Stitch, Bake, Die! (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
by Lois Winston
I am excited to welcome Lois Winston back to Escape with Dollycas today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
After graduating art school, I worked as a layout artist for John Wanamaker, the first U.S. department store (sadly no longer in existence). After my first son was born, I began freelancing, designing for craft and needlework magazines, craft book publishers, and craft kit manufacturers. Eventually, the writing bug bit me. My first published novel, Talk Gertie to Me, debuted in 2006, followed by Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception.
One day my agent spoke with an editor who was looking for a crafting-themed cozy mystery series. Knowing my background, my agent decided I’d be the perfect person to write such a series. That was the beginning of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. The first book, Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, came out in 2011. Stitch, Bake, Die!, is the tenth book in the series. There are also three companion novellas.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This really depends on the theme of the book. Having worked in the consumer crafts industry for decades, I relied on many of my own experiences to creating Anastasia. As a women’s magazine crafts editor, she and I have had similar work experiences—minus the dead bodies, of course!
I also didn’t have to go far when creating Anastasia’s communist mother-in-law as I, too, had a communist mother-in-law. Her personality inspired Anastasia’s mother-in-law Lucille.
When my plots involve legal, medical, or law enforcement issues, I have a network of contacts I consult to make sure my ideas are feasible and my facts are correct. However, stories I heard growing up provide fodder for the Mafia characters in my books. My grandfather was captain of the largest county police force in New Jersey and responsible for putting away quite a few well-known gangsters back in his day. I also went to school with the sons and daughters of various “families.”
Beyond all that, I’m a news junkie and many real-life crimes have inspired quite a few plots and subplots in my books.
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
I have in the past, especially when life has hit me with a whammy. I’ve found that sometimes it’s okay to give yourself permission not to write. We all need a break at times. Forcing yourself to write at these times isn’t always the best approach, but every writer is different. You need to learn what works best for you in these situations.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Write! Too many people talk about “someday” writing a book, but “someday” always seems off in the future. I’ve also known writers who spent years polishing the first three chapters of a book to submit to agents and editors but either never finished the book or didn’t devote the same care to the remainder of the manuscript. If you really want to get published, you need to work toward that goal.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
Up until a few months ago, when my husband and I relocated to Tennessee, I’d go to a Broadway show or NYC museum. The theater and museums were my happy places. But it’s a long commute from Nashville to Manhattan. Once this pandemic is finally gone from our lives, I’m going to have to find something to take their place.
How has the COVID pandemic affected you and you’re writing.
The pandemic has curtailed most of my activities. Although vaccinated, I’m still leery of being around large groups of people. We moved to Tennessee to be closer to family. I have grandchildren here who are too young to be vaccinated, and I don’t want to inadvertently expose them to the virus because I’ve somehow been infected and am asymptomatic. So I stay in my writing cave as much as possible.
One thing I’ve decided to do, though, is not address the pandemic in my books. People read cozies to escape the real world. I’ll leave pandemic fiction to the dystopian, thriller, suspense, and literary authors.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
At this point I’d just like to be able to travel safely anywhere. First up would be a trip to California to visit my older son and his family. We haven’t been out to see them in nearly three years.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I’m already percolating the next Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. I’ve dropped a few breadcrumbs in Stitch, Bake, Die! Readers should look for the eleventh book in the series a year from now.
Thank you Lois for visiting today!
About Stitch, Bake, Die
Stitch, Bake, Die! (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
10th in Series
Setting – New Jersey
Independently Published (October 4, 2021)
Print length : 218 pages
ASIN : B09D5VZFRX
With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.
Marlene Beckwith, wife of the multi-millionaire pharmaceutical magnate and country club owner, is both the chapter president and conference chairperson. The only thing greater than her ego is her sense of entitlement. She hates to lose at anything and fully expects to win both the needlework and baking competitions.
When Anastasia and Cloris arrive at the conference, they discover cash bribes in their registration packets. The Society members, few of whom are fans of Marlene, stick up for the accused and instead suggest that Marlene orchestrated the bribes to eliminate her stiffest competition.
The next morning when Marlene is found dead, Anastasia questions whether she really died peacefully in her sleep. After Marlene’s husband immediately has her cremated, Anastasia once again finds herself back in reluctant amateur sleuth mode.
With the help of Cloris, Marlene’s personal assistant Rhetta, and a laptop someone will stop at nothing to find, Anastasia soon unravels evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and too many possible suspects. And that’s before she not only stumbles over the body of yet another member of the Stitch and Bake Society but also finds Rhetta unconscious.
Can Anastasia piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?
Crafting tips included.
More About Lois Winston
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.
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