Process Delayed Can Still be Progress…of a Sort

By Lois Winston

I’m not someone who immediately jumps into the next book as soon as I finish writing the previous one. My latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, A Crafty Collage of Crime, released on June 6th. Other than promotional blog posts, I haven’t written anything Anastasia-related since then. Haven’t even given much thought to the next book beyond the fact that I know I’ll be picking up Anastasia’s story shortly after the recent book ended.

It’s not that I’m tired of writing about my reluctant sleuth or have no ideas. It’s more about a process I’ve found that works best for me. After a book goes off into the world, I devote the next month or so to promotion. Once the flurry of promotion wanes, I give myself permission to clear my head before once again hitting the keyboard in earnest. We all have our process, and I’ve discovered over the years that this keeps me from burning out or developing terminal writer’s block. We all need the occasional vacay, even if it’s only a vacay from the keyboard.

With that in mind, I had set a schedule to start in on serious pondering, mulling, and research the week of August 21st, the day after the Killer Nashville writers’ conference ended. I’d plant butt in chair and fingers on keyboard in earnest September 5th, the day after Labor Day.

Of course, I didn’t factor into testing positive for Covid shortly after Killer Nashville ended. And I certainly didn’t factor in the far from mild case of Covid that broadsided me and still continues haunting me with lingering symptoms. I haven’t felt this tired since suffering through mono when I was nineteen or dealing with an infant who exited the womb never needing to sleep—ever!

About the only things I’ve been able to accomplish when not napping are watching TV and reading, more of the latter than the former, thanks to the writers’ strike and the absence of many of my favorite shows. For someone who has never been a napper, I’m beginning to suspect I harbor some cat DNA. Don’t they sleep about seventeen hours a day?

At least during my daily seven hours of wakefulness, I was able to make a decent dent in my overflowing Kindle virtual TBR pile. For someone used to juggling multiple balls, if nothing else, I’ve achieved a small sense of accomplishment during my illness and recovery.

Not every book I read is worth mentioning. Several fell way short of expectations. However, there were two books that I thoroughly enjoyed: The Book Woman’s Daughter, the follow-up to Kim Michele Rchardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and Kopp Sisters on the March, book 5 in Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series. However, if you’ve enjoyed the other Kopp Sisters books, be forewarned that this book is a bit of a departure from the previous books in the series. Although labeled as a mystery, the mystery element is a minor subplot.

One of the perks of being a published author is getting to read some books before they hit bookstore shelves. I had the absolute pleasure of losing myself in advance reading copies of two books that I highly recommend. If you enjoy women’s fiction, you won’t want to miss the recently released Picture Perfect Autumn by Shelley Noble. It truly is a picture-perfect novel.

If romantic amateur sleuth mysteries are more your speed, you’ll want to read The Body in the News, the third installment in the Samantha Newman Mysteries by The Stiletto Gang’s own Gay Yellen. I was hooked on this series after reading the first book. When I finished this newest addition, I wanted to pick up the fourth book right away. I hope Gay is a fast writer!

What about you? Read any good books lately? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download of the audiobook version of Scrapbook of Mystery, the sixth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery.


USA Today and Amazon 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 a former literary agent and 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. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

Woman of the Year

Woman of the Year

By Saralyn Richard


I found out in April that the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce would be celebrating me as a Woman of the Year for 2023. The announcement, broadcast live on social media, came as a total surprise—overwhelming to this day. The honor entails participating in an all-day video production, inviting family and friends to accompany you to the Women’s Conference (held on September 15), going up on the stage in front of 1500 people to receive the award, and lots more.

As an educator, I always considered myself a star-maker, rather than a star. I revel when my students receive accolades or limelight, but I’m not all that comfortable receiving them, myself. I’ve struggled with the idea of whether I’m worthy of all this attention.

Over the past four months I’ve given a lot of thought to this and similar issues, and I’ll tell you what I’ve concluded. But first, some background. I was born and raised in Galveston. After college and marriage, I moved to St. Louis and Chicago, where I practiced my profession and learned a lot about life. One of the things I always preached to my students was to give back to the communities that they came from. I poured a lot of time and effort and care into the communities where I worked, but, in the back of my mind, I thought, what about Galveston?

When my husband and I were exploring possible places to live in the future, Galveston called to me. I wanted to be part of the community where I grew up. I wanted to volunteer in ways that would make a difference. Fortunately, everything aligned to make that happen, and we moved here in 2005. Since then, I’ve had interesting jobs, met fascinating people, and volunteered here and there in places that stole my heart. I never expected to be recognized—I was happy contributing to my community.

So that brings me to the Woman of the Year award, for which I am eternally grateful and a little uncomfortable accepting. My ruminations, though, have led me to believe that the award creates a valuable opportunity for reflection and evaluation. It has caused me to embrace all that is precious in the way I spend my time, and it’s given me motivation to recommit to my goals and mission, to live up to the standard of those who were honored before me, and to set an example for those who follow.

I also believe there aren’t enough awards given to worthy women. There are so many wonderful angels who give freely of their time and energy to help others. If you are reading this, you are probably one of them. So I want to share my award with you, Woman of the Year. If we all set our sights on making a difference, we can really change the world.

Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, and BOI (born on island), Saralyn Richard, is also an educator whose journey has taken her to schools in St. Louis, Chicago, and all over the country. Her books, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, Crystal Blue Murder, Bad Blood Sisters, and A Murder of Principal, have garnered many awards, reviews, and fans.

Saralyn and her husband Ed moved back to Galveston in 2005 with the express intent of serving the community by working and volunteering with various meaningful organizations. Saralyn worked for the Galveston Independent School District, the Southern Regional Education Board, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, The Friends of the Rosenberg Library, The Grand 1894 Opera House, and others.

Years ago, Saralyn was a founding member of the Book Nook committee of the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce Women’s Conference. The Book Nook is a group of authors who are strategically selected each year to provide mentorship and support for other women who aspire to write and publish books.



A New Story

by Paula Gail Benson

As I celebrate my birthday this week, I’m also partying about a new story being published in A DEATH IN THE NIGHT by Dragon Soul Press. The anthology, released on August 30, 2023, contains eleven tales of assassins, which, as described on Amazon, may be about persons who are well paid, who are paying a debt, or who are being blackmailed. Each hired gun faces a unique journey. Some need to be wary of becoming too close to their marks.

The following authors’ stories are featured in the anthology: Victoria Azzi, L.N. Hunter, Charles Kyffhausen, Barend Nieuwstraten III, Fulvio Gatti, Edgar Mahaffey, Gray Stanback, Hennifer Strassel, Douglas Allen Gohl, Frank Sawielijew, and myself.

My story, “Crossfire in the Crosshairs,” occurs in the pandemic and involves a single mother working as an assassin to support her pre-school aged, precocious daughter. As mentioned in the narrative, “Assassinations remain essential services during Covid.” Chelsea Lebouef, the mom, is tasked to slay a famous cellist, hopefully managing to spill some blood on his instrument to heighten its value. She learns there will be multiple shooters to handle the job, but not until she makes arrangements for her daughter’s care and arrives on the job does she realize her competitor is her ex-husband.

I hope you’ll check out my story and the others. Dragon Soul Press has been a great company to work with and has supplied a lot of beneficial materials for promotion. (Notice the great banner above!)

Here’s a link to purchase on Amazon. Happy my birthday, everyone!


Bouchercon Update!

I missed the blog last month due to a technical error on my part … so here are two blogs in one! Might be fun actually, as I have now just returned from Bouchercon and can give a report. The expectation and the realization!

It was terrific—and my panel was fun, I made it through and enjoyed it.

The Debut authors’ breakfast was a blast. And may I say, the breakfast was delicious, although I was too nervous to eat much.

A Nice Place to Die was available at the bookstore and sold out. That was worth the trip right there.

But really, one of the most fun things is meeting and sometimes becoming friends with fellow authors. I met Ann Cleeves briefly and she was very gracious. I got a picture with her. That’s it, but I now consider her one of my very best friends.

I did spend some time with the  fabulous Iona Whishaw, Canadian readers  know her well…

And the charming S.M. Freedman, we enjoyed the Awards banquet together. And Caro Ramsey, a Scottish writer of mysteries and suspense, she was terrific and we plan to keep in touch. I was able to reconnect with good friends I’d met before; Judy L. Murray, Lane Stone, Sharon Lynn, just to name a few.

And Shawn Reilly Simmons, my editor, and award-winning author herself.


I leave for Bouchercon in a week or so and it’s an exciting prospect. I attended once before In Tampa. I was already in Florida at the time with my husband and decided it was worth the extra expense. As we climbed the steps to the host hotel to register, Ian Rankin walked by reading a guide book. And that about sums the experience up for me. You get to meet your author favourites, listen to wonderful educational sessions on writing, and oh yes, meet people at the bar!

That first time I knew no one. I had the name of an author through a friend and I contacted her, not expecting much. But Marcia Talley was astonishing and friendly and welcoming. I met Sujata Massey, Deborah Crombie and countless others over coffee and at events.

I sat one table over from Lee Child, and extricated the wonderful Lisa Scottoline from an ardent fan. It really was a fabulous experience.

This year I’m going again, this time to San Diego as a published author!

I’m a fairly new writer, compared with my terrific colleagues on the Stiletto Gang, who are all well known and have published many wonderful books across all genres. This time I applied to be on a panel. I don’t know the ins and outs of how to get chosen, but in my request I tried to be flexible to different panel ideas but clear that I needed to know something about the subject.

And so, what was that, my subject? What did I know something about? Murder? Well that might not set me apart and help me get a spot on a panel—what with it being a murder/mystery convention and all. I had to dig deeper.

What did I love writing about—apart from murder? What could I bring to a conversation that might make an interesting panel for readers and other writers?

One of the things I realized from talking to readers who bought and enjoyed my book was their interest in the setting, Belfast––and there you have it. Ireland, north and south.

I was surprised at the number of people who expressed a desire to visit Belfast. Once the death knell for a book or writer, famously and forever connected to ‘The Troubles,’ now miraculously rising from the ashes to become, dare I say it, a favourite tourist destination. We even have cruise ships stopping by with tourists dandering around a city they once watched on the news, with reports of explosions and gunfire all over the place.

But The Troubles are not the focus of my books, because that’s not what my stories are about. They’re about people who are caught in difficult circumstances. About love and hate and jealousy and finally, murder. All in that wonderful setting. Gloomy and sunbright in turn. Rain and wind, blue skies and gorgeous deserted beaches. And that’s what I asked for. I wanted to talk about writing a story set in a country I was born in and love, but no longer live in. How memory and longing play into shaping a book and the characters who populate it. And miraculously I got the word! Yes, a panel. Scary but exciting.

TRAVEL BY THE BOOK: MYSTERIES SET IN OTHER COUNTRIES. Saturday Sept 2 at 8:55am. Please come and listen if you’re at the convention. Should be fun.

Now let me tell you all about the Bouchercon Debut Authors’ Breakfast… Kidding, I’m kidding.

Blood Relations Cover

Blood Relations Cover

And a note about the launch of my second book. BLOOD RELATIONS. It’s due out in The US in August. Here’s a link to Amazon, but you can look for both books, #1: A NICE PLACE TO DIE and #2: BLOOD RELATIONS, at most fine on-line retailers too.

A Nice Place to Die and Blood Relations.

A Nice Place to Die and Blood Relations.

Blood Relations, A DS Ryan McBride Mystery Book #2
Twitter:  @JoyceWoollcott 

Buy the book.

Movie Making

Movie Poster for Suzy Makes CupcakesLet’s Make a Movie!

I’ve have often been told that I write “cinematically”.  I don’t know what that means exactly, but like most writers I’d love to have a movie made of one of my books. And for the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with writing scripts. I took a seminar on how to flip novels into scripts, bought a few books and worked on what are known as “spec” scripts.  Scripts that no one has commissioned, but you feel like writing anyway. I find that concept hilarious.  No one calls a writer’s unpublished novel a “spec” novel.  Although, I suppose that it is. I find the script writing process interesting, the format challenging, and the idea that I could see my work on the big screen exciting.

What I’ve Learned

Along the way I’ve found out some interesting things.  I’ve also found that a novella is about the perfect length to make a TV length movie.  A full novel is… a lot.  Which makes me even MORE impressed with those adaptations that managed to be something great or even come close to capturing the flare of the original novel.  For instance, I believe Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson who adapted LA Confidential  has earned a place in screenwriting heaven–James Ellroy’s novel was massive, sprawling and noir to the bone.  The movie managed to condense it down and make it acceptably noir to audiences (which is to say we had characters that we actually liked).  If you haven’t seen–go watch it.  If you haven’t read it… meh.  Only read if you like (well-written) dark heart of humanity stuff where no one is an actually good person.

I’ve also begun to question whether anyone in Hollywood actually reads.  With novels, an author finds a beta reader(s) to critique the book and then we polish it up.  After that we send off a synopsis and blurb and maybe a few pages to an agent or publisher, who probably has the intern vet the submissions (completely reasonable).  If it ticks their boxes they ask for the complete manuscript and read it.  With movies… You pitch something to someone (if you know the someone) based on a logline.  And if they like it you send in a one sheet with the blurb or synopsis and pitch it MORE.  But to get someone to actually reads the full script and give a critique or edits?  For that you have to submit to a contest or pay someone.  So novels have a more clear cut path forward and movies are a bit… scrap it out and hope you get lucky.

Successes so Far

But… I did get lucky! Through the help of a random friend on Twitter (or whatever it’s being called this week) I sold a script based on my short story Suzy Makes Cupcakes.  It is currently making the festival circuit and picking awards and nominations as it goes.  And now I have a credit on IMDB (Internet Movie Database).  How crazy is that? Suzy won’t be available to watch by the general public until next year, but if you want to read the story it was based on, you can check it out in Shotgun Honey: Recoil.

Have I learned anything else?

I’ve learned that movies are far more collaborative than I even pictured.  I’ve learned that an actor can make something I wrote absolutely sing.  And I’ve learned that watching having something I wrote exist outside my head is a little bit trippy.  And I can’t wait to do it again.


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She participates in many activities including swearing, karate, art, and yelling at the news. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter, or glued to the computer working on her next novel (or screenplay). You can also catch up with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.


How I Spent the Summer of 2023

I could sum up the Summer of 2023 in two words: blistering hot! That’s been the headline for so many of us this year.

Humans make plans, and the gods laugh.

Back in June, when the Stiletto Gang posted our plans for the summer, mine included book events, taking a vacation with my sweetie, and promoting my new book.
By mid-summer, I was behind deadline (again) with Book #3 in the Samantha Newman series, and pretty much glued to my desk as I pushed through to the finish line. At least the sturdy air-conditioning kept any outdoor temptations at bay for the duration.
The book is finally done, and early reader remarks are leaving me hopeful for its debut. Fingers crossed!
(More on that below.)

Where did August go?

By mid-August, it was time to get on with the world. We set out on a road trip. First stop, Little Rock, Arkansas, home of an old friend, and as it happens, a great place for an overnight on the road to Killer Nashville, the international writers’ conference where seasoned authors, new writers, and book lovers convene over our shared passion.
The Body Next Door, Book #2 in the Samantha Newman series, was a KN Silver Falchion finalist a few years ago, so this year, it was all about sharing what I’ve learned in my writing career.
I was a panelist on the subjects of Writing Believable Amateur Sleuths, Using Emotion to Appeal to Your Readers, and Adding Romance to Your Story, in addition to moderating two more panels on Writing Suspense.
Whew! Teasing out my thoughts on what makes for good writing was strenuous exercise, but fun, too.
Most fun was making new friends and reconnecting in person with colleagues from around the country.
After the conference we drove east to visit my brother and sister-in-law. Had a great time with them, their darling grandkids, and their remarkable dog, Venus. Then we headed home. All in all, we passed through ten states in two weeks.

Happy September!

Now, finally, I am pre-promoting Book #3, The Body in the News! Huzzah and hooray, it is almost ready to hatch by the end of the month.
Here is a sliver of the new the cover. Stay tuned, there is much more to come in the next few days and weeks!

In the meantime… how was your summer? 

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and soon, The Body in the News!

Reviews that Sink Authors

Reviews that Sink Authors by Debra H. Goldstein

Traditionally, authors are told to ignore their reviews. Maybe some can, but most can’t. In fact, many writers can’t help focusing on anything except the bad ones.

I read reviews. Sometimes I totally agree and learn from the point being made, but more often, I’d love to respond (authors are also told not to respond). For example, when Maze in Blue was published, the reviews and ratings were all favorable – mostly 5’s and an occasional 4. And then, someone posted a one star on Amazon. The rationale was that I had gotten a main road in Ann Arbor wrong. The reviewer went on and on about how the road didn’t go straight and that if the character had really driven the route, they’d have run into a building.

The reviewer was right for the way the road presently runs, but the book was set in the 1970’s. The road and building mentioned were neither moved nor built until a year after the story occurred. I desperately wanted to respond with a choice comment, but happily, the next review, which was a five-star, pointed out that fact and noted what great and exact memories Maze brought back because the reviewer was a professor’s daughter who had lived on campus at that time. I was thrilled.

Talking to other authors, I’ve discovered they also have received one-star reviews that were a little out-to-lunch. One reviewer didn’t like the cover, another stated she didn’t read the book upon learning the name on the book was a pseudonym for an author whose last novel she didn’t like, and a third said the book, while enjoyable, wasn’t anything to write home about.

If you are an author, tell me about your “worst” review. A reader, have you ever left one you realized was an oops?

By the way, when it comes to being a writer or any profession, I think a sign I recently saw, says it all:

Cozy Mysteries and Friendship

By Sparkle Abby

How is it possible that summer is over, kids are back in school, and the snowbirds are already flocking to Florida?

As the summer whizzed by, we’ve continued to faithfully work on our new series set in the fictional 55+ community, Shade Palms. We’re absolutely falling in love with our new cast of characters as they’re living their best lives, sleuthing out killers and cheaters, and figuring out what reinvention means to them.

One theme we’ve found to be true in our series as well as real life is the importance of friendship. Lately, it seems there have been many conversations about the challenges presented by retirement isolation and loneliness, particularly if friends and family are scattered or preoccupied with their own lives.

The value of friendship is so important! Friends offer emotional support, help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and even improve cognitive functions. Mark Twain famously said, “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

Whether you’re retired like our characters, or just find yourself lonely or feeling isolated, we encourage you to take action! Here are five things you can do to begin creating meaningful friendships.

  1. Join a club or group: There are many clubs and groups that cater to people with different interests. Joining one of these groups can be a great way to meet new people who share your interests and form deep friendships. You could consider joining a book club, hiking club, art class, or volunteer group, among others.
  2. Attend events: Look out for events in your community that interest you, such as music concerts, art exhibits, or workshops. Attend these events and strike up conversations with people you meet. You could also attend events that cater specifically to women over 55, such as workshops on retirement planning or health and wellness seminars.
  3. Use social media: Social media can be a great way to connect with people and make new friends. Join groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that are geared towards women over 55. You could also use to find groups in your area that share your interests.
  4. Take up a new hobby: Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby can be a great way to meet new people and make friends. Consider taking a cooking class, learning a new language, or taking up a new sport.
  5. Attend a retreat or conference: Attending a retreat or conference focused on women over 55 can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and make new friends. Maybe think about one in a different location. Perhaps someplace you’ve always wanted to visit.

Remember, forming deep friendships takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation and to be the friend you’re looking for.

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve also started a YouTube channel to talk all things retirement!

If you’re interested in checking out our YouTube channel, you can find us at  Our most popular video, You’re Kids Don’t Want That, already has almost SIX THOUSAND views! Who knew a convo about decluttering would be so popular?!

sparkle and abbey

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website

Chasing an Intruder

Bob and I spend the summers in northern New Mexico. We enjoy the idyllic mountain scenery, the wildlife, the enriching tricultural experience in art, food, and the wonderful people who live here. Some are full time residents while others, like us, are only part timers.

After we arrived at our cabin, I was surprised we’d had a visitor who had left his calling card.

Ever the investigator, I wanted to identify our intruder. I asked friends, family, and long-time residents to help me out. Most people offered suggestions like a cougar, a mountain lion, a bobcat. One person thought they were coyote tracks, and another, trying to be funny, thought they were left by aliens!

I compared the paw prints left in the dust on the front deck to online research, and to photos a friend sent me from a wood block she keeps for easy reference in her mountain home.

It was easy to rule out deer, elk, turkey, or badger.

Next, I could rule out a fox, coyote, or bear since our prints did not have evidence of claws. That left the cougar!

Long time-residents claimed they had not seen any cougars in the area, yet my research indicated that New Mexico has a cougar population of 3,494 that are eighteen months of age or older as of 2023¹.

Sadly, my research also revealed that cougars are considered recreational game animals in New Mexico, and at the current rate of hunting and trapping, they will soon be at risk. In 2019, the state did prohibit trapping of cougars in certain areas.

I fully understand that cougars and other wildcats can be dangerous to people, pets, other wildlife, and livestock. Yet, these are beautiful animals that need protection to prevent them from going extinct.

A friend asked me if I’d be putting cougars into a novel in the future. The truth is I don’t know if a cougar will ever appear in a Nikki Garcia mystery or not. The question is valid since I have included dogs, crows, and mules in previous mysteries. Whenever I’m writing a novel, if pets or wild animals add to the story, yes, I love incorporating them into the story. In the meantime, my husband and I will enjoy the deer, elk, coyote, turkey, and birds we see in this mountain retreat.


¹New Mexico Mountain Lion Foundation

About Kathryn

Kathryn Lane writes mystery and suspense novels usually set in foreign countries. In her award-winning Nikki Garcia Mystery Series, her protagonist is a private investigator based in Miami. Her latest publication is a coming-of-age novel, Stolen Diary, about a socially awkward math genius.

Kathryn’s early work life started out as a painter in oils. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with Johnson & Johnson.

Two decades later, she left the corporate world to create mystery and suspense thrillers, drawing inspiration from her travels in over ninety countries as well as her life in Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and the United States.

She also dabbles in poetry, an activity she pursues during snippets of creative renewal. In the summer, Kathryn and her husband, Bob Hurt, escape the Texas heat for the mountains of northern New Mexico.

Photo credits:

Paw Prints in the Dust – photo by Kathryn Lane

Wood Block Paw Prints – photo by Sharon Sorensen

Cougar – CA-Jason-Klassi-08

RIP, Mac

By Lois Winston

Sometimes, there are no warning signs, no odd symptoms that crop up which would make us suspect something is not quite right. Such was not the case with Mac. Nothing made me question his health, nothing that would lead me to seek out the services of an expert. One moment, he was fine; the next he wasn’t. Worse yet, he failed to respond to all my efforts to make him well.

This all happened three weeks ago. Mac and I had been in a deeply committed relationship for ten years. I wasn’t ready to let him go. So I picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment for a full diagnostic workup. Surely, whatever the problem, something would make him better.

After arriving, I was asked about his prior symptoms. When I said he’d had none, the diagnostician showed surprise. She rattled off a series of the usual suspects, to which I answered in the negative for each one. She shook her head in disbelief. I suspect she thought I was too ignorant to recognize obvious signs of impending illness. I ignored her condescension. I needed her expertise to heal Mac.

When I asked what she thought might be the problem, she offered possible afflictions, some with remedies but others that were fatal. I crossed my fingers as she spent the next hour and a half performing a litany of tests to determine why Mac had suddenly become comatose.

The test results confirmed my worst fears. Mac had suffered a catastrophic failure. Both his hard drive and battery were dead.

I think the ratio of computer years to human years must be greater than that of dog years to human years. However, even if it’s the same, that would have made Mac seventy years old. Ancient as far as my millennial diagnostician was concerned, but I’m at the stage of my life where I no longer consider seventy old. Still, I suppose ten years is considered ancient for a computer, even one as stalwart as Mac had been.

Mac had served me well. During our time together, we’d written nine novels, five novellas, several short stories, one nonfiction book, and countless blog posts. We’d edited two multi-author promotional charity cookbooks and two multi-author box sets.

However, it was time to lay Mac to rest, sending him off to the big Apple in the sky. RIP, Mac. But really, after all we’ve been through together, he couldn’t have died a day earlier before the weekend state sales tax holiday ended?

Scrapbook of Murder, the sixth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is now available as an audiobook. Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download.


USA Today and Amazon 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 a former literary agent and 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. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.