Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's All in the Voice Bloghop: Excerpt of VOODOO QUEEN

I'm going to interrupt my Meal Rotation System series to participate in a fantastic bloghop/contest at Heather Webb's Between the Sheets. There's still time to sign up if you want to participate!

Contestants for this bloghop post the first 250 words of their manuscript and then go to the other participating blogs to critique. On May 18, everyone submits their final draft to hopefully win one of Heather's wonderful prizes.

This excerpt is from VOODOO QUEEN. It starts out with the birth of the infamous voodoo priestess of New Orleans: Marie Laveau. I hope you like it!

Marguerite writhed and groaned on the mahogany four-poster bed. Her teeth clenched and her copper-colored fingers gripped the sheets as a contraction took hold.

Catherine washed her hands in a porcelain bowl on the dresser, calm and determined as she was for her daughter’s other two births. Calm and determined… but not quite as excited. As much as Catherine wanted to greet this child into the world the same way she did with her other grandchildren, she couldn’t ignore the differences between those births and this one

“Shouldn’t I send someone for Henri?” Catherine asked for the third time. Marguerite’s white lover and the father of her other two children only lived a few blocks away. It would take no time at all to bring him to her.

Marguerite snorted. “I told you, he doesn’t want anything to do with this. I’m getting tired of tell you.”

Catherine wanted to shake her daughter. For Marguerite’s last two births Henri had paced in another room for hours, eagerly and nervously awaiting news of her progress. Of course, they had been his children. This child had no father. As much as Catherine prodded, Marguerite stubbornly refused to reveal her baby’s parentage. But this was not the first time Catherine was unhappy about Marguerite’s relationship with the rich white man who was twice her age. Marguerite had settled for this life and there was nothing Catherin could do to change it.

Henri could forgive Marguerite’s infidelity. He could not forgive the baby for its mysterious origins. Marguerite spent most of her pregnancy at her mother’s house, and when the pregnancy was over, Catherine would have to raise the child herself.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for commenting!


  1. This is a true grabber. I want to know the why and what of this story.

  2. I'm very intrigued by how this pregnancy occurred. Definitely a nice, mysterious set up. I really want to read a scene where the "cat" is let out of the bag about Henri not being the father. Most of the scene was definitely in Catherine's POV, the first and last paragraphs seemed to slip from that. But I'm big on using deep POV, so maybe it's just me. Would love to read more. Such an interesting character.

  3. The first few words made me think the story was about something else. Was that on purpose?

    Then I realized it was about an unusual entanglement of multiple families:
    - One woman and child is at the center of it all.
    - There is a multi-family relationship "powder keg" situation.
    - This exists due to the unconventional family arrangement, which already has created tension with various relatives.
    - Added to this is how the spark over the mystery of the latest child creates even more tension on top of what already exists.

    My guess is the reader is being led to identify the most with the younger woman giving birth to the child. Or, will the reader soon be encouraged to consider more the child's future feelings?

    The mother doesn't seem to be a sympathetic type. Is that by design? This creates the concern that the child may not be put in a very favorable situation.

    The reader also is left wondering what kind of character Henri has. Is he going to erupt and go after the man which got his "mistress" pregnant? How will he (and the others he has influence over) treat the latest child?

    Presumably, the reader will soon find out if this is the Antebellum or post-Civil War South and if Marguerite is a slave, servant, or somehow otherwise entangled with Henri. Or is it in some other setting and time with a French cultural influence?

    This gives the story a strong, but slightly confusing, start. However, ambiguity adds to the mystery.

  4. I like the back story, especially the mysterious origins of the child. The POV is sounding a bit distant, but maybe that's because most of the tension is not in the present scene. I would continue reading.

  5. The line that captured me was, "This child had no father." Since the child goes on to become a voodoo priestess, I assume this was a 'magical' conception. I'm intrigued!

  6. Ohhh, I like this! So much mystery, Teralyn. :)

    Just be careful of what I like to call alphabet soup in the last paragraph. There are lots of names back and forth. Also, overall, it's a distant POV. I'd love to see you dig a tad deeper on the emotional front. Still, very interesting and I'm totally wanting to read on!

  7. Love voices in the dialog. Interesting to choose the POV of the grandmother. Did wonder about her name... is Catherine a Cajun name as well? Marguerite and Henri fit nicely into your story. Would definitely continue reading. Be careful of missing '.' and 'Catherin'.

  8. I like historical fiction too, and I'll be interested how you weave in the vodou into this story. The opening paragraph is very visual. I can see the contrast of her copper skin and the deep mahogany of the bed. I agree with Heather that the POV could be more intimante, especially since we're there in the room where she's about to give birth, but overall an interesting premise. Nice work.

  9. This has a good hook with the conflict going on in the birthing room. I like how you open right in the action. The names tossed out right away distracted me because I didn't have any information or character attributes to tie the names to. But I think you'll get that sorted out, based on the comments above. I'd definitely recommend proofreading, as I stopped on "tell (needs -ing)" as well. Sounds like a solid story!

  10. Very interesting.

    Is this a prologue? Will the POV continue to be from the grandmother or switch to the daughter after she's born?

    I agree with others that you could delve more into the emotional, rather than the distant POV you're using.

    I'm not normally into historical fiction but this one would definitely interest me.

  11. This started with a wonderful active voice. I loved the sharp pace, and the immediate conflict. The last para.s reverted to more of a narration--my only advice would be to reveal that info in the dialogue between the mother and daughter instead because you're so good at it. This would also give you opportunity to open a window into the daughter's soul too. :D Well done. I would read your story.

  12. I think it's a very engaging opening.

    Interesting that as soon as I read the first sentence I thought of a woman in labor, even though writhing doesn't feel like the right word (of course I've never been in labor, so maybe it is accurate). The first paragraph is good, but I think you can make it better. Instead of telling us her skin tone you could say how her copper-colored fingers contrasted with the white linen sheets gripped in her fists.

    The mahogany four-poster bed feels like an info drop so we know that she's in a luxurious setting.

    I'm intrigued by this relationship with the white man who is not her husband, but unless Marguerite denies the baby is his, I'm inclined to think it is his. If it isn't then I'm starting to already not like her because it looks like she's involved with two men who are not her husband. Of course you can justify any scenario. I'm inferring a lot from the first 250.

    All that being said, I'd definitely turn the page.

  13. Thank you so much for all the advice! It was extremely helpful and I'm going to take it all to heart.


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