Thursday, December 10, 2015

What We're Writing @LucyBurdette #giveaway

LUCY BURDETTE: What we are writing week seems to come around very fast, especially if we're not writing something we can share! I have completed the copy edits for KILLER TAKEOUT, and now await the page proofs. This is always a fun stage, because seeing those pages makes the book feel so real.

I'm also noodling around with an idea for an eighth Key West book, should the publisher clamor for that. It's too early to say much about it other than it would take full advantage of the changing climate with Cuba. (Remember, Key West is only 90 miles from Havana.) (And if you are anxious for another installment, the best way to make that happen is to preorder KT.) And I have been working on the proposal for what might be called a novel of suspense. So plenty of balls are being juggled!

I thought I'd share a scene from KILLER TAKEOUT that takes place on the dock where Hayley and Miss Gloria live in their houseboat. I have a lot of fun jamming local people and places into my books, including the names of pets. Schnootie the schnauzer came from an SPCA auction, and now her brother, Dinkels, an elderly black cat, will be making an appearance. Another friend was very disappointed that her cat didn't make the cut, so Jack has been layered in too. You might remember that both Hayley and Miss Gloria have cats, so of course they are in this scene as well. (Don't even think about all those litter boxes on the high seas!)

As I puttered up to the parking lot in front of Tarpon Pier, feeling the breath of relief and gratitude that always greets me when I realize I’m at home, I heard a huge ruckus on the dock. The racket radiated from Schnootie the schnauzer, whose barking echoed hysterically from the Renharts’ houseboat. As I strode up the finger, I spotted Miss Gloria on the Renharts’ deck. This never happens because Mr. Renhart abhors socializing. Over the incessant yapping of the schnauzer came the shrieking and growling of what sounded like hyenas. A lot of them.

I was pretty sure I recognized Evinrude’s angry cat voice among the yowls.

I broke into a trot, arriving just as Miss Gloria dove into a cartoon maelstrom of spinning legs and feet and fur and emerged with my tiger cat.

And that break in the action gave enough space for Miss Gloria’s black cat Sparky to rush back into the fray. So much was happening that I wasn’t certain who was fighting—or how many of them. But when Schnootie lunged into the whirling fur, I saw my chance and snatched Sparky out. Her chest heaving, Mrs. Renhart wrestled down two other long-haired cats, one pure black and one furry gray with a white face and neck and striking green eyes.

“Oh my gosh,” she said, her voice squeaky with exertion. “What a way to meet the new neighbors. And I so hoped my new kitties could be friends with yours.” She looked utterly bedraggled and forlorn, the two big cats clutched under her arms.

“These belong to you? Let us put our guys away,” I said, gritting my teeth as I smiled. “Then we can have a proper introduction.”
Miss Gloria and I carried our squirming, growling felines back to the dock and locked them in our houseboat. “What in the world was she thinking?” I muttered.

“I think she’s mostly lonely,” said Miss Gloria. “She sees how our animals get along so nicely and she wanted to copy us.” She shrugged and grinned, the skin around her eyes crinkling with laughter. “Take it as a compliment.”

“You’re right as usual,” I said, and gave her a quick hug. Another way I felt lucky in my life—this amazing and unlikely roommate. When I first met her, I sized her up as a frail but quirky old lady, a relic living out her last shaky legs on Houseboat Row. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We started back to the Renharts’ houseboat, where our neighbor had—thank goodness—put Schnootie away in their cabin. Her new cats had retreated under the deck chairs. And Mrs. R was laying out a gallon jug of inexpensive white wine and a plate of Oreo cookies.

“I’m so sorry about all that; I just wasn’t thinking.” She poured the wine into three plastic glasses and passed them to us. In the background, Schnootie yelped and slammed her weight repeatedly against the screen door—a one-dog percussion section.

“It was our cats’ fault as much as anything,” said Miss Gloria, and thunked her glass against each of ours in a plastic toast. “They love a good fracas. Now tell us the story of these new kitties. Are you fostering?” She wiggled her fingers at the black cat who approached her cautiously and sniffed.

Jack Melendy

I scratched the big gray cat behind his ears. He closed his eyes for a moment as if to enjoy the rub, then darted under Mrs. Renhart’s chair. I took a sip of my wine and a bite of the cookie, neither of which fit into my calories-for-today plan. But our neighbor had never invited us over before, and she seemed desperate to keep us there for a bit. “Red velvet Oreo? Delicious,” I said, as I knelt down on the deck and ran my hand over the big black cat’s back. “Who is this beauty?”


“That’s Dinkels,” said Mrs. Renhart, breaking into a huge smile. “He’s almost fifteen. Can you imagine sending a fifteen-year-old cat to the animal shelter? The workers said he seems to think he’s a dog.”

“He’s got gorgeous eyes,” I said. “And a powerful presence.”

“And beautiful fur,” said Miss Gloria dutifully. “And who is this other handsome fella?” She leaned down to peer at the gray cat.

“That’s Jack,” said Mrs. R. “They think he’s even older than Dinkels, but he’s sweet and dignified.” Her eyes teared up and she ran her fingers through one cat’s fur and then the other’s.
“I don’t know what came over me. I was sitting here yesterday thinking about how happy I was to have Schnootie in my life, and how I should give back what she’s given me by adopting more animals. And the next thing I know, I’m running a home for elderly felines.” She hooted with laughter and took a slug of wine. “Mr. Renhart, as you can imagine, is not amused.”

We laughed along with her, probably howling a little louder than was polite.

Meanwhile, if you are still short on stocking stuffers, you might enjoy browsing my Pinterest board with tons of suggestions about mysteries that would slide nicely into a stocking! If you like Christmas-themed cozies, don't forget DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

In fact, I think we should give away a signed copy of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS to go in someone's stocking. Leave a comment with your email to be entered.

And how could I resist sharing this photo from last weekend's Key West Christmas parade?
Lucy with Officer Joe


  1. I love the Christmas parade picture [looks like you're having a great time] . . . and the kitties having a set-to --- what fun! Thanks for the "Killer Takeout" smiles.

    I think a Key West/Cuba story would be timely and interesting. It certainly sounds as if you have lots of irons in the fire these days!


  2. Your book would fine in a stocking - mine! Merry Christmas!


  3. Great description of the cats, Lucy! Off to order Killer Takeout. (Don't put me in the drawing - already own and have read Death with All the Trimmings - and greatly enjoyed it.)

  4. Aw, cute cat pictures! What a sweet way to start the day. And great cover, too!

    What's the Christmas parade?

  5. thanks everyone! Hank, the Christmas parade is like a Fourth of July parade, only Christmas is the theme and tons of candy is distributed to the kids. So the local library had a float, and all the civic organizations, lots of musical and dance groups, and the SPCA marched with a ton of adopted pets. Such fun! We joined our local church group, where the real Steve Torrence is the pastor. It's a hoot to be marching across Duval Street past the bars--sidewalks are jammed. I always think of Hayley Snow, who helped build and man the float for Key Zest in DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

  6. Can I just say I love those names - Schnootie and Dinkels. What a riot!

  7. You're always up to something fun, Lucy!

  8. Froze at local Christmas Parade but had tons of fun. There was a police officer on the corner near us with his car running. I was going to ask him to arrest me so I could sit in his warm car but my kids wouldn't let me.

  9. Love this series. Can't wait for the next one to come out.
    Always nice to see a younger person happy to be with someone older.
    Great pictures - the motorcycle is great.
    Merry Christmas

  10. Love the excerpt, Lucy - When's the pub date for Killer Takeout (another clever title)? And I have right here a stocking stuffer Death With All the Trimmings...

  11. You do know how to have a good time. Thanks, too, for sharing your joy of life with your writing. A good time can be had by all (except your victims).

  12. Key West is on the top of my list of places I want to visit---I love your descriptions of the setting in your books.

  13. I already have my wonderful signed copy of Death With All the Trimmings, so no need to enter me, but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the excerpt. I never realize how much I miss Hayley and the gang until you give us a little sneak peek. Terrific as always! Can't wait.

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  15. Can't wait for this to come out, but it would be even more wonderful to win it!

  16. You guys are the best! Mary S, I never would have come up with those names on my own...

    Trish, what a great idea. My John was very worried about the motorcycle escapade, but sometimes I have to overrule him:)

    Thank you Mary, Bobbie, Hallie, Sue, Grandma Cootie, and JoAnne!!! xo

  17. Although with Mary H's comment, I had to stop and think...wait, who's older? Oh yeah, it's ME:)

  18. I think that's a great idea! Thankyou for the opportunity! Jill;

  19. Love the photo. That should be your Christmad card! It sums you up well.. Crime and fun!

  20. Cool pic! :) It would be be nice to find this book in my stocking.

  21. Lucy, I love the cover of Killer Takeout!! Have we seen it before? And love the scene! I miss Hayley and the gang, too, so am off to pre-order.

    I think a Havana/Key West story would be fascinating. Get busy:-)

    Oh, and LOVE the photo of you and Officer Joe!

  22. What total fun!

    I love that the "elderly" cats were holding their own in the fracas. (What a great word that is.)

    Keep sharing the marvelousness of Key West with us all through your books and your posts.

    And one can never have to many of your books!
    Bring them on!!!

  23. I really enjoyed the excerpt - I miss Hayley and Miss Gloria. And that tangle of cats...! I especially like the idea of a book about Key West and Cuba. I already have a copy of Death With all the Trimmings -- one of my favorites! Merry Christmas!

  24. I'd be excited to find this book in my Christmas stocking!! Love the cats on your book covers!!

  25. I truly love what I have read and headed to the Key West this weekend. From your books I have enjoyed it so much more. THANK YOU Merry Christmas

  26. Rhys, ha ha, that SHOULD BE my Christmas card. but I'm afraid John would object to Officer Cutie being featured instead of him:).

    Thanks Debs, I think I better get writing! Thanks so much Celia, LInda, and Libby--you are the best!

    And Jr Hardin, that is lovely compliment! so glad you enjoyed your visit.

  27. Love your books and the pictures

  28. That Christmas parade photo is wonderful! . . . as is the description of squabbling cats. Poor dear, she meant well.

    Thanks for the hours of pleasurable reading, and have wonderful holidays! Hugs!

  29. You look fine atop the cop's motorcycle!

  30. My stocking has space for your book! And the Cuba storyline is a great idea - you might have to go do some research there!

  31. Love the new cover, enjoyed the excerpt--recently the recipient of another 'surprise' my nephew smuggled home under his shirt--she's a very playful calico--younger than Dinkels and Jack, though.

    Just spent last evening perusing a guidebook to Cuba and dreaming of a vacation--so your new story idea couldn't be more timely! Thanks for all the hours of reading pleasure in Key West!

    Oh, and I'd be happy to have my photo taken with Officer Joe, too!

  32. I so love Miss Gloria and look forward to her in each book. The Renharts are also a great addition, with them being irritating, but humorously so. It was most polite of Haley to compliment the Oreos. Hahaha! I will go to Amazon and pre-order Killer Takeout now, as I definitely want to see this series continue. Oh, and the Cuba idea is fantastic.

  33. Enjoyed reading your post and I would love to win a copy of your book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  34. Forgot to leave my email in the above and can't change it after it's posted. So, my email is Thanks again for the giveaway.

  35. Pat ( 10, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Another fun book from Key West! And how lucky to get to sit on the motorcycle and have a picture taken with Officer Friendly. I'm envious.

  36. Love the pictures, Lucy - next time, see if you can get Officer Joe WITH the cats!

  37. Love a book with some humor and animals really provide that. Hey the lights look great and although I have never been to Key West I could visit in your book. Thanks for the Contest...

  38. I'd love to find your book in my stocking this year!

  39. Great photos

    Book sounds like a keeper, not that I'm really ever going to get rid of my collection ;)

  40. Great gift---for ME! :)

  41. Roberta! Love that t-shirt! Does it really light up? Very funny!

    I think, given the changing political climate with Cuba and Key West's shared historic tourist and travel past with Havana, your Key West series is due for another installment!

    I will do my part to help make that happen.

  42. thanks again for all the lovely comments...Officer Joe with the cats might be tough, but I'll try!

    The winner of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is PAT DUPUY. Pat, I'll be in touch to get your address.

  43. Thank you for making me smile this holiday season.