Book Jacket

 

rank 805
word count 13542
date submitted 30.04.2011
date updated 01.06.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: moderate
incomplete

Pain

Kim Padgett-Clarke

How does a father deal with accidentally killing his own child? How does a mother deal with the torment of never having loved that child?

 

Tina and Alex’s marriage is falling apart. Tina gave up a successful career to have the child that her husband craved for. She is unable to feel love for Charlotte, only resentment and bitterness. Alex and Charlotte form a loving bond that Tina feels left out of.

Alex’s whole world turns upside down when following a vicious argument with his wife he accidentally kills his precious daughter.

Alex’s grief consumes him and following a breakdown he becomes the patient of Nicky Drummond, a Holistic Psychologist. Nicky is also psychic and begins to see Charlotte's distressed spirit. Against all her professional instincts, Nicky is drawn into the family’s tragedy, and she becomes a bridge between Charlotte and her parents, helping the little girl find peace and begin her journey to a different life.



 
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tags

emotional, ghost, psychic, relationships, tragedy

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89 comments

 

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Richard Maitland wrote 307 days ago

You do not need the first chapter, Kim. It's a 'spoiler'.

Your story starts when Alex meets Nicky.

Trust me.

Brian G Chambers wrote 315 days ago

Kim
I have rarely been so gripped by a story here on authonomy. The story is compelling as is the writing, a true delight. There is nothing I can add and nothing I can critique. Highest stars from me. Well done.
Brian.

Yasmina wrote 326 days ago

Pain
Kim Padgett-Clarke

What a great read Kim you know how to hook the reader in to your characters. I felt absorbed by the sadness and disappointment in their lives. Wishing that Tina would see how selfish she had become and wanted so much for Alex to stop being downtrodden and stand up for himself and his beautiful daughter.

I read all 5 chapters and would have read to the end had it been on here. I'm loving all of the characters especially Nicky who is very intriguing, in fact I need an appointment with her please!

A great piece of work with excellent compelling and descriptive narrative.

I think you deserve to go far with this novel. I will star it highly and wish you all the best for the future as you obviously have a glowing one ahead of you.

I wondered if in your pitch you could have maybe not let on that Alex would run his daughter over! Maybe you could just mention that he accidentally killed his daughter but not say how? Or just say in some way that the tragic death of their daughter would have disastrous far reaching consequences for the future...

Yasmina Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey


flower girl wrote 430 days ago

Hi Kim, I love this story and am going to put it on my shelf. You tell a great tale and I really felt that I got to know your characters quickly. There is just one thing I would alter and I've sent that to you in a private message. Great work with the book.
Best Wishes
Gill

Seringapatam wrote 456 days ago

Kim, this is a very well written book. I loved the story and I like the way your characters blend into the book so well. I think this has a lot going for it but you need to push it on this site. You have a wonderful ability to draw the reader in when ever you wish. That in itself is a gift. I like the depth of the story too it all matches and suits the books and the story line so well. I enjoyed this read.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B,.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you? Happy New Year. Sean

LCF Quartet wrote 482 days ago

Hi Kim,
If I was to read your pitch as the back cover of a book, I would go straight to the cashier and buy it.

I read all you've posted on the site, and I'm amazed with the way you structured the plot and developed it flawlessly. Your characters, their reactions and the dialogue scenes are believable. Your writing style is clear and easy to follow.

I hope you upload the rest of PAIN soon, as I look forward to reading how things will eventually unfold for Alex and Tina. The core concept of the story is very strong and seems like there is a lot more to discover when it comes to the spiritual side of the coin.

6 stars from me to you! Watch-listed for further comments.
Best wishes,
Lucette- Ten Deep Footprints

Di Manzara wrote 569 days ago

Hi Kim,

Very good short and long pitches. There is no doubt, they easily lured me into reading your book.

You are a very talented writer. The concept of Pain is smart, although really tragic, your book is still something I'll read over and over again. Your descriptions are vivid. Throughout, your storytelling flowed well. Tina and Alex are wonderful characters I absolutely enjoyed, and it was easy to sympathize with them after what happened to their daughter. Great job.

I give you 5 stars!

If you have some free time, may I invite you to read and rate my book,
LEO & ROVER: THE PURPLE MARBLE ADVENTURES

Thank you and I wish you all the best,
D

Lenny Banks wrote 597 days ago

Hi Kim, I read chapter 6. This is a very well written story, it's a great idea and I think it will be very popular. In a way I wonder if you could make the pitch a little more secretive so readers don't know the tragedy that is about to befall the little girl. I felt awful reading the tale knowing what was going to happen. That said, you have a good grasp on the characters and the story was easy to follow. Well done.

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks - Tide and Time: At The Rock.

G.W. 2012 wrote 602 days ago

I'm sorry this took so long!
I think you have done a very nice job with chapter one. It is well written and provides enough ground work to get a good idea of where this is headed. However there were just a couple of minor things that you may or may not want to address. Personally I don't like how you abrubtly switch to her being at the hospital or surgery as you call it; I think you need more connectivity there. Even something as simple as stating that she's getting ready for work and gets into her car, (but with better words).
Also I don't think a doctor would use the words 'upset tummy' when referring to an adult especially when speaking to a colleague.
Aside from those little nit picks I think you have a great beginning. Highly starred and if I can find some space on my shelf I'll put you there for a little boost. Best wishes, G.W. ~Escaping Shady Lane~

Johnny Appleseed wrote 630 days ago

PAIN
By Kim Padgett-Clarke

…is a drama about the tragedy of a couple losing their daughter in a horrible accident, and how a psychologist with paranormal powers just might be the only hope for the grieving couple and the spirit of their daughter.

At least that is what is in the pitch—there is little of that in the excerpt here on Authonomy. I don’t believe, like some reviewers have stated, that the pitch gives too much away. Quite the contrary, were it not for the pitch, I would simply believe this is a story about a troubled couple and their sweet little girl…oh, and the doctor just happens to see spirits. This leads to my first criticism, Kim: You need to put a little more on the site. Perhaps you can take the reader to the death of Charlotte and the collapse of the parents. And you need to include more paranormal interaction. These additions will at least give Authonomy readers more of a feel about what this story is really about.

The narrative opens with a seeming apparition disturbing the sleep of Nicky Drummond, a holistic psychologist with paranormal powers. Having dealt with spirits all her life, she has the distinct feeling that the little girl’s spirit is still alive and in possible danger. This brings up two issues for me. The first echoes my previous comment about the length of this excerpt. At this early point in the reading, I began to expect some kind of detective story. Who is this little girl’s spirit? Why is she distressed? Why is she coming to Nicky? How does she know about Nicky? Come on Nicky, let’s go find out. Again, were it not for the pitch, I would have a totally different expectation of this story. The excerpt needs to match (or at least hint at) the pitch. This first issue leads to the second: How can there be a disembodied spirit when the little girl is still alive? I immediately started to think time travel. The girl dies in the present but her future spirit comes back to stop the tragedy from taking place. A time travel ghost story. Interesting. However, the pitch explains this away (I think), and since there are no other episodes with Charlotte’s spirit, and no hints as to how this is happening, I am left with this huge question.

Next the author introduces Alex Brady who is so twisted into knots that Nicky has to use all of her energy to help treat him. He is a mousy man who is obviously collared by his overbearingly anal wife Tina. And it is the dynamic between Alex, Tina, and their daughter Charlotte (remember the “spirit” from the beginning of the story?) that is so interesting. What parent hasn’t found a child to be a burden? But Tina is so full of regrets (and pent up anger) over her choice to put her career aside to have a child that she takes it out on everyone around her. She should have never had a child…especially such a sweet one like Charlotte. The poor child is kept like an expensive fragile doll. Her appearance is always immaculate, and she is never allowed out to play with kids her own age. God forbid if she should catch an illness or (gasp!) get dirty. Charlotte pines to be a normal child. Mummy won’t allow it, and Daddy is impotent to do anything but feel badly for her.

These five interesting chapters left me wanting to know the connection between what is in the narrative and what is in the pitch. Unfortunately, I felt a tad annoyed. Kim…please add some more.

Stylistically, I have a couple comments.

The first is probably an English thing: the single quote in dialogue. As an American, it throws me off a little—but that could be me. Nevertheless, your use of dialogue in the narrative is very good and realistic. Your point of view changes are smooth, and the interchange between characters is clear.

The second is a bit of a problem I too have as a writer, and it tickles me to find that I can see it so easily in other writers’ works but not so much in mine. Going to chapter 1, paragraph 1…

Line 1: Every nerve in her body seemed to be tingling…
I don’t think nerves “seem” to be firing off—they are either working or not. Just use “tingled.”

Line 3: …the street light directly outside the window.
Like “seemed” above, “directly” is extraneous.

In fact most adverbials are extraneous. The context implies what the adverbial is stating. That is not to say that I hate adverbials—I overuse them myself—but you really need to sift through them. In paragraph 1 alone, you have directly-gradually-slowly-into each other-strongly. And those are the obvious ones. Take a good look at all of them; I’m certain you can drop a few.

I enjoyed this (small) excerpt, Kim. I wish you had included more. Please consider adding a few more chapters.

Well done.

Johnny Appleseed
THE DARK BETWIXT

george kohlman wrote 631 days ago

Very good. After one chapter, I only got snagged or confused once - 'As the doctors' surgery came into view'. Then I would have put the word collegues in at end of that paragraph or the next one.
George

scargirl wrote 639 days ago

great premise and build up. credible characters and dialogue. good writing skills. an overall good read.
j
what every woman should know

rikasworld wrote 642 days ago

Obviously this is a very emotive subject. Alex is the main person to sympathise with but Tina too is a heart rending picture of a mother trying to play the role without actually having any feeling for her daughter. Very hard!
I think you write extremely well. One minor niggle there were an awful lot of 'deeps' in para. 1, after that I was involved in the story so I'm afraid I was no use as a proof reader.
I can imagine this being very popular and selling well with readers who like an emotional subject!

trevca wrote 646 days ago

This is quite an addictive story that has been very well written and definitely one that when it gets to print, will be thumbed to death and turn up with more dog collars on page ends than many, many stories I have had the chance to read over the years. A great story, a great read. Beautifully put together.

Trev

Tarzan For Real wrote 649 days ago

Pack a lunch and a lot a Kleenex tissue when reading this great novel.

Well Kim, you threw your heart and soul into this one. From compelling characters to crisp dialogue, and a story that hits right into the heart. More than anything the characters are real and believable.

Highly starred and I'll get it to my shelf shortly.--JL "The Devil Of Black Bayou"

Natalie1 wrote 652 days ago

An excellent start Kim! You draw in the reader quickly and with skill. I will continue reading as I find the premise of the book very interesting. High stars and I shall back this for a while to give you a leg up! Well done! Natalie (The Diary of John Crow)

Cyrus Hood wrote 658 days ago

Hi Kim,
Interesting and engaging from the start, I liked this right away. Your style is polished and I could find no fault. This is a story that appeals to me, I find the concept of tortured creativity extremely interesting (hence my avatar). I am placing this on my watch list with 6 stars and promise to return to it soon (dictum meum pactum).

Perhaps you might be tempted to comment on my Hellion 2 - a tragic romance set in occupied Normandy.

best regards

Cyrus

Michael Jones wrote 660 days ago

Hello, Kim

I enjoyed the first couple of chapters. Looks like a good story shaping up. It reminded me of a TV programme called 'Medium' for some reason and I pictured Nicky looking a bit like the female lead of the show. Some nice writing in there and I liked the teasing way you drew me in. I'll be reading more.

Mick x

Tod Schneider wrote 662 days ago

This is nicely done. You waste no time serving up a taste of her special powers, your writing is fluid and skillful -- I don't see anything to tinker with at all. Best of luck with this!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink

RMAWriteNow wrote 676 days ago

Hi Kim; I have read the first eight chapters here and enjoyed them. I particularly liked the little things you mention that some of the rest of us forget: 'Fiddling with the wedding ring,' 'kissing the bridge of her nose', to name but two. All these little details help to paint an accurate picture of the people involved.
I also noted the quality of your writing with the reaction from Alex to the accident (very harrowing) and the reaction, again from Alex, to the police questioning. All in all I thought this was a very good story and well played out. I am sure the rest would be good too. The only thing I would say is that although the short pitch is spot on, I think (as someone else said) that you give a bit too much away in the long pitch. Your writing is of a high enough standard to draw the reader on without knowing a good bit of the plot already.
High stars and well done.
RMA
The Snow Lily
Sea Spray and Stars

iandsmith wrote 685 days ago

I read all ten chapters. This is a very good idea and the story unfolds with believable characters and situations building up to the accident. The pitch and synopsis do give a lot away about the story, but it does make it clear what the story is about. Some sections were so well-written, for example, the visit to the dentist. The tragic death of Charlotte, the “beautiful seven year old daughter”, is handled expertly. Well done.

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 692 days ago

What a wrenching story this is. It's hard to feel much sympathy for Tina, but it is painful to read about Alex, whose unthinkably terrible experience is so vividly described. The nature of Nicky's kind of practice is strange and interesting. All told, a most compelling read.

Elizabeth
The Made-Up Man

Karamak wrote 693 days ago

Hi Kim, as the mother of a little boy who died accidentally whilst in my care, I knew this would be a tough read for me. In order to do your book justice I have read the first nine chapters. This is a well written well developed story which as someone who has experienced it first hand can say you have captured realistically. I wrote about my sons death in my book and it nearly broke my heart having to re-live all that raw emotion. Later on my marriage failed mainly because we couldn't cope with our individual grief. This is a powerful poignant story which will touch lots of people and I wish you well with it. Karen, 6*

patio wrote 697 days ago

Nicky, it was only dream. Get on with your job and stop bugging Dr Paige. Alex Brady's daughter was not the little girl you saw in your bedroom. Or was she? I will read on some other time

So far So good. I like the mystery Nicky dealing with.

The content of the story fit its title. Pain is definitely appropriate

Emma.L.H. wrote 705 days ago

Kim, this is great! You have a lovely way with words; I was hooked from the first few lines. Your pitch is good too. This is a subject that I'm very interested in, as I know are a lot of people, and your book would be a very desirable read in the right hands. I noticed a few typos:

...which glowed red like demons eyes...
This needs an apostrophe on demons. (Demons')

...her twenty-seven year old face...
Two more hyphens need placing in here. (twenty-seven-year-old)

...Ruffles her cat brushed himself...
Needs a comma after Ruffles and another one after cat.

Open minded should be hyphenated.

At the interview, he'd had a relaxed, open, friendly air about him...
I've re-written the beginning of the line above, take it as you will.

I want you to treat one of my patients Nicky.
Needs a comma after patients.

The spaces between a few of your paragraphs also need sorting; some are double-lined and some are single. a double-lined space is used to indicate a change of scene, etc, and I got a little confused when I saw one but the scene was the same.

Only small nit picks and they're only my opinion; feel free to ignore them.

Overall, you've done a great job here, Kim. your descriptions are vivid, yet not overly done, and the pace flows smoothly. Nice end to the first chapter, too. Highly rated, well done.

Mooderino wrote 723 days ago

The first chapter ends well and the sense of foreboding is good. Nicky’s gift and the frustration it brings is an okay idea for a story, although there is a danger of it feeling a bit familiar if you don’t make a point of establishing some kind of unique quality she as. At the moment (from reading two chapters) it could be an episode of Medium or similar.

The initial appearance of the girl is well handled, but you get a bit bogged down in trying to convey her distress, to the point it starts reading like a thesaurus entry (intense, immense, like a tidal wave, taking her breath away with its intensity). Once you’ve made the point there’s no need to belabour it. The problem is you don’t really have anything else to add. She doesn’t give any indication of why she’s there and Nicky fails to get beyond that.

I realise this is the initial contact and you’re going to build on it, but also take into consideration this is the opening of the story and all she gets is a girl appearing and then disappearing. I’m not saying she should turn up screaming and with her hair on fire, but as that would be the ridiculous extreme on one end of the spectrum, so what you have is the extreme on the other. The only reason to believe the girl has a problem is that you keep insisting she has by what Nicky senses.

I think you also overuse the words ‘feeling’ and ‘felt’, If you do a word search you’ll find dozens of examples in just the first two chapters. These words tend to indicate weak writing, where the writer tries to force the emotion into the story and onto the reader. What you want to get across is the cause of the feeling so the reader empathises and relates to it. And any time a word appears dozens of times (you really use it a lot) it becomes very noticeable and suggests the writer isn’t policing themselves very carefully.

After the girl’s visit the story drifted a bit. She gets up, feeds the cat etc. I think there’s a little foreboding being built up, but in too direct and on-the-nose fashion (you just telling us she felt dread). The bit of backstory you throw in about her childhood was too vague, imo. You say adults accepted her visions as imaginary friends, then you switch to they got nervous about it. Which is it? Possibly they started off as one and as she got older got more freaked out about it, but you don’t say what exactly were they nervous about? You don’t give any indication. That’s the stuff that’s interesting, the specifics.

Same with how she got her job. She convinced the doctor to take her on – how? She told them how she could help patients – what did she say? She’s a holistic psychologist – what’s that? Those are the things that I’d want to know, not how you apply for a job by filling out applications. That whole section is flat writing. There’s no narrative structure, just generic exposition.

She didn’t know if they’d give her the job, but she applied anyway. She told them what she could do and they liked the idea so they hired her.

Doesn’t tell us anything specific to her or the situation. You’re being too distant from the character. If she told the doctors something about her skills that impressed them enough to hire her, then you should say what it was she told them so we too will be impressed by it. If you skim over it and just report it as being a great success without backing it up, it will read like you’re just making it up off the top of your head and couldn’t think of a good example.

Overall, the actual build up of tension and suspense is nicely handled, but all the incidental, day to day stuff is a little pedestrian.

Emsbabee wrote 723 days ago

Hi Kim, I think you've got a great story here, but you give far too much of it away in your LP! A lot of the mystery that the first few chapters would normally create, is ruined by knowing what happened to Charlotte. If I wasn't 'in the know', I would be racing ahead with this, trying to find out what has happened. So in terms of enticing a reader to keep going, I'd say you've nailed it. Being that I do know what's going to happen, I'm still interested to see how it all pans out.

I think it might be an idea to go back over your MS and check for repetition of words, particularly your character's names. I also think the dialogue feels a bit stiff and formal, especially between Nicky and Alex. I realise she's being professional, but she's also trying to put him at ease, which being so formal wouldn't really do.




melissa_simonson wrote 726 days ago

Hi Kim. You commented on my book the other day so I thought I'd return the favor. I have only read the first chapter, however, but I would be willing to read more if you find my comments at all useful. I doubt they will be, since I've not been formally trained in writing or anything, but here goes.

First paragraph -- '....room was quite dark." the 'quite' feels extraneous, and if it's night, I'm pretty sure the reader knows it's going to be dark.

"Lying under the duvet like a corpse" just doesn't resonate with me. Corpses are dead. They don't have a beating heart, or nerve endings that work, they're just...there. If you want to indicate that she's become still, I'd just say that.

When Nicky saw the spirit, you stated she was waiting for the spirit to do something -- what was she expecting? I'd think Nicky would be the one to 'break the ice' or whatever, since I don't think spirits do a whole lot of talking.

You use the words "Nicky felt" A LOT. It really pulled me out of the narrative and distracted me to the point where I wanted to go back an count how many times you've used it. I won't do that, but I suggest you do. There's so many other ways to get the reader to know how Nicky was feeling, other than just saying, "she felt frustrated." "Nicky felt annoyed", etc. And plus, the reader knows it's Nicky who is doing the 'feeling' since the narrative revolves laregly around her, as she's the MC.

When she is trying to connect with the spirit of the young girl, I just couldn't find myself connecting. Those paragraphs describing it felt faintly list-like. She wanted to cry -- a statement like that deserves expanding. If she was nearly brought to tears, it's something powerful, but you didn't describe it, and therefore I couldn't be in the moment with her when I think I should have been.

"where were you when I needed you?" That sentence threw me. It's a cat. What could Ruffles have done about all that? Nothing, I presume, unless he's psychic as well.

Great hook for the last chapter, and I thought it was very cool when Nicky knew the little girl was still on the earthly plane because she was alive.

I think it's a great premise, but I ought to point out that this sort of thing is done time and time again -- maybe if I read further in I'll discover a great twist.

Melissa

Isoje David wrote 727 days ago

A splendid story and i shall read all

daveocelot wrote 727 days ago

Hello Kim,

I read the first five chapters of your book and found much to savour; little to criticise. It's only when the prose is overly flowery that I find myself reaching for the secateurs, but that's certainly not the case here. You have an enviably clear and concise writing style.

I'll admit I gave a little inner groan at the start, thinking we were starting yet another book with yet another dream sequence. The fact that it turned out not to be a dream at all was a pleasant surprise to me, as well as a neat subversion of that cliche. I was intrigued from the off.

I'm not sure if this sounds oxymoronic, but I'd say that your greatest strength is subtlety. I noted little hints and harbingers of the impending tragedy throughout the text. Nothing too grandiose or heavily signposted, just little tattletail signs and slight machinations that move the plot froward at an unhurried and well-considered pace.

You're also very adept at considering the nuances of human relationships, all those words that go unspoken, sacrificed for the greater hope of securing a prolonged peace. I like that all the characters so far presented have flaws as well as strengths.

I enjoyed the quiet assurance of the excerpt I read. All the best with it.

Dave

katemb wrote 732 days ago

I'm very drawn to the premise of this story and think you both your long and short pitch were very strong. You have a good sense of pace and the end of the first chapter works very effectively as a hook. If I were to make any suggestions, it would be to make Nicky's experience with the child more shown rather than told. There is one part where you describe the child's face - totally wonderful - but I could have felt Nicky's reaction more.
I will certainly read on - How does a father deal with accidentally killing his own child, after all? You see, I am hooked.
Best,
Kate

Katy Johnson wrote 733 days ago

Pain

One - The opening paragraph is excellent. There is one thing that I would change about it, though. You don’t seem to really commit to the observations. For example, “Every nerve in her body seemed to be tingling…” I would take out “seemed” and just say was. Another would be, “…making her look older and far less attractive than she was.” I would eliminate the word “look”. And finally, “Nickly felt annoyed…” I think “was” would be better. Your words work, but they seem removed from the subject and pull the reader out of the story. I would look at all the places you use versions of the word “feel” and either think of a more descriptive verb, or just eliminate it altogether and let the description just be what it is.

That minor point aside, I am thoroughly hooked by the end of chapter one, and desperate to meet Alex Brady and his family.

Two – I am totally into the story by the start of chapter two. I like the session Nicky and Alex have together. “Healing” sounds silly to me, but it was described well and kept my interest.

Three – Great characterization of Tina and Charlotte. My one nit-pick in this chapter is that you use the names too often. Since the chapter is mostly about Tina’s point of view, I think you could refer to her as “she” by the middle/end (where it gets the most repetitive).

Four – I hate to nit-pick (again) but I would remove, “…viewing it as over sentimental” from the sentence when Alex and Charlotte hug. I think the first part of that sentence says enough, and would be much more telling without the second half.

What a heart-breaking chapter!

Five – The fight is really well-developed. I was surprised to find myself actually sympathizing with Tina as well as Alex. The dialogue is realistic and the pace is working well for me.

I’d be happy to come back for more. I think this novel has a great start and is definitely something I would enjoy reading. After the first chapter or so, you really seem to find your voice. I didn’t feel myself being kicked out of the narrative or jolted around the way I had at first.

I wish you luck with this,

-Katy
The Promenade

Hall-Crews wrote 734 days ago

Pain has a unique plot supported by an interesting cast of characters, engaging dialogue, and vivid descriptions. The conflict between Alex and Tina is compelling and pulls the reader into their family drama--overall, this is a very well-written story.

zap wrote 738 days ago

Hi Kim, this is a strong story and you draw your characters with great care. I felt for Alex who has to endure his wife's cantankerous attitude while he loves his daughter and gets on well with her. Isn't life just so cruel? I was glad to find that he will be able to unload his problems to a knowledgeable person who is willing to help. Just a nitpick : the change of fonts after a few chapters was a bit distracting.
Highly starred.
Ame

Sharda D wrote 742 days ago

Hi Kim,
this is great stuff, I usu don't fancy anything paranormal/ghostly but you had me hooked from the first paragraph with this (I can tell you write short stories - no faffing about!!). Lovely smooth writing and you really intrigue and hook the reader in.
If there's any slight crit (and I'm scrambling around for one), it would be that you don't need the back story explanation in the paragraph starting "Nicky had been able to receive..." there's another explanation para in there too somewhere, but as you write so well, they really aren't needed. We believe the story from the beginning and buy in to it. You don't need to explain it. In fact it's more mysterious and magical if you don't.
I have highly starred!
All the best,
Sharda.
P.S. I think we were doing a reading swap, so take a look at mine when you get the chance. I'd be curious to hear what you think.
http://www.authonomy.com/books/42835/mr-unusually-s-circus-of-dreams/

stoatsnest wrote 743 days ago

This gets better as it goes along,but I really would review the first chapter.

stoatsnest wrote 743 days ago

This gets better as it goes along,but I really would review the first chapter.

Raymond Terry wrote 744 days ago

An extraordinary journey of human emotions set against their all too real expectations and a study in how life never quite turns out as we expect. I wonder just how much of this is truly 'fiction' as I see several scenarios that I recognize, but in the fictionalization here Kim, you hold the reader as each chapter unfolds and we genuinely want everything to be 'all right'.

While that rarely happens we all must learn to adapt but as I have noted above...adaptation takes many forms.

I see Kim that you can write and so for me you have passed part of the test. Unfortunately time does not allow me to read past chapter 7 but I will support your work because of the quality I have seen thereto. RT

stoatsnest wrote 744 days ago

The story of the first chapter is good,but stops and starts a lot. It might flow better if you used the word 'she' less. I counted 75 'she's'. I would try rewriting this and use the offending word sparingly. It jars.
Will read more.

whoster wrote 749 days ago

Kim, what a delight it is to do a return read that's so enjoyable. I've read the first five chapters (and would've read them all if it wasn't for time). Every chapter builds the anticipation for the next, and you've gone into satisfying detail about the dynamics of the relationship between the three family members. I was very touched by the closeness of Alex and Charlotte, and horrified by Tina's cold obsessiveness. It's important to rouse the emotions of the reader, and you've done this brilliantly. Tina's unpleasantness borders on satire, but you've done it without quite going overboard, and this makes her behaviour believable. With the reader very aware that tragedy is around the corner, this is the single hook that makes the read compulsive.

In my job as a piano teacher, I teach (as it would happen) a seven year old girl. I really connected with the relationship dynamic between Alex and Tina with my experience of this particular husband and wife. The husband's main concern is whether she's enjoying it and having fun; while the wife's main concern is when she's going to take her Grade 1 exam. Hopefully the wife will avoid running her over, I need the cash!

Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent there, but I mentioned that comparison to show what I felt to be an authentic state of affairs in certain relationship dynamics. You tell your story with great compassion, and you do it in a simple and extremely readable way. Many writers can write well, but you do this AND show an obvious ability to tell and structure a story.

I've spotted a few small things that I hope may tidy up certain parts (I'm no expert, but these are my personal opinions - I hope you find them useful).

Chapter 1:

"She felt like a TV (that was) not quite tuned into the channel." I'd omit the bracketted words.

"She swung the car into the car park." As you have 'car' twice in this sentence, perhaps you could substitute the word for the actual make of the car. Presumably it wouldn't be a Ferrari or Lamborghini(!) - but something that would hint at the type of vehicle a woman like Nicky would own. Maybe something small and functional like a 'Corsa' or 'Mini?'

"He shifted in his chair(,) as if (he were) getting ready to tell her a story." I'd say the comma and bracketted words were unnecessary.

"The feeling of dread (that) she'd experienced that morning(,) returned with a vengeance." Again, I'd omit 'that' and the comma.

Chapter 4:

"Why do you argue?" The question took him by surprise and for a second he panicked.' I think perhaps you could add a smidgen of suspense here by finishing this sentence with something like; "...and for a second he panicked; revealing a tell-tale hesitation."

Chapter 5:

I'd change '21st century' to 'twenty-first century.'

"She smiled(,) but the smile..." I'd also suggest a slight restructuring with this sentence: "She smiled, but Alex could see it was forced. He knew it was going to take all his patience..."

"...giving the doll a running commentary on everything (that) they passed."

"...and long plumes of breath escaped from their mouths..." I'd be tempted to change 'breath' for 'vapour.'

I hope you don't find these suggested improvements too picky. I rarely go into detail with crits, but your writing and storytelling is of a high standard that deserves to do well.

This is staying on my watchlist. A generous sprinkling of stars as a matter of course, and a very serious consideration of a backing when I next reshuffle my shelf.

One of the very few examples of writing on this site that has roused my emotion and interest. Hats off to you Kim - you may well be putting Blackpool on the literary map!

Pete

Juliet Ann wrote 750 days ago

What a great idea for a premise and ghost stories are always popular. After reading your four opening chapters, I have to admit I am not champing at the bit to continue. I was surprised with the opening chapter, I expected it to be with the family, I am not sure what it adds by having the psychologist upfront (the opening scene is rather ordinary - a medium is woken by a distressed child). For me the opening should be about building the tension, so the reader is on tenterhooks waiting for the accident to happen. Chapter one was a bit of info-dump and scene setting. Case Histories (Kate Atkinson) is a good example of building this tension up before the terrible 'thing' happens. I didn't find myself warming to Alex either, unfortunately, as he seems a bit wet from the word go and allows Tina to stifle their daughter. I am struggling to see why he would want a child with her, and why she would give up work to look after this child. I know you are not going to be pleased with this review - but I can only give you my honest opinion - and honestly, this needs some serious restructuring to make the reader care about Alex and Charlotte, so that when she is killed, the reader is as devastated as Alex. I would hold off introducing the psychologist until after this, rather than have Alex already seeing her first. Not sure why her seeing the child before accident is relevant (but as she doesn't stop it), then I would suggest this extra complication is not needed. The story is a really good one, just not sure you've worked out the best way to tell it. Also watch Charlotte's voice - for 7 year old she seems rather grown-up and didn't sound authentic - listen to some kids of that age to pick up their speech and thought patterns, which are very different from adults. Soz again for being negative - it is just my opinion and others may disagree. Juliet

riantorr wrote 755 days ago

Very heart-wrenching crucible for a premise. This makes for the best kind of drama.

Regards,
Rian Torr
New London Masquerade

Paul Beattie wrote 757 days ago

There’s an awful lot to like here, Kim. I’m a huge fan of Alice Sebold’s ‘The Lovely Bones’ and there’s much about your work – the contrast between the mundane, everyday world and the supernatural, the corrosive power of parental guilt/blame etc, the importance of acceptance and forgiveness, the idea of spirits stranded in some kind of limbo etc - which reminds me of Sebold’s novel. No bad thing in my book!!

The prose itself feels very polished with a good mix of simple and direct storytelling and more involved descriptive detail/character introspection etc. I noticed a few typos (eg ‘mind’s eye’ not ‘minds eye’, repetition of certain words in close proximity eg ‘pulled’, ‘implored’ etc) but nothing that interfered with my enjoyment of the novel. You may want to think about editing out anything that even resembles a stock phrase or cliché (‘sweep over her like a tidal wave,’ ‘despite her best efforts’, ‘comparative sanctuary’, ‘returned with a vengeance’) as they tend to undermine the persuasiveness of the fictional world you’ve so cleverly created. The dialogue feels real and purposeful and helps to drive the scenes forward as well as deftly fleshing out the novel’s various characters.

I like the shifts in narrative point of view from chapter to chapter – really good way to imbue the story with subtle dramatic tension, keep the reader on their toes etc. Occasionally, though (for example, in the early paras of chapter one) the narrative focus does seem to waver a little, making for a slightly disorientating read. At the start of chapter one, we seem to be very much in Nicky’s POV (experiencing what she’s experiencing, feeling her own emotions/thought processes first hand etc) but lines like Nicky describing the child’s frown as ‘making her look older and far less attractive than she was’ serve to shunt the reader out of this immediate, very personal POV into a much more distant, omniscient perspective. Similarly, Nicky referring to the receptionists at the surgery as ‘three female receptionists’ feels far too remote. Surely she’d refer to them by name?? A very minor point but, as a reader, these little shifts in POV do nag away at me, interrupting the otherwise terrifically involving narrative flow of the novel.

The various characters feel three dimensional and distinct and appear to work well off each other. I was a little confused in the opening chapter by Nicky’s reaction to the manifestation of the girl’s spirit in her room. To begin with she seems frightened (or at least ‘excited’ – ‘tingling’ etc) then she alternates between appearing annoyed or rather blasé about what’s happening before suddenly crying in empathy. In the rest of the book (I read up to chapter six) her reactions seem much more coherent and consistent but, initially at least, I found it very hard to get a handle on her attitude to her psychic ‘gift’. Just thought I’d mention it as the opening scenes of a novel are obviously terrifically important and it would be such a shame if readers were deterred by any lingering sense of confusion re Nicky’s character.

The chapters themselves feel very well structured with a good blend of action/character introspection/dialogue etc and nicely underplayed plot hooks at the end of the chapter to encourage a reader to read on. The plot as a whole sounds complex and multi-layered and, with its mix of drama, pathos, mystery, elements of the supernatural etc, should appeal to a broad cross-section of readers.

In short, a very well-structured, pacy, emotionally involving opening. Highly starred and on my watchlist for further reading. Thanks and best of luck. P

strachan gordon wrote 757 days ago

Hello , an interesting start which conveys a sense of tension extremely well and certainly encourages one to read on.Watchlisted and starred. Would you be able to look at the first chapter of my novel 'A Buccaneer' which is set amongst Pirates in the 17th century , with best wishes from Strachan Gordon

Scott Toney wrote 773 days ago

{Pain}

Kim,

I can't think of a truer title for your book. I have a 2 year old daughter and if I did something like this to her I litterally don't think I would be able to go on. But back to the book...

I love this! Your first chapter is extremely well written and thought out and the emotions running through Nicky as I read go straight through my heart. I love how you started with the appearance of the girl and then lead us to where Nicky does surgery! This is emotionally intense and it's interesting to read as Nicky realizes that the man she will be seeing is the father of the girl she saw in the morning! Very few books have taken ahold of me like yours on this site and I look forward to returning soon for a longer read! 6 out of 6 stars gladly given!

Have a wonderful read and thanks for a great lunchtime read!

- Scott, The Ark of Humanity

P.s. Thank you for taking the time to read part of my book as well!

femmefranglaise wrote 777 days ago

Hi Kim, I've read your first four chapters and, despite the difficult subject matter, I have enjoyed it. You've really got inside Alex's head and it's very easy to be on his side. I'm curious about Tina. What made her like that? Is it just resentment of her child and what she has had to give up or is there something in her own past? You've done well to avoid making her into a caricature but boy do I want to slap her! The pacing is good, the plot, if tragic, is a good on - incidentally, this happened to one of my ex-neighbours - and it definitely makes me want to read on and I will do when I have a bit more time. It's well written, authentic dialogue, all the good things you need to make a really great book. Highly starred and will go on my shelf shortly.

Best wishes
Melanie
La Vie en Rosé

ShirleyGrace wrote 783 days ago

Kim:
I have read the first three chapters of your work. It is very emotional and sad for that child. You do an exceptional job at being able to look at a crumbling marriage through the eyes of a man. I can't help but wish he would slap the wife. Apologies as I do not believe in domestic violence but there ARE all sorts of abuse. I do not wish to take a page to pick the book to pieces, only to tell you that it is very well written and I am putting you on my WL and will finish it later. A return read would be appreciated.
Kindest regards
Shirley Grace
The Devil's Stepchild
Turnips and Tulips
Sinja

Maevesleibhin wrote 784 days ago


Kim,
I have read through chapter four.
This is a sad, sad book so far, and, based on your pitch, promises to be throughout. This, obvioulsy, is limiting for people who don't like to read very sad books that involve children. So you need to take my comments with a bit of salt.
Before I go on, I must remark that there are other books that I have not been able to stomach that have done quite well on the site. Dollywagglers in particular has a very graphic child abuse scene and I just could not handle it. Nevertheless, it has done very well. This is all to say, stick to your guns and don't be discouraged by these comments. I have small children and so this touches home particularly well.
The book starts with good promise, alluringly introducing a character haunted by the pain of others, but given the ability to heal. However, it gets so very depressing by chapter four that I found it hard to read on. I feel that if you must be quite this bleak you should first hook me by giving me more exposure to Nicky first.
I have a habit of not reading pitches until after I read a section- sometimes not at all. It gives away too much. Before I read your pitch, I thought that this was fundamentally going to be a story about Nicky. Instead, I see from the pitch that it is a story about Alex killing his lovely and tortured little girl. Chapters 3 and 4 were very painful to read, and, given the name of the book, I think you have succeeded in your mission.
Plot and Hook- I feel that your hook is well defined, with the eerie image of the little girl appearing to Nicky. This carried me through to chapter two, where you present Nicky with a patient. Although this later scene is much more subdued, it is still interesting (part of me wanted her powers to be more obvious and intense here, but that would have taken the book further into sci-fi territory.
As for plot, you have defined a clear plot arc that involves Alex being healed by Nicky, followed by perhaps a love story. This is a classic arc and so very comfortable and, were it not for the fact that you depressed me, would be enough to carry me through.
Character development- I found Nicky very well described in your short introduction of her. I get a strong feeling of her as a healer tortured by her visions. I am engaged, and, again, want to see more of her. Alex you also develop well, by presenting him in both home and at the surgery. He is a soft, almost weak man, who dearly loves his wife and daughter.
You manage to keep Tina from coming across as a caricature, which is impressive because it would have been easy for you to do. Although she is an exaggerated personality, she seems real in her madness. I think you achieve this by giving a bit, but not too much of her background, and making sure to be clear with the reader about how they fell in love.
Charlotte is a very believable little girl, and you convey only too well how quickly she is able to shift between her role as scared little creature to a happy child in the outing with her parents at the park. Your description of the park scene pulled at my heartstrings- I knew she was up for a big disappointment, and, of course, you delivered.
Writing- I did not take notes as I read this, so I can only say, generally, that I found the writing to be very good. Your style is effective and concise, and you show good mastery.
All in all, I think you are being very successful, but your subject mater is very hard. As far as marketability is concerned, or even success here, it will greatly depend on how many wimps like me who cannot stand to read about a mistreated child. If you wanted to lure a reader like me you could, again, focus much more on Nicky and her healing, hinting at Alex' pain with small flashbacks, and keeping these depressing moments for later, when I am committed to the story. Even then, I would keep them to a minimum, making sure that the story is more about healing than about the pain.
Again, this is just my opinions, so you stick to your guns. I am staring this well because the faults I find are not with the book, but with the subject.
Best of luck with this,
Maeve

FrancesK wrote 785 days ago

Hi KIm. I've read 7 chapters. The idea is rich with possibilities and I think the exciting part of the story has only just begun. I would have liked the opening paragraphs to be more of a tease - you could have set up the meeting between Nicky and the little girl as if she was real, maybe Nicky's daughter, or there could be some kind of communication, some ambiguity,, instead of spelling it out for us immediately that Nicky is a psychic. I felt the scenes between Tina and Alex showed Tina to be so heartless, it seemed impossible that someone as empathic and loving as Alex could have fallen for her, But I will certainly come back and read on. Thanks. Frances.

Mademoiselle Nobel wrote 786 days ago

~Pain~

Wow!! What an original concept! I couldn't help but visualise Pain as a film. It reminds me a little of Things Fall Apart (the accidental killing of a child). It's a gritty and emotive relationship drama.

Great work! 6 stars!

Iman xxx

Miss Manners: http://www.authonomy.com/books/39355/miss-manners

Here are just a few suggestions:

***CHAPTER 1***

● 'Her young face becoming distorted like [a] reflection in a hall of mirrors.'

● Perhaps show that Nicky is a little startled to see Charlotte's ghost?

● 'Nicky watched as the figure...' This needs to be a new sentence

● 'She stared into the face of a young girl [who] looked about seven years old.'

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