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.


  1. Thanks for posting, Lois! Your novel blurb made me laugh, which always bodes well for the book itself! I’m another born-and-raised Jersey girl (though now living in Oregon), and I love reading books set in NJ by authors who really know the state’s quirks. Good luck with your launch! laurens@acsalaska.net

    Comment by Lauren S — January 3, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  2. Lois! Neat to see you return to Jenny’s posts. Nice to see you again! I will enter over at your blog. Thanks!

    Comment by Savvy — January 3, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Lauren and Savvy! Lauren, I’ll bet moving to Oregon from NJ was a huge change for you.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 3, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  4. Congrats on the release, Lois! My mother’s family roots go way back in the Absecon area, on the Jersey shore. It’s always been in the back of my mind to set a book there one day. Here’s to NJ!

    Comment by Kathleen Ernst — January 3, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen! Absecon is like another world from my neck of NJ, but that’s what’s so cool about the state. Drive a few miles in any direction and it’s a totally different environment.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 3, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  6. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Comment by Carol-Lynn Rössel — January 3, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  7. I hear you about verisimilitude. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed at movies set in San Francisco in which a character easily finds a large parking space smack in front of his/her apartment. As if. The classic, of course, is Dustin Hoffman in THE GRADUATE, driving the wrong way over the Bay Bridge. Locals don’t let you get away with a thing–and more power to ‘em! Best of luck with your series!

    Comment by Sara — January 3, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  8. Consider yourself entered, Carol-Lynn. Good luck!

    Sara, I know what you mean. I’ve driven over the Bay bridge many times. Unless the bridge is shut down for a movie shoot, that would never happen! Same for the parking space in SF!

    Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 3, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

  9. Lois:
    Your book sounds like much fun and crafts are a great hook–so many crafty people out there — of which, sadly I am not one — out there. Nonetheless, I would love to read it because it sounds like so much fun and I am also a Jersey Girl — born and bred. Other than moving away for college I have been here my whole life.

    Comment by Judy — January 3, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  10. Judy, from one Jersey girl to another, thanks for stopping by.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 3, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  11. Just stopping by and I would love to read your books! I’m a knitting person. Working on my third pair of socks!

    Comment by Narda — January 4, 2011 @ 1:53 am

  12. I can well believe the “reality” shows aren’t an accurate depiction of Jersey. There’s nothing real about them. It’s a setting where the worst behaved person wins.

    Speaking of settings… it’s always a challenge for a historical writer. Some things I try to get right are the smells and sounds of a place. While I have visited Europe several times, I can’t really claim to have been in the setting since my fictional world is long past. At some point, I have to trust my imagination and hope my readers will do the same.

    Comment by Mia Marlowe — January 4, 2011 @ 7:15 am

  13. Oh! well, if I can enter here: please put my name in the hat! thanks! :)

    Comment by Savvy — January 4, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  14. Your book sounds great and it’s on my reading list. P.S. I hope you never find anyone glued to a chair either.

    Comment by Theresa N — January 4, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  15. From another “Jersey Girl” I know you will help people see the real Jersey. This sounds like a fabulous book and I can’t wait to read it.

    Comment by Caridad Pineiro — January 4, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  16. Narda, kudos to you for tackling socks! They’re one of the more difficult knitting projects.

    Mia, I think it’s much harder for a historical writer than a contemporary one. We can experience many of our settings first hand. You have to rely on the writings of others who came before you. I have a lot of respect for historical writers who can make me feel that I’m really in their story.

    Savvy, I’ve got you entered.

    Theresa, amen to that!

    And everyone, if you want to be entered into the drawing, please include your email address in your comments if your contact info doesn’t show up when I click your name. Or send me a private email at lois@loiswinston.com. Otherwise, I have no way of getting in touch with you.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 4, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  17. Lois, I had been planning to read Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun before finding out about this drawing. Serendipity! A perfect start to 2011! What did someone say? May your worst day of 2011 be better than your best day of 2010–I think that’s the way it goes. Such is my wish to you and those who read this.

    Comment by Karen Dyer — January 4, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  18. Love the title! those things can be dangerous anyway. ha! Good luck with the new books!

    Chris Verstraete

    Comment by chris V. — January 4, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  19. Sounds like a great series! I can’t wait to read it!

    Comment by Sandy — January 4, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  20. I LOVE to see humor in your writing, Lois. You had me with a crapped-out life and a communist mother-in-law!
    Excellent and fun post to kick off the new year! Lala

    Comment by Lala Corriere — January 4, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  21. I love your title: ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN – if that isn’t eye-catching I don’t know what is! Marilyn aka: M. E. Kemp, author: DEATH OF A DANCING MASTER (mekemp@nycap.rr.com)

    Comment by M. E. Kemp — January 4, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  22. Lois, great post made this Jersey Girl laugh, too. Am looking forward to Glue Gun with much anticipation. I’m familiar with your sharp wit and know it will be a genuine hoot!! I chuckle just remembering some of the glue gun escapades with my daughters when working on school projects. Thanks for fun memories and what I know is a great novel!! See you soon.

    Comment by Nancy Q. — January 4, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  23. Of course NJ isn’t properly portrayed in ‘reality’ shows. I have relatives there, and in my wicked youth dated a NJ guy. Good to know you tell it like it is.

    ‘Glue Gun’ is on my must read list. Sounds like fun.

    boots9k at wowway dot com

    Comment by shirley nienkark — January 4, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

  24. Hmm…looks like my last response to comments never showed up. I’ll repeat:

    Karen, lovely sentiment. Thanks so much!

    And thanks to Chris, Sandy, Lala, and Marilyn!

    Also to Nancy and Shirley.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 4, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  25. Lois, I chuckled at the “down the shore” reference. That’s one way I can tell if a person is faking or not. I’m really looking forward to reading the Anastasia Pollack series!

    Comment by Cris Anson — January 4, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  26. Thanks, Cris! I don’t know of any other demographic that goes “down the shore.” Even other people who spend their summers at the Jersey shore, like people who live in eastern Pennsylvania, say they’re “going to the beach.”

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 4, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  27. Congratulations to…Sandy who was chosen at random as the winner of Lois’ generous gift! Sandy, Lois will be contacting you directly. Thank you to everyone for stopping by and making Lois’ kick off blog tour such a success :)

    Please come back as we will be having special Moments and giveaways all winter!

    Comment by jenny — January 4, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

  28. Thanks for inviting me, Jenny! I had a great time.

    Comment by Lois Winston — January 4, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  29. Hi Lois. I’d love to read your book. Thanks for dropping by.

    Comment by Marilynne — January 5, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  30. Hi Lois, I was sorry to read about the snafu on a few of your books–maybe they will become valuble collectors items. Have a great blog tour!

    Comment by Barbara Graham — January 7, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

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