Tag Archives: Literati Bookstore

Meeting Mackenzi Lee and Brittany Cavallaro

31 Jan

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m very lucky to live near an amazing independent bookstore, Literati, in Ann Arbor. If you’re looking for a small store to support, please consider them! They ship nation wide. Anyway! I saw on their Instagram that they were going to have a Friday night event with Brittany Cavallaro and Mackenzi Lee. I wasn’t familiar with Cavallaro but I’d read the first two books of Lee’s Gentleman’s Guide series (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy) as well as the accompanying novella (The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky). This tour is supporting the paperback release of the final book in the series, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks. I hadn’t added this to my TBR, but it’s one I had planed to read. I conferred with my husband that he could watch the babe so off I went!

PXL_20230129_004434380I got to the store a little early and was poking around the kids section before things got started. The event space was set up but no one was sitting down yet. I wanted to see if I could find a board book about managing emotions for toddlers (please give me recommendations) and I heard an employee talking with two women. I had to assume these were the presenters so I went and sat down. Another person followed soon after but by the time the event started, it was just the two of us! I was surprised, but maybe Friday night is not a popular time to go to a book signing? More people trickled in as it went out, about six in total.

Lee and Cavallaro decided to take a very conversational approach because of the small audience. Both read from their books, Cavallaro from Manifest and Lee from The Winter Soldier: Cold Front. The two seemed to have been on tour together for a few days at least and struck up a conversation easily about historical figures and writing historical fiction. We went down a wonderful tangent about Harry Houdini that I just adored, though I may have been the only one. (Granted, that’s about 17% of the audience, so still good!)

PXL_20230129_004415335With the small audience, I didn’t want to take any ‘creeper’ photos during the event. Afterward, both signed copies of their backlog. I snagged a copy of Nobleman’s Guide and decided to try out the first in a series of mystery novels from Cavallaro. Both were wonderfully generous with their time and engaged with those of us who were able to make it out. It sounded like they had a few more stops to go together. Cavallaro mentioned living in norther Michigan and I suspect they were heading that way and had stopped by on their way. It was really fun to go to an in-person event again after so long! I think my last one was October 2019. I’m hoping I can go to more again soon!

Until next time, write on

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Date With a Bookstore- A COVID Love Story

24 Nov

I know I’ve talked about them again, but I’m going to gush about my local indy bookstore, Literati. At the beginning of the pandemic, they were doing $1 shipping in the US and I abused that. They’ve stopped, but their shipping is still reasonable- I paid $7 to ship to Texas. They also have curbside pickup so I’m able to get the books for people in my family in person.

But they’ve introduced something else that I took advantage of and just love. They do an appointment-based tête-à-tête with a bookseller. I was able to set one up to help with my holiday shopping and I loved the experience!

After I found a time and date, I got an email with a short survey to talk about what kind of books I liked, genres I was looking for, and recent books I’d enjoyed. I was feeling difficult and didn’t fill it in. I was shopping for my niece, nephew, mother-in-law, and father-in-law so instead I described each of them, books they’d enjoyed before, and the kind of book I was looking for to get each. I was assured this was no problem.

At the time of our meeting, I was having some major internet connection problems but the bookseller was so patient with me and while I couldn’t share my video, she shared hers which was very helpful when looking at books for my 5-year-old nephew! She made a recommendation for a series he’d never heard (according to my sister-in-law), the InvestiGators, crime-solving alligators. This sounds adorable. For my 9-year-old niece, she recommended a book called Stargazing which is a graphic novel. My niece is super creative and loves art so graphic novels have been a big hit with her!

I’m always nervous about buying my mother-in-law books because she’s usually read any bookmarked ‘Target Book Club’ at Target. I asked for something a little more unusual and they delivered! I have a copy of The Grammarians on order for her and the description sounds like something she’ll enjoy. For my father-in-law, I knew I wanted to get him Moby Duck after I loved it so much this summer. They didn’t have it in the store but have ordered a copy from the publisher for me. She recommended the new John Grisham, A Time for Mercy, and I declined at first. Even though it was a signed copy, we usually get people just one book for Christmas.

I was raving to my husband about the experience and he recommended we get the Grisham anyway. Who can pass on a signed copy? We also picked up A Darker Shade of Magic for one of my husband’s friends. So now I have four books being sent to Texas for my nieces and nephew and four waiting for curbside. I’m so impressed with the services this store has offered and how they’re overcoming the shelter-in-place and lockdown orders we have here in Michigan. I’ve strived to purchase as many of my Christmas gifts as possible from small businesses and I’ve been overjoyed with the experience. If you are in the US and need to order some books, please consider supporting Literati or another indy bookstore instead of a giant company that doesn’t care about you.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Meeting Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona (Golden Glow)

27 Aug

Combining my love of swimming with my reading habit is always a wonderful moment. I was able to do that a few years ago when I met Anthony Ervin and just over a week ago I did it again when I met Kaitlin Sandeno. Sandeno is an Olympic medalist and former world record holder. She partnered with sports journalist Dan D’Addona to publish her memoir and one of her book tour stops was in Ann Arbor, MI, a short drive from home. I’m very lucky that there’s another swimmer/reader, Mike Gustafson, who, along with his wife, opened Literati Bookstore back in 2013. Mike is a college swimmer and former writer for USA swimming so he’s able to get big names like Ervin and Sandeno into his store when they’ve published their own books. Honestly, I don’t know how I got so lucky.

Sandeno and D’Addona

My good friend Sarah joined me for this event and we were lucky/brave enough to get front row seats! The event was set up like a conversation between Sandeno and D’Addona. D’Addona is from the greater Ann Arbor area and Sandeno formerly trained at the University of Michigan so both knew the area well. They’d spent time in Ann Arbor when researching the book. D’Addona had interviewed many people who were influential in Sandeno’s life and the book is largely a collection of these interviews. One thing that shocked me most is that Sandeno wasn’t committed to swimming until high school. She was still playing soccer in 8th grade! That’s crazy to think she’d be in the Olympics before college started.

Sandeno’s major event was the 400 IM and she’s best remembered for getting silver. Sandeno loves a good race and that was one with her being touched out by 0.12. She mentioned that she thinks intelligent swimmers are more likely to get into their own heads when they get to a race situation. I’m going to say that’s why I choke in races so often! She also revealed to us that the World Record-setting relay she was part of was her first international relay. She hadn’t been on the international scene long so the Olympics were a big jump for her.

I was able to ask a question and I asked for Sandeno’s opinion on the newly formed International Swim League (ISL) because she is the General Manager for the DC Trident. Her team is looking strong with swimmers like Natalie Coughlin, Cody Miller, and Katie Ledecky. Sandeno is the first American-born female GM in pro sports and she’s more than ready for the challenge. I’m so excited to see the first meet in October. She said she was most excited about the opportunity to give swimmers the ability to swim professionally and to have sponsors so they can concentrate on swimming and not worry about how they’ll earn a living. It’s an opportunity not many swimmers have.

Sandeno and D’Addona were generous to take time to sign our books and take pictures after the event. I’m so grateful to them for stopping in Ann Arbor and for Literati for hosting them. I hope we get more swimming memoirs soon so I can enjoy these events even more often.


My friend Sarah, D’Addona, Sandeno, and me

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Release Party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

4 Aug

img_3221It should be no surprise to anyone here that I made a point of going to the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It might surprise you that HP is the only form of cosplay I’ll engage in. My trip to Universal Studios in February added socks, a scarf, and a Slytherin pin to this ensemble. The rest is a time turner from a purchase at Barnes & Noble, a cape left over from one of my husband’s old Halloween costumes, an old black skirt (with running shorts underneath because man is that thing short!) and a t-shirt my sister-in-law made for me that says, “My Patronus is a Bookwork.” I added green eye shadow and was good to go. Thankfully, I was walking around Ann Arbor in a cape and not another city where this might be weird. Seriously, no one stared at me. Really.

img_3225We went to Literati Bookstore for the event. This is probably my favorite independent bookstore in existence for many reasons that I’ve articulated before. It was raining that night so my good friend Kristine (my partner in magic for the night) and I didn’t explore AA too much before the event. We picked up some ice cream (and I Instagrammed the image on the left while in line of my awesome lip-liner scar) before heading over as fast as we could to Literati. The party started at ten but we got there at nine to look at books and grab a cup of tea. I’m glad we got there early because we got to talk to the staff about their amazing costumes and watch them set up, getting a good idea of the different things they’d set up around the store. There was a guest list of those who had registered so the store wasn’t overly crowded and we could get around easily which was great. You were handed a vial of ‘Liquid Luck’ (green tea) when you walked in and I’ll likely save the bottle forever. The basement had a sorting hat quiz. I surprisingly got Gryffindor for my results, with Slytherin second and Hufflepuff third. For consistency’s sake, I still took a Slytherin pin.

7210e9e2-528d-4ced-bfb0-6d595dfd0eb0There were some incredible costumes. The staff was Fawkes, Draco, Harry, Luna, Trelawney, Moody, Dumbledore, Bellatrix, and Rita Skeeter. There was a costume contest for those not on staff and the winner was a girl dressed as Moody with an amazing staff and scars on her face. My second favorite were two moms who dressed as the Weasley twins. Their daughters were so proud. They were serving Butterbeer from the Espresso Bar and there was a birthday cake for everyone to take a slice of. The first movie was playing in the cafe all night except for the costume contest. There were stations for wand making and temporary tattoos. I was surprised to see a few girls get the ‘I must not tell lies’ tattoo on their wrists. Come on, people! My favorite was a young 10-year-old who walked up to her dad and put a lightening bolt right on his hairline and he didn’t flinch. Dad of the year right there!

img_3232At 20-till we lined up on the first floor in front of the registers.  I was so excited! Kristine took a few pictures of me and I think it’s pretty obvious how excited I am! We counted down to midnight and I immediately led the crowd in a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Harry. I didn’t exactly cry when I was handed my copy, but I was darn close!

It was late and I had a long drive so Kristine and I parted ways and I headed home. Due to some lovely construction (thank you, Michigan Department of Transportation), it took me about an hour to get home. My plan was to read until I feel asleep, but the drive alone was rough so I didn’t want to push it. I read 40 pages before falling asleep.

I picked it right up in the morning and was half-way through before church. I finished it that afternoon. I don’t want to talk too much about the book here because I’ll post a review post next week.

img_3236Huge shout out to Kristine for going to this event with me! I had so much fun. It was 2007 the last time I went to a midnight release for a book and that was Potter as well. I doubt I’ll ever go to a launch for anything different. The magic is real and it never ends!

Until next time, write on.


You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Magazine Gold: Jan and Feb

28 Jan

A few months ago, I won a giveaway on Gus Sanchez’s blog where I was rewarded with a free one-year subscription to Poets & Writers magazine. My idea is to give you, my wonderful readers, some snippets that I found most interesting from every issue. The magazine was really interesting and a great read. If you’ve ever considered a subscription, I encourage you to do it!

Some articles can be found on PW’s website.

Writing the Sex Scene by Beth Ann Fennelly. I was intrigued by this article because of its author, Fennelly, whose book The Tilted World I read a few months ago. It was in this article that I heard about the Bad Sex in Fiction Award that I posted about yesterday. Fennelly muses over the lack of a good medium between badly written passionate sex and good writing about a lack of sex.

Agents & Editors: David Gernet. Gernet offers a great amount of advice from his variety of roles in the publishing world. One thing he said that struck me the most was this: “An e-book often takes sales away from a hardcover edition when a book is first published, and the author makes less money from the e-book than from the hardcover.” This shocked me! How unfair is that to an author? Why would it matter how the book sold at all, the author should collect royalties for it anyway! Rude.

PW offers a Lit Mag database.

Magazines accepting submissions with little to no fee: Dash Literary Journal, Main Street Rag, Apple Valley Review, Kansas City Voices, The Evening Street Review, Mount Hope Magazine, Steam Ticket, and The Chattahoochee Review.

How to Make a Life, Maybe Even a Living. I might be biased toward this article, but I still loved it. Nestled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a new book store, Literati. Yes, I’ve been there with Nicole once. And of course, the store is awesome. I learned from the article that Ann Arbor is the birthplace of Borders and Literati bought the bookshelves from the closed Borders in town. Full circle! Their location was also the campaign offices for Michigan’s current governor, Rick Snyder (who is pretty  awesome in my opinion). If you’re ever fortunate enough to be in Ann Arbor and can make a stop at Literati, be sure to check out the manual type writer in the basement. The owners sometimes save what was written that day.

Writing Contests with little to no fee: Chicago Tribune, Sixfold, and The Southeast Review.

Anyone else who’s local to the Ann Arbor area might like to know about two presses in the area, Sleeping Bear Press in Ann Arbor and Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in Grand Rapids, MI.

I hope this information was helpful to you all. I’ll be looking through for some submission material soon myself.

Until next time, write on.

There is a Library Hotel in NYC. I want to go!