Thursday, March 30, 2023

What I’m Writing @LucyBurdette

**Quilting Lady is the winner of A CLUE IN THE CRUMBS. Thank you all so much for your interest and support!


LUCY BURDETTE: If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, or are signed up for my newsletter, or read the “Four things I’ve learned so far” blog right here, you’ll have heard that I enrolled in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy this spring. Twelve of us citizens met for seven Thursday sessions of three hours each to learn about all the amazing things the sheriff’s deputies do. I was pleased to have this class come along at exactly the time I’m writing Key West food critic mystery #14, because much of the action in this book takes place north of Key West and wouldn’t be handled by Nathan Bransford and the rest of the KW police department. It’s definitely helping me avoid ugly mistakes! The temptation however is to cram in more of these wonderful details than the story needs or can support. For example, one week the crime scene investigator for the county showed us his lab and had us suit up in Tyvek to learn fingerprinting, foot printing, and identification of bodily fluids. (We weren’t sure if we looked like investigators or NASA pilots or something more nefarious…)


But would Hayley Snow have an opportunity to learn all of this? Probably not. She sure shouldn’t get involved in traffic stops after a felony crime has been committed…


And so far as I know, she doesn’t own a gun and wouldn’t have been trained in shoot-don’t shoot scenarios, the way we were. (What an adrenaline rush, by the way!)


Would she have the opportunity to clear a room the way the SWAT team taught us? Probably not that either…


An encounter with the bomb squad? Nope. Coral, the drug-sniffing golden retriever? Maybe...


My hope is to use what I learned in the class to inform my characters’ actions and to advance the story. Here’s a draft of the rewritten scene right after Hayley and another woman find a body in a motel office on Big Pine Key. 


Two more sheriff’s office vehicles pulled up behind Darcy Rogers, one of them a tall van with Crime Scene Investigations written across the side. Darcy trotted over to confer with the stocky man who climbed out.

When she returned, she told us the investigator would be taking our fingerprints and footprints in order to rule us out as suspects. “Any problem with that?”

“It’s routine,” I said to Catherine before she could argue. “If you don’t agree, we’ll have to sit here a while until they can get a search warrant. Could be quite a while, depending on the whims of the judge.”

“Fine,” she said. “I’d like to get this over with as soon as possible.”

The investigator returned wearing a white Tyvek suit, carrying a big black box. He quickly set up a station to take our fingerprints, followed by what looked like a small kitty litter box filled with sand to take the imprints of our shoes.

“That’s all for now,” Darcy Rogers said to us briskly once he was finished. “I’ll need your contact information and a list of people who might have information about this present death or details about your past connections in Big Pine. I’ll be in touch shortly.” She strode off before either of us could respond. We watched her go, then I rustled through my backpack to find the pack of wipes I kept there for cleaning emergencies. Once we’d brushed the black powder from our hands, I took Catherine’s elbow and steered her toward the car. As she slid into the passenger seat, Catherine noticed blood on the bottom of her right sandal, now crusted with crystals of sand. 

“I feel sick,” she said suddenly, clutching her hand to her stomach. “Excuse me a minute.” She bolted out of the car and rushed around the corner of the building into the brush. I could hear her retching. A few minutes later, she returned, her chin quivering, and the color leached from her face. I handed her the pack of wipes. 

“Let’s get out of here,” I muttered. “You can text the deputy later. She won’t expect you to sit here and write out a grocery list of suspects. Trust me, she’s dogged. She’ll follow up until every pebble is turned over.”


LUCY AGAIN: All in all, it’s been an amazing experience—all the deputies we’ve met have been truly excited to share the details of their work with us. Here are a couple of photos from the graduation night, where I had the honor of being the keynote speaker!



That's me of course, with Captain David Smith on the left and Sheriff Rick Ramsey on the right...

By the way, we did finally get the answer to the question of how to avoid a speeding ticket: Don’t speed!

On another topic, I was thrilled and honored to have A DISH TO DIE FOR awarded the bronze medal for popular fiction by the Florida Book Awards!



Finally, I’ve just received a box containing a few advanced reader copies of A CLUE IN THE CRUMBS, coming this August. I’d love to give one away here. To have a chance at receiving the book, leave a comment! I’ll let Lottie choose the winner—please check back on Saturday when it will be announced.




119 comments:

  1. This is so interesting, Lucy, and I love the photographs! I'm looking forward to discovering how Hailey and Catherine make out . . . and I'm
    betting Darcy turns out to be an intriguing character. Thanks for this great excerpt . . . .

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    1. thanks Joan! Darcy is turning out to be a better character than she was in Dish:)

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  2. I love it! Your detailed scene really shines after your classes, Lucy. I did the Scottsdale Citizens Police Academy and loved it. Although, it's been a few years. I probably need a refresher. Congratulations on your award. So well deserved!

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  3. Sounds like you learned quite a bit and had fun in the process. I can only imagine the trouble that Hayley is going to get into as a result now.

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    1. It's tempting to send her to the police academy but I don't think she'd go without Miss Gloria:)

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    2. Miss Gloria clears the room! I can see it now! Miss Gloria: Shoot--Don't Shoot! Could be some interesting plot lines--heck, give Miss Gloria her own series! ;-)

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    3. No disrespect to the Miss Gloria character, but sometimes she takes a too predominant role. It makes the story less believable! Otherwise your books really don’t fall into the “cozy” realm, they are too well written, and not formulary. I think the series would be more credible without so much of Miss Gloria who puts it into the fantasy realm.too often!

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    4. That's an interesting comment--I will have to mull that over! But whichever camp you fall into, lots of Miss Gloria or less, she will be showing up in A CLUE IN THE CRUMBS:).

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  4. I'm glad you got to attend. Sounds interesting and I like that you can incorporate your experience in Hayley's books.

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  5. Wonderful, Lucy. I think I mentioned before that I did the Amesbury citizens Police academy one of the first years after we moved here. So useful, although I haven't used the tasing or canine demonstrations in my writing. Yet.

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    1. The trick is not to dump everything out all in one book, right Edith??

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  6. It has been so fascinating to follow along as you explored being a deputy.

    Pepper send puppy licks to Lottie, his pandemic pet cohort. How can it be that they are almost three!

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    1. I wondered that the other day Ann, and tried to convince myself they were only two!

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    2. What an incredible experience you received and being able to use this in your novels is even better! Congratulations graduate πŸ‘πŸ»

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  7. It's been fun to follow along in Facebook as you posted about your adventures. Great photos! Congratulations on being invited to be the "Key" note speaker for your class. I would have loved to see that!! And congratulations on the Florida book award. That's validation! I love your series and can't wait to have my very own signed copy!

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  8. Sounds like a fun and intense course! I look forward to reading the new book. And I loved your answer on how to avoid a speeding ticket. 😊. Suzette Ciancio

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    1. Thanks Suzette, the deputies were very serious about not showing favoritism!

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  9. That sounds so fun! My daughters both want to be forensic investigators. Maybe I read and watched too many mysteries when they were in uteri. Lol! I love your writing and am so glad you are keeping the Key West series going!

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    1. Brenda, that's so cool about your daughters. We had two young people in our class (early twenties)--it's eye-opening!

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  10. I love this series and have read them all in order. I am always looking forward to what Haley is up to next. If I was younger and not in constant pain I would love to get into forensics. I like watching programs about that. Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy of your new book. pgenest57 at aol dot com

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  11. What a great class! Now you're all up to date on the capabilities of a local police department. The Cincinnati area has evening sobriety checkpoints. I stopped for one and the local police just waved me on. "It's the writer. Get out of here." I wanted to watch and take notes.

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  12. I would love to have a chance to attend one of these sessions. I don't think most of us understand all the training those in law enforcement have to go through and keep up with. I have cops in my family too.

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    1. It was so fascinating! I hope you do get a chance to attend.

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  13. So interesting to hear about your experience with the Citizens Police Academy, Lucy. Who were your classmates? Other authors or just curious ordinary folk? Congrats on the award!

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    1. They came from all walks of life. Two young people, a couple on date night LOL, and lots of folks just curious. I think I was the only writer.

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  14. How interesting! I remember our participation in a Police Academy in Cheshire many years ago. Gave us a new appreciation of the local police work. I look forward to your next books!

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  15. It was great fun being in the CPA class with you. I look forward to catching up on all your books starting at #1. Safe travels when you leave KW. Maybe our paths will cross next winter.

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    1. This is CJ, btw πŸ˜€

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    2. Hope so CJ! And you drive safely in that van with the kitties!

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  16. Wow, that guy in green is tall! Sorry, I got distracted.

    Yes, heart-pumping excitement for those shoot/don't shoot sims! Makes you wonder how they manage the real thing, day in and day out. I kept the thin copper wire from the taser demo and used it in a wall hanging I made for a friend.

    Happy writing!

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    1. So tall! I would hate to mess with him:). What a great story about the thin copper wire!!

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  17. What a fun opportunity !!! It makes me all the more excited to read the next book in this series knowing you'll incorporate some first hand training :) Happy writing and congrats on this next book. ~

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  18. What fun! Yeah, the problem is you always learn more than what you need to put in the story. But still a blast to do it.

    And congrats on the award!

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    1. thanks Liz. I probably start out putting too much unnecessary detail in, and gradually weed things down.

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  19. Nothing like hands on learning to make your crime scene investigation writing come alive. Looking forward to every crumb in your new book.

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  20. What a wonderful adventure, Lucy! And that excerpt rings true, that's for sure. Can't wait to read CLUE IN THE CRUMBS.

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  21. Thanks for the 'peek'...I can't wait until AUGUST!

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  22. This is so great! It will be very fun to see how your police academy adventures play out in the books.I loved the excerpt!

    On a way more serious note, I can recommend Tangled Up in Blue by Rosa Brooks. She's a Georgetown law professor who went through all the training to become a DC police officer and she describes her experiences in the book. From my own experience as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, it presents police work in a very accurate way.

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  23. Congratulations on the new book! What an amazing experience you had.

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  24. Reading this excerpt, I felt like I was at the crime scene. Once again I was sucked into the drama. You never fail to engage the reader. Keep up the good work

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  25. Lucy, thank you for sharing your excerpt and congratulations on your new book!

    Excited to read your new book. May I ask WHO are Darcy Rogers and Catherine? I am trying to recall these characters from previous Hayley Snow mysteries.

    The citizens class at the Police Academy sounds interesting. I recall having a conversation with Susan Dunlap, another mystery novelist whose mysteries were set in the SF Bay Area. She mentioned the citizens class at Police Academy.

    Diana

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    1. Darcy Rogers was a deputy in A DISH TO DIE FOR, and Catherine is a new character who won't appear until 2024.

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    2. Thank you! I will have to read that book again.....

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  26. very awesome learning about the Citizens Police Academy! I am anxiously impatiently waiting for Hayley's next adventure in the Clue in the Crumbs. Thank you for the teaser and congrats to Dish to Die For!

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  27. What a very interesting life you lead, Lucy! I am so impressed that you got to hand out with the big boys! Such an adorable pooch! I'm looking forward to reading what Hayley gets up to next in A Clue in the Crumbs.

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    1. Thanks Judi! For sure these are interesting times in my life, and I'm very grateful.

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  28. Congratulations on so many levels here, Lucy! For undertaking the police academy and finishing with such distinction! I think your snippet did your research proud--enough information to feel realistic, but not an info bomb. For winning the Bronze medal! That cover alone was worth a medal! Then there's the new book coming out AND you're well into the next one! Thanks for all the hard work on behalf of your ecstatic readers! And the only thing I have left to say, is" "Pick me, Lottie, pick me!" :-)

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    1. LOL Flora, Lottie is sniffing around at all the lovely comments!

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  29. Thanks for taking us - and your characters - on your police refresher. Knowledge acquired is never wasted; who knows what will work its way into a storyline. Of course it is disappointing to learn the answer to speeding tickets πŸ˜‰

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  30. I loved reading about your time in the citizens’ police academy! I can’t wait to read about Haley’s new adventures. I’m thrilled this series is continuing!

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  31. We have something like that in our town but
    we don't get to do so many things as you did.
    So jealous. Love your books. Keep writing.
    thanks for sharing.

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    1. thanks Mary, I feel very lucky to have had that experience! There was a lot of pent-up energy from the awful pandemic years I think

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  32. Congrats on being the keynote speaker! I've read all the Key West books starting with the first and have been hooked ever since, so I can't wait until July-August. Also, congrats on being awarded the book award! Avalee Cohen

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  33. Congratulations on the award!

    It’s so interesting to read about your experience! Every year when it rolls around, I consider enrolling in our local Citizens Police Academy, but I haven’t gotten up the courage yet. Maybe next year…

    I can’t wait for the next Key West Mystery, and the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so forth!

    DebRo

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  34. Fabulous excerpt, Lucy! Looking forward to the book. I attended Writers Police Academy a few years ago, it was a fabulous opportunity that has saved me from sneaker in the mouth disease on more than one occasion!

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  35. Congrats on the award! Love the Key West series, Hayley, Miss Gloria and the whole crew and definitely look forward to their new adventure, especially after reading the excerpt. Also excited to read The Ingredients of Happiness.

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  36. congratulations on your award. this sounds like such a wonderful book with The Clue in the Crumbs. I am loving reading about older women in fiction. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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  37. Congratulations, The Clue in The Crumbs sounds like a very good book!

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  38. Look how good Lottie is, Lucy - a couple years ago, she'd be trying to eat that copy of THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBS! :-)

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    1. Julia, this is so true! She's still mischievous but not downright destructive:)

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  39. Congratulations on all of it! Life is good. How do they clear a room?

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    1. In pairs, and one of them is the lead. We looked hapless trying to repeat what they showed us!

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  40. I absolutely love your books and share them with a friend . We go to Key West for vacation together and love reading about the places we go and people we hear on US1 Radio . Can’t wait for the next book to come out πŸ€—

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  41. Lucy, saw the book award on Deerfield Beach Historical Society FB page...and earlier this year a program with Charles Todd. Congratulations. The course is fascinating glad to be vicariously present. Looking forward to the new book...to find out more about Catherine (who struck me as stubborn sort of soul). You comment on time running out struck a nostalgic note: I no longer have to make that trek north to CT, lovely to be ending my second full time year on the ocean. Cheers, Elisabeth

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  42. What a marvelous experience for you.
    Who is the giant next to you in the photo above the bomb squad line? He makes you look like you are Hobbit size!

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    1. Isn't that hysterical?? He's 6'10 to my 5'2--and we had to pretend he was the bad guy and take him down. LOL

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  43. I can see how your educational experience could only benefit your mystery writing. What an interesting thing to do, too.

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  44. I think a citizens police academy would be such an interesting experience. Plenty of book material too!

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  45. Congratulations on completing the course and winning your award!! Do you think having “ordinary citizens” go through this kind of training gives them a greater appreciation of the work and risks that law enforcement take? It seems like a “duh” question, but I am thinking about the people who only see them as corrupt. Might be a way of reaching out.
    I’m enjoying your Key West books and happy to have tapped into an ongoing series! Thanks for sharing your adventures! — Pat S.

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    1. I think so. I know I came out with a much better sense of how policing works and the risks they take every single day.

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    2. Absolutely, me too. I know there are bad cops--we see that all the time. But there are good ones too and they do a job that most people wouldn't consider!

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  46. What a great opportunity to law enforcement's challenges and fine-tune your storyline!

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  47. Exciting! (and the book is terrific!) Storyteller Mary

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  48. What a wonderful adventure you had taking a course with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy! I am sure it will enrich your life and your writing and add to your general safety!

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  49. Learning the ins and outs of law enforcement must have been A great experience, especially for a mystery writer. Congratulations on your new book, I'm looking forward to reading the book.

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  50. Sounds like a really fun/ interesting time. Can’t wait to see how you will incorporate some of it into your books!

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  51. I am so looking forward to this book. I did the Coconut Creek Citizens Academy in Broward County.Thanks Stephanie Nardelli

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  52. Great article- congrats on the award too! I love your books! Woof Lottie! 🐢

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  53. Looks like you had a great time !! Thank you for the chance to win an advance copy of the book !

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  54. Since I get most of my information about the police from books and TV. I'm glad that authors make the effort to portray them realistically. I like Miss Gloria and hope she stays in the books.

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  55. Sounds like a fun time, would love to get a copy!

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  56. As a widow of a retired police sergeant, I love how the Keys’ police have embraced you. My only concern is that the book won’t be released until August~ I hope it’s in time for this teacher’s summer reading!

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    1. Crumbs will be out in August, but the one with the Sheriff's deputies won't arrive until 2024. I have to finish writing it:)

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    2. and ps thank you, they couldn't have been nicer!

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  57. This is FANTASTIC, in every single way. A wonderful adventure, you look so happy, and the snippet is wonderful. YAY YAY YAY. xxxxx

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  58. (I did the FBI academy. It was amazing. Remind me to tell you about it. They still hate me.:-))

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  59. I’m so excited for this next book! Can’t wait to read it, and hope I’m the lucky one picked by Lottie!

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  60. Sorry posted above anonymously on accident. But I can’t wait for the next book! So excited! Hope I’m the lucky one Lottie picks!

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  61. Lucy, I'm really coming in here late, but I thought I'd go ahead and comment anyway. I want to congratulate you on the bronze medal award. That's fantastic. And, congratulations on your graduation. If I had someone to do that with I would love to do so locally. I always love having a new Hayley Snow book on the horizon, and I'm so glad you've brought back Darcy Rogers from A Dish to Die For. Thanks for the excerpt from The Clue in the Crumbs.

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  62. Congratulations on your book! I love the cover and it sounds absolutely amazing! Your pictures are wonderful and story behind how they helped with the book is so neat too!!
    Sherry BrownπŸ₯°

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  63. This training seems so interesting and fabulous! I would love to do something like this! Fabulous series!
    Heather Harrisson
    Hsdh1525@gmail.com

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  64. I can’t wait until this book comes out! I love Key West and these books make me feel like I am there!

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