Guest Blogger Lois Winston – Jersey and Mystery, Perfect Together

Jersey and Mystery, Perfect Together by Lois Winston sleuthing women 3-D.2

I’m a Jersey Girl, but for many years I denied my heritage. When asked where I was from, I would say New York. Technically, I hail from what’s called the New York Metro area, but I would conveniently omit the “Metro” part. Why? Because of all the put-downs and jokes New Jersey endures from the other forty-nine states. Ever hear anyone joke about Wyoming? Hawaii? Maryland? No, Only New Jersey has the distinction of being known as the armpit of the nation.

I left New Jersey when I was seventeen and didn’t return for nearly thirty years. That’s when I began to appreciate my home state. In less than an hour I can be in the mountains, down the shore, or in Manhattan, depending upon my mood. New Jersey has culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to many famous people and a few infamous ones.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned New Jersey is actually the legal owner of the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since New York usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey.

We’re also not at all like we’ve been portrayed on The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, or Jerseylicious. Well, at least not a good 95% of us.

Anyway, with my new appreciation for my home state, I decided to set many of my books here, including my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Not only do I use my state, but I also use actual New Jersey towns as my settings. When I read a book, I love to connect with the location. Part of the fun for me in reading the Stephanie Plum books is recognizing the places where Janet Evanovich sets her scenes. I’ve been to the Macy’s in Quaker Bridge Mall and spent many an hour stuck in traffic on Route 1.

For me, setting my stories in places I know is a no-brainer. Not only is it easier than making up a place or setting a book somewhere I’ve never been, it’s also a way of letting people know that there’s more to New Jersey than they’ve been led to believe.

Setting a book in New Jersey also gives me the opportunity to place my protagonist in diverse locations while still keeping her in or near her hometown. Many cozy mysteries take place in or around a small town in the Midwest, down South, or in New England. If the author wants to place her protagonist in a different environment, it involves the protagonist taking a trip. With a series set in New Jersey, I can have Anastasia shopping at Ikea in the morning, antiquing in Lambertville in the afternoon and at a casino in Atlantic City in the evening. At least, I could if she ever again has two nickels to rub together.

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun is the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. It’s also one of the books featured in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends’ funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn’t realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME’s On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

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Lois Winston
Lois Winston

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic
suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction 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 and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow her on Pinterest at, and onTwitter at Sign up for her newsletter at

22 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Lois Winston – Jersey and Mystery, Perfect Together”

  1. Thanks so much for inviting Lois to visit and sharing our mysteries set with your readers. We do appreciate it, Debra. And I love your background photo! Where was that taken? Thanks, Heather

      1. Hi Claudia, Thank you so much for featuring us! It makes us want to go out there and work hard at building the wo28&d#lr17;s best book promotion technologies for authors. Warm wishes of the holiday season, VikramTeam BookBuzzr

  2. I love New Jersey and not just because of Hoboken’s Sinatra!
    I’m from Revere, MA, a less famous armpit (where the bodies are dumped) that I couldn’t wait to leave. It took 3000 miles for me to appreciate it and I also set my first series there.

    Thanks for sharing your impressive career and for the shout out to Sleuthing Women!

    1. Camille, The Meadowlands are some of the original body dumping sites. And rumors prevailed for decades that Jimmy Hoffa was buried beneath the goalposts at Giants Stadium. However, when they tore down the old stadium, they found no trace of him.

  3. I wouldn’t say New Jersey is the arm pit. I’ve seen many a gorgeous spot. I won’t say where the armpit is that I’m acquainted with, but know they have feedlots, beef and chicken processing galore. The odor when waltzing into town is horrid, although Handsome says, “it smells like money.” Nonononono

    1. Please, Lois and I both claim that as home at some point in our lives. In fact, in talking when we first met, we realized we attended the same grade school. Wherever we were had to be gorgeous.

  4. What a beautiful background page, Debra. Just perfect to feature Lois Winston and our anthology! I loved your story of how you came to love your Jersey heritage, Lois. Well done!!!

  5. Love this post, Lois! And I can’t agree more – I used a real setting (Cape May, NJ) and a famous place (Angel of the Sea bed & breakfast) for my own book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES, and it’s really helped with recognition and sales. (My cover is even an artist’s rendition of the Angel of the Sea, since it’s a very famous building.) As long as you can get the permission and buy-in of the owners, it’s totally worth an author doing something like this. Some authors had advised me not too, but I’m so glad I didn’t take their advice!

  6. Lois , loved the post. I like using real locations too, but I do both. In my 1800s western I built a town from four buildings to a full blown thriving town, which was fun.

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