#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON ON HOW EAVESDROPPING GAVE BIRTH TO A COZY AMATEUR SLEUTH
(With apologies to Robert Frost!)
By Lois Winston
When I was in college, I taught myself embroidery and needlepoint. Because I was majoring in graphic design and illustration, I designed my own projects rather than buying kits, which were also too expensive a luxury for someone putting herself through school on scholarships, student loans, and various part-time jobs. I even incorporated needlework into my junior year end-of-term project in my photography class.
Fast-forward a few years and I’m now a new mother and a freelance graphic designer. One day I was in a needlework shop and overheard a conversation between the shop owner and a customer. The customer mentioned having sold some designs to a needlework company located a few miles from where I lived. When I got home, I called the company and set up an appointment to show my designs. A week later I walked out of that initial meeting with an assignment to design a line of counted cross stitch kits. (I went home and quickly taught myself how to do counted cross stitch!)
That assignment led to many more for that company and other kit manufacturers, as well as designing for various craft and needlework magazines, women’s magazines, and book publishers. Over the years I’ve worked as a craft book editor, a design coordinator, and the head designer for several needlework and craft companies. I also traveled the country working trade and consumer shows.
Fast-forward again, this time a few decades. I’m still designing in the craft industry, but I’ve also caught the writing bug and penned several romances and romantic suspense novels. One day my agent called to tell me she’d spoken to an editor who’s looking for a crafting mystery series. Given my background, my agent thought I’d be the perfect person to write one.
Crafting mysteries? At the time I had no idea there was such a thing. So I set about doing a bit of research. I discovered that most crafting mysteries featured an amateur sleuth who either owned a specialty craft shop or was a crafter of one specific craft, such as candle-making, pottery, knitting, doll-making, etc. I decided to do something a bit different. Tapping into my own background as a crafts editor, I created a sleuth who works as the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. That way I could feature different crafts in each book in the series. Thus was born the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.
I’m currently working on the eleventh full-length book in the series. There are also three connecting novellas. At this point Anastasia and I are pretty much joined at the hip. And it all began thanks to two conversations, one about needlecrafts and one about writing.
Stitch, Bake, Die!
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10
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 New Jersey 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.
The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to meet are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects.
Can she piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?
Crafting tips included.