Thursday, March 10, 2022

Miss Gloria Takes a Tiki Hut Cruise @LucyBurdette


 LUCY BURDETTE: I’m deep in the thickets of writing Key West food critic #13, still untitled, and trying to chug forward and discover the plot strands among the brambles. I do, however, have the ending mostly written. For about half the books I’ve written, the ending has come to my mind well before I’ve actually gotten to that point in the story. I write it down quickly so I don’t lose it, and often have to tweak it a bit to fit the whole book. But I consider the appearance of an ending a great gift, as it gives me something to shoot for when I'm writing the middle. 


In this case, I imagined Miss Gloria and the two Scottish sisters, Violet and Bettina, taking a tiki hut sunset cruise. The idea of those three floating away on one of these silly boats made me giggle as I wrote it. Of course we had to research this by taking a ride on a hut. Our neighbors visiting from Connecticut were happy to be part of the action. I love research like this, because I notice details for the story that I would never have imagined--such as the giant stingray that John saw leap out of the water, and the group of dolphins that curved in and out of the water around us. With St. Patrick's day coming up next week, I realized that setting the scene on that holiday would increase the tension. I'll give you just a snippet in order not to spoil the surprise when you read the book...




        I waited on the dock in front of the Schooner Wharf bar, watching the bustling harbor as the various crafts that had taken tourists out for their Sunset cruises began to appear on the horizon. I was grateful that Danielle had suggested the tiki hut cruise for the ladies—they wouldn’t have blended in well on bigger boats with a younger audience, a lot of alcohol, and live, loud music. St. Patrick’s Day ratcheted up the energy of the party scene even higher than usual. Cups of green beer were being consumed by people dressed in green—green t-shirts, green beads, green tutus, green top hats and ball caps and wigs, and more.

All the excitement of the week, along with the fact that a killer was still on the loose, left me feeling a little anxious about being separated from my friends—I felt like a mom dropping her kid off to kindergarten, I imagined. Except that these were older ladies, wearing green tutus and headbands with leprechauns bouncing above them on metal springs. 

The captain of this tiki boat, a well-tanned woman named Chris who looked to be in her late twenties, had assured me that she had a lot of experience. She had never lost a passenger. That last bit was said with a wide smile that had made the three ladies whoop with laughter and set their leprechauns dancing. 

Even so, I’d made a big fuss about how the passengers were senior citizens—all of them—and I was worried about their safety. It didn’t help my confidence level that she’d dyed her blonde hair green for the day and wore a tutu herself. After noticing my anxiety, Chris had invited me to watch her safety demonstrations—life jackets for everyone were available, plus two easily accessible ring life preservers that would be thrown out if someone fell overboard. She’d captained this very boat for over seven years and never had a single complaint. Besides, the craft wasn’t designed to go over six knots an hour, and she was an expert at avoiding the wake of other boats. 

I wished them a fun trip and reluctantly watched them board and launch. Hopefully they’d have a grand time and wouldn’t come back too tipsy. 





I realized yesterday that when I'm reading, I very rarely choose to know the end of a book before I arrive there naturally, unless it's super-scary or tense. How about you Reds, do you ever skip to the end to make sure everything turns out right?


While I continue to write, don't forget that A DISH TO DIE FOR is coming in August and available for preorder!


Speaking of things in progress, UNSAFE HAVEN will be featured on First Chapter Fun on Thursday March 24. You can follow the fun either in their Facebook Group and or on Instagram @firstchapterfun. 

79 comments:

  1. Oh, thank you for the delightful snippet that made me chuckle . . . I can just imagine the ladies in their Saint Patrick’s Day finery! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

    As for sneaking a peek at the ending of the book . . . I want to reach the end of the book by reading everything that comes before it. However it turns out is how it turns out and I enjoy seeing all the pieces come together as I get there . . . .

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  2. Yes. I sometimes HAVE to see the end first, or it's too suspenseful. Also, it's a terrific way to relax as I read, and, ever=n more, to study and deconstruct to see how the author got where they got. I actually did a TedX talk on this very topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG5fV9ckMac

    And can wait to read this book! I promise I will try not to read the end first.

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  3. I generally avoid the end of the book because I want to be surprised along the way. Although, sometimes it sure is hard.

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    1. It is hard sometimes Mark. I'm finishing Sarah Stewart Taylor's A DISTANT GRAVE--so much tension that I'm tempted...

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    2. Oooh, that book is so good! You won't be disappointed!

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  4. LUCY: Yay for a tiki hut sunset cruise for Miss Gloria and the sisters! I can clearly see them in their green tutus & bouncing leprechaun headbands!

    NO, NO, NO, I never peek ahead to the end of the book!!

    And I am looking forward to the reading of UNSAFE HAVEN on FCF!

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    1. You're welcome Grace, and thanks for reading:). I can't wait to hear Unsafe Haven on FCF. Those women make everything sound amazing!

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  5. No, I never skip to the end if I plan to finish a book. I like the build-up and want to be surprised if my guess is correct.

    If it is a book that does not keep my interest, then I skip to see how it ends.

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    1. Oh yes, I occasionally do that too Dru--it's not a good sign for the book is it?

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  6. Oh, dear - I fear something's going to happen on that tiki boat!

    Nope, never read ahead. I want the story to unspool on its own

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    1. EDITH: Agreed, but I DO LOOK AT THE RECIPES which are usually located at the end of the book. That doesn't count as reading ahead, right?

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    2. Ha ha, no that doesn't count. I read all the acknowledgements too, though sometimes those could give things away.

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  7. I don't skip to the end of books to see how things turn out. The only thing I do for the end of the book is I sometimes check to see how many pages there are to read before I start. It's a way I kind of plan out how long the book might take me to read. But I avoid the text when I do that.

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    1. Oh yes, I do that too Jay. Especially if I'm reading before bed--I like to see how long the chapter will be. (And that's another topic for another day--chapter length!)

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    2. Lucy-a discussion of chapter length sounds quite intriguing.

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  8. I'm with GRACE: No. No. No. I never skip to the end of the book. I like to get there through the story.

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  9. Lucy, I love this snippet of your WIP. I can hardly wait to get back to Key West and all the friends you've introduced us to!

    Deeley boppers with leprechauns? Very clever! I can believe the headgear, but the tutus?

    I have been on a cruise around the KW bay, might have been a pirate ship. Very picturesque!

    Do I look at the end? Sometimes, yes. Mostly I do that to see who survives. I can only remember one book which I did not finish because of the ending. Some books I set aside for a bit and then go back, restart, and then finish them. That has happened more during the pandemic.

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    1. Tutus barely earn a second glance in KW Judy! One year I ordered camo tutus for John, our friend Steve, and Tonka, so we could do research for Fantasy Fest. (Wouldn't Lottie look cute in a tutu? I don't think it would last long with her...)

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  10. I love this series and can't wait for the next installment! 👏👏 As an author, I always try and get the end working up front. But as a reader, I follow the rules: page 1, followed by page 2, and so on until the last page. Happy writing, Lucy!

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    1. Interesting Alicia, meaning you know the end right from the start??

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  11. Love your St Patrick's Day setting!

    I usually read a book twice, first, skimming for plot and setting, and then absorbing every nuance the second time around. If I lose interest, I'll read the last chapter to find out what happens and put it aside.

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    1. thanks Margaret! I often think I will reread, but I rarely do. Too many books, too little time...

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  12. Something will not go right on that cruise. I hope nothing catastrophic.

    I don't skip to the end except to check the page count (maybe) and then I work very hard at not looking at the text. Unless, as Dru says, I'm not enjoying the book and then I might peek to see how it turned out, but even then I'm more likely to just put it aside.

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    1. I know I'm reading a great book when I don't look at the page count at all!

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    2. Most often I check when I'm in bed and I'm trying to figure out if I can finish and still get enough sleep for work the next day. LOL

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  13. Thanks for the snippet, Lucy! Sounds like so much fun!

    I occasionally -- very rarely -- peek at the end. Never to see how a mystery turns out, but to confirm if someone survives to the end. And I have been burned by it, learning something that takes away from the pleasure of disclosure, which is why I do it so rarely.

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    1. That's so interesting Susan, meaning you find out too much by skipping ahead?

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    2. Yes. It works fine if the author is the type who spends a few pages just wrapping up loose ends at the end. Then I can quickly determine if the character I am worried about is still there. But if the denouement is the final bit of the book you can learn too much about what happens. Also, I have run into the situation where some huge twist loses its surprise factor because of something I saw in that final scene.

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  14. Judy beat me to the punch on naming the headbands "deely bobbers"! One of the silliest headgear ever invented, for our endless entertainment.

    I wouldn't say I have never peeked at the ending of a book, but it's been a really long time since I did so. Maybe I'm more patient in my old age?

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    1. I've never heard of deely bobbers! You might be more patient...we've all had to learn that.

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  15. I really could use a day on Key West right now, Lucy, but I guess I will have to wait. Can't wait to see what sort of trouble those ladies will get themselves into!

    Sometimes I will look at the last page, mostly to see if I have interpreted the clues correctly. There have been times that it looks like things are heading in a direction I don't care for, so I have to check and see and it usually turns out that I have been fooled by a red herring, which is still fun.

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    1. I care less about clues (I know, bad for a mystery writer), and more about people making in one piece to the end. I'm thinking of rereading the Shetland series, but there is one of the 8 that I will definitely skip.

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    2. Pretty sure I know the one you mean. That was the last one I read.

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  16. Wonderful, Lucy! When we lived in the Keys one of our favorite treats for visitors was to take them on a sunset cruise. With St. Patrick's Day approaching, I wonder if the green flash will make an appearance! Looking forward to the WIP and meeting up with the Scottish sisters again.

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    1. Some people don't believe in the green flash, but we've seen many (unrelated to alcohol consumption!)

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    2. Does the green flash only occur in KW or elsewhere?

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    3. Elsewhere as well

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    4. Elsewhere! We always look for in in Nevis...

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  17. For me as a reader, if I skip to the ending it means I'm not invested in the story lines. I love the idea of a floating bar. Order me a mint mojito, svp.

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  18. Oh now I want to go on that cruise and can hardly wait for the book. Why, oh why, is she not going with the ladies on that boat? Hmm . . .
    I seldom skip ahead in a book. The few times I've done so were because I didn't plan to finish a tedious book, and one of those times the ending was fuel enough to have me finish after all. I once abandoned a book our faculty book club had chosen, but at the discussion mentioned one plot point I was curious about. My friend, in true teacher fashion, put a bookmark in my copy and said I'd find the answer there.

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    1. Oh don't get us started on book club choices, that's a whole blog!

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  19. At first I would read the ending to see if I guessed right with a mystery. Now I read the first page of the last chapter to see who is still alive, and the last few pages to see if there is a cliff hanger. At times when my life stress is racket up, I will fast forward through scenes. Had to to most of Alien to be sure the cat and Ripley were okay.

    The casual reference to floating devices does not bode well. I hope I am wrong, a damp tutu is so sad. Great writing as usual Roberta.

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    1. thank you Coralee! During stressful times, too much reading tension doesn't work for me either.

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    2. "A damp tutu is so sad," cracked me up, Coralee! But so true...

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  20. Love the snippet, Lucy--I can feel the tension ratchetting up and just know it's not going to be your normal tiki-boat cruise! Hang on to those deely-boppers, ladies!

    I never skip to the end when it's a book by an author I trust (looking at you, Reds, for sure) or when the book grips me and I'm turning the pages as fast as I can. I also never bother with page count because it just doesn't matter. That said, I often do peek at the end--especially to see if characters survive in thrillers or darker books, but also many times to see if the ending justifies my time and effort--is the denouement intriguing? Have I already figured it out by page 5? And if the book has been very satisfying, I'll often go back and reread portions or the whole book just for the pleasure of the writer's craft.

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    1. Thanks Flora, you are another person who returns to reread and savor. I like to hear that! I have to sometimes go back and read the previous chapter if I was too sleepy the night before.

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  21. In my current book the ending scene is the prologue! Only I leave the action suspended
    I do sometimes sneak to the end but only if the writing doesn’t grab me

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  22. Mercy, I want to be on a Tiki hut cruise right now. I'd even wearing bobbling leprechauns on my head. This mystery sounds delightful, Lucy. I can't wait!

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  23. LUCY,

    Though I rarely skip to the end, sometimes I do that when a book is due at the library or there is a review deadline. Usually if a book grabs my attention, I read the book in one siting and eventually I get to the end.

    On another note, I already pre-ordered your book A DISH TO DIE FOR.

    Diana

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    1. Thanks Diana! I'm envious of you reading books in one sitting--someday when I retire from writing!

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    2. Lucy, it's rare when I read in one sitting. It means reading all night and by the time I finish reading, the sun is rising in the morning. LOL

      Diana

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  24. I'm with Mary, why are the ladies on the cruise alone? Yes, I do peak at the end once in a while. I think happens if the story starts to lag. Can't wait for the new book.

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  26. That passage makes me want to get on that Tiki Boat with Miss Gloria and the Scone Sisters- I bet the fun they will have will put those party boats to shame!
    I don't ever look at the end of a book when reading - I am very careful to not accidentally see it when I look at the back cover flap to see the author photo and read the bio. I like to be surprised or have my suspicions confirmed if I think I know how it ends.

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    1. Oh yes, there's another topic--back cover copy and reviews can definitely be spoilers.

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  28. I frequently read snippets of endings, but not if it's a plot-heavy who-dun-it book - then I like to see if I can figure it out. I love watching settings, characters develop - and enjoy details like dancing leprechaun head toppers/so fun

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  29. Lucy, if you don't come back too tipsy from a tiki hut cruise, what's the point? :-D

    And yes, sometimes the tension gets to be TOO much for me and I flip to the back - usually I just want to confirm whatever character I'm worried about has made it to the end alive OR has gotten the romance I was rooting for.

    Incidentally, I often know early on where the personal story of the characters will end - like you, I often have a visual image of what's going on - but I never, ever know the end of the mystery plot. I wish I did - that's the hard stuff to write!

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    1. We're eagerly awaiting your next, as you probably know:)

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    2. Totally with you there, Julia, on knowing the personal arcs but not the mystery arc - until I write it!

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  31. No matter how tempting I never peek at the ending. Never! I've got to take the trip to see how we get to that ending. Lucy, I'm glad you put the ladies on a tiki hut cruise. So much more dignified than being towed on a giant banana.

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  32. Lucy, it's hard to believe you are writing Key West Food Critic #13. I've been with this wonderful series since the beginning, and I guess time really does fly when you're having fun. I love this series so much, and I love that the ladies are taking a tiki hut cruise together.

    I never ever ever peek at the ending of a book. Especially in mystery/crime reading, the suspense that builds toward the ending is everything. Why would anyone want to miss that?

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  33. After posting my comments, I read back through the other comments, and I have to say that I am absolutely gobsmacked that so many people peek at the end.

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    1. sometimes either the tension is too much to bear...or we've lost interest in plodding along and need to just get on with the next book!

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  34. Lucy, I can't wait to see what the ladies get up to on the tiki cruise! Haley's worries really ratchet up the tension. I will sometimes skip to the end of a book if I'm finding it tedious but am still invested enough to want to see how it ends (and if I'm right about the plot.) And very, very occasionally, if I'm so worried about a character that I can't go reading unless I know they will be okay.

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  35. Somewhere in the last 2-3 years I have allowed myself to not finish a book if it doesn’t grab me after a few chapters. If I am curious enough about it I will go to the end but sometimes I don’t even have that level of interest. I used to force myself to read on but as you said Roberta “too many books, not enough time.”

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    1. Yes I understand that! My hub will plug along through the most tedious books, but not me, not anymore.

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  36. And YAY for First Chapter Fun! We need to make sure ALL the Reds and readers are there!

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