Thursday, November 18, 2021

What We're Writing @LucyBurdette



LUCY BURDETTE: We've just finished making the transition from Connecticut to Key West--it doesn't seem like it should be that hard, but boy am I discombobulated. And in the middle of the trip, the ebook edition of UNSAFE HAVEN was released, so I've tried to let the world know about that. (Hardcover and audio to come December 7.) 


Meanwhile, I also finished the the first round of edits for A DISH TO DIE FOR, number 12 in the Key West food critic mystery series that will be out next August. Here's the cover--so pretty! Now the second round of edits is in my inbox--I am very happy about how this turned out. I’ve told you a little bit about that book here, and it's available for pre-order now!

But what am I actually writing? The opening for book number 13, which basically at this point has no name, no cover, and don’t tell my editor, but no distinct plot. Writer Edwin Hill proposed an interesting approach to National Novel Writing Month on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. He planned to try to write 1500 words a day for a prescribed number of days and then go back and outline the book based on what he'd produced. Kind of an interesting idea. And it does match my sense over the last few books that I don’t know what a book is about until I’ve written some of it. So we’ll see what Actually Happens, but I will offer you a snippet of Key West #13 and hope you find it intriguing! I'm enjoying bringing Violet and Bettina, the scone sisters from A SCONE OF CONTENTION, to visit Key West...



Chapter Two

Violet and Bettina were the last passengers to disembark. Swathed in plaid wool, they entered the arrivals area blinking like badgers emerging from a den into the light and the crowd. Miss Gloria shrieked with excitement and flapped her glittery sign.

“Welcome! We are so thrilled to have you here in our country.” She hugged them each in turn and they hugged her back. “Give me your coats,” she said, “you’re going to roast if you stay all wrapped up as if you’ve arrived in the Highlands.” I moved forward to take their carry-on bags and pecked them each on the cheek.

“Welcome to Key West!” I said. “Miss Gloria has been dying to show you around our town.”

As I remembered, the two sisters looked very much alike, though Bettina was a little taller and stockier than her older sister and had distinctive pale blue eyes. They had similar haircuts, short gray bobs, and wore skirts that fell to their knees and sensible lace up shoes. 
Once we collected their two enormous suitcases, we loaded up the Buick and headed home. The two sisters oohed and ahhed all the way across town, even though the jaunt from the airport to Houseboat Row was not the most scenic that the island had to offer. 

“Wait till we show you the town,” send Miss Gloria. “You are going to love our bakeries too. Have you ever had key lime pie?” 

We piled out of the car and Miss Gloria herded them up the wooden finger of the dock that led to our boats. Behind them, I dragged the two heavy suitcases. I wondered if they’d brought baking equipment with them to take on their tour. I knew that serious chefs carried their knives with them, but for bakers? A special rolling pin? Pastry cutter? Or an implement I hadn’t even thought of? I hoisted the bags onto the deck of my friend’s home.

“Thank you,” Miss Gloria said. “We can take it from here.” She turned to the ladies. “Hayley offered to cook tonight so you don’t have to go out and face the restaurant scene when you’re so jetlagged. But first we’ll get you settled. I hope you’ll be comfortable in what used to be Hayley and Nathan’s bed. Though if she could cram a six-footer into that space along with a territorial cat, two little ladies should do just fine.”

“Cocktails in half an hour,” I said and headed back to my own houseboat to peel the shrimp and make a salad. I’d gone through a million recipes preparing for their visit. Key West pink shrimp was a no-brainer, but in what form? 

Miss Gloria nixed a few ideas as too spicy and possibly foreign sounding. “I don’t remember eating anything spicy in Scotland,” she’d said. In the end, we’d agreed on garlicky, buttery, Worcestershire-laced baked shrimp with lots of good bread from Old Town bakery to sop up the sauce.

With my prep work completed, I went out to the deck to look for signs of my dinner guests. I was expecting Miss Gloria and the ladies half an hour after I dropped them off. Maybe they'd all passed out and weren't in the mood for dinner at all. But her deck was empty except for T-bone and Sparky, so I popped over and tapped on the screen door. Inside, the three ladies were clustered around Miss Gloria’s police scanner. My friend looked up, a guilty expression on her face.

“Sorry luv,” said Bettina, looking from my friend to me. “Are we running late?"

PS Hallie persuaded me to watch my first-ever episode of the Great British Baking Show and having that in the back of my mind is helping me write my Scottish ladies. I still haven't quite decided why they are touring the US as guest bakers. Suggestions welcome!

51 comments:

  1. Guest bakers! I love that idea [and that you’ve brought Bettina and Violet here for a brand new story] . . . but I’ll have to think a bit on why they might be touring as guest bakers . . . .
    Now, why in the world are the ladies clustered around the police scanner? And why the guilty expressions?
    I think there’s a big mystery brewing here . . . .

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    1. I hope so Joan! Let me know if you think of it before I do:)

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  2. I love Violet and Bettina! I'm so happy that you're bringing them to Key West and America. I'm sure you'll come up with something brilliant as to why they're touring. I was thinking of maybe them winning a contest, but what kind exactly would it be. I'm wondering what's on the police scanner that's so interesting. I guess it could be something they all end up involved in, or maybe they just are intrigued by the novelty of a police scanner.

    I've got Safe Haven earmarked to read in my end-of-the-year reading crunch, Lucy. The days are really closing in on me to get to the books I want to before the year is up.

    And, I do love the cover of A Dish to Die For. I so look forward to a Hayley book every year.

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  3. So glad to know they are going to pop up again.

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  4. LUCY/ROBERTA: I LOVE it that Bettina and Violet have come to visit Hayley and Miss Gloria in KW! This first scene of them arriving all bundled up in their normal Scottish clothes is adorably fish out of water. And yes, I do wonder WHAT did they bring in those heavy suitcases, lol?

    And the KW shrimp dish you are making sounds delish and a perfect way to ease them into the KW cuisine. Key Lime Pie to follow soon, I hope.

    And I already commented on FB that the cover of A Dish to Die For is gorgeous and I feel the tropical breezes just looking at it.

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    1. thanks so much Grace--as soon as I had the idea of including them, I began to really look forward to writing their scenes...

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  5. Roberta,

    This is a great excerpt, thanks for sharing. Now I want to know what news did they gleam from the police scanner. I suspect all four will be involved in a murder investigation.

    And, I love this cover.

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    1. thank you Dru! It's going to be hard to keep them out of trouble. I wrote a scene from the very end earlier this week, so I know what happens to them...

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    2. Ooooh, that is interesting that you already wrote an end scene and know what happens.
      Is that how you normally the KW books, jumping from one part of the book to another?

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  6. The cover is gorgeous, the snippet delightful, and I hope you get combobulated soon!

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  7. Roberta, the snippet is great. I can just picture them wrapped in their wool as they step off into the KW heat.

    Perhaps a well known US baker also found the sisters in Scotland and has invited them to do demos in his/her bakeries. That isn't too far fetched and they can continue on to any US city after their visit with Miss Gloria and Hayley.

    Now, what is so interesting on the police scanner that Miss Gloria is late for cocktails?

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  8. You hooked me there Roberta and I want to be in this cover.
    Looking forward to read how you connect the beginning with the ending.

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    1. Danielle, yes. I also want to be in that cover. What a delightful place to enjoy those treats and the sea view!

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  9. Hmm, you've certainly got me intrigued! I'm wondering if whatever they heard on the police scanner has to do with the plane the ladies just left. Was something or someone interesting found there? I know you will come up with a fabulous story.

    I wonder if somehow there was a mix-up or mishap with wherever they were going next on their tour and so they end up staying longer in KW and adding to the mischief/hilarity.

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  10. "blinking like badgers"!!! I love the way you write, Roberta!

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  11. What an intriguing scene! I do wonder what they're hearing on the scanner...

    As for why the ladies are in the US, how about a spin-off of The Great British Bake-Off show? A US show that brings over guest bakers from different countries to share their favourite recipes with the adoring Bake-Off fans.

    I cannot believe you're only just watching the Bake-Off show, Lucy! I've watched all the series at least twice, and am now making my way through the Junior Bake-Off shows for the second time. In a world of nothing but unsettled messes, I find the show a delightful retreat where all the messes are edible deliciousness.

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    1. I know, I don't know why I came so late to the baking party when everyone loves it!

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  12. I love this - especially the descriptions of the ladies. I thought for sure they were in the states on book tour. You've got to get clootie dumplings in there somehow (I watched them make them on The Great British Baking Show). But maybe... could they be in Key West in particular on a mission to prove that what we call Key Lime Pie actually was invented in Scotland?

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    1. Clootie dumplings--the name alone is great! I have the kitchen setting picked out--I'll have to show you when you're in Key West!

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    2. Had to look up clootie dumplings. Was totally different than what I was expecting, but looks tasty! Can I admit that I have never watched GBBS or the Canadian version (GCBS) despite loving to bake? Is it possible to just dive in and watch this season?

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    3. GRACE: Yes, dive in! Start with any season and enjoy... UK or Canadian versions, both good. Is there a US version?

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    4. Thanks, Amanda. I guess I can watch the Canadian version on CBC GEM?
      I really do not watch much TV these days.

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    5. Nevermind, I figured it out. CBC GEM has both and a lot more cooking shows like would love to watch, including multiple Jamie Oliver series. Now I know what I can do this winter...

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  13. The ladies submitted recipes to a Scottish cookbook and their readers voted their recipes the best, so they won the opportunity to visit the States and do some baking demonstrations. Loving this already. Stout walking shoes meet flipflops.

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    1. thanks for the suggestion Margaret. You can see why writing this one will be fun!

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  14. Well, you've got me intrigued now! Thanks for the snippet. We will be arriving back in our "happy place" for the month of February and I must say this post has upped my excitement level.

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    1. Oh good, it's already super busy in town, so I know there will be lots going on in February!

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  15. I love this, Lucy, and the cover for A DISH TO DIE FOR is beautiful. It's a cold, gray day in Maine and I want to be on that balcony getting ready to tuck into some Key West cuisine...

    My thought about the baking ladies: when DANCING WITH THE STARS first got popular, they had touring shows of the professional dancers (and a few popular guest stars) all over the US. Youngest and I went to one at the Providence Civic Center, and she swooned when Maksim Chmerkovskiy kissed her on her ten year old cheek!

    If I were a smart producer of a hugely popular baking show, I'd say we're leaving money on the table if we don't have touring bakers giving live demonstrations, teaching classes, and hawking Baking Show (TM) cookware. And of course, since these are smaller events, I'd want to do more of them, staffing them not just with the stars, but with bakers who fit the image and who will make Americans sigh with their quaint British/Scottish/Irish ways.

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    1. Perfect ideas Julia! Hey, some of that bakeware could be in the heavy suitcases...

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  16. Lucy, I've got to say that your Key West covers have been great--one look and you know it's your series--but this cover--I'm with everyone else, I want to be sitting in one of those chairs, feeling that breeze....sigh. BEST. COVER. EVER!

    And I'm behind, but boy do I need to get up to speed because I'm already on Team Violet and Bettina just from this snippet and if there's a contest going, they better be the winners :-)

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    1. thank you so much Flora! I was dumb lucky to get these artists working on my covers...

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  17. Ah, Miss Gloria has already gotten them hooked on police scanners, and they’ve just barely stepped onto her houseboat! I can envision all three, and most likely Hayley as well, conspiring to “help the police” before very long!

    DebRo

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  18. You have SUCH a distinct and wonderful voice, Lucy! And great cover. I love this!
    Let's see: they are cooking for a distant cousin's wedding/christening/graduation with a
    "-zilla/handsome/cranky/mysterious person at the center of it? They are competeing to be the "face" of a new product/implement/bakery? "Martha Stewart" is looking for the next big thing in must-have Scots cuisine?

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  19. That cover is so beautiful that I want to sit right down at the table. Looking forward to reunion with the visiting bakers as well. Life is fun! <3

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  20. Lucy, I am SHOCKED that you had never watched GBBO! It's so addictive, even for a non-baker. I always want to eat every single thing (well, most of them) and think it's a good thing I'm not in London and can't pop into the nearest bakery for a slice of Victoria sponge or a Bakewell tart!

    Your covers are so fabulous and this might be the best yet!! I want want to be on that deck right this minute! It's lovely to see Violet and Bettina again and have no doubt that they and Miss Gloria will get into all sorts of trouble.

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    1. I know Debs, it is shocking! come down and we'll find that porch and have a glass of wine. xox

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  21. I'm laughing. I saw the picture of the houseboats and thought OMG it's flooding! How much time has passed between the honeymoon trip to Scotland and the Scottish visitors arriving in Key West? I have watched GBBO on occasion and am always amazed at the talent and the kindness of the competitors to each other.

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  22. Sounds like a great beginning, Lucy/Roberta! In case you're interested in more details of
    a baking show, here's a blog I've followed for years, where Sally was a contestant in The
    Great American Baking Show in 2019, with all kinds of info and photos, and she met Paul Hollywood and others: https://bewitchingkitchen.com/?s=american+great+baking+show

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  23. Jenn, chiming in late from deadline central, I love this sneak peek and can't wait to get back with the Key West crew! One of my fave series!!!

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