Thursday, April 8, 2021

Lucy's Gathering Plot Scraps Like a Magpie @LucyBurdette #amwriting


LUCY BURDETTE: Whoo-hoo, big news here! The Key Lime Crime has won the bronze medal for Popular Fiction in the 2020 Florida Book Awards. I'm almost too excited to write...however, deadlines loom...


So I have been working hard on generating plot ideas and pages for Key West mystery number 12. Yes, that’s more big news, two more installments in the Key West food critic series are on the way!


Calm down Lucy and tell them about the book...

I found the idea for the first of these two books around New Year’s when my husband and I visited Boca Chica beach on Geiger key with my sister and her husband. You may have seen the photos on Facebook--it's an isolated strip of beach that runs alongside the Navy base's runway. Lottie had a blast and came back completely snarled with bits of dried sponge and seaweed. And I came back with the beginning of a book, the discovery of a body on the beach, near this structure built of rocks and driftwood and decorated with all kinds of found objects.



My next shiny magpie bit was provided by my writers group friend Ang Pompano. He sent me a message asking if I had seen this cookbook that had been published by the Key West Woman’s Club in the 1940s. I had not, and it was not in print, but I managed to score one on eBay. I'm having a lot of fun considering what kinds of clues Hayley Snow might find in such a historic cookbook. And now I have a tour set up so I can see the actual Woman's Club. As president of the Friends of the Library, I was especially interested to learn that the women of this club actually founded and financed the Key West Library for a number of years.


With that introduction, I will share a bit of the opening chapter:


I grinned and looked out across the water, watching sailboats and shrimpers bob slowly in the distance, and listening to small black birds chittering on a rock that protruded from the surf. Already I felt lighter than when we’d come. Chester and Barkley emerged from wading in the water and lay beside Eric in the sand, pink tongues lolling. They had bits of dried sponge tangled in their fur that would be hell to comb out. I suddenly realized that Nathan’s Ziggy was not with them.


“Where’s Ziggy?” I asked.


Off in the distance I could hear a few sharp yips. Eric started to get up.


“You stay here and relax,” I said. “I better go see what that little rascal’s gotten into.” 


I trotted along the beach weaving in and out of the skeletal remains of mango trees, and into the brush along the chain link fence, calling for Ziggy. He was pretty good at coming, but right now he sounded more excited than usual. I paused to listen. The yips had grown louder so I kept walking in their direction.

I jogged until I reached a structure built with piles of flat white stones and pieces of driftwood, bleached gray and pale in the sun. According to Eric, rumor had it that a homeless man had built this place and lived here until he was finally evicted by the authorities. It was decorated with weathered buoys, beer and wine bottles woven into sections of fishing net, old shoes, and sheets of metal that hung from the overhead branches and played a dissonant drumbeat when the wind picked up. It almost looked as though the driftwood structure had been divided into rooms, one kitchen-like with a fire pit and a large metal bowl. 


Finally, I saw the dog digging frantically in the sand.


I called him again and huffed with exasperation when he didn’t respond. Nathan and I were going to have to have a chat about obedience training. Ziggy did exactly what Nathan told him to do, and they’d never taken a class. But I was like the stepparent whose kid announced, “you’re not my mother,” when asked to do something that didn’t suit him. I could picture Ziggy with his paws on hips and lower lip jutted out, if that was possible with a small dog. I approached him, leash in hand, prepared to scoop him up and scold him. 


But as I got closer, I could see that inside the shallow hole he’d dug, he’d uncovered a piece of denim. And then oh good gravy, what looked like the fingers on a man’s hand. He took hold of the loose denim, and shook it hard, growling. 


“Good boy Ziggeroo,” I said, squatting down to his level, hoping to lure him over before he destroyed what surely looked like a crime scene.


Reds, I wonder if it's only crime fiction writers in search of a plot who see possibilities for murder and murderous characters everywhere? How about you?


And one more bit of news, all through April, the ebook versions of DEATH ON THE MENU, A DEADLY FEAST, and THE KEY LIME CRIME are on sale--get em while they're hot!


64 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Lucy . . . it’s exciting to hear that “Key Lime Crime” won a well-deserved award . . . .

    I enjoyed your snippet of the newest Key West mystery [and laughed out loud at the mind picture of Ziggy with his paws on his hips and sticking out his lower lip! Can’t wait to read the rest of the story [and find out just who Ziggy found] . . . .

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  2. Happy to hear there are more Key West visits in my future!

    I have seen ideas for murder in random things before. But it seems to happen more when I am thinking about creating a plot of my own than when I'm just enjoying those that others have created.

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    1. A plot of your own...Mark, are you going to write a mystery??

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    2. At one time, I thought I was. But I've realized I'm too lazy to write a book.

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  3. Congratulations, Lucy, on the Florida Book Award! Key Lime Crime is such a great read.

    Oh, your snippet has me wanting more. Ziggy has uncovered, literally, a crime scene. I haven't seen that beach, but I did stay at the Naval Base once when I visited Key West. With husband being military, I could stay at their hotel there for $45 a night (13 years ago). My daughter also taught at the elementary school on the Naval Base.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! I didn't realize they had a hotel on base, but that makes sense...hope you'll get back soon

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  4. Mega congrats, Lucy!

    You have whetted my appetite for more! Geiger is a great beach, secluded and quiet, except for the roar of the jets - but that's probably what keeps the beach so quiet :). Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

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    1. Thanks Kait! We've been to the beach several times this year and funnily enough, never heard the jets. I know they're super loud though!

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  5. I love that scene - what a perfect place to find a body! Of course I can see crime everywhere...

    So many congratulations on your award and on the series renewal.

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    1. thanks so much Edith--and of course you see crime everywhere!! thank goodness for that

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  6. LUCY/ROBERTA: Yay on the Florida Book Award, richly deserved. I know that I posted on my FB feed that The Key Lime Crime was in my top 10 reads of 2020.

    Great secluded setting for Ziggy finding a body in your WIP. And now I know that "good gravy" is one of Hayley's exclamations!

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  7. Roberta, I am delighted to hear about your Florida Book Award! Key Lime Crime is certainly a wonderful Florida story and one of my favorites of your Key West mysteries

    I am so excited that there will be two more Key West stories. Hayley Snow is like an old friend now and I eagerly await all of her new adventures.

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  8. Congratulations on your award!

    I see potential sites for body dumps everywhere. The Cincinnati Opera has moved to a nearby park, which used to be a small airport, for their July outdoor season. I'm imagining it already: the diva singing an aria while someone wandering in the surrounding meadows either finds a body or becomes a victim. So much potential!

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    1. I love that imaginary scene! and I would also love to attend the opera in the park...

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    2. If the Diva finds the body, she might finally hit that high C.

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    3. Especially if it's Tosca hurling herself over the wall into a foam rubber pit and lands on Scarpia's body.

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  9. Classic Hayley--just trying to hang out and relax and here comes another body! Ziggy, sit!

    Congratulations on the award! And don't you think most writers are sort of like magpies, collecting bits of ideas and scenes and emotions to store away in their nests until that shiny object fits in a puzzle? And I often frame things in terms of mysteries--probably comes from a lifetime of reading them! Once we were doing an archaeological survey in the uplands above the Connecticut River valley. We came across a small sunny area with tidy rows of marijuana plants. Believe me, we beat a hasty retreat. But, I had to think, what if one of us had been alone? Why is that the archaeologist is always the one to die??

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    1. I'm glad you got out safely Flora! The archaeologist knows too much, of course!

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  10. Congratulations, Lucy! My husband knows that if he shows me a beautiful picture of nature, I'm sure to say, "Oh, you could hide a body there." In face, we're going to see a house on 6.5 acres of hardwood forest this weekend and I'm sure I'll see some great hiding spots.

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  11. Congratulations, Lucy! Always good to spend time with Hayley and her pals! I'm always seeing places where bodies could be hidden or found.

    I have to tell you about the phrase 'skeletal remains'. I can never see it in print without pronouncing it wrong, as did a news reader I heard many years ago. Ske LEET al just trips off my tongue!

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  12. I'm still chewing on "clues from an historic cookbook" and licking my chops.
    Yes, ideas really are everywhere if you view life through the right lens.

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    1. Yes but if you get an idea of what those clues might be, do send it on LOL. I'm still waiting for the universe to clue me in...

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    2. I love those community cookbooks! Sometimes when I am travelling I would pick one up. Many times a recipe title was unfamiliar but when I read it I realized it was known to me by a different name. Around here there is a famous cookie recipe called Chocolate Jumbles and it doesn't seem to be found anywhere else in the country. But there is a controversy - does the recipe include coffee or does it not? Both are valid. So I can see how something like that could turn into a clue!

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    3. Surely there would be some ingredient in the 1940s that would be considered toxic now? Maybe they painted radium on a cake to make it glow in the dark? You don't have to stick to the actual recipes in that particular book. Change the name by one word and sky's the limit!

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  13. I see plot potential everywhere, particularly opportunities for murder. But maybe that's just because I've been wrestling with the RFP from Hell this past week or so. Seriously, though, it's all fodder, isn't it?

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    1. Congratulations on the Florida Book Award! Well-deserved recognition. As for the clues in the cookbook, maybe Mr. Denim will be found buried atop a 9"x13" Pyrex dish, heavily encrusted with something that hasn't been part of popular cuisine since the days of the green Jell-O salad?

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  14. Congratulations on your medal Lucy, well deserved !
    As a reader, I don’t watch for possibilities of places or characters in life but I like to discover them in books.

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  15. Congratulations Roberta on your award.

    I do tend to look at ordinary things and wonder if something nefarious is lurking.

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    1. Thanks Dru, you have been sucked into the dark side by the company you keep LOL

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  16. Congratulations on your latest award Lucy/Roberta! :D Well deserved.

    I don't go out of my way to figure out places that might serve a place to commit a murder or thinking that someone who could become a murderer.

    However, there was one time when a famous murder case was in the headlines and no one could figure out how the body wasn't found on an initial search. My co-worker at the time was stumped and I just blurted out a scenario of how it might've happened. Of course, we'll never know if it was on the money or not but my idea kind of scared my co-worker a bit that I so easily provided at least a plausible method.

    And while I haven't imagined other people as murderers, I don't think I'm necessarily alone in saying that there's been any number of occasions where someone ticked me off so much that I thought, "oh if I only could get rid of the body".

    On an off-topic note, regarding Jenn's post from last week about all the random friend requests and posts on author Facebook pages, I was the latest hit yesterday. I posted a response on an author page and the next thing I know, I had two spam replies to the message and ended up with about 18 random fake friend requests as well. Oddly, after I unfollowed the author's page. I haven't gotten any new requests since.

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    1. Thanks Jay, I love the story about your co-worker! And that's awful news about Facebook. You would think they would work hard on figuring this out before they lose all their customers...

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  17. Congrats,Roberta! Our first dog was named Ziggy as in David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. And recently a friend sent me a Key Lime Pie recipe from an old recipe book someone discovered. The recipe was from a 1940s community cookbook and it was signed by the woman who submitted it--great fun!

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    1. Emily, that's exactly this dog's name, Ziggy Stardust! a friend bought the right to have his dog appear in my next mystery, as a benefit for the SPCA. I think that was in book 3, TOPPED CHEF, and now he's a big part of the story! and love your cookbook story.

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  18. Congratulations on the medal and the continuation of Haley's story. I always imagine finding a body in old buildings as they are removed but not necessarily in an abandoned building. Just one that seems to be in way of progress.

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  19. Congrats on the Florida Book Award, Lucy, and you know how excited we all are about TWO new Haley books!

    I love your magpie analogy. And I love that part of the writing process, where everything gives you an idea. The hard part is figuring out how to stick all the bits together!

    Ooh, and I love the driftwood shelter--and the cookbook!

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    1. Thanks Debs! and today I went for a tour of the Woman's Club--she might have thought my questions very odd:)

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  20. Woo hoo! Two more Key West mysteries and the Florida Book Award!!!! You are killing it (sorry, couldn’t resist), Lucy!
    And, yes, I see possible crime scenes everywhere but that could be because I just flew across the country and air travel inspires thoughts of murder. LOLs.

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    1. thanks Jenn! We had those same thoughts, especially in LAX!

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  21. Many congrats for the award, Lucy, and hooray for two more books. And yes, I look for bodies everywhere. I once stunned a train carriage in Wales by pointing out to John that this would be the perfect spot to push someone out and down a cliff

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    1. Thanks Rhys and love that story! by now our husbands are well accustomed to our minds' twists and turns

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  22. I am not a writer, only reader of mysteries but because I read so many I often imagine crime and murder in my everyday life. Don't tell my husband.

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  23. Congratulations!!!
    The teaser you gave us is great! And having the picture of the driftwood structure really brought it to life.
    Love the image of the dog with its hands on its hips and lip pouting out!

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  24. As a crime fiction READER, I do see possibilities for murder and murderous characters everywhere! Passengers on a plane look like potential hijackers, someone pacing around the lobby of a public building could be up to no good, etc. A non-mystery reading relative told me seriously that I read too many mysteries. I hope to never stop!

    DebRo

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  25. Crime IS everywhere. We've had students' missing parents show up under basement floors and in backyard cisterns. This is sometimes called "St. Charles County Divorce." Life can be ugly.
    Your books, though, have more beauty and good food than ugliness . . . and that cute Ziggy knows he can get away with much, by virtue of his cuteness. ;-) I'm looking forward to more books! <3

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  26. "Evil" lurks in all our brains! I'm afraid we mystery readers see possibilities everywhere. Congratulations on your Florida Book Award!

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  27. I completely commented earlier today! Where did it go?? Lucy, you are fabulous! And the snippet is so completely you… It’s quite extraordinary to see how only you could’ve written this. And yay! Congratulations!

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  28. Lucy,

    Congratulations! I love the names of your characters. I am writing my novel and I find myself seeing possibilities for a mystery whenever I go outside and see someone dropping something on the street or whatever.

    Diana

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