Friday, May 25, 2018

Selecting the Right Excerpt by: Joanne Guidoccio

Selecting the Right Excerpt

Selecting the right excerpt for a reading or Open Mic session can be a daunting task. What looks good on paper does not necessarily work in a live situation.

Here are some tips:
      Include a short introduction to the excerpt. At longer readings, you can discuss your writing journey and expand on the back-story. Open Mic sessions are more casual with the organizer simply stating the presenter’s name. If this is the case, share a few details about the manuscript.

·         Start at the beginning. Knowing that most agents do not read beyond the first few pages, you have probably polished those pages until they gleam. However, if the first chapter is devoted to setting the scene or introducing back story, select another excerpt.

·         Edit. The excerpt does not have to be cut word-for-word- from the manuscript. Remove sections that can only be understood in the context of previous chapters. Descriptions can be wonderful when read at leisure but deadly if they stretch out the action and frustrate or bore the listener.

·         Time yourself and bring only those pages you can read in the allotted period. Five minutes may seem like a long time to stand in front of a sea of faces, but it passes very quickly, and if presenters aren’t careful, they can lose themselves in their own work and overstay their welcome.

·         End on the right note. While you don’t need a “happily ever after” ending, there must be some resolution or hint of a resolution. Don’t frustrate the audience and leave them hanging.

·         Experiment with swagger. We’ve all sat through readings where authors kept their noses in their novels and never looked up once. Not everyone can inspire and motivate like Tony Robbins, but authors should look up at intervals and use vocal variety and appropriate gestures whenever possible.

·         Most important of all, relax and use the reading or Open Mic session to connect with the audience and introduce those wonderful characters you have lovingly created and nurtured.


While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first cooperative and willing, their camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.

Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?


Jim whistled. “You sure don’t like it easy. With all your millions, you’d think this crap could somehow miss landing on you. But you do seem to attract it.” He chuckled. “Might be something to address with a therapist or maybe the psychic you’ve just met.”

“I didn’t just meet Cassandra. I got to know her and her parents very well during those seven months I taught in Parry Sound. They’re good people.” I could tell by his tone that he was dismissive of Cassandra’s psychic powers. While I was also skeptical, I did feel the urge to defend her. She had been so sincere and so open. I couldn’t fathom the notion of Cassandra faking or putting on the airs of a psychic. It wasn’t in her nature to be deceitful.

“I’m sure they are,” Jim said. “But let’s face some facts here. Most psychics need to make a living. I don’t doubt this lady has some intuitive ability—as many women do—but I don’t think it’s enough to catch a murderer. The constable is grasping at straws. What did you say his name was?”

“Leo. Leo Mulligan.”

“Tall, dark-haired guy. Good-looking and a bit of a rascal.”
“He’s evolved.” I immediately regretted my response. Knowing Jim, he would pounce and tease me.
“And you’re interested,” Jim said, chuckling. “What does your boyfriend think about this cozy reunion you’re having with a more evolved constable?”


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In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio


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