Designing Crafty Ways to Kill People

I’m happy to welcome back USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston. Today, Lois shares her writing journey and new release, A Sew Deadly Cruise.

Here’s Lois

Life’s journey is rarely a straight line. It certainly hasn’t been for me. Way back when I was working toward my BFA in graphic design and illustration, I never would have imagined that someday I’d be writing novels. Since graduating from college {{cough! cough!}} years ago, I’ve worked as a layout artist for two advertising agencies as well as the world’s oldest department store, an illustrator for the publications and alumni departments of two major universities, a freelance designer of needlework kits, a designer and design coordinator for a major manufacturer, a craft book editor, and a magazine freelancer. And that was all before I got the crazy idea to write my first novel.

Even then, my career didn’t proceed along a straight line. I started out writing romance, and now I’m killing people for a living—but only in my novels! I also spent twelve years as a literary agent, working for the agency that represented me. Is your head spinning yet? Mine is, just thinking about my rollercoaster of a professional life!

I’m now a retired designer, a retired literary agent, and a retired romance writer. Truthfully, I find killing people (on paper) far more fun than writing sex scenes. I spend my days getting my reluctant amateur sleuth, Anastasia Pollack, into trouble while sitting at my computer recording her antics as she attempts to thwart my efforts.

I don’t think Anastasia likes me very much, but I can hardly blame her. Before I came along, she was leading a typical middle-class life in the suburbs with her husband and two teenage sons. About the only not-so-typical part of her life was her communist mother-in-law and the Shakespeare-quoting parrot she’d inherited from her great-aunt.

That all changed when I decided to kill off Anastasia’s husband prior to the opening pages of the first book. Unbeknownst to her, the two-timing louse was having an affair with Lady Luck. He gambled away all their money, leaving her to deal with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a demanding loan shark. You can read all about it in Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series.

I’ve had so much fun tormenting Anastasia that I’m now up to Book 9 in the series that bears her name, and there are also three connecting novellas.

Books in the series include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
Death by Killer Mop Doll
Revenge of the Crafty Corpse
Decoupage Can Be Deadly
A Stitch to Die For
Scrapbook of Murder
Drop Dead Ornaments
Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
A Sew Deadly Cruise

Novellas include:

Crewel Intentions
Mosaic Mayhem
Patchwork Peril

Blurb for A Sew Deadly Cruise

Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.

Craft projects included.

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | Nook | Apple iBooks

Bio and Links

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.

Website | Newsletter Sign-up | Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub


#TeaserThursday – No More Secrets

In this excerpt from my new release, No More Secrets, Angelica meets Sergio Delfino, her future husband.

Enjoy!

June 1957

Mama approached and hugged me. “You have a good head on your shoulders and would do very well if…well, if you had been born male, there would be no question about your choosing to remain single for a while. You could stay here or emigrate on your own. But that’s not an option for you—not in this town, and, I suspect, not in too many other towns.” She sighed. “As long as your father and I are alive, you’ll be fine. But once we’re gone, you can’t remain in this house alone. You’d have to move in with Gina or Rosetta. Marry Sergio and live the life of a signora in Cosenza.”

Mama understood me very well. Moving to a city would be a step up. I would also be exposed to more culture, socializing, and shopping. I smiled and squeezed Mama’s hand. While I approached each encounter with an open mind, I could never settle for loud, overbearing men. Kindness and consideration were my top priorities. Love didn’t really matter.

I kissed Mama goodbye and headed out toward the square. While the town’s winter population was well under one thousand people, it expanded in size during the spring and summer months. As I walked toward the piazza, I encountered several unfamiliar male faces. Each time, my heart would flutter in anticipation. I was excited about meeting Sergio and hoped for a connection.

As I approached the piazza, I heard the loud, booming voice of Giovanni Barone, Maria’s husband. “Angelica. Angelica. Over here.”

I liked Maria but didn’t look forward to dealing with her leering husband. I plastered a smile on my face and approached the couple. A thin man of medium height stood next to them. He blushed as I approached. Before anyone could speak, Giovanni blurted out, “Angelica, this is Sergio Delfino. He’s the best shoemaker in Cosenza, and he has a big apartment right in the center of the city.”

I ignored his comment and extended my hand to Sergio. “I’m very pleased to meet you. I hope you’ll enjoy the festival.”

Sergio returned my smile and handed me a white rose. “I hope you like roses. I removed all the thorns.”

Maria and Giovanni exchanged amused looks. I was pleasantly surprised at the gesture and gave Sergio a closer look. This man would be gentle and not give me any grief. And he could design and create custom shoes for me. A minor detail for most, but with size 40, triple A feet, it was a major consideration for me. I took his hand and led him away from my gaping relatives. I had already decided to marry him. There was no need to be coy and pretend otherwise.

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (Australia)

On the Path to Freedom

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life by eminent psychologist and Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eger. Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

We do not change until we’re ready. Sometimes it’s a tough circumstance—perhaps a divorce, accident, illness, or death—that forces us to face up to what isn’t working and try something else. Sometimes our inner pain or unfulfilled longing gets so loud and insistent that we can’t ignore it another minute. But readiness doesn’t come from the outside, and it can’t be rushed or forced. You’re ready when you’re ready, when something inside shifts and you decide, Until now I did that. Now I’m going to do something else.

Change is about interrupting the habits and patterns that no longer serve us. If you want to meaningfully alter your life, you don’t simply abandon a dysfunctional habit or belief; you replace it with a healthy one. You choose what you’re moving toward. You find an arrow and follow it. As you begin your journey, it’s important to reflect not only on what you’d like to be free from, but on what you want to be free to do or become.

Finally, when you change your life, it isn’t to become the new you. It’s to become the real you—the one-of-a-kind diamond that will never exist again and can never be replaced. Everything that that’s happened to you—all the choices you’ve made until now, all the ways you’ve tried to cope—it all matters; it’s all useful. You don’t have to throw everything out and start from scratch. Whatever you’ve done, it’s brought you this far, to this moment.

The ultimate key to freedom is to keep becoming who you truly are.

Source: The Gift by Dr. Edith Eger, pp. 9-10


On Tour with Goddess Fish – Day 3

It’s my third Monday on tour with Goddess Fish.

I’m visiting the “Fabulous and Brunette” blog and sharing tips on dealing with rejection. I’m also including a blurb, excerpt, and buy links for No More Secrets.

Stop by and visit for a while. Remember to scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Find out more here.


Burnout and Natural Disasters

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Chrys Fey. Today, Chrys shares a poignant post about a challenging period and her new release, Frozen Crimes.

Here’s Chrys!

In 2019, after suffering from writer’s burnout for two years, I did everything I could to get back to writing.

Since Seismic Crimes came out in April 22, 2016, I’d been publishing a Disaster Crimes book a year. Tsunami Crimes came out January 2017. And Flaming Crimes came out in January 2018, which was when I acknowledged my burnout. I was in a tough place. In my mind, I had to write Frozen Crimes and submit it to my publisher that year so it could be published in 2019. That pressure burned me out even more.

I wrote the first chapter with Beth, when she hears tapping at her bedroom window. I tried to write Chapter Two with Donovan, and I got one paragraph in and couldn’t get another word out. I knew what I had to write; it was plotted out, but I couldn’t. I was exhausted. Mentally and physically.

In 2018, I worked on healing myself and getting back to writing. (You can read about my struggle and what I did to reverse my burnout in Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression, and Burnout.)

In 2019, I was better, but still not writing as much as I usually did.

Finally, motivation struck. I wanted to have Frozen Crimes ready for my readers at Space Coast Book Lovers 2020, which meant I had to buckle down. (UPDATE: Due to Covid-19, the event was eventually canceled.)

I spent September 2019 writing Frozen Crimes. And I did it! I finished!

That same month, a historic winter storm hit Montana…after I spent all of September writing about a blizzard.

Being the author of a series centered around disasters is tough, because natural disasters are occurring more and more.

The same day Seismic Crimes had its world wide release, an earthquake hit Ecuador at a devastating 7.8 on the Richter scale. The earthquake in Seismic Crimes is a 7.4.

Let’s just say that I’m happy to be getting closer to ending this series.

Did you notice that?

Closer.

I’m not quite done yet. 😊

When disasters strike around every corner, is it possible to have a happily-ever-after?

Blurb

Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn’t get any better…until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn’t long before his menacing goes too far.

Hoping for a peaceful Christmas, Donovan takes Beth to Michigan. Days into their trip, a winter storm named Nemesis moves in with the goal of burying the state. Snowdrifts surround their house, and the temperature drops below freezing.

Except, the storm isn’t the only nemesis they must face. Everyone’s lives are at stake—especially that of their unborn child. Will they survive, or will they become a frozen crime?

Excerpt

The crunch of the shovel pounding into the snow and ice filled his ears. It was all he could hear. The rest of the street was silent beneath its wintry blanket. Breathing was difficult with the icy air clogging his lungs. His nose burned. His throat was dry and on fire. But he ignored it, focusing on his task.

Crack, crack, crack.

He jabbed the shovel into a hunk of snow. On the third hit, it shattered into several pieces. He scooped them up and flung them to the side. He surveyed what remained. There was one big ball in the middle of the path that needed to be dealt with next. He moved over to it and struck it. That one impact had it severing in two. He was about to hit it again when something crashed into the back of his head.

Explosions of white light danced over his vision. Pain enveloped his skull. The shovel slipped from his fingers. Blackness cloaked his mind, coaxing him into its depths.

Beth. Her name was a whisper in his head, as if his thoughts were being sucked into a wormhole.

His legs collapsed under his weight.

Cold. It seeped into him, consuming him. And then his consciousness fled down that same void that ate his thoughts.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

***HUGE DISASTER CRIMES GIVEAWAY***

Prizes

4 eBooks (Disaster Crimes 1-4: Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes) + Girl Boss Magnets (4), Inflatable Cup Holder (1), Adventure Fuel To-Go Cups (2), Anchor Fashion Scarf (1), Mermaid Nail Clippers (2), Citrus and Sea Salt Scented Candle (1), Snowflake Handmade Bookmark (1), Insulated Cooler Bag (1)

Eligibility: International

Number of Winners: One

Giveaway Ends: October 30, 2020 12:00am Eastern Standard Time

Enter here.

To get the exclusive prequel to the Disaster Crimes series, sign up for Chrys’ newsletter. By signing up, you agree to receive Chrys Fey’s newsletter. After you confirm subscription, you will receive an email (so check your inbox and spam folder) with directions on where to snag your eBook copy of THE CRIME BEFORE THE STORM.

Click here to sign up and get The Crime Before the Storm FREE!

About the Author

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon


10 Sentences That Can Change Your Perspective On Life

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Definitely food for thought!



On Tour with Goddess Fish – Day 2

It’s my second Monday on tour with Goddess Fish.

I’m visiting Lisa Haselton’s blog and chatting about my writing journey and No More Secrets.

Stop by and visit for a while. Remember to scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Find out more here.


Spotlight on Roxanne Dunn

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Roxanne Dunn. Today, Roxanne shares an entertaining post and her new release, Murder Unrehearsed.

Here’s Roxanne!

Recently, I ran into an old boyfriend “You’re looking good,” he said, pulling me in for a hug.

I started to smile and say “thanks.”

“… for an old broad.”

I’d forgotten he was the class clown.

Ah, well, I’ve forgotten a lot of things, and I’m liking it. Sometimes I even forget how many wrinkles I have.

Being an old broad isn’t all that bad. I don’t set my alarm and rush off to work anymore. Instead, I take my coffee outside, sit in my flower garden, and plan what I’m going to write that day.

Currently, I’m working on Murder Unsuspected, a novel in which the darling of a hilltop town in the south of France has been getting away with murder. And I’ve just started an untitled work set in Paris, my favorite city. It features a young woman who finances her seventh arrondissement apartment and extravagant lifestyle by helping herself to diamonds and other baubles their owners don’t really need.

When I’m not writing, I’m trying to understand how Amazon uses metadata and learn how to post on Instagram. And cook, clean, garden, do yoga, text my grandchildren, update my website, phone my aunts, teach my husband how to make pie crust, and make sure I have clean underwear. My life is rich and full.

To quote essayist John Burroughs, “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, and all the friends I want to see.”

Come visit me at http://www.roxannedunn.com.

Blurb

When aspiring young actress Heather Shelton jumps in the car with her dog, Bear, and flees to her family’s mountain cabin to escape an untidy romance, all she wants is peace and time to study for auditions. What she gets is murder. The only witness of a savage killing—and squarely in the cross-hairs of a ruthless assassin—she is injured and left for dead.

Heather knows handsome men are bad news, but hottie lawman Matt McCrae’s smile gets her every time, until he leaves her hanging out as bait to trap the killer. McCrae promises to protect her, but fails, and she faces the killer alone, with only Bear to help.

Buy Links

Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Seaport Books | The Wild Rose Press

Where to find Roxanne…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Other Publications

I write the galley column for Pacific Yachting, a monthly magazine. My article consists of an essay, usually on a boating destination, incident, or adventure, and a recipe to make on board.


A Purse with an Intriguing Backstory

I couldn’t resist the “two-thirds” off sale on the light tan, crossbody bag with a furry monkey (named Marlee) keychain.

Lightweight and roomy enough to accommodate all my paraphernalia, it was the perfect summer and travel bag.

At home, I took a closer look at the logo—Kipling—and wondered if there was any connection to author and poet Rudyard Kipling. Intrigued, I Googled the company and discovered the following backstory.

Continue reading on Vicki Batman’s blog.