Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turning Real Life Experiences Into Fiction

by Lois Winston

Writers are often advised to “write what you know.” Anastasia Pollack, the reluctant amateur sleuth of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, is the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. I’ve been a crafts editor for a craft book publisher and also freelanced as a designer for various women’s magazines. However, I was never a magazine editor. Still, I know enough about the world of magazine publishing that I feel I’ve done credible justice to my character’s profession.

When I was mulling over plot ideas for the fourth book in the series, I chose a familiar setting. At one point in my career, I worked several craft industry trade and consumer shows each year. Once at a trade show in Las Vegas our shipping case of models disappeared after being received at the loading dock. Trade shows are extremely costly, and the manufacturer I was working for lost thousands of dollars in business because she had no product to display. Then, at the end of the five-day show, when our empty cases were returned to us to pack up our bare booth, the shipping case of models magically appeared. Of course the convention center refused to take responsibility for the snafu.

This old memory got me thinking. What if the shipping case had been returned, not filled with craft models, but with a dead body? And thus was born the plot for Decoupage Can Be Deadly.

I wasn’t too far into the writing process when I learned about the hot new beauty crafting trend of Vajazzling. Of course, my curiosity was instantly piqued. I did a Google search and came across a video on the art of Vajazzling
This is definitely one craft Anastasia won’t be doing any time soon. But it fit perfectly into the plot I was developing for the book. So I ran with it.

If you’d like to see how I incorporated both a consumer show at a convention center and the art of Vajazzling into Decoupage Can Be Deadly, you can read the first chapter here

Decoupage Can Be Deadly
Anastasia and her fellow American Woman editors are steaming mad when minutes before the opening of a consumer show, they discover half their booth usurped by Bling!, their publisher’s newest magazine. CEO Alfred Gruenwald is sporting new arm candy—rapper-turned-entrepreneur and Bling! executive editor, the first-name-only Philomena. During the consumer show, Gruenwald’s wife serves Philomena with an alienation of affection lawsuit, but Philomena doesn’t live long enough to make an appearance in court. She’s found dead days later, stuffed in the shipping case that held Anastasia’s decoupage crafts. When Gruenwald makes cash-strapped Anastasia an offer she can’t refuse, she wonders, does he really want to find Philomena’s killer or is he harboring a hidden agenda?

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Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Visit Lois at, visit Emma, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Twitter @anasleuth.


Kathleen Kaska said...

Enjoyed your post today, Lois. I believe in write what you know, but also in write what you encounter and discover. It makes plotting so much more fun.

Lois Winston said...

Yes, it does, Kathleen. I had a ball writing this book. Thanks for stopping by

Unknown said...

Wow, what a fantastic cover, Lois. This very unusual story will be a big hit for you. I can 'feel' the fun you had writing this. Wishing you lots of success!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Gemma!

Janice Seagraves said...

Good luck with your book.


Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Janice!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Well, I think I've read and seen everything in a blog now, Lois! Interesting! All I know is I've read Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and it's a great read! Best of luck with it :)

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Donnell! Is that a challenge for me to come up with something wilder for the next book? :-)

Beth Groundwater said...

All I can say about vajazzling is eww, ick!

Lois Winston said...

Yeah, that was my reaction, too, Beth. But as one of my characters in the book points out, the full Brazilian wax job that precedes the vajazzle is far ickier.