Author Archive


Posted on May 10, 2019 - by

Book Discussion Questions: A DEADLY FEAST

Book Discussion Questions: A DEADLY FEAST

There are lots of high points in a writer’s life (selling a book, finishing a book, seeing the book in the world for the first time), but nothing better than talking about the book with a book group or club or library or bookstore. 

In my newest Key West food critic mystery, A  DEADLY FEAST, food critic Hayley Snow is set to be married to her heartthrob detective Nathan Bransford. But she has a lot of worries because Nathan’s been married before and both sets of parents were married and then divorced. So she canvasses her friends and family about their experiences with marriage.

Hayley’s mother says: “Being married takes work,” my mom said, glancing at my father. “Life gets stressful and hectic and you stop paying attention. And then trouble comes calling.”

Whereas Steve Torrence who conducts lots of weddings says:  “I’ll tell you my theory about what makes a marriage work— people who know how to talk to each other through thick and thin and assume only the best motives from their partner have the best chance of surviving. As you know, we can’t predict what kind of life changes and challenges you’ll face together. We can only work on how graciously you’ll handle them.”

Hayley thinks this about her own parents: “Staying married took commitment and a little luck and family support and lots and lots of tending, which they had been too young and too overwhelmed to manage back then.”

What’s your theory about what makes for a good marriage? 

Does it seem to you that Nathan and Hayley are a good match? Why or why not?

When you’re reading about a fictional wedding, how much do you like to hear about wedding plans and details?

What are your favorite examples of fictional weddings, either books or movies? Explain why you chose them.

And for some non-wedding questions:

Have you ever gone on a food tour? If so where? If not yet, where would you love to eat your way around?

Martha Hubbard talks about chefs feeling possessive about the recipes they make and serve—they don’t want diners making substitutions. How do you feel about that?

How do you feel about Hayley’s relationship with her mother? And compare this to her relationship with Miss Gloria and Allison, her stepmother. 

Hayle’s boss Palamina says she never understood why Hayley was living with a senior citizen, until she met Miss Gloria. How do you feel about this character? Does she accurately reflect seniors?

IF YOU’D LIKE TO INVITE LUCY TO SPEAK TO YOUR GROUP, CONTACT HER RAISLEIB AT GMAIL DOT COM


Posted on March 19, 2019 - by

MYSTERY AUTHORS at the Otis Library

With Shari Randall, Liz Mugavero, and John Valeri
Otis Library 261 Main Street Norwich, CT 06360

June 8, 1 pm

Posted on January 8, 2019 - by

Book Launch: A DEADLY FEAST!

Book Launch: A DEADLY FEAST!

RJ Julia Bookseller

768 Boston Post Road

Madison CT 06443


Posted on January 8, 2019 - by

Book Talk and Signing

Copperfish Books

103 W. Marion Ave

Punta Gorda, FL


Posted on January 8, 2019 - by

Two day class on the First Five Pages, taught by Lucy and Barbara Ross

Learn to set an irresistible hook for the beginning of your novel or short story…


Posted on January 8, 2019 - by

Friends of the Key West Library Lecture

Lucy will be be the featured speaker for the Friends’ lecture series on February 18 from 6 to 7 pm. The lecture series will be held this year at the Old City Hall on Greene St.


Posted on November 26, 2018 - by

A Fictional Key West Thanksgiving and Cover Reveal: A DEADLY FEAST

LUCY BURDETTE: The day before Thanksgiving, when many of us were up to our ears in menu planning or pie crust rolling or sitting in traffic on the way to grandma’s house or (lord help us) the grocery store, I wondered what I could post that might be entertaining without being demanding. And it occurred to me that you might enjoy a few snippets from A DEADLY FEAST, the 9th Key West mystery, coming next May–because it’s set at Thanksgiving. On Monday we chatted about our menus and guest lists, today you’ll hear about Hayley’s!

Here’s the final artwork–isn’t it pretty? And I love that Jenn’s quote is on the cover…In this story, Hayley is helping to investigate the death of one of the customers from a food tour. Chef Martha Hubbard worries that someone sabotaged her key lime pie.

Here’s a little snippet describing the meal she’s making to teach a class on Thanksgiving sides:

Bill opened the door to the cooler and gestured at the shelves, overflowing with turkeys, sacks of Brussels sprouts, slabs of bacon, onions in net bags, and more.
“She’s teaching a class on Thanksgiving side dishes,” he said. “My favorite is the brown-butter rosemary yeast rolls.”
My stomach let out a loud rumble and they both laughed.
“You’re welcome to join this class, on the house. She’s including a tutorial on gravy from scratch,” said Eden. “And her side dishes are like nothing you’ve ever seen on dinner tables. She likes to put a Thai spin on old classics, like sweet potatoes with charred poblanos or Brussels sprouts with Thai chilies and caramelized shallots. I can’t wait for the habanero candy!”
I’d begun to salivate at the sound of those recipes, almost drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs. 

Hayley visits Martha’s kitchen again the next day (or is it two days later?) to follow up on some new information:

She dumped a blue ceramic bowl of dough onto her floured counter. Then she began to knead it, stopping at every turn to sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves on top and knead those into the mixture.
“What are you making?” I asked.
“Rosemary garlic brown-butter rolls,” she said. “I let them take the second rise in the fridge. Then I bake them before dinner and slather them with more garlic butter right before bringing them to the table. Guests go mad for them.”
“Sounds fabulous,” I said. “What else is on your menu?”
“Smoked turkey with a honey vinegar glaze and red-eye gravy, confetti succotash, mashed potatoes with cream cheese, sour cream, and scallions, the usual,” she said, finally cracking a smile.
“I’m practically drooling,” I said. “You take Thanksgiving to a new level.”

And this is what Hayley’s family is serving, after grace is said by Miss Gloria, with an emphasis on her gratitude for friends and family:

I helped them ferry all the dishes out to the sideboard in the dining room—the turkey, gravy, Sam’s cornbread stuffing, pumpkin biscuits, pasta with sage and roasted squash, green beans almandine, and an enormous salad topped with walnuts, dried cherries, mango, and goat cheese. Then my mother invited everyone to grab a plate and fill it.

A DEADLY FEAST blurb: Before Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow’s family descends on the island for Thanksgiving, she has one last assignment–a review of a seafood tasting tour conducted by her friend Analise Smith. But when one of the tourists collapses on the last stop, Analise begs her to investigate before the police destroy her business and shut down the local Key West eateries on her tour. Pressure mounts when Analise calls a second time to request that Hayley meet with Chef Martha Hubbard, who prepared key lime pies for the tasting tour and is terrified that someone poisoned her pies to ruin her reputation. Chefs all around town are preparing their versions of a Thanksgiving feast, but with a murderer on the loose, will Hayley and her friends have anything left to be thankful for?

Available for pre-order from Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you buy your books.


Posted on November 25, 2018 - by

Pimento Cheddar Scones #recipe @Lucyburdette


LUCY BURDETTE: As soon as the crisp days of fall arrived, I developed a craving for pimento cheddar scones. We all know that cravings are best indulged–lightly that is!

I decided that these would be a perfect addition to a Thanksgiving menu, but they’d also go well with turkey soup for an easy supper after the holiday. They freeze well, too–what are you waiting for?

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute white whole wheat)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder (I use low sodium)
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ tsp. cayenne or to taste

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped pimentos, drained

Preheat the oven to 425. Mix together the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your food processor until it resembles coarse meal. Blend or pulse in the cheese. Stir together the egg and milk and add this to the other ingredients. Mix until combined. Pulse the pimentos lightly into the dough, just enough to spread them around. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute until everything holds together.

Flatten the dough into a disk and cut it into six pieces. Place the sections on an oiled pan or parchment paper and bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. (Try not to overcook or the scones will be dry.)

Happy Thanksgiving! May your table be loaded with delicious food and surrounded by the people you love…

Death on the Menu, the 8th Key West food critic mystery, is available now from Crooked Lane Books. You can order it wherever books are sold!


Posted on September 3, 2018 - by

Channeling my Inner Hemingway

LUCY BURDETTE: Death on the Menu is in bookstores! Finally! One of the things I had to do while writing this book was to channel Hemingway

What does that mean? I’ll tell you…but a little background first. Sometimes I go in directions I never imagine when I’m writing, and end up adding a subplot that I certainly didn’t plan. For example, in DEATH ON THE MENU, food critic Hayley Snow is checking out a suspect and discovers that he is a Hemingway wannabe.

And then while googling and studying up on Hemingway, I learned that there actually was a contest for “Really Bad Hemingway” in which contestants submitted a page of bad Hemingway-esque writing and prizes were awarded. So then of course I had to write a page that this character had supposedly written.

Here’s how it went, starting with Hayley chatting with her suspect:

“Fun fact: did you know there is a contest for bad imitations of Hemingway’s writing?”

I shook my head.

“You should Google it—there are some snippets posted online and they’re a hoot. I entered a couple of years ago and got an honorable mention.”

“You entered a bad Hemingway contest? Do tell!”

He laughed. “Of course I have it memorized for moments like this. I called it ‘A Farewell to Harm,’ and it went like so:

He had hired the guide again after one too many women gone wrong. ‘You drink too much,’ the woman said. ‘You stink of beer and fish.’
The man and the guide had been at sea for hours, and reeled in two marlin. Both of them were big as Spanish bulls and that strong too; heaving silver bodies, that glinted in the sunlight and left the man and the guide breathless.
‘Let’s have a drink,’ the fishing guide said, though he knew the man’s history. ‘One drink won’t hurt you.’
‘OK, but only if it’s rum and beer. And only if you pour the rum slowly so the foam resembles the beach at low tide.’
‘Not until five. The tide won’t run out until five PM,’ the fishing guide said. ‘That’s when you see the foam.’”

By the end of Rusty’s recitation, I was laughing too hard to speak.

Lucy again: Are you a fan of Hemingway’s writing? why or why not?

About the book: Lucy Burdette, Death on the Menu from Crooked Lane Books
Food critic Hayley Snow is thrilled to be working at a three-day international conference at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. But things get off to a bad start when Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal (which belongs to Cuba and is on display for this weekend only) disappears. And they only get worse when a body is discovered in the storeroom.Hayley must spring into action before the killer adds another victim to his menu.

Posted on August 31, 2018 - by

The Chugs of Key West

LUCY BURDETTEAbout 10 years ago my sister and her husband were visiting us in Key West, but had taken two days to camp on the nearby Dry Tortugas National Park. My sister called me from the boat on the way back. 


“You’d better get over to the dock quickly,” she said, “we picked up a group of Cuban refugees.” 

Photo from Wikipedia

We hurried over. The refugees were huddled on the bow of the boat, faces impassive, dressed in clothing and blankets loaned by the staff of the Yankee Freedom. Who knows how long they’d been at sea, and on what craft? And it was chilly! A group of their relatives had gotten the word about their rescue and gathered on the dock. The tears and the joy were amazing to witness.

Since Key West is only ninety miles from Havana, we hear a lot about the island and many Key Westers have an intense curiosity about Cuba and what life might be like for its inhabitants. Up until 2014, when the wet-foot, dry-foot policy (in which Cubans who reached the US were allowed to stay,) changed in the Obama era, frequently we heard news stories about Cubans who attempted to reach the US in a variety of homemade, unseaworthy vessels— even windsurfers—with some disastrous results. Many of these crafts are on display at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden on Stock Island. I’ll show you a few–hope you get a sense of the shakiness!

When I wove some of that backstory and conflict into DEATH ON THE MENU, I had no idea that immigration would become such a national hot button issue. But whatever a person might think about the special Cuban  policy that was in place for years, it seemed to me that it would be hard not to be moved by the dangerous attempts immigrants made crossing the Straits of Florida. 

I knew it might be considered risky to weave this subject into a cozy mystery, but it felt more impossible not to do so. Despite our differences in politics, I think we need to remember that the policies that governments make affect real people with sometimes heart-breaking results. 

across from the Statue of Liberty

When it came time to choose a dedication for this book, this is the only thing that came to mind:


Where did your family come from and how did they get to the US? 



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