Here an Idea, There an Idea, Everywhere an Idea…

Oct 6, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lois Winston

One of the most common questions authors are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Because I started out my writing career penning romance and romantic suspense, I’d often find myself confronted with a variation of that question—most often at my husband’s annual company Christmas party after some bozo had hit the eggnog one time too many. To the chagrin of the long-suffering wife standing beside him, he’d ask me where I got the ideas for my sex scenes.

There’s no good way to handle that question, especially when the bozo happens to be your husband’s boss. I was lucky in that his wife would always come to my rescue.

Once I began writing mysteries, the question changed. People wanted to know where I got the ideas for my plots. I like that question. It gives me a chance to engage with someone who might walk away from the conversation wanting to read my books, especially when they learn that most of my plots and subplots are pulled from the headlines, both local and national.

I’m a firm believer in the “What if?” method of plotting. I read a news article or see a news segment on TV, and my brain starts spooling “what if?” In previous books I’ve been influenced by everything from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme to a murder trial that involved Munchhausen by Proxy. I have a 3-ring binder crammed with news articles, many of which might someday work their way into one of my books.

In the case of Stitch, Bake, Die!, my latest book and the tenth in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I was influenced by the ongoing opioid case involving Perdue Pharma. If you’ve kept up with the ins and outs involving the various lawsuits, you know that there’s potential for countless plots, subplots, and characters. My brain nearly exploded with ideas as I kept up with the case.

Of course, nothing in my plot or the characters I’ve created is directly based on any of the people involved or the actual events. This isn’t a case of “only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” I looked at the broad strokes of the case and pulled out elements that piqued my creative juices. Then I played the “what if?” game, creating a completely original plot and unique characters with no connection to the actual case. That’s the beauty of fiction.

Stitch, Bake, Die!
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10

With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the New Jersey chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the three-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.

The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to meet are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects.

Can she piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?

Crafting tips included.

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USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Lois Winston began her award-winning writing career with Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous fish-out-of-water novel about a small-town girl going off to the big city and the mother who had other ideas. That was followed by the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception. Then Lois’s writing segued unexpectedly into the world of humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, thanks to a conversation her agent had with an editor looking for craft-themed mysteries. In her day job, Lois was an award-winning craft and needlework designer, and although she’d never written a mystery—or had even thought about writing a mystery—her agent decided she was the perfect person to pen a series for this editor. Thus was born the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, which Kirkus Reviews dubbed “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series now includes ten novels and three novellas. Lois also writes the Empty Nest Mysteries, currently at two novels, and one book so far in her Mom Squad Capers series. To date Lois has published nineteen novels, five novellas, several short stories, one children’s chapter book, and one nonfiction book on writing inspired by her twelve years working as an associate at a literary agency. To learn more about Lois and her books, visit her at where you can sign up for her newsletter and follow her at various social media sites.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Lorie, thanks so much for featuring Stitch, Bake, Die! today.

  2. I suspect that question may have been made even without the eggnog.


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