Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Multi-tasking Authors and Characters by Lois Winston

Today I’m welcoming fellow Midnight Ink author, Lois Winston, to my blog. Lois’ book, Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, has recently released to strong reviews. She talks a little here about multitasking…something many writers are acquainted with! :) As a side note, I’m guesting later today at Burrowers, Books, and Balderdash.

Welcome, Lois!

lois2010-small fileI recently learned of a study regarding multi-tasking, especially as it concerns today’s youth. The radio report made it sound like this was a new phenomenon, something invented by Gen Y kids who are simultaneously plugged into their iPods and surfing the ‘Net while they’re Twittering, texting, updating their Facebook pages, and doing homework.

I laughed out loud. The scientists running that study had to be all guys. Multi-tasking is nothing new. Women have been multi-tasking since the beginning of time. That’s why we have two X chromosomes. We’re born as clones of ourselves, able to multi-task from the moment of conception.

Sigmund Freud hypothesized that the reason men became the hunters and women stayed back at the cave, tending the fire, was because males had an uncontrollable urge to pee on the flames. Women may have wanted to pee on the flames, too, but their physiology kept them from doing so. This was back before our ancestors learned how to make fire. All they could do was keep the home fires burning. So it was really important to make sure the cave guys stayed beyond peeing distance of the flames. Hence, the division of labor.

Freud got it all wrong, though. The reason men went off in search of saber-toothed tigers and other gastronomic delicacies while the womenfolk stayed back in the cave was because the women could tend the fires, tan the hides, sew the clothing, look after the little ones, and tidy up the cave all at the same time. Men are incapable of doing more than one thing at a time because they have no double “anything” chromosome.

Most writers don’t have the luxury of being able to support themselves on their writing alone. I know New York Times best-selling authors who can’t afford to quit their day jobs. So like most other writers, my life is all about multi-tasking. I’m both an award-winning author and a literary agent who has never given up her “day job” as a needlework designer. In addition, I teach online workshops on writing. People (usually of the male persuasion) often ask me how I manage to juggle so many careers. It’s easy.

I am WOMAN -- W-O-M-A-N.

So when I set out to write a new mystery series, having my protagonist juggle all sorts of complications in her daily life seemed far from a stretch. After all, she’s a W-O-M-A-N.

Anastasia Pollack, the amateur sleuth protagonist of ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, is a recently widowed magazine crafts editor who makes me, with my three jobs, look like a slacker. When her recently departed husband permanently cashed in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her life crapped out. You know that old saying about the wife always being the last to know? Well, Anastasia had no clue her husband was a closet gambler until she discovers he’s left her with debt up the wazoo and his loan shark breathing down her neck. Karl owed Ricardo fifty thousand dollars, and as far as Ricardo is concerned, Anastasia has inherited that debt.

She’s also inherited her crotchety communist mother-in-law and Mephisto the Demon Dog, her Russian princess mother has popped in for an open-ended stay, and her two teenage sons aren’t very happy about the belt-tightening that means giving up cable TV and the Internet. Then there’s Ralph the Shakespeare quoting parrot. As if all that weren’t enough, Anastasia’s life gets even more complicated when she discovers the body of her magazine’s fashion editor glued to her desk chair, and she’s fingered as the prime suspect in the murder. And I thought I juggled a lot in a day!

Glue Gun-full sizeASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN is the first book in my new Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series from Midnight Ink. Kirkus Reviews called it “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” I recently turned in the second book in the series, and I’m now back juggling the writing of Book Three as well as design deadlines and agency responsibilities. But I have to say, my multi-tasking is a breeze compared to Anastasia’s. At least I don’t have to find a killer to prove I’m not a killer.

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In celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Lois is doing a blog tour throughout January. You can find the schedule on her website,, and at Anastasia’s blog, Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the month will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email Lois privately at to let her know you’ve entered.) In addition, Lois will be giving away a collection of crafts books on selected blogs during her tour, so look for those as well.