Thursday, July 31, 2014

My guilty secret: Guest post by Author Lynn Cahoon

Welcome guest author Lynn Cahoon to Killer Hobbies today, and check out her newest mystery, Mission to Murder!  How about you?  Are you a toucher?
I’m a toucher.

I think it started when I took my first home ec class. Visiting a fabric store for the first time, I strolled through the aisles of bolts. Cottons, wools, tweeds, silks. I loved running my hand over the cloth. So when we started to learn to knit and crochet, I was in heaven. Making my own nubbie cloth, then transporting that strand of yarn into a pillow case, or a scarf that made me happy.

I even enjoyed ironing as a kid.

Now that you know that fact about me, it won’t surprise you when I tell you I have a stash of fabric. I think I love the idea of quilting a lot more than the actual work. I’ve only done a few small wall hangings where I hand pieced and hand quilted. Great activity while watching a movie or waiting for a kid to finish with (add in your child’s sport here) practice.

I’ve moved my stash three times in the last six years. From a rental in a small town that could be the poster child for Small Town America. To another rental in a historical Mississippi river town.  And finally, to our own home in the same river town. 

Two Christmas’s ago, I took another leap of faith and bought a sewing machine.  It sat in the box under my dining room table, unopened, for a year. Then last month I pulled it out and patched several pair of my husband’s jeans.  Sewers everywhere are cringing when I say this as denim is hard as nails for machines. 

But it survived. Last week I mended an old quilt we use for camping. I’m feeling like Suzie Homemaker or at least the woman the teenage me expected.  Some days I think they might show up at my door and take away my Future Homemakers of America president’s gavel.

A few months ago, I started adding to my fabric stash. Twice now, I’ve purchased fat squares from a vendor at the local flea market. My fingers itched as I considered my purchases.

Have I made anything yet?

No, but that’s not the point. I can make something. Well, I could if I found the right pattern and a matching solid to bring them all together. And the time to actually cut and piece and sew and quilt.

Those pieces of fabric are like the untold stories floating around in my head. Waiting for the right connecting piece to be uncovered so the story can come to life. The Tourist Trap series came out of a dangling idea. During a spring break, I’d been visiting California and fell in love with a house for sale. I took a picture of the run down cottage fifteen years ago and when I developed the film (yes, it was that long ago), I stuck the picture on my wall near my writing desk. I knew the house would be a major part of the story. I just didn’t know how. Now, four books later, I’m deep in my South Cove world and the pieces just keep coming together. Just like a good quilt, with hills and valleys to run your fingers over, a joy to touch.

BIO- USA Today and New York Times, 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 four fur babies.


Buy links: Amazon | iBooks | Nook  

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 …

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back from RWA National

I'm home!  I returned a day early from the Romance Writers of America National Conference this weekend, but I was there long enough to have a great time.

I arrived last Wednesday in time for a party that included librarians and booksellers, mostly those who were local to the venue of this year's conference, San Antonio, Texas.  I said hello and schmoozed a bit, then got ready for the next event: the Literacy Signing.

If you've never been to RWA National or haven't been to a Literacy Signing, you've missed one huge, wonderful book sale!  Authors are set up mostly alphabetically in a big room, and all of them sign books that are sold to each other and the local public, mostly copies that were donated by their publishers.  The proceeds are then donated to organizations that support literacy.  Hey, if people don't know how to read, how can they enjoy our books?  I sold copies of my most recent Harlequin Nocturne: UNTAMED WOLF.  And I talked to a lot of people, both other authors, conference attendees and local readers who came in to buy books.

The next day was Thursday, and although I had a few events scheduled I actually got to attend a few workshops and panels, as well as the official conference luncheon. 

Then there was Friday.  Talk about a busy day!  I had breakfast with one of my Harlequin editors and others who write for that series: Harlequin Nocturne.  Then I went to the Harlequin book signing, where there was a giveaway of the 2-in-1 version of UNTAMED WOLF combined in one volume with Alexis Morgan's Nocturne IMMORTAL COWBOY.  Lots of other authors signed their books, too, in this giveaway to conference attendees to acquaint them even more with our work.

Next, I had lunch with another Harlequin editor and some authors who write for the other series I also write for: Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  I had to hurry and leave early, since next I got to sign copies of my books for the Berkley giveaway: TEACUP TURBULENCE, fifth in my Pet Rescue Mystery series.

Later that afternoon, was the panel I had put together: Multiplicity Rocks: Writing Concurrently in Multiple Genres or Subgenres.  Four of us, including two other authors and my wonderful agent, discussed the pros and cons of writing in more than one genre at a time.

That was followed by the Berkley cocktail party, then the Harlequin party which was as wild and delightful as ever.  Imagine hundreds of women (with a few men among them) dancing in the middle of a dance floor to songs like "It's Raining Men!" and you'll get the general idea!

I was exhausted after that.  But on Saturday I did get a chance to do some sightseeing before leaving for home, and sightseeing in San Antonio is definitely fun--although at this time of year it's also miserably hot and humid.  Even so, I got a boat tour along the river and also got to visit the Alamo.

I'm glad to be home now.  My dogs are glad I'm home.  But as I said, I definitely had a wonderful time.

By the way, I returned to a deadline.  The manuscript for my first Barkery and Biscuits Mystery is due on August 1!  That's also the publication date for my next Harlequin Nocturne, LOYAL WOLF.

So what did you do while I was enjoying my latest conference?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don't Stick Your Elbow

I've got a "killer" case of insomnia, so I'm posting this now, in case I finally get to sleep and can sleep in.

Most people who have any knowledge of the Burma Shave signs know this one:

Don’t stick
Your elbow
Out so far
It might go home
In another car
Burma shave

About two weeks ago I was wakened right at daylight by the excited “squee-squee-squee” of a bird (or birds) in the trees across the street.  I wasn’t able to get a good look at them – they are a pair – because my eyesight isn’t great any more.  What I did see was a light brown bird bigger than a robin, maybe the size of a crow, that flew very fast, calling and calling.  Too small to be a hawk but something about it said Predator.  So I looked up predator bird calls and on the Internet and found this:

And by George, that’s what I’m hearing!  The falcons have been moving into downtowns for years, where the skyscrapers give them the height they want for their nests, and they feast on pigeons (which is why city officials encourage their presence).  But what are they doing out here in the suburbs?   I kept an eye on them – they perched on the roof of our building and on top of a telephone pole not far away, and when they flew past I got a glimpse of tan and dark-brown spots on the underside of their wings, and their hawk-like bills.  I contacted a bird watching club and our University’s Raptor Center and both asked for a photo.  I’m such a dork, I didn’t think of it until Saturday – and that day the birds moved down the street and I only now hear them at a distance.  I went down there, and couldn’t see them.  I’ll keep trying.  I was hoping for a photo to post here but no luck.  I have been informed that there are Peregrines nesting on a high-rise office building right here in St. Louis Park, and not far from where these birds are playing.  I wonder if these are the hatched pair from there?

Ellen’s home – she came home last Wednesday.  She’s up and walking around the apartment, eating, talking, surfing the ‘Net.  She tires easily and when we go elsewhere in the building she uses a wheelchair.  But she’s home and her healing progresses.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Molly Moment

I think I had a Molly Moment. I did something stupid and embarrassing like the situations I write for my character. But I say if you’re going to do stupid embarrassing things the least you can do is talk about them so people can get a chuckle out of it.

Let me set the scene. I went to the gym for the Tuesday morning cardio class. They call it cardio, but it is really dancing around though it is really beside the point. A bunch of people I know where hanging around the locker room, talking. Somehow the subject of skylights came up and I mentioned leaving a container of mini peanut butter cups on my kitchen counter. The sun came through the skylight and melted the whole thing into a big lump which is now in my refrigerator waiting to be figured out what to do with.

I went to put my stuff in a locker. I guess we are all creatures of habit and I seemed to always go for a certain locker. Only this time, someone had left their stuff in, but put no lock on the locker. Not such a good idea. Hard to believe but it is true, things have disappeared in the gym. Like let’s just say they had to glue the soap dispensers to the sink because they went missing. Finally, even the glued down ones took a powder, probably in somebody’s gym bag. Now they have ugly things attached to the wall you’d need a crowbar to get loose. They seem to be lasting.

So, I thought how foolish it was for whoever to leave her stuff in an open locker. Meanwhile I simply took the one next to it. I shut the locker and used my keys to unlock my lock. A few moments later, I snapped on the lock, locked it and left to explore the deluxe locker room at the gym. There is an extra charge to use it and I’d never seen the inside, but the door had been left open, so why not.

I don’t know how much extra they charge to add the special locker room to your membership, but anything above free is too much. What’s so deluxe? The lockers are strained a slightly darker color and instead of the blah benches in our locker room, it has a couple of cushiony individual benches. It has a sink that looks like a glass bowl and free standing dispensers of soap and lotion. I wonder if they’ve disappeared in the past?

Then I went to the class. Halfway through,my endorphins had taken over and I was a regular dancing machine. Who knew I could jump up and down and twist that much? By the end of the class, I was sweaty and looking forward to going home and having a belated breakfast.

I went to fetch my stuff, but when I looked for my familiar red lock on the line of lockers, it wasn’t there. My lock was gone? I opened the locker I’d used and my stuff was in it and after a quick check saw that everything was still there. A woman was standing near me and said someone had come in and cut off a lock a while ago. Huh?

Sweaty and upset, I rushed to the front desk and asked, er maybe demanded to know why my lock had been removed. It turns out I had put my lock on the wrong locker. The woman who’d left her stuff in an unlocked locker had come back to find my lock on her locker. (This is beginning to sound like a tongue twister) I started to get all huffy about it until reality clicked in and I changed my tune to an oops it was my mistake.

I can only imagine the look at that woman’s face when she found out that someone had padlockd her belongings. I’ll apologize if I ever find out who she is.

Hers hoping you got a chuckle out of my misadventure. Once I got over the egg on my face, I know I did.

There is still time to stop by to check out my guest post. If you leave a comment you’ll get a chance to win a copy of SILENCE OF THE LAMB’S WOOL.