Lois Winston, author of a delightful mystery series, is my guest this week.
When Ellis invited me to do a guest blog at The Unpredictable Muse to promote the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the latest book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series, it took me no time at all to decide the topic of my post. I had to talk about Mayzie.
Mayzie is my muse. She’s as temperamental as her namesake, the flighty bird in Horton Hatches the Egg, often taking off for parts unknown and leaving me staring at a blank computer screen at the most inopportune times.
Over the years I’ve discovered some rather unorthodox ways to recapture my AWOL muse and put her back to work. So today I’m going to let you in on one of those unorthodox methods I employ: I’ve perfected the fine art of eavesdropping.
Have you ever thought about how much of our day is spent waiting? We wait, wait, and wait some more. Every day. We stand in line at the supermarket, the post office or motor vehicle, waiting to be waited on. We spend countless hours in doctor and dentist waiting rooms (how aptly named those areas are!) waiting for someone to jab something cold and uncomfortable into our nether regions or perform root canal. And then we sit or lie there waiting for the procedure du jour to end. We freeze our butts off in the bleachers while our kids kick around a soccer ball or toss a football. We hang around the multiplex lobby, waiting for the previous movie to let out, then hunker down in our seats and wait through countless commercials and previews for the next feature to begin. We sit like zombies every morning and evening as the train or bus carries us to and from work. We stand around waiting to be seated in restaurants, then wait for the waiter to take our order and bring our food.
Wait, wait, wait. Maybe some of you already use this waiting in a productive manner by reading or dragging out your laptop to work on your current manuscript. But many of the scenarios I just describe are not conducive to writing or even reading. Just try whipping out that laptop while standing on line to renew your driver’s license, or try finishing a chapter of the paperback you keep tucked in your purse while your legs are splayed wide on the examining table. And if you’re like me, you probably find it hard to concentrate on the bus with the guy sitting next to you casting furtive glances at your computer screen. Or you find yourself reading the same paragraph over and over because the conversations going on around you keep intruding and breaking your concentration.
So instead of trying to read or write, mine those conversations for plot and character ideas.
Who among us doesn’t love to eavesdrop? Don’t deny it. We all do it. Forget baseball. Eavesdropping is the national pastime. And since the onset of cell phones, we can eavesdrop with abandon. Try going anywhere without hearing someone’s personal phone conversation. Whether you’re in a restaurant, on a train, in a hotel lobby, walking down the street, on line at the supermarket, or even in a public restroom, I guarantee there will be somebody nearby carrying on a highly personal phone conversation in a voice loud enough for everyone within a block’s radius to hear. There’s something about cell phones that make people raise their voices. Conversations that would normally be held in hushed whispers are broadcast wirelessly like sports announcers booming play-by-play. Over the last few years I have been privy to the most private details of total strangers, thanks to Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
And don’t forget the best place in the world to eavesdrop -- the hair salon. Women tell their hairdressers intimate details of their lives that they wouldn’t dream of divulging to anyone other than a therapist. And they do so in voices loud enough to carry over the sounds of hair dryers, running water, pumped-in background music, and the chatter of other customers.
So listen. Take mental notes. Those conversations going on around you every day are rich with character and plot potential that will help you corral your wayward muse and force her back to work. It works for me!
Death By Killer Mop Doll blurb: Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and a member of the production team is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.
Bio: Lois Winston is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and was recently nominated for a Readers Choice Award by the Salt Lake City Library System. The new year brings with it the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series. Read an excerpt at http://www.loiswinston.com/excerptap2.html. Visit Lois at her website: http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. You can also follow Lois and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth.
Lois is currently on a month-long blog tour to celebrate the release of her latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, and she’s giving away five signed copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll. To enter to win a copy, post a comment to this blog post or any of the blogs on the tour. The full tour schedule can be found at her website and the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. In addition, she’s also giving away 3 copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll on Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/15173-death-by-killer-mop-doll