Guest Blogger: Lois Winston

Putting a Humorous Spin on Murder

By Lois Winston

I write the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries about a magazine crafts editor who is forced to become a reluctant amateur sleuth. However, I began my writing career penning dark romantic suspense. The first, after quite a few years and countless revisions, became the second book I ever sold. However, somewhere along the way I discovered my funny bone. Or maybe I should say funny bones because rather than being situated in my elbow, they reside in my ten fingers.

No one was more shocked than I. I’m one of those people who can never remember a joke’s punch line. When it comes to scintillating repartee, I always come up with a brilliant retort hours after the moment has passed. So years ago when my agent suggested I try to write a chick lit novel because Bridget Jones’s Diary had taken the publishing world by storm, and editors were clamoring for similar works, I laughed.

But she was serious. Apparently, she saw something buried deep inside me and knew it needed to be released. Turns out, she was right. On paper I’m quite funny, and the book I wrote, Talk Gertie to Me, became my debut novel.

Then one day my agent asked me to try my hand at writing a cozy mystery. She had been speaking with an editor who was looking for a series featuring a crafter. Since I designed needlework for craft kit manufacturers and craft book publishers in my day job, my agent thought I was the perfect person to write such a series. She also requested I use the humorous writing voice I had developed in Talk Gertie to Me. The woman was obviously clairvoyant because even though I hadn’t read a mystery since I devoured the Cherry Ames books as a kid, the moment I sat down at the computer to attempt writing a cozy mystery, I found my true literary calling.

I had always enjoyed reading books that make me laugh. There really is something to that old adage about laughter being the best medicine. Laughing releases endorphins in the brain, and the more endorphins, the happier we are. Given all the problems in the world, not only do I need to laugh more, I also realized I’d much rather make people laugh than have them sleep with one eye open at night.

So when Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series was released in 2011, I was thrilled that critics embraced it. Publishers Weekly and Booklist both gave it starred reviews, comparing my writing to that of Tina Fey and Janet Evanovich. Kirkus described Anastasia as “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” With praise like that, why would I ever go back to writing gritty romantic suspense?

Of course, Anastasia doesn’t see anything funny about the dead bodies I leave lying around for her to discover, the trouble I get her into with gangsters and psychopaths, or the communist mother-in-law I gave her. Luckily, she has no say in the matter. Besides, I’m not a total sadist when it comes to my reluctant amateur sleuth. I have given her a Shakespeare-quoting parrot and a drop-dead hunk of a boyfriend. Although, on second thought, maybe I am a bit sadistic because when it comes to photojournalist Zack Barnes, he may or may not also be a spy.

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend and possible spy Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

Buy Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VG2QZXV/

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/handmade-ho-ho-homicide

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/handmade-ho-ho-homicide-lois-winston/1132607263

iTunes https://books.apple.com/us/book/handmade-ho-ho-homicide/id1473711082

Bio:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website: www.loiswinston.com

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Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anasleuth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/722763.Lois_Winston Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lois-winston

Guest Blogger – Lois Winston

Jim Phelps, Bill Cosby, and Atticus Finch

I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes lately, both real and fictional. I need heroes. The world needs heroes. Heroes help us make sense of the senseless and give us hope because they’re willing to take a stand to do what’s right in order to make the world a better place for all of us.

However, lately some of my heroes have been letting me down. It started with the reboot of Mission Impossible back in 1996. Anyone who remembers the television show from 1966-1973 knows that Jim Phelps was one of the good guys, a man who risked his life for the greater good of mankind. Then the first movie comes along and turns Jim into a bad guy. After that I never watched another movie in the franchise. No way could I accept Jim Phelps as a villain.

In 1984 The Cosby Show debuted, and Bill Cosby became America’s dad. My kids grew up watching that show. Bill Cosby lived part-time a few blocks from us. We admired the man not only for the character he portrayed on TV but for the real person and the good he did. I want to believe he’s innocent of the charges made against him, but the overwhelming evidence and his own words given in a deposition seem to prove otherwise. America’s dad has been shown to have a dark side. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement; I’m outraged.

And now it turns out that Atticus Finch is a racist. I won’t be reading Go Set a Watchman because I don’t want my image of that just and honorable man from To Kill a Mockingbird tainted by this older, hateful version of the character. I’m not the only one. Social media is aghast and atwitter over this unexpected and unwelcome reinvention of one of America’s fictional heroes.

So I began to wonder, do authors make a solemn pact with their readers, and what happens when they break that agreement? In many instances, they disappoint their fans. Readers expect a certain experience when they pick up a book from an author they’ve come to enjoy, especially when the book is part of a series. Authors who have killed off beloved characters or in some other way disappointed their readership have experienced unwelcome vocal backlash.

The fifth novel in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series is now available. I haven’t turned Anastasia into a villain, nor have I bumped off any beloved characters in the book. However, I have introduced a plot twist that I hope readers will enjoy. I want to live up to my readers’ expectations. I never want to disappoint them, and I hope I haven’t with this new installment.

A Stita_stitch_to_die_for_x664ch to Die For

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5

The adventures of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack continue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston.

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

Buy Links

Paperback http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1940795303/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1940795303&linkCode=as2&tag=loiswins-20&linkId=LBEMP6U7TVMCBQMT

 Kindle http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010M9U5Q2/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B010M9U5Q2&linkCode=as2&tag=loiswins-20&linkId=ZRX4XIA2N5VX6ARK

 Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-stitch-to-die-for-lois-winston/1122259040?ean=2940150965928

 iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-stitch-to-die-for/id1014678389?mt=11 

Kobo

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/a-stitch-to-die-for

Google Play

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Lois_Winston_A_Stitch_to_Die_For?id=XZEbCgAAQBAJ&hl=en

(Other books in the series include Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death by Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, and three mini-mysteries: Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.)

lois-winston-med-res-file Bio: USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Tsu at www.tsu.co/loiswinston, on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth, and onTwitter @anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.MyAuthorBiz.com/ENewsletter.php?acct=LW2467152513