A big welcome back to Lois Winston, whose first in a new crafts mystery series is out, and getting all sorts of acclaim. Lois ‘s Made It Moment appeared here but today she shares with us some thoughts on one topic every writer must deal with…even penning the first word.
PS: One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a very special selection of crafts books from Lois. Leave a comment to be entered in our drawing!
HEY, I KNOW THAT PLACE!
I live in New Jersey. I make no apologies for that. I’m telling you this because I know Jenny loves to travel and has talked about her travels on her blog. (Thanks for inviting me here today, Jenny!) So I thought I’d give a shout-out to my home state.
Even though New Jersey tends to be the butt of many jokes (armpit of the nation is a frequent one I hear,) I think it’s a pretty cool place to live. In less than an hour I can be in the mountains, oceanside, or in Manhattan, depending upon my mood. We have culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’rehome to the famous and the infamous.
And we’re not at all like we’ve been portrayed on The Sopranos or currently on Jersey ShoreorThe Real Housewives of New Jersey. Well, at least not a good 95% of us. Only one of those Jersey Shore kids is actually from New Jersey, and I have a sneaking suspicion few of the Real Housewives were born here, either. If you’re a transplant from Queens or Staten Island, you have no right to call yourself a Jersey Girl.
Anyway, I like New Jersey so much that I set my latest series here. In a REAL New Jersey town. When I read a book, I love to connect with the location. Part of the fun for me in reading the Stephanie Plum books is recognizing the places where Janet Evanovich sets her scenes. I’ve been to the Macy’s in Quaker Bridge Mall and spent many an hour stuck in traffic on Route 1.
What I hate is when an author sets a book somewhere she’s never been and relies heavily on Google for her research. There are too many things about a place that Google won’t tell you because you didn’t know to ask. Like the fact that trucks aren’t allowed on most of the Garden State Parkway. Or that we go “down the shore” not “to the beach.” Nothing pulls a reader out of a story more than when an author doesn’t get her facts rights.
So for me, setting my stories in places I know is a no-brainer. Not only is it easier than making up a place or setting a book somewhere I’ve never been, it’s also a way of letting people know that there’s more to New Jersey than they’ve been led to believe. However, I also have a biting sense of humor. So if you happen to read Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun (and I hope you will!), you’ll find my tongue planted firmly in my cheek at times as I describe my state.
Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun is the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series from Midnight Ink and is available now.
When Anastasia Pollack’s husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. Suddenly, she’s juggling two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, a communist mother-in-law, AND her dead husband’s loan shark. And that’s before she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a coworker she discovers glued to her office chair.
Some people have asked me how similar Anastasia is to me. I rely heavily on my own experiences and people I’ve known to create believable characters. Anastasia and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both North Jersey girls. We both went to art school. She’s a crafts editor for a women’s magazine. I worked for many years as a crafts designer and editor for various kit manufacturers and publishers. I still design for several magazines. We both have two sons and one other relative in common (I’m not saying which one!) The differences? My husband is very much alive (thank goodness!), I don’t have a Shakespeare quoting parrot (didn’t I mention Ralph?) and I haven’t found any dead bodies glued to my office chair. At least, not yet and hopefully never.
All authors work differently to create characters and settings. I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek at how and why I do what I do. Thanks for stopping by!
In celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Lois is doing a blog tour throughout January. You can find the schedule on her website, http://www.loiswinston.com, and at Anastasia’s blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the month will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email Lois privately at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know you’ve entered.)
In addition, Lois is giving away a collection of crafts books to one lucky person who posts a comment to Suspense your Disbelief.