Sunday, August 23, 2015

Guest Author Lois Winston

I am so pleased to host the inimitable Lois Winston at Type M today. Lois is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author who 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. See the links to Lois' wonderful crafting and writing blogs below.

Characters Who Think Like Their Authors

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, was published in January 2011. Four additional full-length novels and three mini-mysteries have followed over the last four-and-a-half years. The timeframe for each book spans anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Thus, less than a year has passed in the life of Anastasia and her family. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun takes place in February. A Stitch to Die For, my newest release, takes place the last week in October and the first two days of November.

In this book for the first time Anastasia is confronted with a murder in her own neighborhood. Halloween also plays a role in setting the stage for A Stitch to Die For.

Like most authors, I’m often asked how much of me went into creating my protagonist. Anastasia and I have many things in common, including a communist mother-in-law, but we’re also different in many ways. Luckily, I don’t have a Dead Louse of a Spouse who gambled away all our money and left me up to my eyeballs in debt. However, in A Stitch to Die For Anastasia and I have something else in common—my hatred of Halloween.

I was a very shy child. Having to dress up in a cheap plastic costume and go door-to-door begging for candy was something I dreaded each year. From a very young age I was pushed out of the house to walk the neighborhood on my own, ringing strangers’ doorbells. If I didn’t come back with a full bag of candy, I was sent back out. Add to that the multiple times I was the victim of egg-hurling, marauding teenagers, and you can understand why I’m not a fan of the holiday.

I tamped down this hatred when my own kids were young, even making their costumes. I also accompanied them as they went trick or treating and never allowed them to approach homes where I didn’t know the residents. As a result, my kids have a much different attitude toward Halloween than I do.

Writing about Anastasia having the same feelings I have about Halloween was a bit of a cathartic experience for me. I still hate Halloween, though, not only for the memories it stirs up but also for other reasons, ones which Anastasia gives voice to at one point in A Stitch to Die For:

“Everything okay?” asked Zack as he unloaded the contents of our cart onto the conveyor belt.

I frowned at the bags of Halloween candy he grabbed next, wondering how many of the kids who rang my doorbell Monday night would offer a thank-you. Most of them didn’t even live in the neighborhood and few bothered with costumes—another reason I hated Halloween. “Hardly.”
A Stitch to Die For
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.

Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest at, and onTwitter @anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter by clicking here.
Her books are available in paperback, on Kindle Nook, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play


Kathye Quick said...

I dislike this holiday intensely In our neighborhood we had to sing something before we got the treat. As an adult I hate answering the door every 5 seconds and as a meanie post an out of candy sign as soon as I get home from work. Bah humbug to halloween

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Never liked Halloween either. The whole door-to-door thing as a kid, just was not a fan. Mind you I did like the candy....
The book sounds like a fun read. Shall put on my list!

Angela Adams said...

As a child, I had a "take or leave it" attitude where Halloween was concerned. In our Philly neighborhood, there were lots of kids and everyone knew everyone in each house on the block. Currently, with so many parents working, schools pretty much take care of Halloween festivities and few people go "trick or treating" in the evening.

Vamp Writer said...

I can understand your dislike for Halloween, being forced out on your own without someone to "watch your back" to keep you from being egged by marauding teens would sour anyone on the event! Now days the beg-a-thon has resulted in busing of large numbers of children from well outside of the neighborhoods (usually later in the evening) as well as older giggling teenage without costumes.

However, since I write vampire novels, I sometimes get in the mood and prepare a faux-graveyard in front of the house with animatronic vampires and put on my own vampire costume (Dracula eat your heart out). Children will pause when the see me sitting at the front door and jump when "one of the dead" pop out of a grave. Of course I invite them in, asking of their blood type, while sipping on blood (tomato juice). I've yet to have anyone willing to enter but doubt they'll be "scarred for life" by the experience. Parents who accompany the children (at least as far as the curb) seem to think it all great fun! (-;

Lois Winston said...

Kathye and Judy, it's nice to know I'm not alone in my feelings about Halloween.

Angela, I don't know if the schools do anything about Halloween around here. When my kids were little, there was always a big Halloween parade around the school neighborhood. Nowadays candy is pretty much a no-no in most schools, though.

Vamp Writer, I'm glad you weren't handing out treats when I was a little kid. You would have scared the caca out of me!

E. Ayers said...

I love Halloween! And I've got great memories of trick or treating, back in the days when you could eat anything and the whole neighborhood planned certain stops because we knew that house always had hot cider or hot chocolate and we could warm up! But I never loved being scared to death. I'm not so sure I would have entered Vamp Writer's house even if I did know who it was! As an adult I've loved Halloween. When I wrote my Halloween novella, I used a true event to that happened to me as the first scene. Yes, I opened the door and dragged some grown guy into my house in a skeleton costume thinking it was my neighbor.

Can't wait to read this book. I love your whodunits because they are great reads and I get to laugh. (Remember I don't like to be scared!)

Lois Winston said...

Well, E., I know we've talked about how much we have in common. I guess Halloween isn't one of them! Hope you like the book!

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

I'm older than you but I used to cut eyes and mouth out of a paper bag. One year I bought a clear plastic mask that hugged my face. I put make up on it because I didn't get to wear make-up. A friend of mine wrapped himself in toilet paper to where he looked like a mummy. While I don't like Halloween either I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I was always scared/worried about my daughter and taking candy from strangers.

We have two streets in our neighborhood, sort of horse-shoeish. There's one way in and one way out. On Halloween we don't let any cars drive through for two or three hours. Kids and parents come from all over the city to trick or treat. I've sat out in the yard and handed out candy just so I didn't have to hear the dreaded doorbell and wonder who or what was on the other side. ;)

You're right--or Anastasia is right--kids don't say trick or treat or please and thank you, but even worse, some of their costumes are questionable. I asked one boy what he was supposed to be all decked out in black with gold chains around his neck and he said a pimp. Ooookay. We gave him some mini-snickers and he ran off to join his mother who was waiting for him in the driveway. Halloween is different from when I was a kid, but so are the kids and their parents.

I'm really looking forward to reading A Stitch to Die For.

Lois Winston said...

Hi Jess! Yes, you're quite right. Kids are certainly different now. I have to wonder about a mother who would allow her child to dress as a pimp for Halloween. That just blows my mind!

Hope you enjoy the book!

Epona said...

Sorry, Lois, I was in the opposite camp when it came to Halloween. I was a shy kid, too, but that may be why I adored the idea of dressing up and becoming a character. My parents were very protective, so I didn't have to worry about going door-to-door without backup. My father liked the whole thing, too, so when I was little he'd go around with me. But one of my most vivid memories is of going to the local 5 & 10 in early October just to see all the costumes! Yes, they were cheesy and gaudy, but the neon colors, satin and glitter fascinated me. I adored browsing through them, trying to decide what to "come as" that year. Of course, I occasionally concocted something of my own, especially as I got older. Heck, I would have dressed up and gone door-to-door even if they weren't giving out candy!

Lois Winston said...

Epona, I'm glad you have pleasant memories of Halloween. Wish I did. :-(

Donis Casey said...

We made quite a deal of Halloween, but I can't say I enjoyed it much. In my suburban '50s neighborhood, there were so many kids trick-or-treating that it was like being in the middle of a cattle drive. Houses kept someone permanently posted at the door all evening because there was no break between groups of kids. Now I seldom get a dozen kids come to the door on Halloween and end up with a ton of candy that I certainly don't need to be eating! My husband's family used to go out to the lake and build a bonfire and roast hot dogs. Now, that's Halloween the way the pagans meant it to be!

Lois Winston said...

Donis, instead of candy, I buy small bags of pretzels to hand out. Each bag is only 50 calories, so if there are any leftover, I don't feel guilty eating one with lunch each day until they're gone.