Lynn Cahoon and I love cozy mysteries. We both love to read them, and we both love to write them. Today Lynn talks about her Tourist Trap series and her latest release. Welcome, Lynn. Tell us about yourself.
First the official bits – “New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.”
Now, the dirt. I love dive bars. I won second place in an international dart tourney in my level. I am a beer drinker mostly, although I do enjoy a good wine. And I’m a planner. Which is really funny since my books are all written one scene at a time. When I start, I know where I want to start, where I want to end, and sometimes a few things in the middle. Not much more.
So you’re a “pantser” like me. Talk about the books you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your books? How did it develop?
The Tourist Trap series started with a spring break vacation to central coastal California. I love the way South Cove has developed into it’s own world, one business at a time. Now that I’ve written six books in the town, I have the directions in my head and rarely have to go visit my hand drawn map of South Cove. Is it a real place? It is to my characters and to me. Hopefully it is to my readers as well.
I’m always interested when a new character comes on page. This is Sherry’s second showing in the series, she made her first page appearance in If the Shoe Kills. But when she was introduced in Guidebook to Murder, I thought she’d just be part of Greg’s past.
In Killer Run, releasing in August, I have a whole new person and business coming into view. Of course, Harrold and The Train Station have been in South Cove for years. As the writer, I just never realized its existence.
I also knew I wanted the characters to have a dinner theater. I love dinner theater. I used to go to Knock ‘em Dead in Boise Idaho, especially for their holiday presentation. So much fun.
How did you celebrate the publication of your first book?
I wanted to buy (and still will someday when I find the right one) a sculpture of a Bull Rider in his full glory, arm thrown back and all. Jesse and the Shawnee gang taught me a lot and I appreciate Crimson Romance taking a chance on an unpublished writer.
When you get the edits back from your editor, how do you work through that process?
I can answer this quickly since I’m doing my developmental edits for Murder on Wheels as we speak. I love my editor. She’s my first reader and has a good handle on where I’m missing the boat and what isn’t coming across on the page. I always worry about the book when I send it in, but I’m never right about the things she will comment on. Murder on Wheels has a connection with a geo-cache club, something I’d never heard of before last summer. I thought my editor would question this more, but no, it was another aspect of the story.
So, my process. I go through and do the track changes acceptance for the easy stuff. Any comments I leave for the second or third run through. By the time I get through the first pass, I know I can implement the editorial letter changes she wants. Then I do a last run though, making sure I’ve hit everything I was asked to look at and made the changes that I found.
Has writing changed how you read books now?
I try not to let it, but I see editing issues when I’m reading or listening to an audio version. Often the author gets the name of a character wrong and that gets missed in edits. Yesterday, I found a place where the editor had added a clarifier to the beginning of a sentence, which the author accepted, but the original first word for that sentence was [still] capitalized.
I want to get lost in the story, but I see the man behind the curtain now more than I did before I was published.
How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
Can I answer, badly? I don’t have kids at home, just a husband who sometimes is very demanding of my time, but mostly leaves me alone to write. Especially now that the books are selling well. J He won’t see this, right?
I’m currently writing the first book in a new series, so my attention is split between Tourist Trap marketing and the new Colorado set series.
I work full time, have health issues (not big, but frustrating with a lot of appointments right now), and we’re developing a couple lots for a cabin where, once it’s done, we’ll move and I’ll write full time. So we have a ‘plan’. Keeping all the balls in motion makes me over schedule and stress. I’m probably the worst at my bookkeeping. It’s something that I’m working at getting better at so I’m not working on taxes for the better part of the first few months of the year.
Basically writing is running your own little business. You are in control of your money, your products (writing), your commitments (contracts) and your promotion. So I probably work 60-70 hours a week doing both the day job and the writing gig. But I love it.
You are quite the juggler! But you’re right—writers wear many hats. What is the biggest chance you’ve taken as a writer? How did that work out?
This is a great question. I believe there are two chances that have guided me to where I am today. One was going with Crimson Romance to publish my first book. I was a launch author for the publisher, so when I signed my first contract, there was no history of the company to look over or marketing to review. But signing let me learn the BUSINESS side of the gig in a safe place. I didn’t have to worry about not earning out my advance. I built my social media sites, learned what worked and what didn’t.
Small press is a great place to get your water wings.
The second chance I took was self-publishing a novella that I’d written for the bull rider series and Crimson turned it down. I learned how to make my own covers. I also learned it’s better for me to purchase one. LOL I learned about Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. And this year, I learned how to widen my reach by releasing the book onto the other distribution sites. Since January 2014 when I dipped a toe into the self-publishing pool, I’ve also released a novella I got rights reversed on an original contract.
Oh, and I fired my agent.
You are definitely a risk-taker. No wonder we connect so well! What surprised you as you wrote your latest book? What amused or angered you?
Dressed to Kill is about dealing with past relationships, yours and your significant others. Now, it’s not only about that, but the theme I wanted to work with was what you do when your boyfriend’s ex-wife wants him back. Jill has her insecurities, but I think she learned a lot about herself in this book and their relationship gets stronger. Of course, the romance is a sub plot. Mostly Jill wants to find out who killed Sherry’s new beau, even if all the clues she’s finding, point back to Greg’s first wife.
I love a mystery. A little romance makes it even better! Thanks for visiting with me today, Lynn. I wish you all best with all of your books.
Dressed to Kill blurb:
Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More in the tucked-away town of South Cove, California—is not particularly thrilled to be portraying a twenties flapper for the dinner theater murder mystery. Though it is for charity…
Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn’t acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor’s conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill’s main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late.
Lynn Cahoon’s books are available at:
Visit Lynn Cahoon at:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LynnCahoon
website – http://lynncahoon.com/
Amazon author page – http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1