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Antioch writer pens story about mystery novelist

President Lakes RegiHistorical Society Antioch Wendy MastBristol Wisconswith book 'Abigail' self-published mystery she wrote thtakes place Milwaukee Wisconsin. | Thomas

President of the Lakes Region Historical Society in Antioch Wendy Maston of Bristol, Wisconsin with the book "Abigail" a self-published mystery she wrote that takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 21, 2013 6:06AM

Wendy Maston, best known for her long-time leadership of Lakes Region Historical Society in Antioch, just released “Abigail,” a self-published mystery about Samantha Liz Storm, a mystery novel writer who lives in Milwaukee.

The 63-year-old president of the historical society, who grew up in Antioch and now lives just over the state line in Bristol, Wis., started writing during her childhood. “I was never confident enough to share my work with others, but I continued through high school and while I worked, until I married and had children. From that point on, it was taking care of kids and all the other distractions and duties of real life.”

She continued to dabble in writing and kept a journal until a year ago when she and her daughter, Robin Rhodes, joined The Kenosha Writers Guild. “I thought, if she can do it while taking care of three young children, I can do it now that I am retired. We joined the guild together and that was the spark to start writing again.”

She attended a writer’s conference in Milwaukee last year and the speaker wondered why that city is seldom used as a setting for a book. “That encouraged me to set my book there because I probably know Milwaukee pretty well. I did a lot of research for the writing of this book, visiting some of the settings like the historic Third Ward, a couple of local restaurants and other neighborhoods. I used a mixture of real and fictional settings. One of the major settings was an ice cream shop that doesn’t exist,” said Maston.

This book had been brewing for a while, she said. “It just started spilling out. I wrote 90,000 words in six weeks. My poor husband didn’t get many dinners. But I was obsessed.”

Maston, the daughter of former historical society president Robert Lindblad, is married to Richard and has two adult daughters. “We have a very empty nest. That is what has given me the time to do this, finally.”

It was one thing to finish the book that involves murder, drugs and romance, but looking for an agent and publisher was not a task she wanted to undertake.

“Then I attended a lecture by Chicago author Barbara Gregorich at the Antioch Library on “Create Space,” a new way to self-publish. Because I thought I would never be able to take the criticism of an agent and find a publisher, I decided to self-publish.”

Create Space can publish a book one at a time. “There is no storage fee, so the cost is minimal. The paper book isn’t created until the order is place, but I get a good royalty from each order, but the price of the book is still inexpensive.”

Available from Amazon, the paper book is $12 and the Kindle version is $6.99. Matson’s hope is to develop a series of books about her heroine Samantha Storm. “It is not a true cliffhanger at the end, but it does leave the reader guessing about the future, and some of my readers have asked me about following up with another book,” which is already half-written and entitled “Benjamin.”

She likes to read mysteries, especially books by Janet Evanovich, featuring female protagonist Stephanie Plum. She also likes Patricia Cornwell, a world-famous mystery writer who has been writing books for decades featuring her main character Kay Scarpetta. “These books have been my inspiration and helped me to realize I could do this.”

Matson took a break from writing her follow-up Samantha Storm book in November during National Novel Writing Month, in which participants were challenged to start a new book and write 50,000 words. “I met that goal, and what I produced has the potential of being a third book but in a totally different genre.”

Maston isn’t a stranger to book-writing, having produced two other books about Antioch and the Chain O’ Lakes, published by Arcadia Publishing, and available at the Lakes Regional Historical Society in Antioch and from Amazon. “We did those back in 2008 and 2009 and they are selling quite well,” she said of the books that Arcadia, publishers of regional history books, asked her to author. “We sell a lot of them this time of year because people buy them for gifts.”

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