Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Interview with Lois Winston

MM2: Lois would you tell us about the first book you wrote? Was it published?

The first book I ever wrote was a 50,000 word romance that spanned thirty-five years. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about writing a publishable novel! So I set about learning how to write. Ten years and many reams of paper later, I sold my first novel, Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous story about a mother, a daughter, and an acerbic imaginary friend. And that 50,000 word romance? It segued into a 90,000 word romantic suspense that took place over the course of a few months and became Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second novel I sold.

MM2: How many books have you penned and in what genres have you written?

Under my own name and my Emma Carlyle pen name I’ve written eleven novels, one novella, two novelettes, a collection of short stories, a non-fiction book on writing, and been part of four fiction and one non-fiction anthologies. Genres include mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit and women’s fiction.

MM2: Share what a typical work day is like.

Would this be a typical productive work day or a typical procrastinating work day? Either way, the alarm goes off at 7am. I flip on Good Morning America and watch the headline stories for about twenty minutes. Then I have breakfast and read the morning newspaper. After that I sit down at the computer to go through emails. I’m off to Curves for my thirty minutes of exercise by 8:30am. Come home, shower, dress, and run back out to do any errands that need doing. Once all of that is done, I settle in for a day of work. On days when I’m procrastinating, I check email too often and catch up on an episode of one TV show or another during lunch. On days when I’m not procrastinating, I often forget to each lunch. Sometimes I get on the treadmill for 30-45 minutes around 3pm because I get stiff from sitting to long. Oh, and there are numerous coffee breaks throughout the day, whether I’m procrastinating or not. A girl’s got to have her caffeine! And hopefully, at some point I’ve remembered to defrost something for dinner and get it in the oven before my husband arrives home from work. That’s not always the case. All I can say is, thank heaven for microwave ovens!

MM2: What is the best writing advice you have received?

Absolute best advice ever: Every scene MUST have a purpose, and there are only two purposes for scenes in a novel—to advance the plot or tell the reader something she needs to know AT THAT MOMENT about the character. If the scene does neither, get rid of it.

MM2: Do you attend conferences? If so which conferences do you attend?

I’ve attended both regional and national conferences over the years, sometimes as an attendee, sometimes as a speaker. Because I started out writing romance, I went to RWA for years. Now I mostly go to mystery conferences and conventions. Over the last few years I’ve been to Malice Domestic and Bouchercon, but I’ve taken a break from conferences this year except for the Create Something Magical conference sponsored by Liberty States Fiction Writers, a multi-genre writing organization which I helped found.

MM2: What future writing plans do you have for this year and next year?

I’m currently writing Patchwork Peril, the third Anastasia Pollack Mini-Mystery. These are novelette companions to my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. When I’m finished, I’ll be starting the fifth book in the series. I’m also about 75% finished with the first book in a new series I’m calling The Empty Nest Mysteries. I hope to finish all three projects by the end of the year, but I need to write more, procrastinate less, in order to accomplish that. Or find some way to clone myself. As for next year, I need to get through this one first.

MM2: When the stress of your job and deadlines make those writing days not so easily attainable how do you de-stress?

If it’s a beautiful day, I’ll go for a long walk. If not, or if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll veg out on the couch and binge-stream a TV series I never got to watch when it first aired. So much good TV, so little time!

MM2: What would you like to say or share with your readers?

I hope my readers know how much I appreciate them. Without readers where would we authors be?

MM2: Last but not least would you share one of your most inspiring author moments?

A few years ago I received an email from a reader who wrote a very personal note to me. She’d been going through an extremely difficult period in her life and was suffering severe depression. One day she started reading one of my books and laughed for the first time in months. She wanted me to know how I had helped her get through one of the lowest points in her life. That email will always remain one of the high points of my writing career. To know I’ve been able to touch someone in such a powerful way with my writing is priceless.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, and non-fiction 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.



  1. Great interview! I wish I could write humor as easily as you make it seem :)

  2. Thanks, Andrea. Writing humor is hard. Making it look easy is even harder. ;-D

  3. I love your mysteries. Do you work on more than one series at a time?

  4. Thanks so much, Linda! Right now I'm concentrating on Anastasia, but as I mentioned in the blog post, I have the first book in another series nearly complete. When I decided not to sign the contract offered for it, I set it aside. But I have plans to go back and finish it in the coming months. Hopefully, I won't have any trouble compartmentalizing the two series. I know authors who are juggling three series, and I wonder how they do it.

  5. Lois, I think you have the best book titles!

  6. Lois, I love your attitude, your titles and learning more about you. Terrific interview!
    Marja McGraw


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