Tag Archive for: Guidebook to Murder

The Idea Store by Lynn Cahoon

Last summer, before my life turned upside down, I committed to joining Toastmasters at my workplace. Since August, I’ve given one speech.

This month, I’ll be giving two, one in a competition. Crazy, right?

The good news is I’ve been speaking in public since my first job where I was the radio girl who listed off the new, hot job opportunities available at your local unemployment office.  Then I spent over ten years training the regional staff at Idaho’s Health and Welfare department. Want to know how to deal with computer issues, or what assets count against Medicaid? I’m your girl.

But the speeches I’m giving this month are more personal. And I’m hoping I can keep my emotions in check while I’m talking. The first speech talks about where the ideas come from for my books. My mother asked me the same question. “How do you come up with all these ideas?”

The answer I gave her was kind of broad, but I’ll tell you the true writer secret. We’re magpies. We take bits and pieces of everything we’ve ever did, seen, or heard for our stories.  We’re taught to write what we know, so my first published book was The Bull Rider’s Brother.

No, I’m not a bull rider expert. But I love cowboys. Especially those in tight fitting jeans and a pearl snap western shirt? Add in a hat and boots, and I’m gone. The book’s first line tells you a lot about my main character Lizzie, but also, a lot about the author – me.

Cowboys aren’t easy to love, but they sure are easy on the eyes.

Then I mixed three or four of my favorites sites in the Idaho mountains and imagined the new town of Shawnee Idaho. I added in two brothers, the older being way too protective of the younger, to the point it affected his own happiness, threw in a too cute kid and a main character who’s been burned by love, one too many times.

All things I know about.

There’s a saying that authors pass around that says use your life history to season your writing. If  the people you know wanted to be painted in a positive light, they should have been nicer to you on the way.

I love this.

So where is your idea store?

If you’re interested in starting the Tourist Trap series before Dressed to Kill launches in June and Killer Run, in August, eKensington has Guidebook to Murder on sale for the month of March – digital $1.99. Check out the story that started it all….

Mystery She Read by Lynn Cahoon

I’m in a reading mood. I adore getting lost in a story, reading through the hours until my body is stiff and my dogs are chewing on my leg, trying to get me to let them out….

Okay, maybe not that.

I’ve been working on a presentation for my RWA chapter (go MoRWA) on Killer First Lines. Authors are warned away from several starts, one is this classic Snoopy line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” We’re told not to use it. It’s weather and setting and boring.

Except, if you’re Madeleine L’Engle and writing A Wrinkle in Time. I loved that book growing up. As a fatherless child, myself, this story gave me hope that my dad too, was just on another planet, waiting to be magically pulled back to my life.

Yes, there are reasons I’m an author. Like my mom asked, “How do you make up all these stories?” I would have thought she knew I’d been doing it all my life.

Authors don’t give up their imaginary friends, we just give them lives in our books.

Another book I loved as a kid was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I loved the story of a little boy driving through the fantasy world through a tollbooth that showed up in his room, just because he was bored.

Boredom doesn’t happen for authors as we’re off imagining a new world. And it that gets boring, I need to change up the story.

So what was your favorite book as a kid? Was it mystery related?


Oh, and if you want a bit of romance for your Valentine’s Day, I have a novella in My Sexy Valentine. My story, The Twelve Days of Valentines, twists the classic Christmas song into a how to win your love in 12 days.

Recreation – or Re-create?

Yesterday I hit send on an email to my editor with my fifth Tourist Trap book. I sweated the deadline on this puppy as I had hip replacement surgery mid November. Coming into December, I had about 15,000 words done out of 72000 I ended up with to finish.

 I worried about finishing.

I worried that even if I finished, would the story come together. 

I worried I couldn’t write on my laptop in my living room.

But it came together. I love the story and the role one of my characters, Aunt Jackie is taking on. I love watching the characters come alive and the little whispers I get when I read an interaction. Like seeing a couple notice each other and start to fall in love.

My next book I’m doing really bad things to a really nice person. And frankly, I can’t wait to get started. (insert evil laugh here.)

South Cove is becoming more and more real to me as I write each book.

Today I started a long overdue novella to finish off The Council series. Then I’ll be back in South Cove, causing havoc with my character’s lives. 

But right now, I’m taking a mini break and relaxing. Time to heat up some apple cider and eat junk food because I finished a book.



Do you love series? If you haven’t started The Tourist Trap Mysteries, Guidebook to Murder is on sale for $1.99 Check out the book that hit the NYT’s list this summer.

Buy here – Kindle or Nook

Magna Cum Murder – a visitor report By Lynn Cahoon

Last weekend I drove to Indianapolis, Indiana for a my first mystery conference, Magna Cum Murder, sponsored by Ball State.

The weekend was beautiful, both outside and in the historic Columbia Club where the conference was held. According to the valet, the Club was built in 1924. The great lobby was filled with dark wood and a stone fireplace, perfect for burning clues in a pinch. The place was soaked in history.

Friday I attended a fascinating presentation by Karen Cooper, a retired CSI from Florida, on how to find a burial site in the wild.  From finding the grave, including pointing out disturbances on the soil, to excavating, Karen gave us a real life look into how law enforcement handles buried victims. We even talked about the most likely suspects based on body positioning.

Then we had an speaker who wanted to talk about the workings of arson investigation and the use of science in criminal cases.

That evening, we were on our own for dinner, but the conference had set up a screening of an old noir movie for later. I spent the time preparing for the panel I was moderating on Sunday.

Saturday morning I had my first panel talking about twists in mysteries. Although we all could point to twists in books and movies, talking about adding them into our writing process was difficult. Mainly we agreed that we hope for a twist, but just write the plot we’d planned.

Sunday’s panel was on the topic of romance in mysteries. Some of my panelists but one wrote romantic suspense and the other two, like me were cozy writers. We had a spirited discussion on the increase in sex in current day stories, and the change over time on what a ‘normal’ woman as your amateur sleuth could get away with and still be seen as a creditable investigator.

Between panels, book signings, and chatting up readers and other authors, my weekend was filled with mysterious goings on.

Have you attended a mystery conference?  


Squee — IF THE SHOE KILLS is out in print now and the digital release is a week away – November 10th!!!!

The tourist town of South Cove, California, is a
lovely place to spend the holidays. But this year, shop owner Jill Gardner
discovers there’s no place like home for homicide. . .

As owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner
looks forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But when the mayor
ropes her into being liaison for a new work program, ’tis the season to be
wary. Local businesses are afraid the interns will be delinquents, punks, or
worse. For Jill, nothing’s worse than Ted Hendricks–the jerk who runs the
program. After a few run-ins, Jill’s ready to kill the guy. That, however,
turns out to be unnecessary when she finds Ted in his car–dead as a doornail. Officer
Greg assumes it’s a suicide. Jill thinks it’s murder. And if the holidays
weren’t stressful enough, a spoiled blonde wants to sue the city for breaking
her heel. Jill has to act fast to solve this mess–before the other shoe drops.
. .

Visiting the Scene of the Crime

Last month I went home to Idaho for a few weeks. We visited family and spent some quality time sitting around a campfire making s’mores and talking about the old days with friends.

On our way home, we decided to take the scenic route back. Our first afternoon took us past the road to Sun Valley. The area is know for it’s amazing skiing and celebrity visitors, but for me, it’s the fictional home of an unpublished manuscript my agent has been shopping. I love the small town feel of the area and the easy access to outdoor activities, although I’m more of a cross-country skier than downhill.

We passed a gas station that used its small advertising area to proudly proclaim they carried the largest selection of grasshoppers in the area. You know you’re in prime fishing country with that type of sign. 🙂

Great trip and lots of pictures to remind me why I love this story so much.

What’s your favorite place to visit?

Release week – Mission to Murder!

Hi guys!

It’s been a little crazy over at Casa Cahoon.  I had a jam packed RWA conference running from 7 in the morning to after 10 at night. (Don’t worry, I did get down to the Riverwalk and enjoyed some Tex Mex at a couple of spots.

I remembered why I loved fish tacos.

And of course a good Texas beer.

Then I came home to release week for MISSION TO MURDER. This is the second in the series and Jill is in deep hot water this time.

In the California coastal town of South Cove,
history is one of its many tourist attractions—until it becomes deadly…

Jill Gardner, proprietor of Coffee, Books, and More,
has discovered that the old stone wall on her property might be a centuries-old
mission worthy of being declared a landmark. But Craig Morgan, the obnoxious
owner of South Cove’s most popular tourist spot, The Castle, makes it his
business to contest her claim. When Morgan is found murdered at The Castle
shortly after a heated argument with Jill, even her detective boyfriend has to
ask her for an alibi. Jill decides she must find the real murderer to clear her
name. But when the killer comes for her, she’ll need to jump from historic
preservation to self-preservation …

If you haven’t started the series yet, GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER is still on sale for $2.  Less than what I paid for coffee at the restaurant


Summer Reading Club

Do you remember the library programs where you earned points
for every book read?  Of course, there’s
always that kid who read the easy books, just to get the points. But for me, it
was a matter of pride to expand my reading level, especially in the summer. All
I wanted was a good story. And one that would keep me entertained so that my
books wouldn’t run out before I got a ride back to town and the library.

Yes, I was also that geek kid who read the summer readings
lists provided by the English departments in my schools. 
These days on Facebook, we can take quizzes on what books
we’ve read.  Although we don’t get points
towards prizes like mini pizzas. J
I’m doing a 50 book challenge this year on Goodreads.  So far, I’m 9 books behind schedule. But
isn’t that what summer’s for? Stealing time to sit on the deck with your feet
up and your nose in a book? My parents always said that like it was a bad
For me, I’m focusing on a few cozy’s before I return to
writing The Tourist Trap Mysteries in a few weeks. Then I’ll buzz through Robyn
Carr’s Thunder Point and Virgin River series.
What are you reading this summer?
Side Note – If you haven’t read GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER – A
TOURIST TRAP MYSTERY, now’s a great time to pick up your digital copy.  From June 10-24th, Kensington is
running a sale on GUIDEBOOK to get ready for the July 31st release of MISSION
TO MURDER (available for pre-order now.)
$1.99 is a great price to try out a new cozy series. 
“Murder, dirty
politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it
all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” –Susan McBride, author of The Debutante
Dropout Mysteries

Signs of Summer

As I write this on my lunch hour from the day job, I’m eating a BBQ chicken salad made of leftovers from last night’s grilled dinner. When the weather turns warm, we grill a lot of our dinners. And on the weekends, some lunches as well. Last year, it was a matter of necessity as we were remodeling the kitchen and had no stove for a while. I love making a green salad and then topping it with whatever meat I choose. (Which is frequently fish.)

Last summer’s trip to the ball game

 Walking this morning, I saw another sign of summer, water flowing down the gutter. One of the homeowners was power washing the outside of their house. As a kid, we lived in a neighborhood that flood irrigated. Irrigation day was glorious. The cold water would build up on the lawn, two or three inches deep. Then overflow into the cement gutter that would warm the flowing river from the heat of the day. We walked barefoot through the neighborhood, feeling the cool water splashing our feet.

Taste of Cincinnati – street fair = street food! 

 Once the water receded, we’d catch night crawlers for fishing. Bigger than worms, they would be floated out of their homes when the water filled the ground.

Last week a different walk took me past a blooming peony plant and reminded me of our annual trips to the cemetery to decorate the family graves.

With Fourth of July on the horizon, what’s your must do summer activity? I’m thinking ice cream can’t be too far down my list.

Enjoy your summer,

Saying Goodbye to a Series – A continuing discussion.

Some of you might have seen my post over at Sara WalterEllwood’s blog during THE BULL RIDER’S KEEPER blog tour on my bitter sweet
feeling on letting go of The Bull Rider series. Today, I wanted to talk about the journey. Or as Ron White would say when asked how far the plane would go, “all the way to the crash site.”
THE BULL RIDER’S BROTHER marked my entrance into the
publishing world.  On June 4th,
2012, I became a published author.  The
sweet story about four friends (Lizzie, James, Barb and Jesse) who return to
Shawnee for the town’s annual rodeo weekend, each with their own agenda, taught
me a lot about how to tell a story and how to be an author. Most civilians
(those outside the publishing world) think all the work is in the writing.
Everyone who’s ever published through digital first, traditional or even
self-published will tell a different story. 
Between edits and reviews and promotion, a book takes many hours of time
to show up with the buy me button on Amazon.
As soon as I signed my contract for BRB giving James and
Lizzie their happy ever after, I started writing on THE BULL RIDER’S MANAGER.
This was Barb’s story. I knew she worked too much and didn’t have a strong
family support system going in. Barb’s house was the fun one growing up, the
one without rules. So I knew this had to be about her learning to accept and
finding her own family. How it turned into a wild night in Vegas, I’m not sure,
but I’m glad the story took me there. By November 2012, the book had that
coveted buy button.
Then life happened. Around Easter 2013, I signed a three
book contract for THE TOURIST TRAP MYSTERIES. One book written, the second
started, and a vague idea for book three. 
By the end of the year, I had all three done and ready for their release
dates spanning 2014 (GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER-April 17th, MISSION TO
MURDER –July 31st, and IF THE SHOE KILLS- October 28th).
I’d also started a new, cowboy romance that I thought could
be an amazing series. This got put on the back burner when I signed the
So as soon as IF THE SHOE KILLS went off to my editor, I
returned to the last book in the Bull Rider series, Jesse’s story.  I’m glad I waited, mostly because Jesse
needed the time to grow and change. And I’m very proud of his character arc
over the three books. Little brother all grown up. THE BULL RIDER’S KEEPER
released April 28th and I closed the door on Shawnee and the four

But what about the stories I didn’t get to tell. Kadi’s
riding instructor deserves a happy ever after. 
Cash Dillon, the dumped, in THE BULL RIDER’S BROTHER, got his story told
in a novella, SHAWNEE HOLIDAY, exclusively available at Amazon. And then
there’s Angie, the Sullivan brothers crazy mom.
It’s hard to walk away. But I don’t have the time now to
write these stories.
Maybe someday.
Do you have series that you or the author hasn’t finished
that you’re waiting for another book? 

The Vacation Bucket List

Where do you like to vacation?  Lynn wants to know….

When I was a child, my family didn’t go on a summer
vacation. If we went on a trip, usually it was to see family. My parents moved
to Idaho from a small town in South Dakota, Winner. My grandparents lived on a
farm complete with tiny house and huge barn.
As a child when I visited, the cousins would take me to the
creek to swim, tell ghost stories in the hotter than Hades attic where we
slept, and promised to write after I left so we’d at least be pen pals.
One year, we broke our no-vacation rule, and spent a week at
Yellowstone. Seeing the bubbling mud pots, the clear but boiling hot springs,
buffalo herds, and, of course, Old Faithful, sticks with a kid.
When my little sister was born, we headed west for a summer trip
and stopped at the ocean. Walking through the waves on the still cold Oregon
Coast, I was in charge of my teacup poodle and the kid. We got too far out and
a wave came up on us. I had to make a choice. I picked up my dog.
My sister has never forgiven me.
 When I married, my
husband wasn’t a traveler. We camped and fished, but he liked being at home
with me next to him.
After the divorce, I started traveling. I haven’t been out
of the country, yet. I have a map of the United States posted on my work cube,
with all the states I’ve visited numbered. I still have a few to go. I love
finding the out of the way little towns, with a claim to fame. Like the
Merimac Caverns in Missouri or visiting Mark Twain’s Hannibal. Caves scare me,
but I’d never tell my current husband that. 
I just love going.
It was during one of these impromptu trips where the Tourist
Trap Mystery series was born. South Cove isn’t any particular town, but a
hybrid of the town where I’d love to live.
My husband’s trips of choice surround his sports teams – or Nascar.  This was our trip to Bristol last year.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? Maybe I’ll visit
Guidebook to Murder –A Tourist Trap Mystery
In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all
Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and
running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of
pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her
dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies
unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. .
.and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list
of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is
determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South
Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the
case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .