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Monday, March 2, 2020


In today’s blog I thought I’d tell you a little bit about how I came to be a cog in author Lois Winston’s publishing career.

Somewhere back in 2003 Lois’s agent heard that an editor was looking for crafting mysteries. Well, she thought, who better to write a crafting mystery than a writer who’s also a designer in the crafts industry? (That would be Lois.) According to Lois, the conversation went something like this:

Agent: Lois, Editor A wants a crafting mystery. You should write one.

Lois: Okay.

Now keep in mind, not only had Lois never written a mystery, she hadn’t read one in years. At the time her agent was trying to sell the various romances and chick lit novels Lois had written. Undeterred, Lois set about researching cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries with crafting sleuths. Thus, I, Anastasia Pollack, was born. 

For those of you unfamiliar with me, I’m the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. Lois came up with a scenario where I went back to the office one night to finish up some work, and I discover the fashion editor’s body hot glued to my office chair. My glue gun is the murder weapon, making me the prime suspect.

Lois fleshed out the plot and added a host of zany characters. These included giving me a communist mother-in-law and a mother who claims to descend from Russian nobility and having them both live with me. She made me a single parent by killing off my husband before the book even opens, and just to make my life that much more difficult, she added a loan shark my husband owed money to. Then because we’re talking cozy, she added some pets, giving me Ralph the Shakespeare quoting parrot, giving her mother Catherine the Great White Persian Cat, and giving her mother-in-law Manifesto, AKA Mephisto the Devil Dog. 

Lois finished the book a few months later, titled it Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, and sent it off to her agent. After reading the manuscript, her agent called:

Agent: I think you’re funnier than Author X!

Lois (blushing): Aw shucks!

Agent sent manuscript off to Editor A. 

Editor A: I think the author is funnier than Author X!

Sounds like a sale in the making, right? Think again. Before Editor A could convince her editorial board to buy the book, she accepts a job with another publishing house where she’s not buying crafting mysteries. No one else at Editor A’s previous publishing house thinks Lois is as funny as Author X.

Lois decides to enter the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic contest. She becomes a finalist. Strange contest. No list of finalists is ever announced. She has no idea how many other manuscripts are competing for the Golden Ticket of a book contract, but she knows there’s at least one because he wins. 

Agent continues to send the book about me to other editors. Editors B, C, D, E, and F don’t think Lois is as funny as Author X. 

Meanwhile, agent sells two of Lois’s other books, a humorous women’s fiction that the publisher markets as a romance (much to the chagrin of both Lois and her agent because it’s a story about a mother and daughter) and a romantic suspense.

Agent sends the crafting mystery manuscript to Editor G. Editor G thinks Lois is as funny as Author X! She wants to buy the book! But in the middle of contract talks, the publishing company is sold. The contract is put on hold. Then the new company decides not to publish crafting mysteries.

Meanwhile Publisher H decides to stop publishing amateur sleuth mysteries, and Publisher I cuts back drastically on their amateur sleuth line. Agent sends manuscript to Editors J, K, and L. None of them think Lois is as funny as Author X. 

Agent sends manuscript to Editor M. Editor M loves book and offers 3-book deal! 

The road to publication for Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun took six years from the day Lois’s agent suggested she write a crafting mystery until the day she received an offer for the series. Seventeen years later Lois continues to torture me. Today there are eight books and three novellas in the series with a ninth one in the works. The publishing industry has gone through many changes since 2003 and will continue to change. One thing that probably won’t, though, are the dead bodies Lois keeps writing into my life. 

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun is on sale this month for only .99 cents.

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 1

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 at American Woman magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her desk 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 prime suspect. Can she find the killer and clear her name before he strikes again?

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Maggie Toussaint said...

I'm glad Lois and her agent stuck with submitting the series to different houses. A NO is only a NO until it is a YES!


So true, Maggie! Thanks for stopping by.

Kaye George said...

That long, twisty road sounds about right! Lots of us have traveled it and you have my complete empathy. It's not an easy thing, getting books published. Much harder than writing them.


It certainly is, Kaye. Thanks for stopping by.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Editor M is obviously a person of taste and intelligence. Author X is probably jealous.


LOL, Susan! Thanks!