I'm excited to welcome Lois Winston today. I've been reading her books since the first Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. :She is one of my favorite mystery writers. Total fan girl here. 😊
Let's meet Lois Winston.
Welcome, Lois. Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a USA Today
bestselling author who writes mystery, romance, romantic
suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction.
My critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series received
starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews dubbed
it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” (I’m planning to
have that etched on my gravestone!) In addition, I’m an award-winning craft and
needlework designer and often draw upon my experiences in the crafts industry
for much of my source material for characters and plots.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Most of the plot ideas (and some
of the characters) in my books come from actual events I’ve experienced,
observed, or read about in the news. I’m a total news junkie! For instance, Finding Hope
was inspired by my cousin’s
failed attempts at in vitro fertilization and a case in Virginia where a
fertility doctor was secretly using his own sperm to inseminate his patients.
, the second book in my Empty Nest Mystery series was
inspired by my experiences attending a certain national writing conference over
the years (although to the best of my knowledge, no murders were ever committed
at any of them.)
What does your family think of your writing?
Truthfully? With few exceptions
most of my family haven’t read my books. I wasn’t born into a close-knit
supportive family, nor was my husband. Perhaps if I’d make it to the New York Times
bestseller list, some of
them might decide to pick up one of my books. Making the USA Today
bestseller list certainly didn’t sway anyone. But you
know what they say: you can’t choose your relatives.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
To date I’ve written fifteen
novels (including one middle-grade novel) and am working on the sixteenth. I’ve
also written ten novellas and short stories, one critical essay that appeared
in an anthology, and a nonfiction book on writing.
As for a favorite, that’s like
asking a parent to choose her favorite child. However, I will say that there
are two that stand out for me—Talk Gertie
because it was my first published novel and Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
because it launched my mystery
What did you learn from writing your first book?
I learned that I had a lot to
learn about writing a novel. But I didn’t give up. Twelve years and countless
rewrites later, that book, Love, Lies and
a Double Shot of Deception
, sold to a New York publisher.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice, what would it
Don’t go to art school! Major in
something where you’ll have a good chance of making a decent living throughout
your working life and won’t have to worry about spending your golden years
living in a cardboard box on the street.
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
In my Anastasia Pollack Crafting
Mystery series, Anastasia works as the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. To
make ends meet after her dead louse of a spouse leaves her with debt equal to
the GNP of an average third world nation, she moonlights at various
craft-related jobs. At one time or another I’ve worked at many of the same
jobs. I’ve been a crafts designer for several craft companies and a crafts
editor for two craft book publishers. I’ve freelanced for many craft and
women’s magazines. I’ve also worked trade and consumer shows and taught arts
and crafts. In Death By Killer Mop Doll
Anastasia works on a morning TV show. Although I’ve never worked in front of
the camera, years ago I designed for several TV crafts shows.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you
recommend I start with and why?
That would depend on your
preferred genre. If you’re a mystery reader, I suggest Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
, the first book in the Anastasia
Pollack Crafting Mysteries. There are currently five full-length books in the
series and three mini-mysteries. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but I
always feel it’s best to start a series at the beginning.
If you’re a romance reader, I’d
go with Hooking Mr. Right
. If you
like your romance coupled with suspense, try Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception
. For chick lit I
recommend Talk Gertie To Me
, and for
women’s fiction, Finding Hope
Tell us about your latest
My latest release is Literally Dead, the second book in my
Empty Nest Mystery series. This series is my homage to Nick and Nora Charles of
the 1930’s Thin Man comedic
mysteries, except I give a modern day twist to the husband and wife crime
solvers, making the wife my sleuth and her college professor husband her
As with my Anastasia Pollack
Crafting Mystery series, my Empty Nest Mystery series falls into the amateur
sleuth mystery sub-genre and combines humor and crime solving.
Book 2 of the Empty Nest Mystery Series
After her last disastrous episode
as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has
spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination
pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for
unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors.
First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference,
normally open only to published authors.
With husband Blake in tow, a
starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the
hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns
Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet
heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den
of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in
bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.
Hours later, when Gracie discovers
Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is
not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to
want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,”
Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance
has never been so deadly.
Excerpt from Literally Dead:
As I hauled myself up the first
set of steps, that old adage about the road to hell being paved with good
intentions popped into my head. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, especially
given all the alcohol I’d consumed over the course of the evening.
By the time I reached the first
landing, my heart pounded and my pulse raced. Jeez! Was I ever out of shape! I
leaned up against the wall to catch my breath and wondered how many calories
I’d burned climbing one flight of stairs. Probably nowhere near the number of
calories in a frozen margarita. While I waited for my heart to slow down to
normal, I pulled out my iPhone to ask Siri, only to discover I had no cell
service in the stairwell.
I slipped my phone back inside my
clutch bag. At least five minutes passed before I’d regained enough energy to
continue. Grabbing hold of the railing, I inhaled a deep breath of fortitude
and started my ascent up the next flight. No matter the number of calories, I
was burning more than if I copped out and took the elevator the remainder of
Halfway up the third set of
stairs I heard what sounded like the fire door slamming open against the
concrete-block wall of the stairwell. A split second later a bloodcurdling
scream echoed above me. I looked up to find a billowing mass of tie-dyed
rainbow chiffon plummeting toward me. As I flattened myself against the wall,
Lovinia Darling’s body landed with a bone-shattering thud at my feet.
I didn’t need a degree in
forensics to know Lovinia Darling was dead. The top half of her body sprawled
upside-down on the steps in front of me, her lower half splayed across the
landing above. Dull, lifeless eyes stared up at me. Blood flowed from a large
gash in her skull where her head had hit the metal edge of the concrete step
and dripped toward me. I quickly descended two steps to avoid the spatter.
My entire body shook as
realization hit me. If I’d rested a second less on the landing earlier, Lovinia
would have fallen directly on top of me, most likely killing us both.
I’d already come too close to
death once this year, thanks to Sidney Mandelbaum. Once was more than one time
too many, but did the universe take my needs into consideration? I stared at
Lovinia. Apparently not.
I fought to keep my legs from
collapsing under me. I knew I had to move. My phone didn’t work in the
stairwell. Holding onto the railing for dear life, I inched my way back down
the stairs to the floor below.
Once in the corridor, I crumbled
into a heap on the floor. This particular corridor was in mid-remodel, the
carpet already pulled up but new flooring not yet laid. I was too freaked out
and tired to care about the plaster dust and assorted yuck covering the bare
concrete and the damage it might do to my favorite little black dress. I
fumbled for my phone, and with unsteady hands, managed to call 911.
One last question, Lois. Where can readers find you?
Thanks for visiting with us, Lois. I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories.