featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries are set in Westfield, a real town in New Jersey, and various other locations within the state as well as New York City. I prefer using actual places in my books rather than making up towns, especially when writing a series. I find it easier to keep track of where I’ve set scenes and what the area looks like if I’m describing places I know. I also discovered early on that, like me, many readers enjoy reading about locations they know because the setting comes alive more when they’ve actually been to it.

A few miles and a couple of towns from Westfield is the Mall at Short Hills, known to locals as simply the Short Hills Mall. This is one of the most upscale malls in the country. Anchor department stores include Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Ave., although there’s also Macy’s for those of us on budgets. In addition, just about every name designer has a boutique shop at the mall—Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Hermès, and Jimmy Choo, to name just a few.
Several of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries have scenes set in the mall. In AssaultWith a Deadly Glue Gun Anastasia, who doesn’t have a spare nickel to her name, is forced into purchasing a four hundred dollar tote at the Burberry store. 

In Death by Killer Mop Doll she drives her mother to the mall to have her engagement ring appraised at Tiffany & Co. While Mama is in the store, Anastasia treats herself to a latte at the Nordstrom Café across from the jewelry store.
As a reader, do you prefer to read about real or imaginary settings? Do you like to form images in your mind or read about places you know and may have visited at one time?

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
When Anastasia Pollack's husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. She's left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband's secret gambling addiction, and the loan shark who's demanding fifty thousand dollars.
Anastasia's job as crafts editor for a magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her office chair. The victim, fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg, collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos on her ruthless climb to editor-in-chief. But when evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the number one suspect.

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Death by Killer Mop Doll
Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.

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Or buy both books together in the new boxed set.


Kathye Quick said...

Ah -the Short Hills Mall. I meet my DIL there for lunch often. Great idea to introduce your readers to the setting. I may have to do that in a blog. Remember - imitation is the highest form of flattery. LOL

Lois Winston said...

LOL! Marvin Gaye's kids would beg to differ, Kathye, and considering the award they just won against Robin Thicke and Ferrell....but go right ahead. I'll take it as a compliment. The next time we meet, it will be at the LSFW conference and not in court. ;-)

Vamp Writer said...

I'm not sure I understand the reference to a law court, but I always ask permission to take any photograph that I might use, best to get it in writing of course. The camera looks like it takes very clear pictures. Best of luck with your novels!

Lois Winston said...

Hi Vamp Writer, I was commenting on Kathye's comment and referring to the recent court case involving the song "Blurred Lines."

Lois Winston said...

One other thing, just to clarify, Vamp Writer, I took the photos at the mall. They weren't someone else's photos that I used.

Charmaine Gordon said...

What fun using a real shopping mall. I made up a small town mall in my last series. Next time I'll go for a big time mall. What's one in NYC?
I can't wait to read your book I ordered, coming soon from Amazon.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Charmaine! Please let me know how you like Anastasia and the gang.

As for malls in NYC, there aren't many. Most mall-type shopping in NYC is done in individual stores along 5th Ave. and Madison Ave. as well as throughout the city. There's a small mall near Penn Station, and I believe there are malls in the outer boroughs. There might also be one up in Harlem now, but I'm not sure.

Angela Adams said...

I use a combination of real and not-so-real in my stories. In Magic Moment, we all know there is a Philadelphia, and for the shore town of Magic Lake, I pictured Cape May, New Jersey where my family vacations. By the way, Lois, your photos in this post are great.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Angela! I used the camera in my phone. It's so much better than my old digital camera.