Life in flip flops

Author Cheryl Linn Martin visits with a fan at the book release party at Journey Community Church.

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“Pineapples in Peril” is book one in the Hawaiian Island Detective Club series.

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Children participate in a Hawaiian-themed craft activity during the “Pineapples in Peril” party.

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Martin tries to write at least 5,000 words a week. She encourages aspiring writers to make small goals, such as writing 10 minutes a day, to get started.

Anyone who has had a little brother knows how annoying they can be at times. This is definitely the case for the heroine of local author Cheryl Linn Martin’s “Hawaiian Detective Club” series.

In the book, “Pineapples in Peril,” 13-year-old Leilanai Akamai faces an entire summer without surfing due to a broken arm, which she blames on her younger brother, Kimo. Meanwhile, she and her friends, the official members of the Hawaiian Island Detective Club, aim to solve their first real crime — a case of pineapple vandalism at Tong Plantation. Unfortunately, Kimo’s meddling may blow their entire investigation.

Martin’s characters are inspired by memories of raising her own spirited children and her years of working in parks and recreation.

“When I decided to write a mystery series for the ‘tween age group, I thought, ‘what would be fun for kids?,’” she said. “I lived in Hawaii a long time ago and have great memories of it. A lot of people have been there before, and those who haven’t want to go.”

Martin, a Washougal resident, sat down to write her first few paragraphs and knew she had a winner.

“I called up my daughter, Ashley and said, ‘Listen to this!’ I was just so excited.”

That excitement was visible a few weeks ago at a book release party, held at Journey Community Church. Martin signed copies of her book and offered Hawaiian inspired arts and crafts, goodie bags and treats. She will provide this service free of charge to any group that is interested.“I like kids and have fun going to community centers and schools, and meeting them,” she said. “I bring crafts for the kids, and pencils or stickers. My big thing is to encourage kids to read and write. That’s important to me.”

“Pineapples in Peril,” is book one of a three-book series to be published by Comfort Publishing. The second one, “Menehunes Missing,” will be released in February.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned writing these books is that I am not an adult writer,” she said. “But with the ‘tween group, I’ve had success.”

It’s been a long journey from parks and recreation coordinator to published author. However, those who are writers usually know from a young age that’s what they want to do, and Martin was no exception.

“At age 10 when I was reading Nancy Drew, I told myself I was going to write a mystery book someday,” she said.

In 2001, while raising three children and working full-time, Martin decided she was going to accomplish that goal.

“It’s really just a matter of sitting down and doing it,” she said. “If you can’t find time to sit in front of a computer, just take a spiral notebook. I got a lot of writing done at swim meets and dance team competitions. You just have to figure out what works best for you and put that into your schedule.”

It took 10 years from the time Martin decided to become a writer to the time her first two book contracts came through, but it was worth the wait.

“It was exciting, surreal and overwhelming,” she said. “It was a shock.”

With two contracts underway, Martin tries to write at least 5,000 words a week to stay ahead of deadlines.

“If I keep up with my goal, I can have a book done in 10 weeks,” she said.

For those with full-time jobs and children still at home, Martin recommends a less aggressive system.

“Make smaller goals that you can surpass, such as writing for 10 minutes a day and get involved with local writing groups,” she said.

She adds that the best part of being a full-time freelancer is the freedom.

“I love the flexibility to make the decisions I do,” she said. “If I decide just to do my own thing for a day, I can.”

For more information about Martin or her books, visit www.cheryllinnmartin.com.