January 29, 2011

A Cliff Called Knopf

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 5:32 pm

Many thanks to author Pamela Redmond Satran, who attended last night’s Writing Matters panel, and told me that she had just read the last backstory post and wanted to know what happened.

When you’re a writer, especially a struggling, beginning, yet-to-emerge one, you really don’t know how people react to your work–or even *if* they react. Last night was great because I learned that some people are reading what I say.

So here’s to you, Pam, and the others (*cough* Stacey Gill of Barista Kids) who came up and referred to a few words I have written.

This is what happened as I hung by my thumbs from the cliff called Knopf.

First, I got better. (Remember? I had a cold. Preschool kids, you know.)

Then, I started to revise.

My novel, at that point called WOLF IN THE ROAD, got better, too.

I reached that place where a writer heaves a sigh and says, Thank SOMEONE that last piece of %$# my agent saw fit to submit didn’t sell.

We sent the new version to the editor at Knopf.

I didn’t even get to hear that she liked my changes, enough to bring the manuscript back to her board, before finding out that she had passed.

Maybe that would’ve been worse: hopes raised, nerves stretched taut, tension at a maximum…only to be dropped. Again.

But at least I would’ve had that period of hope. When you don’t have the real deal, sometimes hope that proves to be false is all that gets you through.

My agent told me coolly about Knopf via email. (“Unfortunately, Knopf is passing on the novel.”)  I honestly don’t think she realized that for every one of the past 90 or so nights–man, how this business can drag; 3 months is but a second while on sub–my eyes had sought out the titles on my shelf published by Knopf–Jennifer Egan’s latest, a cookbook, it didn’t matter–and made a wish on that silly, dazzling greyhound colophon.

This business can break you without your even knowing you were broken.

Where to go now?

Another book, another sub, another almost offer?

That was when my agent told me, coolly again–I’m sure defeat like this hurts the agents, too; only they don’t get to whimper–that after two years and two books she didn’t feel she could go farther with me.

She thought that another agent might step in and pick up the sub where she was leaving off.

If you don’t know Mr. Right is right around the corner, it can sure bust up your universe when the guy you don’t particularly dig anyway breaks up with you.

My Mr. Right–the man–was in the driveway, about to leave for work, when I got the break up email.

“Come in!” I screamed at him, frantic with the knowledge that I had to care for two kids under four that day, all while finding…SOMETHING to do.

It was like ants under my skin until I could figure out a plan. I couldn’t wallow in the world of the unagented–I had to move.

But where?

January 27, 2011

Literary versus Genre Fiction: Real Distinction or No Difference At All?

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:16 am

This is the subject we’ll be discussing at this Friday’s Writing Matters panel.

A stellar lineup of authors will be taking part, including one of my favorites, Elizabeth Brundage, three authors from my hometown whose work I’ve enjoyed greatly, Christina Baker Kline, Laurie Lico Albanese, and Alice Elliott Dark, as well as the debut novelist whose Moment appears below, Peter Golden.

We’ll be trying to figure out whether those categories you read in–be they mystery, suspense, speculative fiction, fantasy, women’s–or the catchall, general fiction, or literary–are artifacts of marketing–the need to place a book on a shelf–or true elements of craft.

It’s a meaty subject, and I for one am fascinated to hear what our authors–and audience members, for Writing Matters panels are always characterized by a lot of audience participation–have to say about it. I hope if you live close by, you’ll come out.

And in the meantime, please leave a comment for Peter, either here or at his recent Made It Moment, and we will select one lucky reader to win a copy of his debut novel COMEBACK LOVE.

January 23, 2011

Made It Moment: Peter Golden

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 5:38 pm

Comeback Love

Since you’re about to read Peter Golden’s Moment, please consider coming out to meet this author at Friday’s Writing Matters panel.

I am especially happy to have Peter here on the blog and also at the panel because as you know I have an interest in alternate paths to publication, and Peter has taken one of the more interesting ones I’ve seen. His novel is published by someone who arguably knows best which books readers want–bookseller Susan Novotny.

Susan launched Staff Picks Press after more than a quarter century spent running two successful independent bookstores in upstate NY, The Book House and Market Block Books. I would think that debuting in such an unusual way, poised to usher in this brave new world of publishing, must mean Peter has ‘made it’.  But see for yourself.

Peter Golden

My Made It Moment? Thanks for asking, Jenny, and for letting me answer, but it’s a bit of a story. Here goes.

By the time I graduated college I had decided, with all the pragmatism for which twenty-one-year olds are renowned, that I would earn my living as a writer—preferably books with the occasional magazine piece thrown in. As my parents began their slow recuperation from the news, I got to work, writing short stories and articles on spec, certain that I’d be able to quit my summer job in a warehouse by Christmas.

Actually, I had another job by Thanksgiving—as an aide in a locked psychiatric ward, which, believe it or not, was calmer than the warehouse. However, earning a living wage as a writer was a little more elusive: that took another eight years.

For a time, I wound up in Silicon Valley, where I wrote interactive mysteries and children’s adventure stories for Bantam Books, and since I’d always worked two jobs, I wrote a novel and some magazine pieces in my spare time. For no discernible reason, beyond serendipity and that the more pies you hurl at editors the more likely you are to hit one, when I came back East I signed a contract to write more than enough magazine pieces to pay my bills. I had a near miss with the novel, and then, suddenly, I had a deal to write a biography of a man who had been involved in private diplomacy between the United States and the Middle East. That lasted for nearly four years, and I got to interview Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin and a number of other world leaders.

All of this was wonderfully interesting work, with some memorable highpoints, and that is true of the work that followed—several memoirs, a Cold War history, O Powerful, Western Star, for which I interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev and which will be out by next winter, and my just published novel, Comeback Love, a story that I’ve wanted to write for many years.

Yet I’ve never had that Made It Moment. I suspect that’s because the dream of earning my living as a writer is not static: it requires me to keep writing. On occasion, I have asked myself if I made enough money so that I could stop writing, would I?

Not a chance.

And so perhaps that’s the closest I get to the MIM: Each morning, when I go to my office and sit at my desk, knowing that I have been remarkably lucky to spend my life working at this craft. I never could imagine any other choice for me.

Not when I was twenty-one. And not now.

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist and the author of 6 works of non-fiction and fiction.

His work has appeared in the Detroit Free Press Magazine, Albany Times Union, New Jersey Monthly, Microsoft’s eDirections, Beyond Computing, Electronic Business, Midstream, The Forward, and Capital Region Magazine.

Golden’s QUIET DIPLOMAT, a biography of industrialist and political-insider Max M. Fisher made the Detroit Free Press bestseller list. Among those he has interviewed are Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush; Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, and Shultz; and Israeli Prime Ministers Shamir, Peres, and Rabin.

His debut novel COMEBACK LOVE is out now.

January 20, 2011

A writer’s starting line

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 11:54 am

I never wound up getting an agent for that novel Jackie Mitchard said wouldn’t fly commercially. She was right, and after 80 rejections from agents–with not a one citing a flaw in the manuscript–I had to agree.

Instead, I got pregnant again, and did what all writers do in that situation (the can’t-get-an-agent one, not the pregnancy one). I wrote another novel, birthing both book and baby about nine months later.

That novel was the first to shed some light on why my work might’ve been having a hard time. The agent who became my second repped primarily literary fiction. I was her first more commercial writer, and what she said she liked was the “crossover potential” in my work. Did not fitting into one particular market niche explain the trouble I was having?

This begged all sorts of other questions, such as, if it was, did I then change what I wrote? I rather quickly answered this one. I couldn’t change. The kinds of books I wrote were the ones I wanted to read. When I typed out the circumstances of page one, I sat with breath held to see what might happen next. One day my readers would hopefully feel the same way–even if traditional publishing was unsure who those readers would be.

This fourth novel–for anyone who’s counting–was also the first where we didn’t get any rejections for reasons of flaws. With the first two submitted, even though several editors wanted them, their boards always found this plot hole or that character dimension or that stylistic foible that could, arguably, be taken to mean I still had work on craft to do.

Not that we ever don’t need to work on craft, but you know what I mean. Work before my book could cross that finish line. Uh, starting line.

But this novel, the first that my second agent sent out, didn’t receive any comments about craft mistakes. Instead several editors wanted to make offers (again) and when their boards came back with no’s, the reasons were all that the topic was a tough one for readers.

From being a part of boards like the wonderful DorothyL for a while now, I see that those boards were right. I was a psychotherapist for 13 years, concentrating on children and families, and I had some pretty tough cases. As writers, anything in our lives can become fodder for fiction, and one especially upsetting element had become the subject for this fourth book. I tend to keep unpleasantness pretty far off screen, but the marketing guys at Berkley and the late Warner still felt it was a reason to turn down the novel.

Never mind. I’d written another novel. Which my agent went out with.

This one attracted instant interest from none other than Amy Einhorn, who had *just* begun her own imprint. Yup, my book was being considered as Amy was choosing THE HELP. Amy sent my agent a long  list of changes she’d like to see made. They were brilliant ideas, all. And once I worked with them, she agreed to see the ms back.

We didn’t hear from Amy for a long (long, long) time. All that editorial brilliance–in addition to launching a phenom like THE HELP–takes a while.

But it hardly mattered because an editor at Knopf had fallen in love with the new version, the one Amy had had such influence on. The editor was passing it around to others in the house.

Well, you know what happens next. What always seems to happen once my work goes to editorial? (she asked with her tongue in her cheek).

Yup. Turned down. However, if I addressed this board’s reasons, they not only agreed to see the ms back, but asked to see it.

I remember I was sick when my agent told me this. Sick, but so urgent, and weary of all this at the same time, that I hauled myself up to get to work. I had a new baby, I had a toddler who’d just gone to preschool for the first time. Who knew when I *wouldn’t* be sick?

And my agent, who was sharp and dedicated and a great editor herself, but not the most warm and fuzzy person you’ll ever meet, said (warmly), “Don’t work when you’re sick. Take care of yourself.”

I think she was really excited.

We both had a contract from Knopf in sight.

January 17, 2011

And the winner was!

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 5:56 pm

Remember Pamela DuMond’s terrific Made It Moment and the prize the cool indie publisher of Krill Press was generous enough to offer?

In addition to sending a copy of Pam’s debut, CUPCAKES, LIES, & DEAD GUYS to one lucky winner, we also had a second giveaway. Another Suspense Your Disbelief reader was asked to come up with 5 Questions to ask Krill Press. Publisher Ken Lewis would answer them.

The winner of that prize was Kari Wainwright.

Her questions and Ken’s responses appear below in the hopes that writers and readers both will get a peek into one way this brave new world of publishing is finding and launching mysteries.

  1. Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys doesn’t sound quite like a typical cozy.  Do you publish cozies with amateur sleuths who do not have paranormal abilities?

Actually, it’s kind of the other way around! “Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys” is our only cozy mystery title which has a character with paranormal abilities. Well, there is Elspeth Hunsaker in “Sometimes A Great Commotion” who sees a face in a crab cake and sounds the alarm about it being a sign from “above” that the community of sinners in Devil’s Harbor, Oregon had better get with it, and start repenting, en masse, but that’s really another story entirely. Let’s just say that Elspeth is no Annie Graceland, if you get my drift.

  1. If you do publish cozies and other types of traditional mysteries, do you have a word length you prefer?  And how do you determine word length—is it a rounded-off figure of 250 words a page or do you want actual word count?

We like all of our submitted manuscripts to be right around a minimum of 70,000 words for “little books,” right on up to a maximum of 135,000 for “big books.” If your finished, edited manuscript is under 100K, you are a “little book” and your production format with be a 5.5” X 8.5” Trade paperback. If you’re 100K, or over, you will end up as a “big book” 6” X 9” Trade paperback. We like healthy looking, weight proportionate finished books. We use the actual “word count” feature on MS Word to determine, well, word count!

  1. When it comes to promotion, my understanding is that most of the work is done by the author, even with the larger publishing houses.  But are you able to offer some help and/or advice when it comes to that aspect of publishing?

That’s very true. And right now the best advice I could give a new author is to do what Pamela DuMond is doing, and that is to promote the BEE-JEEZUS out of your book on social networking sites, blogs, book trailers, running all over L.A.with a digital Flip camera like a runner-up escapee from the Sundance Film Festival and shooting everything that moves, and then somehow tying it all in with “Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys.” For crying out loud, the woman even promotes her book to ME when she calls me on the phone….and I publish the darn thing! Seriously, though, you do have to have something really great to promote, first, and Pam’s book just happens to be really great.

  1. Will you look at unagented material?

Yes. In a way, we almost prefer un-agented material because we are a micro-press and don’t have the kind of money to offer that would get, or keep, an agent interested on behalf of their client, and themselves. Two of our books were previously represented  by an agent, but when you have a good book, and your agent still can’t sell it….well, it might be time to do something different.

  1. Are you more interested in series characters in mysteries or standalones?

Both. We currently publish both standalones, and series. Just as long as the writing is good, the characters are fresh, and the story line is intriguing. Oh, and the author agrees to provide their own Flip camera, and batteries.

Thank you very much again to both Ken & Kari for their participation in this (as far as I know) first-of-its-kind event. One of the things that intrigues me about the new independent presses is their creativity, and originality, and outside-the-box approaches. A giveaway like this certainly demonstrates that quality!

January 15, 2011

What Makes a Writer?

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:31 am

As some of you know, I am a member of a large, extended family of mystery lovers, the incomparable listserv, DorothyL. I have discovered more new authors to read there than I have space to list here.

Broken PlacesOne great read was BROKEN PLACES by Sandra Parshall, and the way DL works, or at least the way I utilize it, is that once a name has become familiar to me I tend to go to that person’s post first amongst the many that come in on any given day. So it was that I was drawn to Sandy’s blog recently wherein she was questioning her validity as a writer.

If this author, whose book I had read and enjoyed, was questioning her right to that title, then what was I? Much less than a writer, surely. Maybe just a…w?

Anyway, as I was wrestling with the question Sandy raised, another author and DL member wrote this very poignant reply in return, demonstrating that all writers, at every level of accomplishment and ability, will struggle with this issue.

Margaret Koch has her own merit badge in this discussion, having wrestled with the best way to get her own work out there, in this brave new world of publishing. You can check out Margaret’s novels here and here and here.

And once you do, please read the exchange by clicking on Sandy’s blog post and then glancing over Margaret’s reply below.

I’ll be interested in hearing what all the writers–and all the w’s–out there think.

Sandy wrote that she finds herself between award-winning books and wonders if her income from books falls short of the threshold for being a real writer. I think she wrote it at 3:00 a.m., when the goblins crawl out of the wall sockets, grab us by the throat and shake us until our confidemnce runs out our ears and puddles on the floor.

You are a wonderful writer, Sandy. You grace the page upon which you choose to place words.

But let’s talk about anyone’s — anyone’s at all — entitlement to say they are “something.” My plumber is a plumber even if he goes bankrupt because he can’t solve my toilet, or others like it. The Kardashians are celebrities because they’ve said that they are celebrities so often that now people pay to look at them and hear about their hair removal. My banker’s a banker even if he runs off with a bunch of the money. Nobody calls him an ex-banker, or a non-banker, even in jail.

Sandy is a wonderful writer, an award-winning writer, a self-questioning writer. She hasn’t sold out, nor has she sold her soul. She writes her own books and works hard to make them better. She doesn’t sit idly on her awards and reviews.

So why are we writers (myself included) so hungry for proof that we are good enough, profitable enough, popular enough, to—what? To take on an identity that will likely punish us more than it rewards us? I think it’s because every piece of fiction is a projective exercise. We’re putting pieces of our own self out there for judgment, consciously or unconsciously. It just leaks out. We can’t be flip about exposing ourselves, fiction or not. There are few defenses that work for that feeling when you let other people comment on what you’ve written.
Sandy has written some wonderful books.

And in the middle of the night, the goblins get Sandy just like they get the rest of us.

That’s why we DLers are so valuable. We read books and talk about them as if they matter…as if the writing of them matters. Sandy’s writing matters.

So does mine, even as I swat a cheeky goblin who came out early tonight and tried to unplug my computer (I’m starting on my fifth in the Barb Stark series). Right after I swatted him, he sneered and said, “Sandy’s more of a writer than you are, cookie.”

–Margaret Koch

January 11, 2011

Those who cannot do…

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 10:04 pm

Teach. Or so the saying goes.

I don’t believe it, and not just because I’m set to begin teaching myself this February.

And so when I hit that brick wall, unagented, with a ms no one wanted, I decided to do the one thing I hadn’t done yet…go where the writing teachers were.

Not for the teaching per se, although we all can always use that, too. But what I really wanted were the contacts.

Have you ever gone to a writing conference? There was a great post by the author Sunny Frazier, whose Moment appeared here, on Lelia Taylor’s wonderful blog–Lelia is a Suspense Your Disbelief alumna, too :) Anyway, it was about the best conferences Sunny has gone to.

I don’t have nearly the breadth of experience Sunny does. But I thought the very first writing workshop I chose to attend was about as crazy a mixed bag as Sunny describes. There were the writers who came to loggerheads–and near hammer blows–with the teachers. There were the literati who couldn’t imagine altering a word they had written. There were friends that I call dear to this day.

Oh, and those contacts?

I met one literary agent who agreed to read my ms, one writer who offered to deliver my ms into the hands of a literary agent she knew, and a writing guru whose work in the biz influences me to this day.

I went to that conference family in tow. I was still nursing my first, and couldn’t leave her, obviously. The staff there were wonderful about accommodating us, although you can probably imagine how I felt when the baby cried at 3 am, potentially disturbing all those VIPs sleeping nearby in the cozy, rustic quarters.

(Indeed, my husband jumped up, snatched the baby out of the Play n’ Pack and went driving around till she fell back to sleep).

It was a crazy, heady time, and I heartily recommend finding a conference or workshop that suits your needs if you have come to a stuck place in your career.

You never know what might get jump-started.

This is the one I chose.

Next time I will tell you what it did for me.

January 5, 2011

Made It Moment: Pamela DuMond

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 6:00 am

Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys

I am very excited to welcome author Pamela DuMond to the blog. Pam’s debut mystery is just that wise combination of wit and tremor that keeps the genre fresh. And her Moment is full of wisdom (as well as perhaps a touch of much-deserved snark).

Another reason this post is special is because we are doing an especially cool giveaway (had to try and keep up with Lois’ unique gift idea from yesterday)!

If you leave a comment, you will be entered to win one of two prizes. The first is a copy of Pam’s book. The second is a Q&A session with the very cool publisher of her book. Krill Press is one of a handful of presses that I think may be poised to take the reading world by storm–finding fresh, new voices and giving them entry. Details will follow for the winner! Thanks for stopping by, and now…read on.

Pamela DuMond

Thank you Jenny Milchman for inviting me to share my “Made it Moment” with your readers. You are a peach!

I spent eight months querying my novel, Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, when I got the call from a super cool agent at the Very Reputable Agency, (VRA). This had to be my, “Made it Moment.” Break out the champagne! Shout Hallelujah! Go eat a big fat juicy burger with fries, because in that moment there couldn’t possibly have been calories. You get a great agent, and the battle is won, right?

I adored my Agent. She was smart, energetic and loved my book. She took it out wide to Mystery Editors. They turned it down. Hmm. New strategy. She took it out to Women’s Commercial Fiction Editors. They turned it down. Huh? At that point I was working on three other book ideas with my Agent. She thought I should re-write Cupcakes to be more of a romance. Okay. Let’s do it.

I stopped work on my other projects, stuck my nose to the romance grindstone, (no pun intended,) as I tried to make my comedic mystery a little more touchy-feely. I’d been re-writing for about a month when I decided to check in with my agent. I liked to look at the VRA’s website. I found it comforting. Like a big strong guy who could lift heavy furniture and kill bugs. Re-assuring. Not. The weekend in June 2010 that I checked in with VRA’s site, it was down.

Was VRA redoing their site? Merging with another agency? I shot an e-mail to my agent. I didn’t hear back. No problem. It was the weekend. That didn’t stop the panicky feeling. I went on Querytracker’s site. It said as of two weeks prior, my agent was no longer at the VRA. That had to be a mistake. Someone from VRA would have contacted me, right? I decided to call. The voice on the other end said my agent no longer worked at VRA, and any questions should be directed to She Who Dispenses Bad News, (SWDBN).

I called SWDBN on Monday, and learned that I was agent orphaned. Didn’t matter that we were working on a re-write and 3 other books. But I could feel free to re-query VRA in the future. I curled into a nauseated ball on my couch and cried. Then I called a friend. She called her Editor at Krill Press, an Indie Publisher. He was closed to submissions, but gallantly said he’d take a look at Cupcakes’ first three chapters.

I decided to write book #2, and get a new agent. That’s when I got an e-mail from Krill’s Editor. He wanted the full ms. About two weeks later I got the call. He loved Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys. He offered to publish it, but encouraged me to find a bigger publisher, as he felt the book was commercial and he did not have huge distribution like a big publisher or even a bigger indie publisher.

I thought about it and researched. One bigger indie publisher required you to submit, give them a four month exclusive and if you never heard back, that meant they weren’t interested. No thanks. Krill Press published Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys in trade paperback, Kindle and Nook, November, 2010.
Regrets? I miss my agent and will be looking for a new smart savvy person to guide my writing career in the future. My Made it Moment? Holding my very beautiful book in my hands and having people tell me how much they loved reading it. That is priceless.

Pamela DuMond was born and raised in the Midwest. She moved to Los Angeles for love. When that tanked, she stayed for the beautiful weather. Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys is her debut novel; she has also contributed essays on intuition to Soul Moments: Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity – Meaningful Coincidences from a Seemingly Random World, edited by Phil Cousineau.

She’s edited more than her share of self-help books, and discovered and pitched Erin Brockovich’s life story to a production company. Erin Brockovich the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards; Julia Roberts won her first Oscar for portraying Erin. With Joe Wilson, Pamela co-created Celebrity Jar of Air, the internationally acclaimed comedic jar that may or may not have contained air molecules breathed by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Pamela is an author, writer, chiropractor and cranio-sacral therapist. She loves reading, writing, the beach, yoga, movies, animals and her family. She lives in Venice Beach, California with her furballs. She’s currently writing the second mystery in the Annie Graceland series, as well as a YA para-normal romance. She lives for a good giggle.

January 3, 2011

Guest Post: Lois Winston

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:32 pm

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun

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!

Lois Winston


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 lois@loiswinston.com 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.

Powered by WordPress