Thursday, June 6, 2019

What We're Writing AKA PANIC! @LucyBurdette #giveaway


LUCY BURDETTE: The deadline for the first draft of The Key Lime Crime, scheduled to be published in July 2020, is speeding toward me. We also have a very busy summer lined up including a trip to Scotland and two family reunions. Don’t ask how I’m going to get everything done – I’m liable to panic and melt down right in front of you.

In this 10th Key West mystery, T-bone the cat makes his first appearance. So when Crooked Lane asked for cover art suggestions, I requested that the artists include Mr. T-bone. Here's the draft of the artwork--that's him on the bottom left. He and I agreed it's going to be adorable!

All that is great, except that last weekend Mr. T-bone developed a terrible case of spring fever. He desperately wanted to be outside hunting things and enjoying the wilderness, such as it exists in Connecticut. On Saturday, John went downstairs to  make coffee and came upstairs with terrible news: T-bone was gone. We figured he jumped on a tall narrow screen in the kitchen, and his weight pulled it out of the window. And he was a free man! 

We were distraught, and spent most of the day searching through the salt marsh and the woods calling for him. I reported his chip number missing to the Pet Watch organization, and emailed all the neighbors to be on the lookout. Naturally, I googled 'how to find a missing cat.' According to one website, most cats are found within 300 to 500 feet of where they went missing, if they are not accustomed to being outside. (And despite T-bone's insistence that he can handle anything because he was born and raised on the streets of Key West, we know our neighborhood contains both coyotes and foxes. Boney, as we affectionately call him, would make a tasty snack.)  

At least, I said, trying to look on the bright side, we didn’t find any tufts of orange fur in the yard. 

Such was the positivity that I was trying to cling to. Eventually I went to bed, but woke around 11:30 hearing John calling for him one last time. And then what sounded like a conversation between John and Boney. The prodigal had returned. We were so thrilled and relieved. 

If he had permanently disappeared, I have to admit that one of the many things I worried about was how I would share this heart-breaking news with his online admirers. Not to mention how I would bear a book cover featuring my kitty when he'd been gobbled by a predator? Crisis averted. And trust me, we'll be watching him carefully so he doesn't escape again. 

To set things up for T-bone’s appearance in The Key Lime Crime, Nathan Bransford’s mother is visiting unexpectedly right after Christmas. Since he is in charge of all the security details for the influx of New Year's Eve visitors, Hayley and Miss Gloria are tasked with entertaining Mrs. Bransford. In this scene, they've taken her on a train tour of the holiday lights, and Miss Gloria thinks she saw a stray kitten at the last stop. When they go back to look, they find the cat, but also a body. The cops come to investigate, beginning with asking the gathered neighbors if they know the victim...

A woman piped up. “I think she owns the new bakery on Greene Street. Over by the bight? She makes a key lime pastry that’s to die for. Really, it blows the rest of the bakeries in town out of the water.”

I gulped. Even as we spoke, that same Key lime napoleon from Au Citron Vert was sitting in my refrigerator with the other slices of Key lime pie. It wasn’t quite fair to compare puff pastry to a piece of pie, but since the owner of this new bakery refused to make a pie and yet had garnered an avalanche of reviews on the various foodie websites in town, I felt I couldn’t ignore it. Now I knew where I’d seen her face: The bakery and the pastry chef had scored a big feature on the front page of the Florida Keys Weekly right after Thanksgiving. I’d been home more than usual, tending to Nathan’s injuries, and had the time to read all the local papers cover to cover. And only yesterday, I’d seen her slam a wet pie into David Sloan’s face when he dismissed her from his contest. If this person had been the author of that gorgeous flaky confection, she would never be making another. I was flooded with sadness.

Miss Gloria approached the sidewalk where I stood with Nathan’s mother, watching Nathan interview the bystanders. She was carrying an orange tiger kitten with white paws, one of them half white, half orange like a frosted half-and-half cookie. Even though Miss Gloria crooned sweet kitty nothings to him, he seemed terrified, ready to bolt the instant she loosened her grip. He mouthed a silent meow. 

“That’s T-bone,” the chatty neighbor said. “I’m surprised you were able to lure him out of the shrubbery, he’s a little skittish with strangers.”

“Soft kitty, warm kitty…” sang Miss Gloria. He snuggled lower into her arms and I was pretty sure I heard him begin to purr, exactly like the kitten in the song. 

“We’ve seen a lot more of him than we’ve seen of his owner lately,” the neighbor said. “I’m not sure she was even feeding him. He was over on my porch most mornings. I admit I gave him some snacks. But I couldn’t take him in, my big guy would tear him to bits.”

She held her arms out for the kitten. “I volunteer for the Florida Keys Humane Society so I’ll call someone to pick him up. I can check on him tomorrow during my shift.” 

Miss Gloria looked near tears, but we had about all the living things we could handle on our little houseboat. Adding a kitten would push us deep into the red zone of crazy pet people. She handed the tiger kitten over and I circled my arm around her waist. “It’ll be easy to find that guy a good home—he’s wicked cute.” I squeezed her gently and smiled at her and then Nathan’s mother. “If we’re finished here, let’s head back to the houseboat. I think we all need a drink.”

“I’ll be there when I can,” Nathan called after us. “Definitely don’t wait on me for dinner. And I’m certain you’ll be asked to talk to us again, especially about the question of what caused you to return to this house.”


I have a copy of the audio version on CD of A DEADLY FEAST, the ninth Key West mystery, to give away today. To be entered in the drawing, answer this question: How important are book covers in your decisions to buy a book? What draws you in?

The Key Lime Crime is coming July 7, 2020, which gives you time to catch up on Death on the Menu and A Deadly Feast! Meanwhile, big thanks to Ann Mason for suggesting the name of the fancy bakery, Au Citron Vert...

79 comments:

  1. Lucy, I’m so glad that T-bone found his way home . . . and I love his picture on the cover of your book! [Our youngest daughter used to open a can of cat food and stand on the steps tapping it with a fork . . . and the wandering kitty couldn’t scramble into the house fast enough. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my very own eyes!]

    I love this glimpse of the sweet kitty in your story and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to him.

    How important are book covers when I’m buying a book? Well, it depends. Generally, I notice the author’s name first. Then I look at the picture and read the blurb on the book jacket. Truthfully, I’m often more apt to buy a book because of the author than because of the cover art.
    What draws me in? Uniqueness . . . cuteness [and kitties] . . . the sense of something to be discovered . . . .

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    1. thanks Joan, that's a wonderful description of how you choose a book. I hope he doesn't escape again, but I will definitely try your technique if he does.

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    2. Lucy, we've always tapped a fork or spoon on the cats' food bowl when we feed them. It's great conditioning in the event that one does manage to go walkabout--they will usually come running when they hear the sound.

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  2. I'm so glad T-Bone is back! I take my cats outside for a half hour or so a day. It seems to be enough to satisfy their curiosity about the outdoors, and I think it's good for their mental health. Love your upcoming cover, and I bet T-Bone is pleased about his first book appearance!

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    1. He is pleased, though right now he wants to grab the bunny that he sees out in the yard! I can't imagine that he'd come back in after half an hour??

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  3. I'm pretty sure I've said it on here before but while a book cover might draw me to check out a book, it doesn't determine whether or not I buy a book. The back of the book, where the all important synopsis of the story is located, is what will be the deciding factor in whether or not I make the purchase.

    This applies to authors I haven't read before. If I'm already a fan of the author, the covers don't matter in the least because you know I'm going to buy the book regardless.

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    1. Oh the dreaded back cover synopsis...for the next book, they asked me to send a draft in rather than sending one to me. Luckily the Reds helped me polish what I wrote. Hank is actually a genius at this kind of thing...

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    2. Lucy, Hank does seem to have the flair for the genius, doesn't she?

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    3. Awwwwww thank you! It’s always easier to write someone else’s :-)

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  4. Whew! It's so painful when one of our feline friends goes missing. As with Joan, we've had luck standing outside and opening the can of treat.

    I love this excerpt! Covers certainly signal the subgenre, so they might steer me toward the kinds of books I want to read, but I wouldn't decide to read it or not based on the cover.

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    1. we still haven't figured out what direction he went in...and he's not saying a word

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  5. Sounds like a good one, Lucy! I'm so glad things turned out well with the RL T-bone.

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  6. Jimmy C and I are relieved to know T-Bone came home safely. Jimmy C says he can pretend he's the model for your cover :-) He escaped once also, did not like the adventure, and there was admittedly general panic until he was found.

    I like when an author's covers develop a style that clearly identifies the author. Looking at your covers, Lucy, they have those Key West-sunset colors glowing--and the style is fun but not saccharine. Right now I'm noticing lots of covers that scream 'copycat thriller'--and I have no desire even to read the blurb. I may miss some good authors/books because of this, but the covers are a total turn-off.

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    1. I'm glad Jimmy C learned his lesson--not at all sure Mr. Tbone did!

      You are right about copycat covers--it happens with lighter mysteries as well as thrillers. Somebody is thinking "if that one sells, another will sell even better..." I am very lucky to have snagged these artists for the first book, and also lucky that Crooked Lane was able and willing to continue with them.

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  7. Oh, what an ordeal! So terrible. It was my cat Leon’s life ambition to get outside… He would try to make a dash for it whenever we open the door. One day he made it… And hit snow. He stopped in his tracks. Almost jumped straight up into the air, and ran back inside.

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  8. Margie Bunting you won an early review THE MURDER LIST! Email me at H ryan at whdh.com. with your address!
    Yay! Crossing fingers if you love it. ( you are in the US, right?

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    1. I can so picture that Hank--it must have been hysterical!

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    2. Exactly! HIs little cat brain was just completely baffled and surprised.

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  9. It's easy to differentiate cozy and thriller covers. Traditional mysteries, not as easy.

    Relieved that T-Bone survived the great outdoors and is safely inside. Too many coyotes in our area. Haven't seen an outdoor cat in quite a while.

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    1. Thanks Margaret! while I was petsitting our former friend Yoda, he was treed by a fox. After that I didn't let him out--and eventually he came to live with us for good.

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  10. If it is a author that I read all of the time then the cover is not important for choosing it however I do sometime stop and look at the cover while I am reading the book so I can get a clearer picture in my head of the setting and characters. It usually always makes me smile to imagine it.

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    1. that's so cool Deb--love thinking of you stopping mid-read to look at the covers!

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  11. Wonderful excerpt, Lucy.

    Koda has gotten out once. Seems when I left the gate *looked* like it was shut, but it didn't catch properly. Someone let him out without checking the gate and off he went. Fortunately, he didn't go far. He encountered a couple walking their dog at the end of the alley. Socialite that he is, he stopped to make a new set of friends.

    A book cover will not make me buy a book. But it will definitely get me to pick it up. I want a cover that matches the story inside and gives me a teaser as to the type of story it is.

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    1. So scary, glad he stopped to chat.

      Good point on the book cover drawing you in, but not necessarily making the sale...

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  12. I wonder where T-Bone went when he was gone? Wouldn't you love to know? Anyway, like everyone else I'm so happy that he returned safely.

    Covers have taken on more importance in my book selection since I started getting audio books from the large database my library subscribes to. If none of my reserves have come in the day I need a new book, I do a search on mysteries available now, and it usually returns a couple thousand pages of books, with a picture of the cover, the author's name and title. As I scroll through, the cover is the most likely thing to catch my eye.

    Like Jay, I won't ultimately select a book based on its cover -- but the cover is likely to get me to stop and consider it. So I rather appreciate covers that clearly communicate the sub-genre. (Though I have not liked the trend toward what I consider overly cloying covers on cozy mysteries. But more and more publishers are using them, so I must be in the minority.)

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    1. Ha Susan! I don't think the marketing departments are always in close touch with the readers:)

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  13. Book covers definitely draw me in, especially ones with a cat. I also like the artwork on many, but that said it will cause me to check it out, but the description and cover both is what will have me give it a try.

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  14. Lucy/Roberta,

    I was almost afraid to finish reading your blog post because I didn’t want to hear that T-Bone was still missing! I’m so glad he’s home safe!

    Covers do, and do not, affect my choices. That is, if I already enjoy books by a particular author, I pay no attention to the cover. If the author is unknown to me, I tend to stay clear of covers that look too violent or too cutesy. I may check out the synopsis, or maybe not. If people whose opinions I value (such as people I meet on blogs!) recommend one of those books, I may give it a try.

    DebRo

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  15. The book cover is the first thing to catch my eye, it has to be good in order to get me to read the back of the book. The back of the book is usually what determines if I read the book. smurphee@yahoo.com

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  16. So glad TBone returned safe and sound. Thanks to you he's developed quite the fan following. It's scary when a cat doesn't come home. Because we're a multi-pet family, we've always had a doggy door. That meant cats bringing in 'toys'--Smoky once brought in a live young rabbit for his Lady dog. That was an adventure! Several years ago Gizmo kitty disappeared. After 5 days I was afraid his savvy wasn't enough. One day I was outside while talking on the phone with Deb and saw Gizzy--thought I was seeing a ghost! He was so skinny and skittish. I suspect he was shut in someone's shed. Yes, I know folks think all cats should be inside, but when you live in snake country, cats who can keep the rat and mice population under control help keep away snakes.

    As for book covers, like many others, I find an interesting cover tempts me to read cover copy and/or the first few pages to see if it's something I'm interested in.

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    1. I had a cat resurface after a month. I had taken him to college, much to my mother's dismay. When he disappeared, I alerted the humane society. They called a month later to say someone had reported an orange tiger hanging around their house. It was Tigger, a mile away from campus, very skinny and unhappy. My mother came down the same day to pick him up and bring him home!

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  17. Oh so glad T-Bone found his way home. Once in a while Eliot breaks outta jail, and it is pure hell until we corral her again. So I know exactly how you feel.

    Although I appreciate book covers, most of my reading is done on my Kindle Voyage, and since no color is involved, I barely notice what the e book looks like. Julie reads on her Kindle Fire, and covers are very important to her. So there are two extremes in one household.

    When in a bookstore, I pay far more attention, and I think having a brand look is important. It draws my eye and makes me stop and have a look, although I remember only one book that I actually bought for the cover. It was The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd, and what was inside didn't disappoint me either. Have a look, although the wonderful graphics of the cover don't really show well online. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FBJGY0/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

    Lucy Roberta! I had completely forgotten about Au citron vert! I'm thrilled and honored that you picked my name. And Coralee has provided me with a pint of key lime juice, so once I'm up and moving again, pneumonia being a hard master, I plan on making a pie although I'm sure it won't be a patch on one from Au Citron Vert.

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    1. Hope you are feeling well again soon! Loved your shop name--it's perfect for the story

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  18. I am so glad that T-bone came back home -- it's so horrible and nerve-wracking when a pet goes missing!

    I am a very visual person, so book covers are important to me and definitely draw (pardon the pun) me to books. Since I mostly read ebooks now, I don't get to appreciate the covers as much. I really like the draft for the cover of The Key Lime Pie Murder and am glad to know that T-bone will be a part of the story.

    Safe travels this summer!

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  19. thanks Celia! now I need to get off this blog with its wonderful conversation and go write!

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  20. So scary when they go missing. Back in the day, Ross used to insist cats "needed to roam" (insert me rolling my eyes furiously) probably because our first cat, Mac was such a home body. He'd go out, lay in the sun, and come in. Our next cat, however, wasn't and he disappeared for good a few months after we adopted him - we suspected a fisher got him (we live right by a river.)

    From that point on, my rules held sway, and no kitty went out. Every once in a while Neko darts out the door between my legs, not because she wants to be outside, but because like any cat, she figures if there's a door, she ought to be on the other side of it. When she gets out on the porch she FREEZES in alarm and will run back into the house as soon as possible.

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    1. I've got the porch door open today and Tbone is howling be released....

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  21. Thank goodness T-Bone came home! I would have been frantic too if it was one of my boys. I've read that if you put their litter box outside that will help them find their way home.

    A book cover is one of the first thing that makes me pick up the book and read the blurb about the book. The author is the primary reason I buy the book, but the cover is important to make me try a new author or a new series.

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    1. I just heard that trick the other day! good to know about the book cover too...

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  22. Lucy, I am SO glad T-bone came home!! I think it would be lovely to have an indoor/outdoor cat--but not where we live, either! Far too much traffic, and we have both owls and coyotes in the neighborhood. Our two kitties are rescued strays. Bram (affectionately known as Ticky) was a malnourished five-week-old kitten when he came to us, so his outside experience was limited. Over the years he's made the occasional bolt for an open door, but we've always either grabbed him right up, or found him hiding under something near the house. Our Yasu, however, was picked up by a kind person and taken to our vet when she was about five months old. Her tail had been badly mangled--the vet thought she might have been sleeping on a car engine--and had to be amputated, hence her bobbed tail. In the six years since, she has never once shown the least interest in going outside. I can't blame her!

    I loved the excerpt--made me want to pick up A Deadly Feast and read it through again!! Can't wait to to see what everyone is up to in Key Lime Crime! And your cover art is fabulous, you have got a real winner with the cover artist. So glad Crooked Lane is keeping this look.

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    1. Yikes on the car engine Debs--I wish Tbone had learned his lesson but I don't think he has..

      and thanks always for the kind words!

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  23. I’m thrilled that your kitty returned. Our sweet Roxie got out a year ago this past November and was never found. She had no outdoor skills ever and it snowed that night and we have woods all around our house with Fisher cars, coyotes etc and hunters that shouldn’t be there! She was actually shared with me by my daughter and grandchildren to keep me cheered up with a kitty’s antics and love! That was the worst telling my grandchildren she was gone at all and then never to return for not lack of trying to find her including a reward!

    I’ve loved all your books and will be anxiously awaiting your release of your book in 2020! I’m not entering but wanted to tell you my dad kitty story and let you know how your story brought back the feelings I know you experienced! It’s so upsetting!

    Cynthia Blain

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    1. I'm so sorry about Roxie, Cynthia! I bet the grandchildren were heartbroken, but it was probably harder for you

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  24. I'm happy T-Bone returned safely home from his big adventure. When I'm wandering in a book store the covers that really catch my eye are the ones "different" from the latest trend. I like to take in all the details on covers like your Key West books. I'm instantly drawn to a cover that reflects the style of a different era, particularly the 1920s. However it is either the author or the blurb that will make me consider buying, although the cover may have made me pick it up initially. So, in other words, anything goes when I'm browsing. When we were in Key West last December I took a picture of every piece of key lime pie I ate and sent it to my sister. Gotta do my sisterly duty.

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    1. haha Pat, it sounds like you were doing research for me! it's going to be a while before I order another piece of Key lime pie:)

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  25. I always look for the pretty covers most of the time because for me they tell a little bit of what the book is about and draws me in especially if it's a new series or a author that I haven't read before. Read one book out of this series but I'm going back through them and getting caught up on all of them.❤❤😍❣

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  26. Sometimes it's the title, sometimes it's the cover art but if I'm already reading a particular author decision is easier. If someone recommends a book I'll read the synopsis and then decide. Of course if the recommendation is from authors I already enjoy reading - so much better.

    I'm happy your cat has returned home unscathed. We had cats while growing up. They were inside/outside cats. They could out during the day but in at night. Because Mom didn't want them wondering the house, they were put in the garage. Our cats responded to the electric can opener. They would come for green beans, tomato soup as well as cat food. They didn't really like the green beans.

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    1. haha, love the can opener Deana. Tbone doesn't know anything about that!

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  27. The cover doesn't "sell" the book to me, but it can be a major factor in whether I look at the book or not.

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  28. Here I am—last in as usual! Thankful for T-Bone’s return. Wonder if his short thrill of freedom will curb his desire to get out?

    Some how I’m on Harper Collins list to do surveys re: book covers. Often it’s a really subtle something that draws me to one over another.

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    1. If anything, he seems more eager than ever to burst out! that's so interesting about your role at HC

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  29. Oh...the cover lures me in to the first page. It sets a scene in my head...very important to me

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  30. Lucy, how scary that T-Bone went missing. I'm so happy he returned home to you and John. T-Bone is such an adorable kitty, and I love his appearance on the new book cover. The Key Lime Crime is a great title, too. The excerpt has definitely whetted my appetite to read it. Looking forward to seeing how Nathan's mother and Hayley get along.

    I am a big fan of book covers. I have been know to buy a book just for the cover and buy books I've already read for their fabulous new covers. I have several copies of some classics, especially Penguin covers, that are revised from time to time. Heck, I even have a book about Penguin covers. A book doesn't have to have a great cover for me to read it, but it is a bonus I delight in. One of the elements I love on a cover is fog. Go figure, but if there's fog and a house enshrouded by it, I'm going to check it out.

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  31. So glad T-Bone made it back home. My kitty almost always escapes when I open the door. Luckily she's too afraid & doesn't go much farther than a few steps out the door.
    I think covers are important since that's what catches my eye when shopping online & in stores, but it's really the description of the book that determines whether or not I'll get it.

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  32. Lucy, I already love the excerot! I love the name of that fancy bakery. Is Nathan's mother more like the Jane Fonda character or the Lily Tomlin character in Grace and Frankie?

    So glad T-bone made it back home. I thought you were going to find Boney high up in a tree and ended up having to call the fire department.

    Diana

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  33. Lucy, have a wonderful time in Scotland! I just saw the schedule for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Wishing I could go this summer. Perhaps next year? Edinburgh is among my favorite places!

    Diana

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  34. So precious!!! Of course, I must know how T-Bone comes to stay! Love this as much as Key Lime Pie, which is A LOT!!!

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  35. So glad T Bone came home! The cover doesn't decide if I read a book. It's the author and the first couple pages of the book. If it draws me in I get it. If I read the author I just buy it. The cover does help me imagine the story better. Thank you for the chance to win Donamaekutska7@gmail.com

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  36. Glad that your cat is safe. I've lived on a busy street my whole life, and even when I was a child, many animals were hit by cars.

    Although I would read my favorite authors even if they have ugly covers, I really enjoy a colorful cover. I bought the color Nook just to see the covers in all their glory. If I'm finding a new author, the cover is a big factor. For cozy mysteries, I like bright covers with animals, food, crafts, gardens or whatever is in the book. A nice street scene or a shop window, maybe.

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  37. Glad T-Bone made it home safely. Back when our 16-year old Pug was a puppy, husband, granddaughter and I came in the house from the front yard and eventually somebody asked, "Where's Pep?" Several frantic moments later we found him leaning against the front door!

    I am drawn by covers - or probably more accurate to say I can really be put off by covers. The cover will catch my eye but what will have me buying is usually the author, the blurb on the cover or the fact that I have already heard of the book. And this latest cover is just great, but then they all have been!

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    1. Yes they have thanks so much I am very very lucky with those artists

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  38. If it’s from a favorite author, the cover isn’t that important. But if they are new to me, a great cover can really affect my decision.

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  39. The cover is a big part of being drawn to a book for me. A lot of the time, just the author's name is enough for me to say "have to read this one". I'm also influenced by reviews of others that I respect that have already read the book. However, the book cover is what draws me to a book, to check out who the author is, and to pick it up to explore the back cover especially if looking through a bookstore or on line shopping. That's one of the things I love about cozies - there are so many clues hidden among the bright colors and pretty scenes.

    I, can only imagine the heartache and worry you went through those terrifying hours that T-Bone. Thankfully it was just like a cozy - case solved and everyone was right where they needed to be by the end of the story.

    Thank you for the great opportunity to win a CD copy of "A DEADLY FEAST"!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  40. love the Name T Bone read for this book

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  41. Put a lojack on that kitty, quick! He's a cutie!

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  42. Book covers are very important to me it give you and ideal of what the books is about. More appealing the cover is I am more likely to buy the book.

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  43. Glad your cat is okay. As for what attracts me to a book cover, anything with a dog or cat, cafe, or beach scene.

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  44. Cara Dedden is the winner of A DEADLY FEAST! thanks for all the lovely comments!

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  45. I'm glad T-Bone came back.

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