Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spreading Some Indie Bookstore Love: My Love Letter to Blue Willow Bookshop

First – thanks to my fellow Sourcebooks authors, Lisa and Laura Roecker (Liar Society, out now!) for spearheading this love fest for our favorite indies!

That said, let’s talk Blue Willow.

Blue Willow is my favorite Houston indie book store. It is small but mighty. Owner Valerie Koehler and her staff, including the indomitable Cathy Berner, are tireless and fearless champions of books and authors and readers. Houston is an enormous, spread out city. I live about 50 (no joke) miles from this store, so I don’t get there as often as I’d like. If I was closer, I’d hang out every day if I could. It’s just that warm and welcoming.

So here’s my Blue Willow story:

In June of ’09, a fresh ARC of my debut YA, Dreaming Anastasia in my hand, I trekked down to Blue Willow to say hi. I think I’d emailed first to introduce myself to Valerie, but even so, this was essentially one of those terrifying cold calls. You walk in clutching your book and hope that someone will at least take the darn thing from you and smile. Valerie was just in from her annual trip to New York to visit with publishers. She had a terrible head cold. And there I was – school teacher/mom with a dream debut author from a medium-sized publisher whose new YA imprint at that moment consisted of my book.

But I was lucky. DA resonated with Cathy Berner. I was asked to do a small after hours signing in October after the book came out. They let me sign the book wall and didn’t complain when I picked the spot right next to Lauren Conrad – who’d just been there and whose line was a lot longer than mine. A lot.

We stayed in touch. They hand-sold my books and supported me in ways for which I will always be profoundly grateful. As the release of book 2, Haunted, approached, they asked me if I would like to be a featured YA author at Houston Teen Book Con. I was giddy with excitement. Honored. Delighted. The event was beyond awesome!

The Dreaming Anastasia series has done very well – far exceeding everyone’s more modest expectations. I know that part of that success is because of the Blue Willow team.

If you’re reading this, please support Blue Willow this summer (and of course beyond) by stopping by and making a purchase. I know they stock DA and Haunted!

And in honor of them I’ll be giving away two signed books from one of my favorite author signings at that store: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda.

To be in the running, just comment on this blog about your favorite book store – indie or chain. Contest is open to US and Canada and will run through Monday June 6th.

Want to know more about Blue Willow? Here's their website:


Buy True Stories Books said...

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salarsenッ said...

Hadn't seen Haunted's trailer, yet. Yummm.... Thanks for participating in showing some Indie love. We are a small town, not to many bookstores, but my favorite would have to be The Children's Bookcellar. :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Ahh! Indies are the BEST. Thanks for spreading the love, Joy.

Vivien said...

Mine is Cover to Cover in Vancouver WA. I ordered a signed copy from an author last year. When I called again 6 months later for the next release they remembered me. This is huge seeing as how I'm multiple states away and they've never met me. Love them!

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

darkangel_1988 said...

My favorite book store would be Barnes & Noble but the closest one is over two hours away. :(
The only place to buy books were I live is Super Walmart & they have a very limited supply so I usually just order my books online from B&N. :)
Thanks for the giveaway!


Andrea said...

Thanks for a great post on indies. I love indie bookstores and am always afraid they will be shut down by walmart.
Thanks for the giveaway!
I followed your blog, Andreat78!

Lee723 said...

Indie bookstores are awesome. I have, like, 3 favs at the moment.
Anderson's, Fountain Bookstore and Books Of Wonder. All great indie stores. I feel really great when I buy books from them and support what they do. It's almost like going back to the basics before the major book store chains and malls, etc.


Kristina said...

My favorite bookstore is Half Price Books. I love getting used book at a good price. I love when they have their 20% off everything sale, I will make my half price book run to 3 different locations. It is a lot of fun!

My next favorite it University Bookstore because they have some awesome authors come through and do signing there

A new bookstore that I am really starting to like is Third Place books, they have both new and used books and they do have some awesome author events there as well.

Oh and I can't for get Powell's but they are a 3+ hour drive, so if I ever take the drive down to Portland I make sure and stop into there location.

I also need to pay some respect to Borders, they have great coupons on new books. I also use to work for them for 3 years so they are my favorite bookstore release new books.

I love my bookstores.

Amy @ bookgoonie said...

Any bookstore would be nice. I dont think Walmart & Target qualify Nothing within 30 miles, except my Half Price Books which I do love. It combines books and the unexpected of the garage sale.

Thanks for the giveaway. I am so jealous of Houston for having all their awesome book events.
Amy @
bookgoonie at

Anonymous said...

I really like Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville, IL. It's the best indie in my area.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Chey said...

I am absolutely in love with a store here called Downtown Books. It has three floors and it's like one huge labyrinth. Two cats reside there, sleeping on the bookshelves and following me around, making it feel even more like home. The sad thing is that it's supposed to be closing soon. I'm just hoping that I'll get to show my boyfriend (he'll be visiting from Colombia soon) before it's gone forever. It's really a great place. I hope to visit more like it in the future.


kristina shields said...

Thx for the giveaway! I would have to say Novel Place. The employees are so nice and will help you with anything you need. They are always recommending books that I would never of picked up but ended up loving. They are more personal than a higher brand store.

Lisa said...

I would say my favorite indy bookstore here in D.C. is Kramer Books. If I had to chose a second, it would be Politics and Prose. Both are wonderful stores, and I am so happy that both of them are available to me.

Kari said...

Oh, I love Changing Hands bookstore since they always have tons of signings, and it's large enough that they have a wide variety, but small enough that it feels very cozy.

Pam Zollman said...

I adore Blue Willow in Houston, TX, and think Valerie is fantastic. My launch party/autographing for my first book, Don't Bug Me, was held there and the place was packed, thanks to Valerie. She also asked me to teach a kids' writing camp there that was so much fun that I've been teaching kids' writing camps wherever I live (Texas, Pennsylvania, and now South Carolina).

I also like Main Street Books in Honesdale, PA, a tiny used bookstore in a tiny town. The owner, Barry, has some new books, some old paperbacks for the locals, and mostly rare books he sells on-line. It smells like old paper and dust and is lit with the soft yellow glow of small lamps on antique tables. It feels very comfy and homey. The locals spend a lot of time there, mostly chatting, but some actually buy books.

In Greenville, SC, I love Fiction Addiction. Its owner, Jill Hendrix, has a mix of old and new books. But the cool thing she does for writers is her Book Your Lunch. You can pay for lunch at a nice downtown Greenville restaurant and hear an author speak and then get to meet that author afterwards at the autographing. Lots of fun!

But, out of all three, Blue Willow is my favorite...maybe because of all the fond memories of that store.

Pam Zollman

PS: I figure since I won the last give-away that I'm not eligible again, but I wanted to tell people about Blue Willow, Main Street Books, and Fiction Addiction, three fantastic indies.

Mickey @ imabookshark said...

I need to look harder to find a better indie book store around my house or in the PHX area in general. I use because I am a member and get free shipping, plus extra discounts. I also use it because I have a NOOK. :o)

Thanks for the giveaway!
imabookshark @ yahoo . com

Mickey @ imabookshark

Anonymous said...

I love Fountain Bookstore in NY & ALL Borders & B&N...well Amazon too because I have a Kindle. :)

Thanks for this giveaway...I'd LOVE to have it!

-Em (Blog with Hex Hall review from my eReader)

Fictitious Delicious said...

I love Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. Its a children's bookstore and has chickens and cats that roam around!

I would love a signed copy of Hex Hall! Love that book!

aaoelkers- at - hotmail dot com

Jordan Finch said...

I like Borders for new stuff, but I really love any used bookstore. There are tons of hidden treasures to be found in the stacks and piles of those stores; it's always an adventure!

Jordan Finch said...

Probably should give an email, just in case I win!

Thanks for the awesome contest!

Rachel @ Bookshelf Lust said...

I love Strand in NYC. Nothing beats it! They always have the best selection.

Patty said...

The only bookstores in my town are Borders and Barnes and Noble. Thank you for the giveaway!

Suzanne said...

Third place books and university bookstore in Seattle are my favorites!


Jessica said...

The only book stores have where I'm at is Barnes & Noble and a Borders Express (they closed all three of the big Borders within any reasonable distance when the company closed the 200 stores).
My email:
(gsgw4life *at* gmail *dot* com)
Thanks for the giveaway, I'm obsessed with the Hex Hall series.

Emmie said...

I haven't had the privilege of living In a town large enough to have its own bookstore since I was 8, and the only ones within a reasonable distance from me now are chains. But I love walking the aisles of the Hastings in Wichita Falls, TX. My parents can drop me off and go off shopping for hours and I am perfectly content to find a good book and a comfy chair and read until they're done. The Barnes & Noble in Denton is a close second.

kamagra said...

I absolutely loved that the book was not as I expected it to be because the way Lisa and Laura Roecker wrote it worked perfectly for me.