Thursday, November 21, 2013
What I'm Writing by Lucy Burdette
LUCY BURDETTE: We're confessing this week, right? Panic is a familiar feeling when I'm writing a book--right now with the fifth Key West food critic mystery my panic takes the form of wishing I knew what was happening. How can I possibly make something decent out of my sketchy ideas? This is usually the point where my husband suggests I review my synopsis. And I do. As usual, it's got more holes than substance.
Why the heck is Hayley Snow doing what she's doing? Where's the conflict? What are her stakes? Why would anyone care? Here's what I know: It's Christmas time, a magical season in Key West. There will be scenes at the holiday parade. And the lighted boat parade. And holiday parties, lots of parties.
There's a new chef in town, fresh from New York City, and she's opening a restaurant on the harbor. But she's pretty sure someone is out to ruin her business before it gets off the ground…and she needs Hayley's help. But why Hayley??
The good news is, I've been here before. With every book. Even MURDER WITH GANACHE, which is coming in February. Ganache and I are in a honeymoon phase--We think this could be the best one yet!
There are cupcakes and Hemingway cats and a wedding and way too much family, including Hayley's grumpy fifteen-year old stepbrother.
And I've just received a few galleys and I'm dying to give one away. Here's how you enter your name in the drawing:
I need a title for number five. It should have some of these elements: food, cooking, Key West, holidays (without coming right out and saying "Christmas".) So how's that? A chance at a galley for a title. Don't be afraid to sound silly. Your attempts can't be worse than what I've come up with!
And while you're thinking, here's the opening for MURDER WITH GANACHE (which can, of course, be pre-ordered):
I’m in an open relationship with salt and butter. Michele Catalano
Faster than a speeding Kitchenaid mixer, I scraped the freshly-squeezed lime juice and zested lime peel into the bowl and beat the batter to a creamy pale green. Inside the oven, the first set of cupcakes rose gracefully, releasing their sweet and sour citrus fragrance into the tiny galley of our houseboat.
Then my cell phone bleated: Jim Snow. AKA Dad.
My father isn’t big on phone conversations. My father isn’t big on conversations, period. Clients, he has to butter up because he needs something from them. But I could count on the fingers of one hand the times we’d chatted since my near-arrest for murder last fall.
So when his name flashed on the screen, I set down the whisk, abandoning the “do not answer” policy I’d adopted in order to survive the week leading up to my best friend Connie’s wedding. Something had to be wrong.
“Hi Dad, what’s up?” I asked, trying to sound cheerful, when wary was what I felt.
“Good news, Hayley Catherine Snow!” he said, with the faux heartiness he reserved for business associates. And using my full name, which he reserved for times I’d gotten into trouble. “The whole family’s coming to the wedding.”
I whooshed out a breath of relief--he was just lagging a beat and a half behind his wife. “I know. Allison RSVP’d weeks ago. You’re all set with a corner suite at the Casa Marina. You’ll love everything but the bill.” My stepmother Allison was organized to a fault. She had to be, as a chemist. Though why that didn’t translate into an ability to follow a simple recipe was beyond me. Hopeless in the kitchen, my mom always said, when she couldn’t restrain herself from an edgy comment.
The oven timer began to ding. I donned a red silicone mitten, pulled the cupcakes out, and slid them onto the stovetop.
“The whole family,” my father repeated. “Rory’s coming too.”
My fifteen-year-old stepbrother. To be honest, I was already stressed about the upcoming week, visualizing how I might handle the family dynamics between my mother and her new boyfriend, whom I hadn’t met except on Skype, and my father and stepmother. Not to mention juggling a high-strung bride while baking two hundred cupcakes for her wedding reception. Not to mention her husband-to-be’s first-ever art reception.
Rory had been adorable as a toddler. As a teen? Not so much.
A surly, pimply adolescent boy would not, no way, be an asset.
“I was hoping you could find him a place to sleep,” my dad continued. “Otherwise he’ll end up on the couch in our sitting room.” His voice rolled out ominously like the music from Jaws. I was pretty certain he didn’t care much for Rory in his current iteration either--only he didn’t have the luxury of saying so.
“I don’t think I can, Dad. You guys are arriving today. It’s spring break. The hotels in Key West have been sold out for months. I might be able to get a bead on a bunk in a youth hostel. But between us, I think that’s asking for trouble. You don’t know what kind of roommates he’d get or what they might be in to.”
He cleared his throat. “Might there be room on your houseboat? I know he’d love to have some special time with you.”
“No can do,” I said briskly. Rory and I hadn’t lived together enough to bond quite like sister and brother. After my parents’ divorce, I spent only alternate weekends and Wednesdays with Dad. And the weekends dwindled further once he remarried and moved two towns away. We’d never shared a room, or a tent, or for that matter, a mother.
“Think Airstream trailer on the high seas. The smallest model. Between me, Miss Gloria, two cats, wedding favors, and hundreds of cupcakes, we don’t have room to spit.” Was I being uncharitable? I looked around at the common spaces of our tiny houseboat, the counters in the galley covered with cupcakes, cupcake batter, zested limes, dirty pots and pans, and Evinrude, my gray tiger cat, eying it all from a stool beside the stove.
My father fell silent, which made me feel awful.
“What about Eric Altman? Didn’t your mother stay in his guest room in January?”
I groaned. How did he even know this? When I moved down to Key West from New Jersey last fall, I’d assured my old friend Eric I would only ask this kind of favor in case of emergency. He’d insisted on hosting mom, because she’d been so kind to him when he was a troubled teen. It wasn’t fair to foist Rory on him.
But then I pictured messy, grumpy Rory camped out on our single couch not five feet from the room where I’d be desperate to sleep. This was definitely an emergency.