Underground Books: A speakeasy for book lovers.

So, it’s not exactly a speakeasy. You don’t need a password, but you will definitely get that speakeasy secretive vibe. Perhaps you even look over your shoulder before you enter the small unassuming door and descend down the basement steps to make sure no one saw you. You might even have to double check your google maps to make sure you have the right place because it’s not marked by any signs on the building.

The perfect place for bookish rebels.

Bonnie and I immediately fell in love. This is the type of bookstore that when you happen across it, you end up losing yourself in it. You can NOT simply walk in and walk out. You find yourself browsing bookshelf after bookshelf, noticing classics hiding along side new releases. You find yourself oohing and aahing over vintage covers, humorous titles, and thoughtful displays.

There were several things about this independent bookstore that I adored . . . but the book arch simply took my breath away. This is one of the most beautifully creative and lovely things I’ve ever seen paying homage to books, and to those who love them. (Don’t worry, all of the books were badly damaged and only used if so.) The story behind the arch is just a wonderful. Josh and Megan own the bookstore and were married in 2014. They had a friend make the arch for them to be married under. And considering books are what brought them together, I couldn’t imagine a more romantic way to be wed.

On their website, Underground professes to “aim to be a bibliophile’s destination and a browserโ€™s paradise.” They completely nail it. Not only do they have an amazing collection and variety of books, but they sell stuff that truly bookish people would appreciate. Book sculptures, journals made from damaged vintage books, decorative price-bulked books, and postcards of hilarious vintage book covers.

Another fantastic aspect of this indie bookstore was the extra moments the owners sprinkled throughout the store to draw you in. Signs of inclusion, shelves of local books on Carrollton, Ga, and even a “Call me Ishmael” interactive display. Patrons of Underground can call in and record their reviews on books so that customers can pick up the receiver and hear a review from a reader on a book. The books on the display correspond to a number on the phone . . . brilliant, right? I listened to a review from a woman on The Diary of Anne Frank. It felt extremely personal to hear her explain her heartfelt connection with the story being Jewish herself.

It’s completely obvious that the owners, Megan and Josh, adore books and desire to create a creative and special environment for book-lovers. And they are wonderful at it. They had already won me and Bonnie over at Hills & Hamlet, their sister store in Serenbe. If you are ever in or around Carrollton Ga, visiting their indie bookstore is a must!

Just knock 3 times and tell them Steen sent you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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On a scale of 1 to Serenbe: Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

Many years ago, I visited a little community called Serenbe, immediately becoming obsessed. It’s like a small village that values health, the environment, the arts, and sustainable living. Amazing farm to table food, no pesticides, beautiful landscapes, thoughtfully designed houses, random famous people, and all things organic. I talked about it with whoever would listen and dreamed about going back. I even named one of my fictional flowers after it in The Door Keeper. But life gets busy and it’s been years since I’ve visited again, sadly.

Until that is, I found out there was a new adorable bookshop that had open up last year called Hills & Hamlets. Thankfully, my friend Bonnie was just as excited as I was to check it out, so we put it on our Indie Bookstore Tour.

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Our introduction to Serenbe was just as beautiful as I remembered. Everything is thoughtfully designed, from street signs to trash cans. It’s as though the people here find ways to insert passion and art into even the most mundane of objects. After a quick stop into the General Store, (all organic, local, handcrafted), Bonnie and I headed over to Hills & Hamlets.

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The bookstore is unbelievably quaint and completely perfect for this community. Even though it was small, it maximized shelf space in creative ways. We quickly met the friendly and helpful owner, Josh Niesse. He and his wife own another bookstore in Carrollton, Ga and decided to open Hills & Hamlets after falling in love with Serenbe. (Common theme I’m seeing among all who visit.)

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Josh was just what you hope a bookshop owner is: passionate about books all bookish things. He showed us the different sections, including his favorite, the Rare Antiquarian wall. Y’all, this wall is gorgeous and every book lovers dream.

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Not only does H & H sell modern books, antique books by the foot, and beautiful book sets, but they sell some adorable and fun bookish things. Including artwork from book passages, awesome candles called Secular Saints, and handmade journals made from vintage books!

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After spending some quality time in the bookstore, Josh recommended a quick stroll to the walking bridge . . . that apparently leads to magical journey “across the pond.” One of the new developments in Serenbe called Swann Ridge, contains houses and architecture with an European old-world flare.

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I’m not even going to attempt to pretend that Bonnie and I weren’t completely giddy with excitement. We also may or may not have spoken in British accents as we moseyed along the cobblestone streets.

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Already sold and completely in love with Serenbe, we took a moment to find our inner child, jumping on one of the many trampolines spread throughout the community. Just one more way this place encourages residents and visitors to find the fun and joy in life.

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Hungry and spent from our visit, we made our way to the Blue Eyed Daisy. One of my best memories from my visit before. The first of now several restaurants built in Serenbe, The Blue Eyed Daisy is sustained from the 25 acre organic farm located on the property. Seriously farm fresh. Bonnie and I both decided on the Blue Eyed Burger, a local favorite with pimento cheese. That burger sealed the deal, 10 was no longer my judge for perfection, it had become Serenbe. On a scale of 1 to Serenbe, this food, this place, was so Serenbe.

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I can’t wait to go back, please check out the links I included above to learn more about Hills & Hamlets Bookshop and Serenbe. Or you should just go visit and fall in love yourself! If you’d like to read Bonnie’s account of our amazing day there, click here.

Thanks for joining and I look forward to sharing stop number 3 next!

Do you want an ARC of The Lost Door?

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Would you like an Advanced Reader Copy of The Lost Door before it becomes available for sale? All you have to do is join my promotional team! I’m looking for 20 or 25 people who are willing to help me spread the word about The Lost Door and The Door Keeper trilogy. Here is all you have to do to be eligible:

  1. Be willing to buy the book on Amazon on December 5th. (Paperback or Kindle.)
  2. Leave a review on Amazon of the book with in the first week of release.
  3. Post about the book (Or The Door Keeper) or thoughts about either books & their respective links on Amazon on any one of your social media platforms!

That’s it! If you are willing to commit to doing those three things, I’ll send you an ARC of The Lost Door before anyone else gets their hands on it. (Also, there may be some fun bookish surprises in the mail for you as well!)

Do you have friends who enjoyed The Door Keeper? Make sure you let them know about this cool opportunity.

Email me at steen@thedoorkeepertrilogy.com if you are interested and thanks for all you support!

Bookstore Feature: FoxTale Book Shoppe

Lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Independent Bookstore. Everything from the unique, comfy feel and laid back charms, to the inevitable formation of relationships that seem to come easier with small businesses. I pin them on Pinterest, stalk them on Instagram, and marvel at their ability to harness my sense of nostalgia.

When I thought about content for my blog, I knew I wanted to write about things I personally loved, and hoped other readers enjoyed as well. And the Independent Bookstore Feature was born! I plan on visiting as many indie bookstores in the Southeast as I can and feature them on my blog on Fridays. Plus, just to make it more fun, I’m going to visit these places with one of my author friends, so you can get two different perspectives if you’d like. ๐Ÿ™‚


We decided to start in our own backyard with one of my favorites: FoxTale Book Shoppe in Downtown Woodstock. (I am a little bias considering Woodstock is one of the settings in The Door Keeper.) But if you’ve ever hung out or been there, I know you don’t blame me, because it’s incredible!

Easily, one of my favorite things about FoxTale is the location. Tucked back off the main town square, complete with park benches, gazebo, and fountains. (Side bar: my husband asked me to marry him in that gazebo. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Surrounded by amazing restaurants, dress boutiques, dessert shops and a new amphitheater; this book shop has the vibe you are looking for from a small town with ALL the perks.

The next thing I loved about this Bookstore is the enthusiastic lady working there, a blue haired chick named Hyphen. Yes, everything about this woman brought a smile to my face. Her name, hair, book recommendations, and obvious love for all things books were not only refreshing, but super appreciated. She guided us around the bookstore, pointing out her current reads, (enthusiastically telling us the plot,) helping me find a purchase of my own, showing us the secret stash of ARC’s, (and graciously ging us each a couple,) and telling us her own story. Almost 11 years ago, she was one of the first customers of FoxTale. She came so often, she eventually landed behind the check out counter working one day, and been working there ever since.

Random side bar: One of my favorite things in life is a good theme. Ask anyone who knows me, when I throw a party, or start any new project, there must be a theme. It’s seriously one of my love languages. And I adored FoxTale’s theme. Everywhere I looked there was a fox of some kind. They had a beautiful stained glass window of their logo, stuffed foxes hidden on shelves, chalk art and statues strategically placed throughout the store. It was amazing.

As we moseyed around the store, I noticed a beautiful door on the back wall. My friend Bonnie mentioned I should do a “Cool Door Count” at each bookstore we visit considering my Trilogy revolves around awesome doors. FoxTale started this super strong at an incredible 6! There were 6 really cool doors all throughout the bookstore; from displays, french doors, door behind secret curtains, even the check out counter was a door! Not sure if any other bookstore can compete with that.

This was a really strong start to our Indie Bookstore tour. We had an amazing time with FoxTale and look forward to another visit. If you are ever in Woodstock, make sure you stop by and tell them hi! If you want more information about the different events they do, you can check out their website atย http://www.foxtalebookshoppe.com/. They are also on Instagram and Facebook. If you’d like to get my friend Bonnie’s perspective of our visit, check out her blog here. (She’s about to rock the children’s book world with picture book coming out next year.)

Do you have any recommendations of Bookstores for us to visit? Let me know, I’d love to hear about your favorite indie bookshops!

Blog Tour Participates Wanted!

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Hey Friends! Now that the sequel is deep in editing and my cover is almost finished, I’m looking for several bloggers to work with me on the Blog Tour for the release! My original dates of an early December release are still looking good, so as of right now, December 5th is the start date.

If you have a blog, or would just love to read and review the book and help me promote online and on social media, send me an email at steen@thedoorkeepertrilogy.com and I’ll send you all the information and make sure I get you a spot on the tour!

Please share this info with anyone you think would want to be a part of the tour, or any bloggers you know of that enjoy fantasy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is all of the official information for the book! So exciting!

THE LOST DOOR

 

โ€œYou have every right to be scared. But I promise you this, you come from a lineage of some of the strongest and bravest women any of the worlds have ever seen. You were made to do this; my mother and yours made sure of it.โ€

Itโ€™s been over seven years since Eden learned the truth about where she came from and that her mother was a Door Keeper from another world. Edenโ€™s own daughter, Gabby, is about to turn 18 and learn the story herself, and about the predestined future that lay ahead of her. As fate would have it, the worlds intervene before Eden can tell her daughter the truth, throwing the family into complete and utter chaos. Gabby must find the strength to save her Mom while grappling with unbelievable realizations about herself, her family, and what it all means for her future.

This anticipated sequel to The Door Keeper introduces interesting new characters, opens two new doors into unique and magical worlds, where our heroines must face the harsh elements and mythical creatures long thought extinct. The Lost Door explores the circle of mother/daughter legacy, the unbreakable bond of family, and the sometimes inescapable repetition of the past.