Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
(An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
by Lois Winston
About Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide
Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
8th in Series
Print Length: 212 pages
Digital ASIN: B07VG2QZXV
Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.
In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?
Christmas craft projects included.
I am excited to have Lois visit today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have a degree in graphic design and illustration from back in the pre-computer dinosaur era and worked for decades as a designer and editor in the consumer crafts industry. Now I’m a bestselling and award-winning author of 17 adult novels, 1 middle-grade novel, 5 novellas, one nonfiction book, and several short stories. I began my writing career penning romances and romantic suspense before switching over to cozy mysteries. I now write two cozy series—The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring reluctant amateur sleuth and crafts editor Anastasia Pollack, and The Empty Nest Mysteries, which is my homage to the classic Thin Man movies but with a modern twist.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
- I can play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in two degrees. Not that I’ve ever met Kevin Bacon, but his father and I attended the same church when I lived in Philadelphia.
- I wanted to be an astronaut, but NASA isn’t interested in vertically challenged astronauts who suffer from motion sickness.
- I’m one of a select few people in the world (or so it seems) who hate peanut butter. I can’t even stomach the smell of the stuff. I used to hold my breath when I made PB&J sandwiches for my kids.
Fun with Dick and Jane. Does that show my age?
What are you reading now?
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
What books have most inspired you?
This is one of those questions I find really hard to answer because there are so many ways to be inspired by books. I love books that make me laugh, and I love books that pull on my heartstrings. There are some books that have stayed with me even though I read them years ago because the plots and characters were so fabulous and the writing so gripping. Have they inspired my own writing? I’m sure everything I’ve ever read has inspired me in one way or another. It’s very hard for a writer not to be inspired by everything she reads, sees, and experiences.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?
Long story short—one day an editor told my agent she was looking for a cozy series featuring crafts. Knowing my background in the crafts industry, my agent suggested I try writing one. It turned out to be love at first tap of the computer keys. I never went back to writing romance.
I have a dedicated office for my writing. There’s a large, L-shaped desk, lots of bookcases, and two large windows.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I’m a news junkie. Just about all of my plots have been inspired by what I’ve read in the newspaper or seen on the local or national news. For instance, the plot of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide was inspired by a murder that took place last year about twenty miles from where I live.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Some writers plot out every scene of every chapter before they ever begin writing the first sentence. If I did that, I’d find writing the actual book too much like drudge work because I’d already know everything that was going to happen. The most I’ll ever do in the way of plotting is write a couple of paragraphs of a general idea for the story. So sometimes I wind up writing myself into a corner, and it takes a few days of mulling things over in my head and brainstorming with my critique partner before I can figure out a way to move forward. It’s frustrating when it happens, but it always works out in the end.
A book has to hook me from the very beginning with interesting characters and well-written prose. If it doesn’t, I toss it aside and move on to the next book. Life is too short to spend any time with mediocre writing and boring characters.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
I think I subconsciously instilled much of my personality into Anastasia. We’ve also had similar careers and communist mothers-in-law.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
When I was asked to write a crafting cozy, I did a lot of research into the sub-genre and found they all centered round a crafter who worked in one specific craft or who owned a specific type of craft shop. I wanted to do something different rather than compete with what was already out there. Writing about a protagonist who works as the crafts editor of a women’s magazine enables me to feature different crafts in each book.
In addition, most cozies take place in small towns. Mine takes place in a suburb of New York City.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m already thinking about the next book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series and am mulling over a few different plot ideas.
Thank you Lois for dropping by today!
More About Lois Winston
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.
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