Have you ever wondered how much research goes into writing a mystery? In this day and age, it’s easy enough to Google just about anything. So how important is it for an author to be on location in order to produce an accurate scene? One that will please the reader as well as a Jeopardy champion know-it-all.

Although my books are cozy mysteries, Laurel McKay, my protagonist, has ended up in a number of dangerous situations. For authenticity, I decided that I should experience the same situations that she encounters, but without the perils. Mostly. So I’ve learned how to drive a backhoe, danced in a ballroom competition, discovered the joys of ATV riding and zip-lining in Hawaii, and drunk copious cups of Kona coffee as well as numerous pitchers of daiquiris in search of the perfect one (Lilikoi).  ATVXWaipioXmedXsize

I’ve also climbed inside a wine crusher (terrifying), ridden in a stagecoach and sampled donuts across the country.





That donut research was definitely the most dangerous!  To my waistline!DonutsXRiseXnXXRoll


My current WIP, Dying for a Diamond, takes place on a Caribbean cruise. Now you probably think I picked that location to give me an excuse to take a cruise. And you would be completely right.

Two years ago, while on a Dancing with the Stars cruise, I bumped into a fan of cozy mysteries. Liz Davies and I became online friends and we decided book six needed to take place on a cruise ship. She assembled a wonderful group of ladies and gents from all over the country, and together we combed the ship for potential scenes of the crime.

We discovered that not all passengers were as enthralled as we were with finding the best place to stuff a stiff, so we discreetly formed the DB (dead body) club. The crew, the dance cast, a security officer, and ship photographer were also more than happy to help us find places to hide my poor victim.

Or victims. Occasionally I get carried away and this ship certainly had enough excellent hiding places. One of the members of the DB Club even acted out a scene we called DYING FOR A DISCO! gwenX4XX2X

But just because we researched the ship from one end to the other, it doesn’t mean I’ve made my final decision just yet. I want to hear from my creative readers. For those of you have taken a cruise, tell me some likely hiding places. And if you haven’t been on a cruise, let your imagination go wild. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing to win a $25 gift card of your choice.

If your suggestion ends up being the actual crime scene, you will be acknowledged in the book. And I may even throw in a fake diamond! Leave a comment by midnight on March 8 to be entered in the drawing.



  1. Heather Haven on February 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Having been on 11 cruises and planning to take 2 more this year, I can tell you that once you get on board, which is not so easy – but once you do – you can hide a body nearly anywhere. Of course, you’d have to keep moving it around, because there are cleaning crews and staff going into all parts of the ship at decided times. Now how would someone know the schedules of cleaning crews? Hmmmm. That might be fun, a moving corpse that only Laurel finds in different parts of the ship disappearing soon after. Everyone would think she’s nuts.

    • Liz Davies on February 23, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      oooooh, I like that Heather! And Heaven knows , we found plenty of places!!!!!

      • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        We certainly did, Liz. Laurel may have to take several cruises which means more fun for me!

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Great idea, Heather. Laurel hasn’t experienced a movable corpse before. A new twist on missing at sea!

  2. Liz Jasper on February 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve never been on a cruise but I DID watch a lot of the Love Boat growing up and consider myself an authority on cruise ships for sure. (Haha)

    After seeing commercial for Disney cruises (wow, my knowledge base is unending!) I totally want the body to be put down the slide tube thing (actual technical name).

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Oh, great idea. I don’t think we had a slide tube thing on our ship but it’s my cruise line. I can do whatever I want. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Pat Foulk on February 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I know this one is going to be a hoot. love the collaborative Dead Body Club.

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      I love the Dead Body Club. They are awesome!

  4. Teresa Leigh Judd on February 23, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    The only cruise I ever went on was years ago on a small ship in the Greek Isles. Sorry to say, I can’t remember a thing about the boat other than it was on water. I think you will have to depend on more experienced people for a place to hide a body. Or…if you want to fund a trip, I’d be happy to look into it for you.

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Ha ha, Terry. We need a girls’ outing, don’t we!

  5. Kathleen L. Asay on February 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Never having been on a cruise, and not inclined to start now, I think I’d have been better help with the donut research. But I wonder about all those places you found to hide a body, it sounds like a serial killer could have some fun–and then there’d be none left to tell the story. Let your imagination run wild!

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      My imagination is already running amok but I love reading everyone’s comments. Thanks, Kathy.

  6. Holly on February 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Everything is so tightly packed on a cruise ship, but there are places where a body could potentially be put. If no one has claimed these yet, then my suggestions are: 1. Insidea a life boat, because they are basically storage and rarely noticed (until the smell). 2. Inside the engineering or piping maintenance areas because we were on a cruise and our plumbing was out for the first day on one side of the ship, very mysterious. 3. Inside the clean laundry because once I ran back onto the ship and entered the wrong elevator and found myself in the employee areas, and right in the laundry. I could easily have hidden and never been found. Good luck!!!

    • Cindy Sample on February 23, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Holly, I want to travel with you. You end up in the most interesting places!

  7. Loucinda McGary on February 24, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Well, I have been on a few cruises…(*KOFF*KOFF* 28) and there are plenty of places to temporarily hide a body. Have you been on a “behind the scenes” tour of a cruise ship? How they ‘deal’ with trash is truly amazing, and would be a great place to dispose of a body. 😉

    • Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 1:17 am

      Thanks, Loucinda. They didn’t offer a tour on this cruise. I was really disappointed. Sounds like you and I need to get together and share cruise stories!

  8. Alanna Zrimsek on February 24, 2016 at 2:34 am

    Hi Cindy…Congrats on all you have accomplished to date and The Dead Body Club is definitely a cool group…and so many fun ideas from readers…
    I think a body hidden inside a storage container full of life vests would remain undetected until the murderer tried to toss the body overboard…

    • Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 2:36 am

      That’s a good one, Alanna. Love the way your mind works!

  9. Jacqueline Seewald on February 24, 2016 at 6:27 am


    You are so creative! What a clever idea to draw readers into the plotting of the novel. Like many others I’ve only been on one cruise, but I did have lots of fun. I think a mystery on a cruise ship is a wonderful idea.

    Having the body appear and disappear in various locations is clever. What about the gang plank when it’s lowered for people to depart to a port? How about seeing a body in a life boat as well?

    • Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 10:04 am

      All wonderful ideas, Jacquie. You always create such terrific plots yourself.

  10. Jana on February 24, 2016 at 8:59 am


    I can’t wait for your new book!

    Having never been on a cruise, I like the direction that Heather pointed out, a movable corpse. Start possibly with a room service/tea cart then move on down to the kitchen where depending how big the washer is she/he can get stuffed into a dishwasher, then moved onto a gurney or wheel chair that are put aside when somebody gets hurt. A laundry shoot in a pinch and then the laundry bin can take the body to it’s final destination. Possibly a pool slide in-between but then you are dealing with a soggy corpse, which I assume would be a lot heavier to move so “easily,” except maybe by elevator. Most of the book would be Laurel trying to come up with ways to move and hide the body, which I think would be hilarious. Oh, she or he can be dressed in a bathing suit and posed by the pool with sunglasses and a hat. Maybe that’s how in a last minute ditch, the body ends up going down a long enclosed pool slide, placed in a pool ring and floats around the lazy river pool until it ends up, dun, dun duh….?

    • Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 10:05 am

      I knew you could come up with a zillion concepts, Jana! Love them.

  11. Kathy McIntosh on February 24, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    What fun! Much more than working on mine today! I’ve only been on a couple of cruises, but I enjoyed the other ideas shared. I love the idea of a moving body. I do agree the lifeboats would be a good place. We did get that initial safety training, but after that the boats seemed invisible … sort of a reminder we passengers didn’t want to have.
    Maybe someone could explode after eating all that food! Or is there storage for the sports equipment? A tennis racket locker?
    Have fun! And see you soon.

    • Aloha Montgomery on February 24, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Hmmmmm…maybe a body cleverly hidden within the smoke stack/funnel …or tied to the anchor… or tucked in around the ships big horn (would certainly change its tune!) Always Dying for more Laurel adventure!

      • Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 7:03 pm

        Ha ha. I love those ideas, Aloha, especially the big horn!

  12. Cindy Sample on February 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Very creative suggestions Kathy. Thanks.

  13. Jean Bevanmarquez on February 25, 2016 at 1:59 am

    I’m voting for a lifeboat.. After the requisite documents drill, not used til a real escape or next batch of passengers. Suspended above the decks, they can escape view..IMHO

    • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 10:42 am

      I would say the lifeboat is taking the lead here. I wonder where this victim will show up? Thanks, Jean.

  14. Susan Coryell on February 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Lots of good suggestions here. Have you considered using something connected with the evening entertainment? My cruise (only one) hosted a fantastic magician one night. Lots of props involved that could hide a corpse. Also, singers and dancers wear many costumes. How about in a costume wardrobe? A DJ’s equipment container?
    Good luck with another Laurel story. Looking forward to it!

    • Karen C on February 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      I haven’t been on a cruise but was wondering if the have ice machines for the passengers. Can’t wait for Laurel’s next adventure. Great idea to get fans involved.

      • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        The stewards bring the ice but it must come from somewhere! Great idea, Karen.

    • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      I have considered a few entertainment options including a magician. And a few others that I may keep secret for now:-) Thanks, Susan.

  15. Linda Lohman on February 25, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve been on many cruises. Western Cruise Line died but there was a whale with a huge blow-hole that swam alongside the ship for three days! Everyone had to look over the side every day, and recount to other passengers that “Yes, Blowie was still there, dancing with the ship!”

    Ok, to hide bodies, I’d agree with the lifeboat suggestion, but it’s a bit too obvious. So, why not:
    On the rock climbing wall (talk about well-hung. Er. wALL-hung)
    Under the SKIRTED Grand Piano in the bar
    In a piece of LOST luggage (maybe from the last cruise)
    In a box of ART (there are always art auctions on board)
    In the SPA inside the area where those stones are heated (might even kill him off that way)
    Under the skirted table of dark chocolate at the midnight buffet? (Death by chocolate?)
    In the Dummy Box (ventriloquist opens the box on-stage and gasps to find a corpse!)
    Remember the talent show? How about a magicians act with the box sawed in half, and voila, the beautiful assistant can’t get into the box because there is already a corpse in it!

    One cruise I was on also had a game going on about 11pm in one of the lounges. It was kind of a ship board trivia. It was so popular, that there was standing room only! Mostly because the questions were ridiculous and the answers were made up. Teams were at the drinking tables and picked their own names. Even funnier!

    For instance: What does a ships proctologist do? Best answer- He looks for a pimple on a hemrhoid. Everyone applauded the best answer and that answer was declared the winner. Another question was who invented the ships toilet? Sir John MINIcrapper.
    What is a bra on a ship? The strap on a tug boat?
    You get the idea. Everyone threw their answers out and then the (drunken) teams applauded the best answers. No need to be right! Just funny.

    It would make for a great scene to bring out one of the suspects.

    By the way, remember, your Hawaii one? Well, my sister in law is from Kona. When her aunt passed away, it was THREE months before they could have the funeral because of limited funeral facilities on that island. So be sure that wherever you are burying this corpse, we don’t have to have a WAKE for weeks or months! Those ship board drinks get expensive!

    I can’t wait for another Laurel adventure!

    • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      My brain is spinning, Linda. Laurel may have to take a couple of cruises. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  16. Sherry Joyce on February 25, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    I’ve been in several cruises, and think Laurel will have a really great adventure. A body has to go overboard, or be found in the swimming pool, or be hit on the head with the falling glitter ball in the top deck disco lounge. Speaking of the lounge, a great place to hide a body behind the black speakers and covers where the equipment is only used late at night. Bodies in elevators would be a scream-fest.
    I can see Laurel dressed in the wrong attire for excursions, under-dressed for Captain’s dinners, and
    having directional problems (my issue – can’t find my room if I get on the wrong elevator). Can’t wait for this book, and love the title!

    • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks, Sherry. You have such a great imagination. I may need to add to the body count with all of these great suggestions.

  17. Kim Gin on February 25, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    This sounds like another great book! I can’t wait to experience Laurel’s next adventure.

    I was reading all the replies which all sound great. I would pick some place where no one would notice the smell unless it’s a fresh kill. I would say on a dinghy attached to the ship, with a partial cover, so that the fresh sea air would constantly move over the body as the ship moved and push the smell away.

    You know I’d be the one to mention the smell!

    • Cindy Sample on February 25, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      I love hearing from the pros! I need to keep in mind the smell factor! Thanks for the tip, Kim.

  18. Gemma Juliana on February 28, 2016 at 4:29 pm


    What fun! I can’t wait to read this book and would love to join the DB Group! If you are arranging a cruise in the future, please let me know!

    I lived and worked on a cruise ship for nine months, so feel free to email me as a sounding board. Only problem is it was thirty years ago and ships have changed a lot since then.

    I tend to think stashing a body in a tender is a bit obvious, and love some of the more unusual thoughts that have been mentioned. My faves are the laundry idea, the staff quarters idea, the garbage disposal idea, and the entertainment idea.

    Imagine a dead body dressed and lounging by the pool, then the same ‘lady’ dressed in a gown and sitting in on entertainment with dark glasses, bright lipstick, extremely strong French perfume and big hats. I wonder how long you could prop her up that way before someone discovered she was dead (or that the perfume no longer worked!)…

    On another note, it might also matter where the cruise takes place. There could be some great interactive scenes with local attractions or strange characters that board the ship in port that can add lots of flavor and bring great hiding opportunities to the story.

    • Cindy Sample on February 28, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Gemma, I did not know you worked on a cruise ship. I hope we can meet and you can share some stories with me. And I love your “lady” concept. Well done!

  19. clare price on February 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Having never taken a cruise so not much help with the scene of the crime but as an avid “Dying” reader, I vote for Heather’s idea of moving the dead body around. It reminds me of the hysterical Hitchcock movie — The Trouble with Harry. You might want to check it out for humorous body moving scenes.

    • Cindy Sample on February 28, 2016 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks, Clare. I saw that movie years ago but it is definitely worth watching again. You never know!

  20. Sarah Bloch on February 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    I’ve been on cruises on several different lines but Disney is definitely my favorite. The have a,large on board movie theatre so I’m thinking maybe the DB can be stashed in the projector room for a bit. Perhaps he can spend a little time in the teens play area inside an arcade cabinet. I’ve often wondered what’s in the large deck boxes sitting around everywhere. ….maybe its for the recently expired. A corpse may also find a temporary home in the on board hospital. Who would think to look in the cold storage?
    Looking forward to reading it.

    • Cindy Sample on February 29, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      I’ve never been on a Disney cruise. Those are great options, Sarah. I’ve often wondered what’s in those deck boxes too!

  21. Pamela DuMond on February 29, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    In a lifeboat.

    • Cindy Sample on February 29, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      That seems to be the majority vote. Interesting!

  22. Louise Pledge on March 1, 2016 at 12:39 am

    I’ve been thinking about this for some time now! 🙂 It has to be somewhere that Laurel will trip over it or, otherwise, be the one to discover it. My first thought was in one of the lifeboats hanging over the side, but being a professional pianist, I’m wondering if a DB would fit under the lid of a concert grand! 🙂 My cruise ship of a few months ago DID have a nice library!

    • Cindy Sample on March 1, 2016 at 12:58 am

      Funny you should mention that, Louise. I ran into the stage manager on the elevator who knew about our DB gang and she told me the grand piano in the Queen’s Lounge would fit a body quite nicely! It was so hilarious how excited the crew was about this book.

  23. Carolee and Thad Champlin on March 1, 2016 at 7:35 am

    There’s a lot of hidden romance on the cruise ship. Could hide the body under the bed of the First Officer for example. He always stays with the beautiful Cruise Director. Tee hee!

    • Cindy Sample on March 1, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Oh, now that is very useful gossip, Carolee. You’ve given me a terrific idea!

  24. Patricia Gligor on March 1, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I wish I had a suggestion for you, Cindy, but I’ve never been on a cruise ship.
    I’m looking forward to reading this next book in your series!

    • Cindy Sample on March 1, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Thanks for commenting, Patricia. I’m getting so many comments that my head is spinning. I may have to write two cruise mysteries!

  25. Lola on March 1, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    It’s amazing to hear how much research you did for the books and I definitely think that trying those things out yourself can add a layer of authenticity to your books. Hmm that donut research sounds yummy!

    I haven’t been on a cruise ever as I get very seasick on boats. I once took a boat trip twice from the Netherlands to the UK and during one of those trips my mom her car also went on the boat. So I am thinking maybe in the car storage part of the ship would be a good place to hide the bodies as during the actual trip no one is actually there. Besides that I think maybe the movie theather if they have that on the cruise in your book or somewhere else with very little people?

    Just grabbed a copy of the first book in your series as it was free 🙂 and can’t wait to read it! It sounds like a fun series and I am really enjoying cozy mysteries lately.

    • Cindy Sample on March 1, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Lola. I feel for you. I met several people on the cruise who were suffering the entire time. Our cruise was actually on the rocky side. I still don’t know how those dancers were able to dance in their 4 inch heels. Love the movie theater idea and you’re the first one to suggest it. Hope you love DATE!

  26. Terell on March 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I have never been on a cruise but I would assume under someone else’s bed might work? I have to stick to committing crime on dry land

    • Cindy Sample on March 2, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      That might work very well!!! Good idea, Terell.

  27. Grace Koshida on March 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I have never been on a cruise ship, Cindy. But does the victim have to die on the ship itself? How about the victim being killed during one of the port stops. A mugging? Or a drowning? Looking forward to reading how it happens!

  28. Cindy Sample on March 7, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    The crime scene can happen anywhere Grace. It’s all a mystery to me!

  29. Kathy Miller on March 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I think the kitchen is the perfect place! Just think of all of those gadgets with all of the strange names! Don’t forget the cooler, what a perfect place to hide the body. hmmmm. Can’t wait! Best of Luck to you! Thank you for this opportunity.

    • Cindy Sample on March 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Everything in my own kitchen remains a mystery to me but cooking is not my forte. Storing the body in the cooler is a wonderful spot in case the killer needs things to “cool down!” Thanks, Kathy.

  30. Polly Schack on March 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    I always loved the way stewards would arrange your rooms with towels in the shape of animals. There might be a way of juxtaposing one of these “towel” animals next to the body in some corroborative/threatening way…of course that would directly implicate the steward who would, of course, be an innocent.

    • Cindy Sample on March 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      Or use a really really big towel to hide the body! Good one, Polly.

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