CHANGES by Lois Winston

Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

I totally disagree. My life has been a series of changes, some precipitated by me, some thrust upon me. Circumstances change, situations change, we change to adapt to these changes. The only thing that is certain in our lives is uncertainty. As Old Blue Eyes said, you can be riding high in April, shot down in May. (And when was the last time you read a blog post that mentioned both Leo Tolstoy and Frank Sinatra?)

My path to publication was anything but instantaneous. It took me a decade –  almost to the day that I first sat down to write – to sell my first novel, Talk Gertie To Me, a humorous take on the relationship between a mother and daughter. Along the way I learned quite a bit about both writing and the world of publishing, so much so that shortly after I sold Talk Gertie To Me, the agency that reps me invited me to join them as an associate. Within the span of a few months I went from being an unpublished writer to a published author and a literary agent. Huge changes.

As any published author will tell you, selling a book is no guarantee of sales of future books. After the publication of my first book and my option book, the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, I made the decision not to publish any more books with that publisher. This was one of those take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do changes.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry was also changing at this time, and publishers were hot for books in genres other than the ones I wrote. “Hot” being the operative word here as erotica and erotic romance were becoming all the rage.

At the suggestion of my agent, I began to write a crafting mystery. Another change for me. Although I had spent most of my adult life as a designer in the consumer crafts industry, I’d never considered writing a crafting mystery. Actually, I’d never considered writing any mystery. But I gave it a shot, and the result was Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in what was to become my critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. I also discovered that mystery was where I belonged as a writer.

But this wasn’t the end of the changes, either for me or the publishing industry. Many authors were beginning to have success with independent publishing, both with their backlists and never-before-published works. Once upon a time the thought of self-publishing would never have occurred to me. However, I was sitting on two out-of-print backlist books and several manuscripts that had received rejections, not due to the writing but for being the wrong manuscripts at the wrong time. So a few years ago I took the indie plunge and self-published those books.

The publishing world continued to change, unfortunately not for the better. Mergers led to authors not being offered new contracts. Those who were lucky enough to be offered new contracts were shocked by some of the terms publishers were insisting on in those contracts. At the time I had been offered a second contract for more books in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and a contract for a second series. But I wasn’t happy with some of the terms of the new contracts. My gut was sending me warning signals. I took a deep breath and did what I knew I needed to do—I walked.

It wasn’t an easy decision to go it alone. I took a leap of faith and hoped for the best. However, sometimes we just need to go with our gut. Since making the decision to walk away from traditional publishing, there are days when I’m happy with my decision and days when I’ve second-guessed myself. In the end though, the happy days have far outweighed the unhappy ones. After all, t’s extremely empowering and liberating to have some sense of control over one’s own destiny.

Literally Dead is the second book in my Empty Nest Mystery series. Definitely Dead was the first book in the series. This is the series for which I had been offered a contract but decided against signing. It’s also my homage to the classic Thin Man movies but with a modern day spin.

Literally Dead
An Empty Nest Mystery, Book 2

After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring husband Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

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About the Author

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,

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Angela Adams said…
Interesting post...thanks for sharing!
Lois Winston said…
Thanks for stopping by, Angela!
Jenny Milchman said…
So glad you've found your/a new way, Lois. People love your work--and it's great to learn of the new series.
Lois Winston said…
Thanks so much, Jenny. Few people outside of publishing realize what a difficult challenge we authors have and how so much of whether we succeed or not is totally out of our control.
Nancy LiPetri said…
Thanks for sharing your journey!
Great post, Lois, always glad to have you as a visitor.
June Shaw said…
Lois, it took a huge leap of faith for you to turn down the publisher and go out on your own. I believe you've done a great job of building your career with your excellent books.
It took me ten years too of steady writing before I won my first contract in a contest. It seems like we have to put the time in before we are ready.

Your blurb looks great. Good luck with the book. I wish you many sales.
Lois Winston said…
Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

Marilyn, you're always such a gracious host. Thanks for inviting me.

Thanks so much, June. I really appreciate it.

Thanks, Janice. It would have been nice not to have to wait ten years, but I learned a lot during that period, and I know it made me a better writer.
Anonymous said…
Hey Lois! I've always admired your decision. I've decided to go the same road, partly based on you and a few other authors I know who seem much happier writing for themselves and taking their own business in hand. So glad to hear that you're still happy with that decision!
Lois Winston said…
Thanks, Larissa! Welcome to the pond!
Being an indie author is no easy row to hoe, but it is satisfying.
Lois Winston said…
It can be, Anne! Thanks for stopping by.

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