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.
Over the past thirteen years I’ve published sixteen full-length novels, five novellas, and several short stories. Most are mysteries. A few are romance, romantic suspense, or humorous women’s fiction (formerly known as chick lit, but that designation is pretty much the kiss of death these days.) However, even though I’ve written in various genres, all my books have one thing in common—my plots always develop from actual events I’ve experienced, read about, or seen on the nightly news. I wrote about this here several years ago https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/a-real-life-mystery/ when I talked about a real-life mystery in my own town, a mystery that still hasn’t been solved and which became a subplot in Scrapbook of Murder, the sixth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series.
My penchant for putting a “what if” spin on actual events began with Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the first book I ever wrote. (It became the second book I sold.) The plot was heavily influenced by a murder that occurred in Philadelphia during the time I was writing the book.
Every book since then has employed elements of actual events—from murders in nursing homes (Revenge of the Crafty Corpse) to the speed dating craze of the early 2000’s (Four Uncles and a Wedding) to my cousin’s infertility issues (Finding Hope) to several murder cases involving Munchhausen by Proxy (A Stitch to Die For) to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme (Death By Killer Mop Doll)—just to name a few.
Which brings me to my latest release, Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Anastasia is a woman who had lived the good life, firmly entrenched in the middle class, until at the start of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, her husband drops dead in a Las Vegas casino. The biggest shock wasn’t that she believed he was in Harrisburg, PA on business. No. It was discovering that her marriage had been built on a series of lies, thanks to his duplicitous lifestyle. Ever since, she’s been trying to stay one step ahead of the bill collectors and eviction—not to mention her husband’s bookie.
In creating the series, I mined my own less-than-ideal childhood to tap into Anastasia’s feelings of betrayal and how she copes with her “new normal” life. My father didn’t drop dead at a casino, but he never kept a job for very long. Of course, that didn’t stop him from spending money he didn’t have on a succession of mistresses while I and my siblings often went to bed with hunger pangs. However, rather than being that cruel to Anastasia, I gave her two loving sons, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a biting sense of humor as coping mechanisms. She also dreams of one day being free of debt.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if suddenly you had no financial worries? How would it change your life and the lives of those around you? This is a central theme in Drop Dead Ornaments, but telling you more would require a spoiler alert. What I can tell you, though, is that someone’s newfound wealth will most definitely lead to murder. (Hey, I write murder mysteries, so not really a spoiler, right?)
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7
Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.
At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.
Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?
Other books in the series include: