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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.

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