SANDRA CAREY CODY TALKS TO LOIS WINSTON
Lois Winston straddles two worlds. She’s an award-winning author of romantic suspense, humorous women’s fiction and mystery. She’s also an award-winning designer of needlework and crafts projects for magazines, craft book publishers and craft kit manufacturers. A graduate of the prestigious Tyler School of Art, she often draws on her art and design background for material in her fiction. I “met” Lois through the internet chapter of Sisters in Crime and, when I learned that she was launching a new series, I thought readers of Birth of a Novel would be interested in hearing what she has to say about the birthing process of a mystery series.
SANDY CODY: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
LOIS WINSTON: Writing is something that came to me later in life. I wasn’t one of those kids who knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she first picked up a #2 pencil. I first caught the writing bug about 15 years ago.
CODY: What part of writing do you find most satisfying>
WINSTON: “The End” has got to be the most satisfying, when you’ve tweaked and revised to the point that you’re absolutely, positively certain the manuscript is ready to be sent out.
CODY: What part do you find most difficult?
WINSTON: Trying to come up with a plot that’s different from the other books already written.
CODY: What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting?
WINSTON: Truthfully? The first sentence. I’ll have a sentence pop into my head, and I’ll think it’s a great sentence for the opening of a book. Then I brainstorm about where I can go with that sentence, and the characters and story will fall into place.
CODY: Where do you find inspiration?
WINSTON: I’m a total news junkie. Many of my plots are inspired by what I see and read in the news.
CODY: Tell us about your book.
WINSTON: Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun is the first book in my new Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series from Midnight Ink. Anastasia Pollack is a suburban wife and mother and the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. Her life is just about perfect until her husband cashes in his chips–permanently–at a roulette table in Las Vegas when he’s supposed to be at a sales meeting in Harrisburg, Pa. That’s when Anastasia’s life craps out. She’s left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt AND her communist mother-in-law. Not to mention her dead husband’s loan shark who’s demanding fifty thousand dollars. And that’s before she discovers the dead body of the magazine’s fashion editor hot glued to her office chair.
CODY: Tell us about your route to publication.
WINSTON: I actually sold my first book as the result of entering a publisher-sponsored writing contest. That book, Talk Gertie To Me, was released in 2006. Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception followed a year later. Then I decided to take my writing in another direction and sold Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun at the end of 2009.
CODY: Any advice for beginning writers?
WINSTON: Learn as much as you can and don’t give up. I found joining writing organizations and attending writers’ conferences was very helpful for the education and the networking. Writing is a tough business. You really have to want to do it because you’ll meet a lot of rejection along the way and you have to learn to deal with that and not let it get you down. If you can’t take criticism, save yourself the pain and anguish. Very few writers ever sell the first book they write, or if they do, it’s after many rejections and revisions.
CODY: What else is in the works?
WINSTON: I recently turned in the second manuscript in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series and am now hard at work on the third book in the series.
CODY: What other authors do you especially admire:
WINSTON: I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. When Kirkus Reviews called Assault With a Deadly Gun “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum,” it absolutely sent me happy dancing around the house.
Aside from that, I recently discovered and became a big fan of Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, and I totally enjoyed Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Charlotte McNally series.
CODY: What do you do when you’re not writing?
WINSTON: I juggle three careers. I’m a designer in the consumer crafts industry (I’m the person who designs the needlework and other crafts projects you see in magazines) and I work as an associate for the literary agency that reps me. When I do have some free time, I like to curl up with a latte and a good book or go to the theater.
CODY: Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?
WINSTON: I’m under contract and on deadline, so I don’t have the luxury of squeezing it in or even writing only when Mayzie Muse decides to pay a visit. I don’t always write every day, but some days I do nothing but write all day.
CODY: What refreshes you creatively?
WINSTON: Taking a few days off to play. I’ll spend time with friends and family, catch up on my reading, wander around a museum–just about anything that removes me from the keyboard.
CODY: What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
WINSTON: I wish I’d known more about the business of publishing. In some ways it’s similar to the business world in general, but in other ways it’s quite unique from any other business.
CODY: Anything you glad you DIDN’T know?
WINSTON: I’m glad I didn’t know just how long it would take or how hard it would be to get published. By the time I had an inkling, I was too well-infected with the writing bug to stop, even if I’d wanted to.
CODY: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
WINSTON: First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to visit at Birth of a Novel, Sandy, and for allowing me to tell your readers a bit about my series. I’d also like people to know that I’m currently on a blog tour to celebrate the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. The schedule is on my website – http://www.loiswinston.com – Anastacia’s blog – http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the month will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’ve entered.) In addition, I’m giving away an assortment of crafts books on select blogs during the tour, so look for those as well.
CODY: Thanks, Lois, for your time and good luck with your book.
ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM LOIS: Since first answering Sandy’s questions several weeks ago for posting here this week, I’ve discovered there was a glitch in the printing/binding of some copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. Some books got through minus the last 48 pages. From what we can gather, it appears the copies were shipped to Borders in NJ, PA and VA, but some might be floating around elsewhere. If you do go to buy a copy, especially at a Borders, please check to make sure you have a complete book. It will be very obvious if you don’t. The books missing the pages have a last page that ends mid-sentence. If you come across any of these books, please alert the bookseller. There is a procedure in place for booksellers to deal with printing errors. Luckily, Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun has already gone into a second printing, and there are replacement copies ready to ship out to the bookstores.