's music.

FALL 2016

RED SPAWN DELIVERY (Book 3 of the Webrid Chronicles; Candlemark & Gleam) 
Webrid is back, and it's chaos as usual in the Raralt Planetary Circle. The every-alien who just wants to be left alone to belch beer is once again forced into an adventure. This time a whole litter of babies get stolen from under their mother's nose. And just because the mom went to college with Webrid's friend Zatell, Webrid has to help find the blasted things.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Two cover reveals to start 2016

Happy New Year! Here's what's cooking, pictorially speaking:

My cyberpunk story "Dreamwire" will appear soon in Futuristica Vol. 1 from Metasagas Press.

My choose-your-ending story "Space Dust Smoothies," for middle grade readers, will appear on the Epi-Fiction site.

More details soon!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Launch Day! THE ORPHEUS FACTOR: 6 Dark #ScienceFiction Stories #Scifi

More than half of what I write is for kids, but sometimes I take great delight in writing stories just for grown-ups. Welcome to my newest collection:


Maybe the aliens are already here.

These six works of short science fiction by award-winning author Anne E. Johnson range from Earth-bound cyberpunk to a space-opera retelling of an ancient Greek myth. All-in-all, the collection will leave you ... unsettled.

Purchase THE ORPHEUS FACTOR as an ebook at major online retailers:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The intensive research behind J.S. Dunn's BENDING THE BOYNE

May I just say how much I love the term "archaeofiction," which I learned from this essay by J.S. Dunn? This author is all about research and historical fiction, two other things I love.

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Bending The Boyne, set in ancient Eire at 2200 BCE, emulates Jean Auel’s carefully researched series 21st century archaeology and reveals a compelling story of change. Bending The Boyne is the first novel of Bronze Age Ireland to explore what might well have happened underlying the mythology. It can be read as archaeofiction, a tale of a largely forgotten culture.
in 'prehistory'. This work has no druid/esses, no time travel, no leprechauns; in short, no fantasy elements. What could possibly inspire a first-time author to spend ten years researching and writing such a work? The answer lies in western Europe’s oldest mythology and its largest concentration of prehistoric rock art. The Boyne mounds, older than the pyramids and Stonehenge, fell out of use around the end of the third millennium BCE as did megaliths along much of the north Atlantic coasts, from the Pyrenees in northern Spain, to Brittany, and into the Isles. The great passage mounds and their carved rocks are now acknowledged to be intricately engineered observatories for movements of sun, moon, and constellations. So what happened?
            To show the cultural clash between astronomy-loving natives and the metal-using newcomers proved no small task. Academics don't agree on all issues but gradually the pattern emerged, that the Beaker People of ca. 2200 BCE disrupted the native culture wherever they arrived. Fortunately, the author enjoyed reading numerous archaeology, archaeogenetics, and astonomy volumes and journals. RyanAir's cheap fares facilitated travel from Ireland, where the author had a country stone house, to the coasts of Wales, Orkney, Brittany, and Spain. 
            Boann’s impassioned struggle to hold on to her people’s astronomy and their values forms the central conflict, when marauders with long bronze knives seek to plunder the Boyne for gold. Boann is associated with the river Boyne and with the white river in the sky, the Milky Way. She appears briefly in the earliest myths and then she literally disappears. Her son Aengus is strongly associated with the passage mound now called Newgrange, his origin a prehistoric version of Who’s Your Daddy? The myths are not clear on just who is his father. It is clear that Boann is the mother of Aengus. In this novel, she is also an apprentice learning her people’s astronomy.
            She faces the choice of duty as against personal desires. Boann’s lover Cian, another sketchy figure from the earliest mythology, is banished overseas. From there he figures out how to help Boann and his people survive the incoming warriors in a profound way.
            The discord surrounding Aengus’ paternity haunts him into adulthood and leads to the shocking result when Aengus finally confronts Elcmar, the invader who married Boann for his own purposes.
            Aengus knows that “all of time is made up of night and day.” He intends to hold onto the Boyne forever, newcomers or not. Truth is stranger than fiction. Even today, winter solstice sunrise warms the inner chamber after more than 4,000 years. So it is that Aengus, the young son of Boann, returns at solstice to shine upon Eire. The Bru na Boinn complex in Ireland is now a UN World Heritage site that has tens of thousands of visitors annually. Perhaps the builders knew this structure could last forever.
            The hidden gold of Eire is not metal, it is the myths themselves and the rich heritage of Irish literature from the likes of Yeats, Synge, Joyce, Flann O’Brien, and others. The astute reader will catch echoes of these in Bending The Boyne.
            One last thing, about the precise location of gold in Ireland: that is still a secret.

More about Bending the Boyne:

Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age when marauders invade seeking copper and gold. The astronomer Boann and her lover the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, as long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Banished to far coasts, Cian discovers how to outwit the invaders at their own game. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland’s beginnings in a totally new light.

This story appeals to fans of solid historical fiction, myth and fantasy, archaeo-astronomy, and Bronze Age Europe. Bending The Boyne received first place, historical fiction, 2011 Next Generation Awards.

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Purchase Bending the Boyne on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Launch Day for YOUNG ADVENTURERS #YAlit Anthology

You know what makes a great holiday gift for a teen?

A book!

(I bet you already knew that.)

Here's a nice new one to consider:

Intrigue Publishing presents YOUNG ADVENTURERS: Heroes, Explorers & Swashbucklers, a collection of exciting YA stories in a variety of genres.

I'm delighted to say that my science fiction story, "Toori's Constellation," is included in these pages.

Find it on Amazon, BN, and other major online retailers. Enjoy!