Thursday, August 1, 2019

Lucy is Trudging Down the Home Stretch of The Key Lime Crime


cover draft
LUCY BURDETTE: This week marks the countdown to the due date of The Key Lime Crime, #10 in the Key West food critic mystery series. It’s always a hustle to get the manuscript in decent condition in order to send in for a first look by the editorial staff. I had a little laugh the other day when someone mentioned that cozies can appear to be written according to an outline that is provided to the authors by the publisher. Wouldn’t this make things so easy? (Although also so boring.) (And for the record, I don’t like the moniker “cozy” either.)

In fact, I think this only happens if the series is a “work for hire.” In those cases, the author is provided with a “bible” that describes the characters and the plot and the setting, and the author follows those guidelines. I’ve also heard of Harlequin romance lines in which the writers write to a prescribed outline. James Patterson co-authors some books that way, too--he provides the ideas and develops an outline and the co-authors write.

For me, with no direction from powers-that-be, it’s always a challenge to figure out why Hayley and her friends are involved in another murder, what new characters might be stepping in to breathe fresh air into the series, and which suspects will really ring true to the reader. It’s not so easy! 

The middle of the book for me is the hardest. I always come up with tricks and techniques that I think are new and brilliant, and usually discover that I’ve used them before—sometimes they help and sometimes they don’t. In the sagging middle days of THE KEY LIME CRIME, I tried two things – creating a really brief outline of what happens chapter by chapter (after they were written.) And, second, writing a little paragraph about each suspect, explaining why they might possibly find themselves in such an emotionally wrenching situation that they were forced to kill. Who are each of these people, and what might they have against the murder victim?  I thought about sharing one or both of these techniques, but the chapter by chapter looked so boring. And the suspect paragraphs would give the story away... 

Here instead, is a snippet from Chapter Three as the Key Lime Pie Contest gets underway...

Last, the woman who had opened a brand new pastry shop in the fall called Au Citron Vert, came forward on the stage with an assistant, a dark-complected man with a nice smile whom she introduced as Paul Redford. She had blonde curls and red lips and wore a fitted white jacket several eons more fashionable than the baggy white coats and aprons that the other contestants had worn. She also wore high-heels—black patent leather with a gold toe—that looked expensive and uncomfortable. Paul hovered behind her like a worried mom.

“Key lime pie is passé, and that is precisely why I’ve replaced it in my establishment with a Key lime Napoleon," she said. "My contribution today is our best selling confection. I believe our fans understand the difference between a true French pastry and a plate of green glop.” She waved her hand dismissively at the lineup of pies from the other cooks and bakers. “I would like to present to you a handmade patisserie with layers of homemade puff pastry drizzled with a glaze containing local honey and key limes and stuffed with pastry cream scented with a whisper of lime. Key limes are no bigger than a walnut,” she explained. 

Her assistant, Paul, held up one of the small green fruits to show the audience. 

“Unfortunately,” she continued, “they are not too common on our island in spite of what our host claims. And so we source them from further up the Keys.” She opened a small, white pastry box and produced a Napoleon that made my stomach groan with anticipation. “Flaky layers brushed with organic butter, tart glaze, and a handcrafted cream pastry kissed with lime,” she added as she held up the pastry. Her sous chef stood behind her nodding and smiling. “All of this is homemade in my new shop on Greene Street, Au Citron Vert.” 

T-bone investigates the creamy pie
But David Sloan strode to the podium and took the microphone. “I am sorry to do this publicly, but as was clearly stated in our entry forms, we are accepting only pies in this contest. No cookies, no martinis, no flaky pastries, regardless of how delightful the chef insists they might taste.”  

Claudette’s face grew stony and her assistant pushed forward and grabbed Sloan’s arm. “We deserve to be here. You cannot do this,” he started.

“Oh, but I can,” said Mr. Sloan, a smile on his lips that looked anything but friendly. “This is my event and I make the rules. Please step down from the stage.”

Off to the left, before my brain could fully register what was coming, Claudette Parker had picked up the pie from the Key Lime Pie Company, the one that had been touted as extra creamy, with whipped cream piped joyfully around the edges. She slammed it into David Sloan’s face.  

I found one loose 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 these two really easy questions: Graham cracker or flour pie crust? And whipped cream on top or meringue?

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


69 comments:

  1. Flour crust and whipped cream. And it looks like T-bone agrees with me, at least on the whipped cream part. Looking forward to your new book!

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  2. That cover is great!

    No need to enter me in the giveaway, but I would take a graham cracker crust and whipped cream, please. Although, I wouldn't say no to any of the above.

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    1. We tasted a lot of pies for this book, and liked each of them!

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  3. Graham cracker and whipped cream for me!

    I had a key lime tree in my yard when I lived in Miami. Those little guys are prolific in nearly every month except November when I wanted them for my Thanksgiving pies, and it takes a lot of tiny limes to get enough juice for one pie. Squeeze and freeze was the solution.

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  4. Thanks for this delightful snippet, Lucy . . . I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the story.

    I’m choosing graham cracker crust and meringue . . . .

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  5. Graham cracker and whipped cream! Oh, Claudette, silly woman... Love the excerpt, Lucy.

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  7. Pie in the face! A classic! Love it, can't wait to read the rest. Pastry crust and whipped cream for me--and T-Bone, your cousin here at home also goes by 'Mr. Nosey.'

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    1. Tbone says hello Mr. Nosey! I was picturing a time when I was waitressing in college and we decided it would be fun to put a pie in our boss's face. He was furious...I was lucky not to get fired...

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    2. Can't say that I was ever brave enough to pie someone--although I've been tempted!

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  8. What a great ending!
    Graham cracker of course. And whipped cream.
    And I do that, summarize-what-I-write-after-I-write-it it thing. Not to show anyone else, just to keep my ducks lined up. I'm a much slower writer than you, so it's essential just to keep track of what I've written and avoid repeating myself.

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    1. It's very hard to keep the whole book in your head. And I've written many lines and admired them, only to find out later that I already wrote the same damn thing eariler!

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    2. It's hard to hold it all even for fast writers! I always get bogged in the middle.

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    3. Any special "bogged in the middle" techniques to share Edith?

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    4. I do this, too, Lucy and Hallie. Writing in Scrivener is very helpful for this, also. It makes it really easy to look back at any chapter or scene. And I do a little synopsis index card for every scene, which I can pull up just by clicking on it.

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  9. Graham cracker and whipped cream. The book sample waa delicious 😉

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  10. Oh! Can't wait to read this, Lucy!

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  11. Oh, the middle! Lucy, THE WORST! I have a whole list of things I try-/ I will send it to you! But my basic rule for the middle is: just keep going. Just keep going. Make sure something happens in every scene. And don’t worry. Just persevere.

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    1. making sure something happens is such a simple but critical idea! I would love to see your list

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  12. And clearly, whatever you are doing worked! This is such a terrific excerpt!

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  13. I've had, and enjoyed, all of the above, but the best I ever tasted had a flour pie crust and whipped cream. Key lime is one of my favorites.

    Great excerpt. I guess David Sloan isn't very popular.

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  14. Lucy, when you write, how messy is your first draft? Do you revise it before sending it to your editor? I'm working on my first mystery and my first draft is a MESS!

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    1. Very very very messy! It’s such a hard thing to do, but as Halie always likes to say, hold your nose and write. Then you can go back and fix. Anything can be fixed except for an empty page. I would never send my first draft to the editor LOL – only my writing group friends see that horror!

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  15. Not an expert because I don't make them but when I eat Key Lime Pie, I expect a graham cracker crust with whipped cream. Now my mother's Lemon Meringue Pie always had a flour crust with of course, meringue.
    I am salivating already over your book. Please keep persevering as Hank said.

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  16. Graham cracker with no topping for me, Lucy. As part of your writing group, I’m lucky enough to see you develop a story from beginning to end and it amazes me how you always pull it together. No spoilers, but the plot for KEY LIME CRIME is one of your best.

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    1. No topping??? You’re very sweet Angelo, as I said above, you are one of the few people who see the early ugly mess

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  17. Graham cracker. Meringue on top of the pie for me :-) . Loved your post, Lucy. I finally got to read Deadly Feast from the library, through the interstate loaning system. I kept on borrowing the same book published two or three years ago, thinking it was the new book..LOL. I am so bad at remembering titles!

    Diana

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    1. Glad you finally got the right one Diana LOL. I forget everything these days...that's almost as frustrating as buying the same book twice!

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  18. Graham cracker crust with whipped cream on top, because that is easiest. And no cooking required, which is part and parcel of a key lime pie to me.

    What a brilliant name for the patisserie, Au Citron Vert. (Says Ann, smiling.)

    I'm reading DEATH ON THE MENU on my brand new Kindle Oasis 10.

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    1. thanks Ann--it IS a brilliant name and you are in the acknowledgements! and thanks for reading

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  19. Graham crackers with whipped cream is best but to be fair I love all key lime pies!

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  20. I enjoyed the snippet from The Key Lime Crime, and like Hayley, my mouth was watering as Claudette described her Key Lime Napoleon. I love graham cracker crusts and whipped cream on my pies (I'm not very good with meringues!) ~ I can't wait to read this book!

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    1. thanks Celia. I decided the Napoleon was probably too complicated to include in the back of the book though...:)

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  21. Well done, Ann, on the name. I remember that discussion.

    Lucy/Roberta, this addition to the series--can it really be #10!?--sounds delectable.

    Graham cracker and whipped cream for Key lime pie, but very good pastry crust for all others, and meringue for lemon or coconut.

    Now my stomach is growling.

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  22. What a great, tempting, hunger making slice of pie Lucy, I’m hooked. I’m not a very accomplished baker but when I was catering I would make fresh fruit tarts for parties with a pate sucre crust brushed with apricot jam in the French tradition! Then decorated with carefully cut fruit, strawberries and kiwi etc. whipped cream on the side, it was the ‘80’s. So I will go with flour crust and lashings of whipped cream, home made of course.(my emoji is laughing but it refuses to appear here).

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  23. Reading delicious food descriptions of good prior to breakfast is just not fair. I haven't eaten key lime pie but like good flour pie crusts over Graham crackers in general. Meringue vs whipped cream, that one is a complete toss up, I like both. Looking forward to finally reading Death on the Menu and looking forward the Key Lime Crime next year.

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  24. T-bone is ready for a tasty treat!
    The snobby woman's offering sounds pretty darn irresistible.
    For key lime I like a graham cracker crust that incorporates chopped nuts.
    Whipped cream. You can never go wrong with that!

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  25. I’m not picky as long as the key lime filling is good. If I’m making the pie it will be graham cracker crust and whipped cream. But that napoleon sounded yummy but not its presentation!

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  26. What Celia said, LOL. Pastry crust with lashings of whipped cream. Although when I was a child, my mother made fabulous lemon meringue pies. They were legendary. But then she stopped making them, no idea why, but it left me with a sentimental liking for meringue.

    Now, Lucy, you need to 'fess up. What is your personal choice on the pie?

    And tell T-Bone that is the cutest picture ever!

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    1. He's such a devil that T-bone.:) If I was making the pie Debs, it would be graham cracker crust and whipped cream...

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  27. OMG - now I want key lime pie sooooo much! Lucy, this is a fabulous set up. I can't wait to read Hayley's latest misadventure. Weirdly, I don't mind the word cozy at all. It's just a marketing term that helps your readers find you.
    NBD. As for the publisher giving you a bible for a writer for hire - I did that twice. They gave me a story bible and I handed in a book that didn't resemble their outline at all except in the setting and they published it anyway! LOL!

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    1. I guess I mind it if it's used as a way to dismiss a group of books, Jenn. You're right though--it's a shorthand way for some readers to find the book!

      You're too funny about the bible--we should not be surprised:)

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  28. Graham cracker & whipped cream always!

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  29. Love key lime pie! Graham cracker crust and whipped cream. So refreshing this time of year.

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  30. As usual, I'm salivating at the thought of the next Haley book, and with a title like Key Lime Crime, it's especially tempting.

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  31. Graham cracker crust. Whipped cream. I don’t think I’ve ever had Key Lime Pie, even though I worked in a restaurant for a while and in summer there was always Key Lime Pie in the bakery case. I think the chocolate peanut butter silk pie always caught my attention first. Now I need to watch my sugar intake but I’m not one to refuse an offer of pie.

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    1. chocolate peanut butter pie would be pretty darn irresistible!

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  32. Flour crust and meringue. Great series.

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  33. Graham cracker & whipped cream please. I enjoyed the snippet!

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  34. Graham cracker and not topping. What a waste of Key Lime Pie, but I cannot wait to read the new book.

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