Guest Lois Winston plus #giveaway

News Flash: Lois’s winner is Anita!

Edith/Maddie here, winding down a full August with our penultimate guest for the month.

Lois Winston and I have been fellow members of the Guppies for a long time, and I’ve been her guest more than once over on her blog, Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. I’m happy to return the favor today. Her new book, Guilty as Framed, the 11th in the series, will be out next week and she’s giving away an ARC to one lucky commenter!

When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history.

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes. A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

Journaling Through Fiction

For my birthday one year, my best friend gave me a diary. Every night before going to bed, I’d jot down my most private thoughts, many of which centered on life in an extremely dysfunctional family. Writing became my catharsis.

One day I discovered my mother had been reading my diary. In hindsight, her invasion of my privacy should have come as no shock. Knowing how I’d set her off if I confronted her, I continued to write, but out of spite, filled the pages with pure fiction. Of course, being fifteen years old, I didn’t exactly think things through. Suffice to say, the episode ended my brief stint as a modern-day female Samuel Pepys.

This adolescent experience is probably why I’ve never kept a journal as an adult, which makes me somewhat of an outlier in the world of writers. However, it hasn’t prevented me from capturing my thoughts and feelings on paper. As authors, we’re told to “write what you know.” That’s why my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series features a protagonist who’s the crafts editor at a woman’s magazine. I spent many years as a designer and editor in the consumer crafts industry, working for magazines, book publishers, and manufacturers.

In all my books, no matter the genre, my stories incorporate family—some good, some far from good. These make their way into both my characters and some of the situations they create or find themselves in. Many are based on interactions and observations from my own life.

However, most of my characters are an amalgam of various people I’ve known, incorporating traits, experiences, and outlooks. However, Anastasia’s communist mother-in-law Lucille Pollack, is based more than loosely on my own communist mother-in-law. Lucille is the driving force for conflict within the walls of Anastasia’s home, just as my own mother-in-law was a driving force for conflict in our family. The big difference? Because I write humorous cozy mysteries, Lucille and her fellow octogenarian revolutionaries are also a source of comic relief amidst the murder and mayhem I create for Anastasia.

Lucille is the character many of my readers love to hate, even as they chuckle at her over-the-top antics. But she’s also a woman consumed by her own self-righteousness, which often takes precedence over common sense. There are now eleven books in the series. Lucille plays a major role in some, a minor role in others, but always in ways that impact both the plot and/or the other characters. In Guilty as Framed, the latest book in the series (currently available for pre-order) Lucille’s brief appearances have a huge impact on her and those around her.

Writing as catharsis…it doesn’t matter how you do it. Whether as journaling or in fiction, it can provide the same emotional relief.

Readers: do you journal? If you’re a writer, do you incorporate the people who have impacted your life in one way or another into the characters you create in your novels? I’ll send an ARC of Guilty as Framed (US only) to one commenter.

USA Today and Amazon 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. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

59 Thoughts

  1. No, I don’t journal. I’d be worried someone would read it and be upset over what I’d written. Feelings, to me, are too personal for that risk – besides, I change my mind too much and what I’d felt one day could be totally irrelevant the next.

  2. Congratulations on the upcoming release! “Guilty as Framed” sounds absolutely fabulous. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.

    I’ve not kept a journal in years. Both as a child and an adult, I found that things we think of as private usually don’t end up that way. It is true that things see and read can’t be undone and often have bad effects that last for decades. Instead of writing them down, I’ve learned to have thoughts and even conversations in my head as a way of expressing myself or trying to see things in every light or as a type of releasing it so I can move on. Hopefully I’m not the only one that mentally talks to oneself. 🙂

    Thank you for the chance to win an ARC of your upcoming release.. I would love the opportunity to read and review it in order to spread the word. Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay. The great thing about being a writer is we can listen and talk to the voices in our head without others thinking we’re crazy. 😉

  3. No, I have never kept a journal – I will write things out and then shred or burn the pages.

  4. I kept a journal when I was in grammar school. I found it recently when I was cleaning out an old dresser and read it. I never realized before how boring my life was back then!
    Congratulations on the new book, Lois. I loved it!

    1. LOL, Susan! I’m sure most of us would come to the same conclusion if we had such evidence of our grammar school years. Thanks for the congrats!

    1. Thanks, Sherry! Did you hold onto that diary? Thinking back, although I didn’t realize it at the time, mine was the seed of a future writing career that didn’t happen until many decades later.

  5. Yes I do journal. Coming from a major screwed up family it has helped a lot to write down my thoughts and feelings.

  6. I’ve kept a journal at periods of time in my twenties, but not recently. It helped me to sort out my thoughts at times when I needed that. These days I talk to myself in the car on the way to and from work. Congratulations on the new release!

  7. I kept journals when I was younger and have thought I should start again ow that life is slowing down. It always kept my head-on straight! or at least I thought so! I’m always looking for a new author to try-would love to meet your characters in a good whodunnit!

    1. Anita, congratulations! You’re the winner of the advance reading copy of Guilty as Framed. I’ll contact you for your mailing address as soon as I receive your email from Edith.

  8. No I don’t journal. I tried a couple of times when I was young but 1. I couldn’t think of stuff to write everyday 2. I was afraid someone would read it and 3. If I didn’t want anyone to read it but me and I already knew the things I’d hypothetically be writing in it, I didn’t see the logic in it.

  9. I don’t journal but I am an aspiring author. Some characters turn out a mashup of several different people and some imagination. Mostly I find I slip in actual conversations and events- like the time my co-worker was called up by the town busybody, telling her to remove her father-in-law’s body from the church because SHE had reserved the basement area for her family’s Christmas and how dare there be a casket in there!

  10. In addition to my review blog, I do have a diary type blog. I was really good about updating it originally, but now it’s lucky to get an update once a month or so. Speaking of which, I’ve got to get something up in the next couple of days or it won’t get one in August. I started it when those type of blogs were popular, so about 20 years ago. It doesn’t get many visits, especially since I update so rarely. Obviously, this is meant to be public, so I don’t post anything I don’t want others to see, but it can be fun to go back through posts occasionally. (No need to enter me in the contest.)

  11. I have never journaled. I tried a diary once as a kid, but most days I didn’t do anything interesting enough to write about. By the time I started to do interesting things, I didn’t want those things on paper where someone else might see them. My mother was a snoop, too.

  12. I used to keep a diary but don’t really keep a journal. For years, I have kept a bound engagement calendar and I record much in it, like where we went that day, food we ate, costs, my thoughts, quotes I like, appointment, etc. It holds a lot surprisingly. When I need to remember something, I just look in there. I started when we started going to the Florida Keys on a regular basis n 2003 and have kept it up. Got my sister hooked on it and now I give her a new one for Christmas when I get mine. I enjoy doing that without going into deep psychological insights into myself.

    1. A journal can be anything, Madeleine. Some people keep journals of the birds they see or the calories they consume. This fills a purpose for you, and that’s great. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  13. Lois, I love your characters–all of them! Although I don’t keep a journal, I agree with you about using quirks from real people in my books. Plus, some of my heroes were based on my late husband. I’m looking forward to Anastasia’s next adventure!

  14. My very first journal was a Girl Scout journal complete with lock and key. Didn’t take my mother long to break into that puppy! Yes, she read my diaries, would take my letters from the mailbox and read those, listen in on phone calls. She was a right proper pill, and she would confront me about what I wrote. Face it, as a preteen and teen, everything was full on drama! Sounds like both our families put the fun in dysfunctional 🙂

    I kept on keeping journals though, and I still do to this day, except now they are not so detailed, and I use a Microsoft program named diarium, which allows me to insert pictures on the daily calendar and has a search feature. I still have a number of years of hand written diaries, but finding anything in them…Nope. Even when I can read my own handwriting!

    1. Kait, I feel your pain. I used to wonder why my family wasn’t like the the Nelsons, Cleavers, or Stones. It didn’t seem fair, but I had no idea how unrealistic those TV families were at the time.

  15. When I was a young girl, I noticed that my older sister kept a diary. I decided that I wanted a diary of my own. I wrote in that diary on a daily basis for a period of time, but I eventually became bored with it and stopped.

  16. I kept a diary long ago and should have burned it! I have since thrown them all away. I love this series and have them all! Can’t wait to read this one and I thank you for the contest!

  17. I don’t have a journal, I don’t have anything to put in a journal. Besides, I’d probably forget to write in it everyday.

  18. I am not a writer. I used to journal when I was younger and had the extra time. I am thinking maybe getting back to it once I am an empty nester. I remember enjoying doing it.

  19. I didn’t keep a journal as a kid. Not enough hiding spaces in our house to keep my brother from finding it. I started journaling a few months ago to write about the crazy stuff at work. It was interfering with my writing so I stopped. I still have a lot of material to pull from without having a physical copy.

    1. Cheryl, sometimes all you need is a quick note to yourself as a reminder of an event, rather than a full journal entry. Smart phones are great for that.

  20. Yes, i journals🥰. I have several journals for different stages of events that have happened in my life. Some are good and some are not so happy times. But, I cherish each one.

  21. I have at various times in my life. I do not make it an everyday occurance. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  22. I have kept journals at different times in my life, but not consistently.

  23. Hi, Lois, another great post! My journaling tends to be in the form of my poetry rather than a formal journal. Bits and pieces of my soul line up for the world to see (sometimes – not all of it goes public, LOL). As for characters, I definitely find hints of real people and relationships woven into my characters but seasoned a little differently than real life. I love mixing and matching attributes to create a whole new persona. The fictional version may make a good person even better or let me get my licks in against someone who “done me wrong,” but I always try to make them a fully 3-D character rather than a caricature. Looking forward to the next book!

    1. Mary Beth, your process seems perfect. And it’s so important that however we come up with creating our characters, they absolutely can’t turn out as caricatures. They need to be believable for readers to buy into the story. As for poetry, I’ve never fallen under its spell. My lose. I’ve tried. Even wrote some back in my school days. I wish I had the version of The Midnight Ride of Goblins and Ghosts I wrote in 7th grade, based on The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. My guess is, my mother tossed it, along with most of my possessions, when I left for college. Hope you enjoy the new book!

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