You Don’t Know Jersey
Written by Guest Blogger Lois Winston
It’s my pleasure to introduce my Guest blogger today, award-winning romance and mystery author, Lois Winston.
If you’ve watched Jersey Shore or read about New Jersey in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, you may think you know all about it.
But according to Lois:
I live in a state that everyone seems to have a negative opinion about, especially those who have never set foot here. Welcome to New Jersey. Even though our motto is The Garden State, we’re more often, referred to as The Armpit of the Nation.
That stereotype and others are often reinforced by movies and TV shows such as The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Jerseylicous, not to mention a current loudmouth governor prone to bullying. Politics aside, I’m here to tell you that at least 95% of us are not like the people you see on your TV.
I think New Jersey is a pretty cool place to live. In less than an hour I can be in the mountains, down the shore, or in Manhattan, depending upon my mood. We have culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to the famous and the infamous.
We even legally own the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since they usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey.
Anyway, I like New Jersey so much that I set my latest series here. In a REAL New Jersey town. When I read a book, I love to connect with the locations. What I hate is when an author sets a book somewhere she’s never been and relies heavily on Google for her research. There are too many things about a place that Google won’t tell you because you didn’t know to ask. Like the fact that trucks aren’t allowed on most of the Garden State Parkway. Or that we go “down the shore” not “to the beach.” Nothing pulls a reader out of a story more than when an author doesn’t get her facts rights.
So for me, setting my stories in places I know is a no-brainer. Not only is it easier than making up a place or setting a book somewhere I’ve never been, it’s also a way of letting people know that there’s more to New Jersey than they’ve been led to believe.
Setting a book in New Jersey also gives me the opportunity to place my protagonist in diverse locations while still keeping her in or near her hometown. Many cozy mysteries take place in or around a small town in the Midwest, down South, or in New England. If the author wants to place her protagonist in a different environment, it involves the protagonist taking a trip. With a series set in New Jersey, I can have Anastasia shopping at Ikea in the morning, antiquing in Lambertville in the afternoon and at a casino in Atlantic City in the evening. At least, I could if she ever has two nickels to rub together again.
One caveat, though: As much as I love my state, I’ve been accused of having a biting sense of humor. So if you happen to read any of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries (and I hope you will!), you’ll often find my tongue planted firmly in my cheek as I describe my state.
Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series also includes Death By Killer Mop Doll and Crewel Intentions, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse is a January 2013 release.
Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the recently released Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com, visit Emma at http://www.emmacarlyle.com, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.
Revenge of the Crafty Corpse:
Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner—a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace—turns up dead, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Upon discovering that Lyndella’s scandalous craft projects—and her scandalous behavior—made her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law ends up behind bars.
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0738725862/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0738725862&linkCode=as2&tag=loiswins-20
Lois, I feel your pain. I grew up in Indiana, another widely misunderstood state (which is why I set the Animals in Focus series there). As for New Jersey, you are so right – it’s full of beautiful places and wonderful people. When I lived in MD, I loved to drive to NJ, and especially enjoyed the rolling farm country, and of course the shore. People just need to travel TO, not through, other states and spend a little time getting to know our real country, not the media version. Oh, and btw, you are definitely guilty as charged – you are a funny woman. 🙂
Awesome article! I was born & raised in Jersey City and spent many summers in Oceanport where my grandparents lived, and we vacationed in Atlantic City before it became the Vegas of the east. I’m looking forward to reading your books–sounds like you share the same Jersey biting humor as I do, and I can’t resist putting it in any of my books either! Diana
Love your books Lois! I was born in New Jersey, and while we moved out of the state while I was very young, I have fond memories. I have been back once and was impressed with the places we visited. Lovely post!
You, a biting sense of humor? You???
I love to make fun of New Jersey but I tell people that for many years I was almost a New Jerseian…as close as I could be without getting my feet wet…since I lived in Easton, PA. On my first trip to England, I was asked if I was from New Jersey because of my accent. Huh?
But I defend the state: It’s the Garden State for a reason. It has rolling hills and beautiful woods. It has two of the best attractions in the nation: the Lakota Wolf Preserve and Waterloo Village (with the recreated Lenape Village).
No, New Jersey is not just….what’s her name…oh, yeah, Snookie.
Thanks for stopping by, Barb. So glad you enjoy both the books and the post.
Sheila, I was only in Indiana once, driving from Indianapolis to Muncie for a conference. I have to admit, I didn’t see much that impressed me, but that’s your very point. I wish I’d had time to see more than just an interstate.
Diana, hope you enjoy the books! Please let me know if you do read them. I love hearing from readers.
Mitzi, I’ve never been to the Lakota Wolf Preserve. Will have to put that on my list. Funny how you can live in a small state for so much of your life and still not see all there is to see.
As another Jersey girl who has set her Kim Reynolds mystery series in her home state, I applaud you! Wishing you every success.
Congratulations on your success. Great blog. I’m with you. New Jersey definitely gets a bad rap. I raised my family in Tenafly and loved it. My Carrie Carlin “Other Deadly Things” mystery series is set in NJ. Carrie lives in Norwood but enjoys all the surrounding areas including Piemont, NY where she has her biofeedback office. I did stray to Key West in Book 2 but hussled back home in 3 and 4. As you point out, New Jersey offers diversity–we have Manhattan, the shore, even some ski slopes, and no tax on clothes! For me, writing about an area I know and love makes all the difference. Three years ago I moved to CA for personal reasons and I do like it here but there are times I feel like I’m living in the wild west. (Sorry, Cindy.) CA has its pluses but for me NJ will always be home.
I just left NJ after living there for four years, and I was broken hearted. I truly miss it and the great friends I made there. It’s a wonderful place to live, and I set my book three. It will be out soon!
Thanks you, Jacqueline, Nancy, and Leigh. I’ll have to check out all of your Jersey set books. We Jersey authors have to stick together!
A great blog in praise of New Jersey, home of my birth–although after decades in rural Vermont, I admit it’s a culture shock to drive to/in Jersey. But I am fond of the state. And though I’m not a Republican, I like your portly gov, too. I can see where you might consider him a bully, but he speaks out and isn’t afraid to shake hands across the aisles. Well, enough of politics. Your series sounds delightful, and you make me want to start reading the books. Thanks for this, Lois and Cindy!
I, too, am a Jersey girl, from back in the days when an 11-year-old could safely cross Route 1 by herself. I have wonderful memories of the state, although given the enormous changes in the places I remember, I go into shock like Nancy when I visit. Its diversity is amazing–the gritty cities like Newark and, yes, Trenton, the cool green mountains, the haunting beauty of the Pine Barrens and the wonderful (at least they were) beaches. Here in New Hampshire, which I love, I admit I miss swimming in the ocean without needing thermal resussitation afterward!
I’ll have to check out your books. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.
Thanks, Nancy. I hope you enjoy the books. And I will give cred to Christie for reaching across the aisle. He was especially terrific in the way he handled the Sandy aftermath. My beef with him is less political and more over the fact that he reinforces certain behaviors we’re trying so hard to counter in some kids. It’s hard to tell kids it’s wrong to bully while we’re also putting a bully on a pedestal.
Hi Nikki! The only problem I find with our oceans here in NJ is that by the time the water is warm enough for me to take a plunge, the sand burns my feet! I do hope the towns along the shore are able to be back to normal by this coming summer. Shore tourism is a huge part of the state’s economy, and we certainly need every dime of that after the damage that was done from the storm.
Hope you enjoy the books if you do decide to read them.
Ah, such loving praise for my home state! Thanks for getting the word out to the rest of the world, Lois.
She left out some cool stuff about New Jersey…like our ubiquitous shopping malls and towns that touch one another with no empty space in between. We truly have everything here, but maybe a desert. What a great state to write about.
While my books might not all take place in New Jersey, all the heroines are Jersey girls. We have an old saying here, ‘”You can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can never take New Jersey out of the girl.”
I was born in paterson and live at the North Jersey Shore. It’s great here, especially in the summer. My Murder at the Jersey Shore series takes the reader to Red bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Asbury Park and Colts Neck.
I also wrote an historical fiction novel set in Paterson between 1904 and 1913. did you know that Paterson was the United States’ first industrial city and was founded by Alexander Hamilton.
Also NJ was the center of the Revolutionary War.
I visted a lot of states but always come back to NJ.
I’m going to order Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun.
Irene, a blog post is way too short to include everything great about NJ. When I started traveling around the country years ago on business, I was astonished that there was space between towns, sometimes miles and miles of space. It seemed so odd to me!
I enjoyed reading the comments since i know little to nothing about New Jersey. Your book sounds really good and now I want to read it.