A little taste…

I’m part of a special event for the next two days to share an excerpt of my YA novel, Half Moon Bay Resort(Check out the details here.) The idea is to share a 500-word excerpt of our novel or other writing project with the “cliffhanger” theme in mind. Meaning, you can enjoy this little snippet, and be left craving more!

Tell me what you think – I’d love to know! And be sure to read the other participating bloggers’ cliffhangers.

An excerpt from Half Moon Bay Resort, by Mary Jo Campbell

I remember the hush hush feeling, the whispering, and the shed.

“My aunt snuck me out here a lot,” I say over my shoulder to Frank. “To hide and to tell secrets.  We’d come home with dirt under our nails, my Nonna scolding us both.”

I didn’t tell Frank that Aunt Julia’s words still rattled in my head. The image of her thin pale lips that turned up when our eyes met. “She’ll never tell you, Liliana. She’ll die and be buried with it.”

Dead end. Frank and I are at the other side of the island, back at the shore. I turn around, pushing past him. I’m sprinting now, over rocks and dead patches of grass. That shed had to be here.  I look up for a break in the trees, an opening big enough for a shed to be. My toe slams hard into something and a shock of pain splits through my shin. I tumble over a large boulder breaking the fall with my hands.

“Holy crap, Lily, you OK?” Frank skids to his knees beside me. “That flip was sick!”

I sit up, rubbing my raw hands on my legs and survey the blood dripping down my right shin. I fake a cough, pressing the heels of my hands into my eye sockets, defeated.

“Hey, is that it?” Frank asks.

We’re sitting on the patch of dirt that opens to a small clearing. I can make out the wooden slats of a wall. I get up, pulling Frank with me.

The shack is a dilapidated wooden structure with a door and one broken window. I step inside, overwhelmed by the musky odor. I close my eyes and can feel Auntie Julia’s soft cheek against mine as we dance there in the slant of sunlight.

“She used to sing to me,” I say, walking along the walls of the shack. The floorboards groan like an old sleeping man. Sounds of wind, waves and boats fade away outside. Everything is muffled.

A knocking in my chest begins and an urge to dig tingles in my hands. Across from the only door is a broken floorboard, like a creature had taken a huge bite. I look at Frank. He pats the gun at his belt and I roll my eyes at him again.

On my knees, I run my hand down the broken board, wiggling it free. I lift the dry-rotted wood with my fingers; it crumbles apart. A strong scent of earth emerges. I lift the next board; it bends and then crumbles, too. Something is under there. A glint of gold. My eyes meet Frank’s and he smirks.

I reach in, feeling something cool, smooth and square. It isn’t heavy, but has some weight as I lift it and hold it in both hands. It’s the shape and size of a cigar box covered in a golden leaf foil. I flick a baby spider from the lid and slowly open it.

Copyright Mary Jo Campbell, 2010


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39 responses to “A little taste…

  1. This was an interseting read. You paint a vivid image of the scene and capture my attention. I definitely want to know what’s going to happen next.

  2. Very great images, and I really want to know what’s in that box! Thanks for sharing!

  3. That definitely leaves me wanting more! Great images and great voice in both characters. Strong dialogue too.

    Good luck!

  4. Beautiful job with setting and working with a really difficult POV/tense combo. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I agree, nice images. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Some great images! I’d definitely want to read on!

  7. Love the opening line. Not only do I want to know what’s in the box, but I’m dying to find out more about Julia and her relationship with Lily and the shed. Can’t wait for more.

  8. Oh that’s mean! I wanna know what’s in the box! Great job, very descriptive and secretive, which I love!

  9. Very nice imagery.
    Whats in the box? Very good, I want more!

  10. I want to know more about Lily already, and what “She’ll die and be buried with it” means. Not to mention what’s in the box. More!

  11. I enjoyed your writing style. It’s very easy to fall into the story. I would love to read more and find out what’s in the box. And I liked your use of first person present. I almost didn’t notice, which is just how it should be.

  12. Wendy Tyler Ryan

    Nice bit of intrigue.

  13. This is great and I don’t like present tense. So really impressive. I love the old man analogy and the spider at the end.

    Thanks for sharing


  14. Hi,

    Lovely descriptions and sense of place – Lily recalling memories of Aunt Juliana and air of mystery building as she seeks out the old shed!

    Love that found the box, and I’m dying to know what’s in it, so yes, great cliffhanger. 😉


  15. What’s in the box?!
    I must know! lol.
    This is great. Really left me wanting more.

  16. Hmmm… That is a good question and cliffhanger. What is in the box? I do want to know. The little spider was a nice little touch to the moment too.

  17. Yeah!! What’s. In. The. Box? Nice one!

  18. Wow, this really engages with all the senses!

  19. Ok, I give up, what’s in the box? 🙂 Great cliffhanger.


  20. Tina Lynn

    Oh, heck! Now that was an awesome cliffie!!! Beautifully written. Just absolutely lovely!

  21. I feel a sense of understanding of Lily’s character, just from this small scene. I’m intrigued!! I really can’t wait to read more. Go get ’em!

  22. Thanks for participating! We’ve judged your entry. o/\o *high five*

  23. Loved your description. The floor boards groaning like an old sleeping man. Finding a treasure is a great cliffhanger …. What is it? Where did it come from? Who did it belong to?

  24. Ooooooooooh, I want to know what is in that box!! What a great cliffhanger!

  25. Ooh…what’s in the box? What a mean place to stop!

  26. Well written entry. And a great cutting that leaves the reader wanting to know more. Best of luck!

  27. Aw, dang it! What is INSIDE! That was a great cliff hanger. Good job. =)
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  28. I like that you have so much of nature involved in this scene. I really want to know whats in that box, and you have a good build up leading to the cliffhanger. Well done

  29. You had me at “I remember the hush hush feeling…” Oooh, do tell what happens please! Very nice, MJ 🙂

  30. You have brought up a very wonderful points , regards for the post. “For visions come not to polluted eyes.” by Mary Howitt.

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