Friday, March 27, 2015

A Short Post

It was snowing when I left Chicago last week and then it was back to summer like weather in L.A. The first pass pages of WOUND UP IN MURDER were waiting for me. The pages are laid out just like the book. My job is to proof read and make a few very minor changes.

This is the last time I will see WOUND UP IN MURDER before it comes out in July. The last time before it is out in the world.

I am working on the tenth Crochet Mystery. I had given it a tentative title, but I knew it might not stick. I heard my editor that another publisher has a book with the same title coming out this year. She asked me for a list of alternatives. There was a lot of going back and forth and they had a meeting. So the title for Crochet Mystery #10 is official. It’s SEAMS LIKE MURDER. We also decided on the title for the fourth Yarn Retreat Mystery. That’s the one I’m writing the synopsis for. At least now I can write GONE WITH THE WOOL on the top of the first page.

One of the concerns my editor and publisher have is trying to keep the titles of my two series separate. The style of the covers for each series is different to help keep them separate, too.

I always wondered how writers juggled working on different books at the same time, let alone different series. I think it has to do with having a clear picture of the different stories and characters. I am surprised that I am finding it easier than I expected.

I am out of words, so that is it for this week....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crafting Saves the World!

Welcome today's guest author, Lois Winston to Killer Hobbies today! How do you help foster your kids' creativity?

March is National Craft Month. I believe that people are born creative. Just watch any baby or toddler exploring his surroundings, and you’ll see what I mean. Unfortunately, most adults start squelching that creativity (Don’t touch!) in their children early on. Eventually that innate creativity is so suppressed that it’s nearly impossible to retrieve. So why are we then surprised when our kids prefer to sit around for hours, staring at a computer monitor or TV screen?

Solving problems and resolving conflicts require creative thinking. Creativity needs to be nurtured in order that today’s children grow up to become tomorrow’s leaders, but too many outside forces are at work, influencing our children to “color within the lines.” Now think about this: people who color within the lines never learn to think outside the box. It’s that outside the box thinking that finds solutions to the world’s problems.

One of the ways we can help our children continue to grow their creativity is to encourage them to craft, beginning at a very early age. The first step is to have creative materials around the house for children to use. Keep ample supplies of paint, glue, markers, chenille stems, craft sticks, pompoms, and other basic craft materials handy for those “I’m bored; there’s nothing to do” days.

Instead of buying another video game for that next birthday party or special occasion, buy craft kits. Keep a few kits on hand for rainy days, for when your children’s friends spend the night, or just for an impromptu surprise. Encourage children to make gifts for family members’ birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. instead of buying gifts.

Remember that your children’s efforts don’t have to be perfect. Always praise the attempt and encourage children to continue creating. The act of crafting develops small motor skills and hand/eye coordination. Creativity helps grow our brains. By encouraging your children to craft, you’re giving them an incredible foundation for future endeavors.

All it takes for children to learn to love crafting is an environment in which they can satisfy their creative nature. Nurture that inborn talent, and you’ll help your children grow into creative adults that just might wind up solving many of our planet’s problems.


I write two mystery series, the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and the Empty Nest Mysteries. In both series my amateur sleuths are artists/crafters, but they must also use the creative sides of their brains not only to solve murders but to find ways out their own personal predicaments.

In Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack learns that her recently deceased husband was a closet gambler, and he’s left his family deeply in debt. Anastasia needs to think outside the box to keep herself and her kids from winding up living in a cardboard box on the street. Each of the books in the series (four novels and three mini-mysteries to date) finds her moonlighting at other jobs to help pay down her debt.

In Definitely Dead, the first book in my Empty Nest Mystery series, would-be novelist Gracie Elliott’s job as a fabric designer is outsourced overseas. When she can’t find another position in her field, her outside-the-box thinking results in her establishing a business that will allow her the flexibility to pen her future (hopefully!) bestsellers while also earning the income she needs to keep her kids in college. Future books in the series will find Gracie continuing to put her creativity to work in various entrepreneurial enterprises.
 
 
 

Bio:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, 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. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Tsu at www.tsu.co/loiswinston, on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth, and onTwitter @anasleuth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writing, Recipes and More

Yes, this week I've actually been writing.  And editing--two books, in fact, with my two different current publishers.  And preparing for a writing conference this coming weekend: California Dreamin', the conference hosted by all four Southern California Romance Writers of America chapters.  I belong to two of those chapters and am looking forward to a fun event--even though it'll take me away from my writing again. 

While there, I'll be on a panel discussing writing one or more series.  That's definitely what I do these days.  I'll also participate in the Lady Jane's Salon readings on Saturday night.  Plus, I'll be at the book signing on Sunday afternoon.  All in all, it'll be busy but enjoyable. 

Also this week, I've requested dog treat recipes from my street team, and I'll pick one or two to include in my Barkery & Biscuits Mystery #2.  However, I've been remiss with my street team and not as active with them as I probably should be, so I'm not sure how many people are active with the group, too.  If you've any interest in joining, or any suggestions about what I should be doing, let me know.  And if you happen to have a dog treat recipe you'd like to share, please let me know that, too.  I'll be glad to thank those whose recipes I choose profusely in my next Barkery mystery! 

Right now, my mind is telling me to go do an online crossword puzzle to relax, then dive into the next chapter of the draft I'm working on.  So off I go... 

Have a fun week!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I love England, and English Cozies

It's wonderful to be back with my Killer Hobbies blog sisters today! I'm here to let you know about my latest cozy the Garden of Death: A Natural Remedies Mystery, to announce a free giveaway! and to chat about cozies and all things English. So make a cup of tea and enjoy! Chrystle 
I love the U.K. and have had a passion for all things English for as long as I can remember. This of course, includes cozy mysteries by authors like Agatha Christie, Caroline Graham (Midsomer Murders) and M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin and Hamish McBeth mysteries) that feature quaint country villages , dappled country lanes, inviting stores on the high street, and of course, lovely rose covered cottages; inside, a fire in the hearth and a tea pot on the table.
My latest favorites are mysteries by James Runcie, the first of which, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death has recently been made into the new Masterpiece Mystery series Grantchester. Sidney is not your average country vicar. He smokes and drinks, (sometimes to excess), and falls in love. The setting though, is typical small town England, with charming houses and churches, and oddball characters. If you haven’t read these books which are very popular in the U.K. or seen the series, it’s time you checked it out.
In Grantchester like other English cozies, this picture perfect setting is in stark contrast to the murderous crimes committed there that shatter the peace and serenity. One minute the village is hosting a fete, and the next a body shows up in the dunk tank. The story is how each detective or amateur sleuth solves the crime. But we’re never really worried because we know the detective, whether it’s Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tom Barnaby or Sidney Chambers will figure out the puzzle, catch the killer and put things back in their proper place.
When it came to creating my own cozy universe, I used English mysteries as my inspiration. My natural remedies mysteries are also set in an idyllic village. It’s called Greenport, it’s located on the East End of Long Island in NY and it’s my hometown. Greenport is a popular tourist destination with upscale eateries and boutiques, sandwiched between Mom and Pop hardware stores, diners and retro stores. Forbes magazine has even named Greenport one of the prettiest villages in the U.S.
As for my cozy protagonist, the person who rights the wrong, I chose a holistic doctor named Willow McQuade, who takes over a health food store – Nature’s Way Market & Café – after her Aunt Claire (who once lived in London) meets an untimely end. The store is located in a lovely three story yellow Victorian house (more English influence!) with a water view. Inside, it’s cozy too, with a homey feel, yummy cooking smells and the scent of essential oils, herbs and flower essences and post cards from around the world on view.  To complete my cozy universe, I gave Willow, a hunky ex-cop love interest named Jackson Spade, 3 adorable rescue dogs and two rescued cats, loyal friends and workers and the spirit of her Aunt Claire to guide her.
In Garden of Death, my latest natural remedies mystery cozy, I’ve created a new medicinal plant garden right next to Nature’s Way. This garden was inspired by a garden I visited in 2008 in – you guessed it – London. It’s the Chelsea Physic Garden, and it's a magical place! 
It was established in 1673, as the Apothecaries’ Garden, to train apprentices in identifying plants. Today, the garden plays a major role in educating the public about natural medicine, and how plants can be used for a variety of therapeutic purposes. The variety of plants is astounding! You can learn more about it here: http://chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/
Of course in my book, the Garden of Death, you’ll find more than medicinal plants, you may even find a body or two!
However, writing the natural remedies mysteries does give me a wonderful chance to share what I’ve learned about natural cures with readers.  In the Garden of Death, for example, at the beginning of each chapter I focus on a particular plant like aloe or lavender, and how you can use it to feel better and be healthier.
I’ve crossed the pond twice to visit England and hope, one day, to go again, but in the meantime, books by English authors and TV mysteries set in England give me my U.K. fix. Whether I am writing my cozies, or reading or watching English ones, I know I’ll experience the same comfortable, homey, and safe feeling, knowing that no matter what happens, all will be well in the end.
Here's the scoop about the Garden of Death: A Natural Remedies Mystery! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment! 



PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF?

Suspicion is unearthed when an outspoken surgeon turns up dead in Willow McQuade’s medicinal herb garden.

A bitter battle has sprouted in the village of Greenport on the eve of the annual maritime festival: Willow McQuade has transformed a vacant lot alongside Nature’s Way Market & Café into a beautiful garden of healing plants—as much a tribute to her late aunt Claire, the shop’s beloved founder, as an enlightening educational center. The town board awarded Willow the plot fair and square, but that’s not how some folks see it—including Dr. Charles White, who invested in plans to develop a high-end hotel on the property. When the belligerent surgeon publicly threatens Willow during the festival, Willow’s boyfriend, Jackson Spade, ratchets up the hostile confrontation to defend the woman he loves, sowing seeds of guilt that take root by the time Dr. White’s corpse turns up amongst Willow’s chamomile and ashwaganda plants. To prove Jackson’s innocence, she must dig deep to bring a killer to light.

CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is the author of the previous Natural Remedies mysteries, Scent to Kill, and Death Drops, as well as six nonfiction books on natural healing and herbal remedies. Also a freelance journalist specializing in alternative health topics, her work has appeared in Natural Health, Spirituality & Health, Mother Earth Living, Green Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Prevention, Vegetarian Times, and Remedy. She lives in Greenport, New York with her 3 dachshunds and 2 cats, three of which are rescues. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com, or follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.