Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

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Steph.s
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Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by Steph.s » January 19th, 2011, 12:36 am

Hello! This is an excerpt from the first chapter of my UF manuscript titled Voodoo Dues. Any feedback would be helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for any advice offered.


Crouching behind a headstone in a cemetery, ruining a pair of designer heels is not how I normally spend my Saturday nights. Usually, I would be out on a date with my current guy. Or more likely curled up with my dog, blubbering into a kleenex over Bogie and Bacall or Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. Since I started working for Lian, real life has been much more entertaining than Turner Classic Movies.

I suppose that it all started the day the voodoo queen came to visit. I'd been working at Lian's bar for a couple of weeks, noticing things that were not quite right. Like the lack of actual customers, except for the couple old guys who came in to eat Lian's weird food and stare at my boobs. There were other visitors who didn't stay for lunch or drinks. A steady parade of people wearing pentacle jewelry and neighborhood psychics by the boatload.

That day, I was doing my usual post lunch thing, wiping off the immaculate bar for the tenth time in an hour, listening to my ipod with one earbud in while I hoped for an actual customer. At 1:48, the door chime jangled. I almost jumped out of my skin, startled by the possibility of actual patronage. My foot slid out from under me and my ipod hit the floor a mere second after my butt. I grimaced, hoping that my accident had not rocked the Kasbah enough to send bottles flying off of the shelves on top of me. Collecting myself, I stood to greet the customer. “May I speak to Dr. Cairn.” A statement not a question.

I scooted into Lian’s office where he was inspecting a coffee table sized book with yellowing pages. “Lian” I said, “You have a visitor who I wouldn’t keep waiting if I were you.”

“Who is it?”

“It’s Marie freaking Laveau, that’s who it is!”

Lian frowned at me. “How does she look?”

“Har Har” Shocked at the first stab at humor I’d seen him manage. “The Marie of the Cliff.” I said. “Come on!” I tugged on him. “I don’t want her putting the evil eye on me!”

I averted my eyes as Rene Chamtillion, voodoo queen of Oak Cliff followed Lian into his office. I agonized for about thirty seconds over whether or not to listen at the closed door. Chances were that I wouldn’t hear anything, but if Rene was putting a curse on Lian, I might need to know what kind, but if I were caught, I might find myself on the wrong end of a voodoo doll.

“You’ll find no zombies in my basement Dr. Cairn.” The New Orleans crawled along my spine as I listened. “Them old ways is just that, old and dead.” The guest chair across from Lian’s desk made a squeaking noise, signaling that she was probably ready to go. I shuffled back to the bar and resumed my imaginary cleaning.

Rene exited the bar like the queen she was. A great whoosh of air left my lungs as soon as the latch fell into place.

“Superstitious?” Lian asked, one eyebrow raised in question.

I glared at him. “If you don’t tell me what’s going on here, I am going to kill you in a fit of unrequited knowledge!” I paced the best I could in four and a half inch heels. “We barely have any customers, yet every ten dollar fortune teller in the neighborhood has been here to see you! And now Rene with her grandgoons outside…” The rant trailed off as he stared at me with unnerving eyes.

“Grandgoons?”

I plopped down in my chair. “The goons that were by her car, they’re her grandsons. I went to high school with one of them.” And from the bulges in their jackets, they had graduated from scary to scary and armed. He was still staring, almost looking amused. “TELL ME!” I half yelled, hamming it up, face in the air and fists clenched in pretend agony.

He sent me a blank stare that said I was getting squat from him. “I’ll be in my office if any ten dollar psychics come by.”

“Answer the door yourself.” I gathered my purse and inched my way to the door. “Back in an hour.” I yelled at his open office door. I was definitely staying until I figured out what was going on.

mnaylor3
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Re: Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by mnaylor3 » January 19th, 2011, 10:20 am

I like the opener. The impression I get is she's clearly out of place and she'll discover a new world of voodoo. I like that a powerful visitor has arrived too. I have to confess, though, I got really confused while reading it.

Is Marie freaking Laveau the same person as The Marie of the Cliff and the same person as Rene Chamtillion?

The main character has only worked as bartender for Lian (aka Dr Cairns) for two weeks and she really is on familiar terms with him (jokingly threatens to kill him, leaves work in the middle of the day). Is that right?

By the end of the excerpt I know the character significantly afraid of the Voodoo Queen and her Grandgoons, yet the main character decides to go and investigate them without hesitation?

Some of the description lost me (The New Orleans crawled along my spine as I listened).

Keep at it,

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Steph.s
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Re: Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by Steph.s » January 19th, 2011, 11:04 am

Thanks so much for the input. I'll get on making it less confusing asap.

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Re: Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by oldhousejunkie » January 27th, 2011, 2:52 pm

Steph,

This passage has loads of voice. I like the main character already. But if this is the opening, then we need a few specifics...like who is the narrator, why is she having to work at this bar, etc.

I read your post about a beta reader and your angst regarding the length of the novel (or novella in this case). I don't know if this is the case, but when I was writing my novel, I really struggled with glossing over the events leading certain parts that I really wanted to write. I've had to spend a lot of time "beefing" up those sections. The fact that you jump right into the action makes me wonder if somethng similar is going on with you.

The few confusing things were noted by the previous poster namely the various names for the voodoo priestess. But I found myself wondering, does the MC know the voodoo queen? She mentioned that she went to high school with the grandsons.

Try to go back and look at your writing with the thought of, "If I was reading this, would it confuse me?" It's hard, I'll admit but looking at it from that angle will really help.

Best of luck to you!

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Steph.s
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Re: Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by Steph.s » January 27th, 2011, 4:08 pm

Thanks for the advice. I will definitely put it to good use!

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Re: Voodoo Dues - UF Excerpt

Post by Emily J » February 1st, 2011, 11:18 pm

Steph.s wrote:Hello! This is an excerpt from the first chapter of my UF manuscript titled Voodoo Dues. Any feedback would be helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for any advice offered.


Crouching behind a headstone in a cemetery, ruining a pair of designer heels is not how I normally spend my Saturday nights. i like your opening line here Usually, I would be out on a date with my current guy. Or more likely curled up with my dog, blubbering into a kleenex over Bogie and Bacall oooh which movie? The Big Sleep? Key Largo?? (HUGE Bogie fan btw :) ) or Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. Since I started working for Lian, real life has been much more entertaining than Turner Classic Movies.

I suppose that it all started the day the voodoo queen came to visit. I'd been working at Lian's bar for a couple of weeks, noticing things that were not quite right. Like the lack of actual customers, except for the couple old guys who came in to eat Lian's weird food and stare at my boobs. <-- maybe starting with Like here, is making me feel like the sentence isn't complete There were other visitors who didn't stay for lunch or drinks. transition btw these sentences could be a bit better A steady parade of people wearing pentacle jewelry and neighborhood psychics by the boatload. <-- steady parade of people ... by the boatload feels redundant, both are describing a volume of people no?

That day, I was doing my usual post lunch post-lunch maybe? thing, wiping off the immaculate bar for the tenth time in an hour, listening to my ipod with one earbud in while I hoped for an actual customer. At 1:48, the door chime jangled. I almost jumped out of my skin, startled by the possibility of actual patronage. My foot slid out from under me and my ipod hit the floor a mere second after my butt. I grimaced, hoping that my accident had not rocked the Kasbah enough to send bottles flying off of the shelves on top of me. a bit odd, wouldnt she know if she were suddenly showered in bottles? Collecting myself, I stood to greet the customer. “May I speak to Dr. Cairn.” A statement not a question.

I scooted into Lian’s office where he was inspecting a coffee table sized ehh there should probably be hyphens in there somewhere... book with yellowing pages. “Lian” I said, “You have a visitor who I wouldn’t keep waiting if I were you.”

“Who is it?”

“It’s Marie freaking Laveau, that’s who it is!”

Lian frowned at me. “How does she look?”

“Har Har” Shocked at the first stab at humor I’d seen him manage. not sure i get the humor there “The Marie of the Cliff.” I said. “Come on!” I tugged on him. “I don’t want her putting the evil eye on me!”

I averted my eyes as Rene Chamtillion, voodoo queen of Oak Cliff agree with other comments that some explanation is needed here, this lady has a lot of names! What is this Tolkien? :) followed Lian into his office. I agonized for about thirty seconds over whether or not to listen at the closed door. Chances were that I wouldn’t hear anything, but if Rene was putting a curse on Lian, I might need to know what kind, but if I were caught, I might find myself on the wrong end of a voodoo doll. sentence a bit long

“You’ll find no zombies in my basement Dr. Cairn.” The New Orleans crawled along my spine as I listened. <-- nice! “Them old ways is just that, old and dead.” The guest chair across from Lian’s desk made a squeaking noise, signaling that she was probably ready to go. I shuffled back to the bar and resumed my imaginary cleaning.

Rene exited the bar like the queen she was. <-- this description is all tell, no show A great whoosh of air left my lungs as soon as the latch fell into place.

“Superstitious?” Lian asked, one eyebrow raised in question.

I glared at him. “If you don’t tell me what’s going on here, I am going to kill you in a fit of unrequited knowledge!” <-- not sure if unrequited knowledge quite works for me I paced the best I could in four and a half inch heels. “We barely have any customers, yet every ten dollar ten-dollar fortune teller in the neighborhood has been here to see you! And now Rene with her grandgoons outside…” The rant trailed off as he stared at me with unnerving eyes.

“Grandgoons?”

I plopped down in my chair. “The goons that were by her car, they’re her grandsons. I went to high school with one of them.” haha love the Grandgoons bit And from the bulges in their jackets, they had graduated from scary to scary and armed. He was still staring, almost looking amused. “TELL ME!” I half yelled, hamming it up, face in the air and fists clenched in pretend agony.

He sent me a blank stare that said I was getting squat from him. “I’ll be in my office if any ten dollar psychics come by.”

“Answer the door yourself.” I gathered my purse and inched my way to the door. “Back in an hour.” I yelled at his open office door. I was definitely staying until I figured out what was going on. a bit contradictory, Im staying until i figure this out, *grabs purse* Im outta here! See my issue with this??
Okay I definitely like this. Tons of voice, the character comes through already. I had a few nitpicks here and there. The biggest thing tho, might be to add in some detail. I would really like to know what a Voodoo queen looks like! Help the reader really visual what is going on here. The voice is great, the dialogue is generally good, just give us some imagery to sink our teeth into. Everything goes by a bit fast without enough detail I think. But, that being said, what you have on the page I really like!

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