Let’s Talk with Lois Winston

When Life Imitates Art
By Lois Winston

I was in Nashville last month when very early Christmas morning the city was rocked by a bomb set off by a suicidal domestic terrorist. If such a thing can be said, I suppose he was a considerate terrorist. He parked his bomb-laden RV at a location and time that would be virtually devoid of people, and he broadcast a warning to evacuate the area for fifteen minutes prior to the explosion. There was massive property damage, but only the bomber died. There were few other injuries, mostly minor, and none were life-threatening.

Most of the plots and subplots in my books are inspired by actual events. I’ll read about an incident or situation and play the “What if?” game, molding it into the plot for a book. Not this time, though. The bombing in Nashville was eerily similar to the plot of my newest novella, currently available for pre-order.

However, I don’t write thrillers, and I no longer write dark romantic suspense. I prefer to write escapist fiction that gives my readers a reason to laugh. My books have happy endings. The good guys always win. Justice prevails and the bad guys always pay for their dastardly deeds.

Even though this is the case with Moms in Black, a Mom Squad Caper, the premise is based on thwarting a domestic terrorism attack. The novella is one-part romantic suspense, one-part humorous caper, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Right about now I’m guessing you think this sounds a bit at odds. I’m hoping that if you read the novella, you’ll agree that I’ve pulled it off.

So how did such a story come about, you might ask?

In 2015 I was invited to take part in a new venture from Amazon. Kindle Worlds was a foray into fan fiction where anyone could write novellas that tied into handpicked existing series. To get the project up and running, Amazon invited additional authors, many recommended by the series authors, to create the first novellas.

There were few rules we had to follow in creating these companion novellas. Authors could use as little or as much of the existing series world as they wanted. We could even change the tone of the original books in the series.

I was asked to write a novella based on author CJ Lyons’ Shadow Ops Series. CJ writes what she calls “Thrillers with Heart.” I write humorous amateur sleuth/cozy mysteries. No problem. Mom Squad, the story I wrote, reimagined CJ’s domestic thriller series as a humorous caper.

The Kindle Worlds program disbanded a few years later. The novella authors were allowed to republish their work as long as they received permission from the series author and all references to the original series were removed or changed.

Because my writing life has been consumed with writing about Anastasia Pollack, my reluctant amateur sleuth, it took a while for me to get around to updating my Kindle Worlds novella. I was finally able to carve out some time, thanks to the pandemic, which has reduced my life basically to that of a hermit. I expanded and rebranded Mom Squad as Moms in Black, a Mom Squad Caper. It’s currently available for pre-order, and if readers enjoy it, my goal is to write two more Mom Squad Caper novellas.

If you’re a reader, do you ever venture out to try something different from your favorite authors, or do you only stick with what you know and like? If you’re a writer, do you ever foray into other genres? Post a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of Moms in Black, a Mom Squad Caper.

Moms in Black
A Mom Squad Caper

 When Cassandra Davenport applies for a job at www.savingtheworld.us, she expects to find a ‘green’ charity. Instead, she becomes the newest member of a covert organization run by ex-government officials. Dubbed the Mom Squad, the organization is the brainchild of three former college roommates—attorney general Anthony Granville, ex-FBI agent Gavin Demarco, and tech billionaire Liam Hatch—all of whom have lost loved ones at the hands of terrorists. Financed by Hatch, they work in the shadows and without the constraints of congressional oversight, reporting directly to Granville.

Demarco heads up one of the six groups that comprise the new operation. He hires Cassandra as the newest member of his New Jersey based team. In the course of monitoring possible terrorist threats, the Mom Squad discovers a link to Cassandra’s ex-husband. Before she’s fully trained, Cassandra is thrust into a world where her ex may be involved with radicalized terrorists bent on killing as many Americans as possible.

Buy Links (pre-order now; available 2/8/21)
Kindle https://amzn.to/2VZHTOc
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/moms-in-black
Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moms-in-black-lois-winston/1138442866?ean=2940162938507
Apple Books https://books.apple.com/us/book/moms-in-black/id1544138743
Paperback (coming soon)

Comments

  1. It can be exciting to work on something new. Being at home this past year gave you the time to revise and publish this work. That’s great. As for myself, I have stepped out of the mystery genre to write scifi romance, although my current efforts are solidly in the whodunit camp.

  2. Debra Klein says

    In answer to your question, I have my favorite author series but always keep my options open to new reading experiences. ‘You don’t know if you don’t try!’ as that old saying goes.

  3. Barbara Monajem says

    I love to try something different from an author whose work I enjoy — and I also love writing something different myself. (I also like novellas — sometimes a short read or write is just what’s required.) I’ll definitely get this one.

  4. Yikes! Nashville? So glad you were far enough away to not be affected. I wrote a few novellas for KW, also for Toby Neal’s series. It was an interesting experiment and freeing in some ways because while there are rules to follow, you’re also expanding the series world. I still haven’t rewritten my novellas. Who knows, maybe someday.

    • authorlois says

      Too many projects, too little time, right, Terry? At some point you’ll probably decide the time is right to rewrite. Good luck!

  5. Wow, it’s astonishing when life imitates art! Your new novella sounds sounds interesting…I love the idea of a Mom Squad.

  6. Yikes, you were in Nashville! That had to be super scary.

    Your new novella series sounds like fun!

    • authorlois says

      Yes, it was scary, but at least we were a few miles away. Thanks for stopping by, Kassandra!

  7. Great post today, Lois. My reading and writing go hand-in-hand. I write what I like to read; and read what I like to write. I also enjoy testing new ground. I just started on a British detective mystery, and started reading M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series. I like that your rebranded your Mom series. Best of luck with it!

    • authorlois says

      Thanks, Kathleen! I’m really enjoying the historical mysteries I’ve been reading lately, but I’d never want to do all that research!

  8. Love the title and its concept. Wishing you the best….

  9. Interesting concept. Scary that fiction hits so close to home. Best wishes for a successful novella!

    • authorlois says

      Thanks! It was very upsetting, especially since we had no communications for quite some time and didn’t know whether or not to expect addition bombs. There was also a bit of PTSD involved, having been only about 18 miles from downtown Manhattan on 9/11.

  10. What a challenge! Amazing that you pulled it off so well.

    • authorlois says

      Thanks, Marilyn. It was actually quite fun to write. Now I have to decide if I want to write more and make it a series.

  11. Thanks, Maggie! Time will tell if readers are willing to take a chance on something a bit different.

  12. Lois, seems you can’t go anywhere these days without potentially being in the middle of a news event. Your new venture sounds pretty cool. How are readers liking the novella format (asking for a friend 😉 )?

    • Too early to tell on this one, Diane, because it’s only up for pre-order right now. However, I previously wrote three novellas that connect to my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, and they do well. They’re sold both individually and bundled together.

  13. how cool of you and love the title, Lois!

  14. cherylhollon says

    Wow! Lois, that’s amazing. I’d admire your resilience and creativity.

  15. maggietoussaint says

    Your Mom-Squad book sounds like an interesting challenge to write. Kudos to you for stepping out of your established and successful story world of Anastasia Pollack. I’ve been known to go off on story tangents and cross genres too. It is broadening, to say the least. Best of luck with this author edition of your novella!