Guest Post by Lois Winston, Author of Scrapbook of Murder
I am pleased to welcome author, Lois Winston to the Moccasin Cove Mysteries blog. Lois is a fellow mystery writer and craft enthusiast who graciously allowed me to post a piece by my main character on her blog last summer. With the release of the sixth book, Scrapbook of Murder, in her fun mystery series, I thought I'd return the favor. Enjoy her post--Liz.
Forsaking Romance For Murder
By Lois Winston
Once upon a time I wrote books that ended with an HEA (that’s romance shorthand for happily ever after), where the hero and heroine always wound up either married or at least planning to wed by the end of the book. These days you’ll find my laptop planted firmly in the mystery world, thanks to a reluctant amateur sleuth named Anastasia Pollack.
Anastasia took over my life and my writing about ten years ago, and since then, I haven’t written another romance. You see, Anastasia is a very demanding protagonist. Since the first Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery debuted in 2011, I’ve written five other books in the series and three connecting novelettes.
When I made the move from romance to mystery, I found I had to switch up my writing style. Romance readers and mystery readers have different expectations when it comes to their preferred genres. In a romance, the story centers round the hero and heroine, but mysteries don’t have heroes and heroines. They have protagonists, whether amateur or professional sleuths, and those protagonists may or may not have a love interest.
Even if there is a love interest, the love story plays second or third fiddle to the mystery. Sometimes the love interest is mostly off-camera, only referred to occasionally by the protagonist. A mystery is first and foremost all about the sleuth finding out whodunit.
Another difference between romances and mysteries is that mysteries are plot driven stories; romances are character driven. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t fully developed in mysteries. No one wants to read about cardboard characters, no matter what genre. It means that the focus of the story is the plot, not the relationship between the characters. And boy is there plot in Anastasia’s world! But there’s also a host of very unique characters.
When Anastasia’s husband permanently cashed in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life crapped out. Suddenly, she found herself juggling two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, a communist mother-in-law, and her dead husband’s loan shark. Add to that a mother who claims she descends from Russian royalty; Mephisto, the French bulldog from Hades; Catherine the Great Persian cat; and Ralph, the Shakespeare-quoting parrot. Toss them all into one small suburban ranch house, and you’ve got chaos galore. And that’s all before Anastasia suddenly finds herself tripping over dead bodies!
Did I mention I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries?
I haven’t completely forsaken my romance roots, though. There is this guy who enters Anastasia’s life. His name is Zachary Barnes, and he looks like someone dumped the genetic components of Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, and Antonio Banderas into a pan and baked up the epitome of male perfection. Hey, with everything I dumped on her, I had to give Anastasia something to pick up her spirits, didn’t I?
Meanwhile, if you like characters “as deadpan droll as Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon” (Publishers Weekly) or ones that are a “more mature answer to Stephanie Plum” (Kirkus Reviews), I hope you’ll consider spending some time with Anastasia.
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6
Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.
When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.
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 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.
Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth
Newsletter sign-up: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z1z1u5
Thanks for hosting me today, Liz!ReplyDelete
So glad to have you, Lois. Since our MCs share the same first name it was a fun connection. Plus I enjoy reading your books! Be Well!ReplyDelete
I've always liked Zach, but adding Antonio Banderas to the descriptive mix, makes Zach even more appealing. Congratulations on your new release and best of luck to you and Anastasia.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Kathleen!ReplyDelete
Good mornin', Liz and Lois :) I enjoyed the read :) And Liz, in reading your bio, I felt a sense of relief, because I'm currently doing a bit of cha-cha with my writing, too. But I find I love having a more plot driven story, because sometimes the main character steps forward, usually along with some gal-pals, and they steal the scenes. At this point the guy is still in there, but lord, writing these women is fun :) I'm darting into Amazon and having a look at your wonderful new treat. Your Kirkus review is fantastic! Kudos, gal! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Loretta! You didn't describe your book's plot, but I'm wondering if maybe you're trying to write a romance when your story is really women's fiction. Maybe you should ditch the guy. ;-)ReplyDelete
I think you're correct. The first two in the Southern Breezes series are already out there, but even though I'm reaching a satisfying result with the romance, it really is more women's fiction...because of the gals :)Delete
Congratulations on your release, Lois. I sure would like to see that handsome dump pan. wowReplyDelete
LOL, Vicki! You and me, both!Delete
I write romantic suspense and am trying to create a professional sleuth mystery with that little bit of love interest. How did you go about learning where to put in red herrings and clues. Since I started my writing life as a "pathfinder" (my version of pantser), I have yet to learn how to preplot. Any suggestions for us wannabes?ReplyDelete
Hi CJ! I'm a total pantser. So I guess I'm the wrong person to ask about this. I come up with an idea, then write a short paragraph that's similar to back cover copy. I know beforehand who the victim is, how he was killed, and who the murderer is. That's it. The writing is very organic for me. I sprinkle in clues and red herrings as I go along. Sometimes as I'm writing, I decide that a different character should be the murderer, and I change direction. I pretty much give my characters free rein to tell their story. I wish I could be more specific, but I don't have any sort of formula I follow.ReplyDelete
Hi Lois! Loved reading your post. I recently made the transition from contemporary romance writer to cozy mystery writer. It's been a fun challenge delving into a new genre and it's so much fun figuring out how the my gad guys end up getting caught. :-)ReplyDelete
Hi Jim! I'm not sure whether it's switching over to the cozy mystery genre or adding humor to my stories, (maybe a combination of both) but writing seems more fun with my characters using humor to get through the day instead of all the angst from the dark places I was taking them to.ReplyDelete
Excellent post! Congrats on your new release and best of luck with sales. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for posting. In my mystery WIP, my main character is transitioning from writing romances to mysteries. Interesting process.ReplyDelete
Maggie, have you been spying on me? I'm going to have to check out your book once it's published.ReplyDelete