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Okay Here we go. I am struggling with the opening scene of my novel. One I have always adored and the other may be a better way to start. I would LOVE to hear from you to know which would make you want to read on.

Both excerpts are from Samantha:  Ancestral Secrets:


My 35 Word Pitch:

Samantha searches her ancestral lineage to explain the mysterious deaths of her family. She uncovers a curse and her family’s participation in starting the Salem Witch Trials. Unless she can break the curse, she’s next.

Excerpt One: This is the 250 word pitch for #PitchMadness There is a note where 250 words stopped.

Intent on stealing my darkness, the sun crept into the room. Inch by inch its fingers crawled across the floor. Over the past year, every day was the same. Me against the sun. For hours, I waited for it to make its move, staring into the darkness that blanketed me, protected me. I willed it not to come, begged even. Please not today, you can have tomorrow. Just give me this one day. My efforts were futile and I couldn’t hide. No matter what I did, it wouldn’t stop.

At the window, the strings dangled to the side of the blinds. I wrapped my fingers around them, took in a deep breath, and pulled.

It was over.

The daily battle against the sun was done.

I lost.


Shushing noises and whispers came from the hallway. This was unavoidable as well. The silver doorknob turned, and I was helpless to stop the inevitable.

Dad burst into the room. His brown eyes brightened and dimples deepened with his smile. I looked like him, except for the green eyes that came from my mother, who trailed behind him holding a pink cake. My husband, Michael, followed, our newborn cradled in his arms. His dark eyes fixed on me with an I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this, smile.

The group huddled together and sang Happy Birthday. Laughter erupted as they attempted to stay on key and in unison failed miserably. As much as I hated birthday celebrations, I loved this one. Having them all in front of me. I couldn’t ask for more. ***Note this is the 250 word mark #Pitchmadness only got this much***

My mother raised the cake. The candles – shaped as the numbers two and five – flickered as I leaned in and blew.

Unable to draw in my breath, I watched the cake, followed by my mother, dissipate and vanish. I turned to Michael, his face filled with sadness as he and the baby faded. I looked to my father. Concern and guilt replaced his earlier smile, and he too disappeared.

They were gone. They were all gone.


My knees slammed against the hardwood floor. Reality overwhelmed me. My parents died one year ago today, my birthday. Michael died three months later, and then the baby. I didn’t want to remember. I wasn’t sure how long it took someone to grieve and move on with life, but I wasn’t ready. Not yet.

I stared around the empty room. “Damn Samantha, get it together.” I didn’t want Laurie to find me this way, not again. She was my best friend and the only person left in my life that I considered family.

Pulling myself up I headed to the bathroom to get dressed. The haunting echoes of their song filled my head.

Now this is my second potential opening: 

Excerpt Two: 

I’m gonna kill Laurie! I swear I am. I love her,  I really do, but this is too much. So far, the day was perfect. A day of pampering. New clothes, new hair. I had neglected myself over the last year, but this was by far the worst birthday present ever.

The old woman’s bony fingers clamped tight around my wrists. The windowless room was dark, covered with purple tapestries. The dim lighting provided only by scattered candles. The intense smell of sage and, I think, sandalwood filled the room. The stage was set perfectly. Even the woman herself, her white wiry hair tumbling from under the red scarf. Her face full of leathered by years. The downward lines only detoured slightly with her half smile. The jewelry she wore dangled from her ears, neck and wrists sang like wind chimes. For a moment, even I, disbeliever in all things magic, felt sucked into the illusion.

That is of course until the stereotypical crystal ball sat between my outstretched arms. My father then echoed in my mind. “Magic is nothing more than mumbo jumbo designed for people to steal your money.” This was no different.

“Don’t worry.” The old woman’s accent was more like a hissing snake or Dracula.” I don’t hurt.” Why did I allow Laurie to have this so-called fortune-teller read me? Madam Zenda, oh brother.

“You must relax.” She loosened her grasp and then retightened the grip on my wrists. “It is better to look through a clear mind than the stress.” Take deep breaths.” Madam Zenda demonstrated by taking in a deep breath and then slowly letting it out. She nodded her head toward me so I mimicked her breathing, anything to get this over with quickly.

She closed her eyes and leaned her head back. She swayed back and forth like a dance, and she was the only one hearing the music. Peaceful and serene. My muscles relaxing in my shoulders as I continued to take in the deep breaths.

She stopped abruptly. Squeezed her eyes tight and then violently shook her head back and forth. The peacefulness quickly faced and now she looked like she was in pain. I pulled my hands but was unable to draw them back as her grasp tightened. Pain shot up my arm from her surprising strength.

Her eyes flew open and she stopped shaking. A dark, menacing gaze, took over and she screamed, piercing my ears, then let go of my wrists and pulled hers back like a recoiling snake.

“Get out!” Zenda snarled through gritted teeth.

What the hell? I pulled my hands back and held them close to my chest. “What happened?”

“Get out!” Zenda stood, knocking the chair down with force. She pointed to the door. “Never come back. You are not welcome here.” With her wrinkled and gnarled hands, the old woman reached into her pocket, withdrew two twenty-dollar bills, and threw them at me. “Take your money and go!”

I raised my hands to not only to calm her but also to keep her away, “W-what d-did you see?”

Her dark, cloudy eyes widened. “Get out! Take your damned curse with you! How dare you bring it here! We want no part! No part!”

I backed out of the room and into the hallway. She charged after me growling through her gritted teeth.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to know your thoughts and opinions: They both may still need some editing. But please let me know what you think.


7 thoughts on “Excerpts

  1. I like the first version too and agree it needs shortened, especially the first paragraph. I’ve further critique advise for the first 250 if you want it. DM me on twitter and I’ll give you my email.

  2. You have a great pitch and your style is smooth and intense. I love your tone and word choice! My guess is that your getting rejections because of where it starts. It would be more powerful if you started with one of the deaths, showing the curse at work instead of telling about it? It would also build major sympathy for your MC, who would leave the funeral all alone, perhaps after a conversation with the funeral director. You could use that to show the losses too. Just my thoughts. I’m in the same boat though so take them with a grain of salt! I wish you well in pitch madness!

  3. Both would have me reading the book, they are fantastic! I think no 1 would be the best but again I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Need a proof reader?

  4. I liked the first best. Just a thought. I think opening the book with a prologue dealing with the tragedies in some form and revealing the belief of a curse (not disclosing all details) could be intriging. Even almost like a dream sequence (more like a nightmare) leaving the readers to think there is no way this is true … Too much tragedy for one person to endure.

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