Book Jacket

 

rank 249
word count 127929
date submitted 10.08.2011
date updated 25.03.2014
genres: Literary Fiction, Thriller, Histori...
classification: moderate
complete

The Girl in the Rain: The Epic Forgotten, First Crusade Parts I&II

J Christopher Wickham

"The wise man keeps twenty-six ghosts in his library, the Hungarian knows the Deceiver, and the widow carries the words of the dead."

 

A widow embarks upon a crusade to find the truth about her husband's mysterious death and the chilling faces he saw in the rain. Gwenn Chapel watched the rain wash her husband away like a fingerprint on a window.

Through that watery curtain, Detective John Chapel insisted he saw faces, faces that cried out to him, trying to share with him some secret only he was meant to know. He died chasing those faces, looking for his "Girl in the Rain", and he took those secrets to his grave. Or did he?

With the aid of her husband's cryptic journal, an eccentric history professor and a con artist, she begins a journey that will challenge everything she believed about her husband, her faith, and the limits of her own sanity. Will she be able to face what awaits her at the end of that journey, or will she share the same fate as him?

 
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tags

action, adventure, alternate history, alternate reality, angst, betrayal, book series, character driven, christian, coming of age, conspiracy, crime, ...

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104 comments

 

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Seringapatam wrote 389 days ago

Justin, Great read and very appealing to a lot of people. This is a genre I dont read as a rule but I have to say this is brilliant. Very intelligent writing, great pace. Great narrative and full of brilliant hooks. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

LCF Quartet wrote 428 days ago

Hi Justin,
I just finished reading the first two chapters of The Girl in the Rain, and I'm totally in awe at your unique style and sense of structure when it comes to weaving a spider web.

First of all, the title and the cover artwork is very good, and I can easily say that the early chapters read like a best-seller (your book has all the required elements for becoming one). This is my favorite genre and I loved the deepness of your sophisticated concept. You've introduced Dr. James Campbell from the beginning, and injected Melinda, John and Margaret in sufficient doses into the plot with cleverly thought-out time lapses. I found Dr. Campbell's first-person voice flawless and realistic at the same time.

The dialogue parts move the plot forward, and your descriptions are straight to the point.
Dozens of her husband's handwritten pages were tacked up on the wall, covered with just as many sticky notes and thumb tacks of varying colors. (Easy to follow, yet detailed, I liked this line.)

I wish I had more time to read it until the end and see how the story unfolds from here, but let me know if there's a specific chapter you'd like me to read, and I'll happily send you feedback again.

6 well-deserved stars and in my Watch List for further comments,
Best wishes,
Lucette-Ten Deep Footprints

Anthony Amor wrote 435 days ago

A very powerfully written story. Got immersed in it from the prologue. High stars

Anthony Amor
A Long Way From Home

Andy M. Potter wrote 443 days ago

Hi JW, enticing start. starred and shelved.

excellent pov in the prologue. Dr C's journal voice draws us in.
no macro feedback. the narrative arc is strong. the characters are engaging.
on the micro side, i have a minor idea that may strike a chord. if not, pls ignore ;) as ever, take what works, and toss the rest.

i noticed a lot of long sentences. it might make sense to break some of the longer ones in two. just a thought.

e.g,,

'Resting her head ..., but he doubted..." - maybe delete the 'but' and start a new sent with 'He doubted ...'

'He'd watched her ..., and there was no mistaking ...' - maybe del the 'and' and start afresh?

fine opening!

best wishes, andy

R.E. Ader wrote 446 days ago

Excellent start, on my WL and will continue to read. Seems well crafted and extremely polished.

carol jefferies wrote 446 days ago

Hi,

Although I don't usually read ghost stories I've been fascinated by your pitches to read your book, 'The Girl in the Rain,' which has been on my bookshelf for some time.

The incessant rain certainly sets the ambiance to the story.

The characters are believable, and the book promises to be an unusual and good read.

Good Luck with it,

Carol Jefferies
(A Prince Unboyed)
(Love for Lilian)
(A Kinsman's Chattel)

Cathy Hardy wrote 478 days ago

This is a real page turner, beautifully written and on my watch list top stars!!

najwa wrote 552 days ago

have been reading your book- still am. Love it. Rated it and shelved it
Nagwa

Suzanne Du Beauvoir wrote 572 days ago

I have only just started reading this but love it! The opening journal is very Poe! So far it oozes atmophere which is a must for me in a book and the writting is clear and concise yet evocative.

Suzanne Du Beauvoir wrote 572 days ago

I have only just started reading this but love it! The opening journal is very Poe! So far it oozes atmophere which is a must for me in a book and the writting is clear and concise yet evocative.

N J wrote 584 days ago

Club Agatha Comment:

I was completely immersed in this story from the off. An intense and compelling narrative, cleverly building into a gripping mystery. You use language well and at no point did I feel smothered or become confused as to meaning, by overly descriptive prose, like so many other literary fiction novels I have 'tried' to read. Having deserted many a lit fic tale, I'm glad to say with this one, I definitely want to read on.

Your use of dialogue in chapter one is well executed and the relationship between James Campbell and Gwenn Chapel easily ascertained by intonation of their speech and actions - here are two people who tolerate each other. At the end of this chapter I was more than ready to turn the page.

Chapter two we find John Chapel, Gwenn's husband, and the crux of the plot is beginning to be born. I love the way you build the intrigue and even though I felt the chapter extends into back story a little too much, I at no point wanted to stop reading, so this niggle is perhaps arbitrary and not worth mentioning - so forget I said it!.

You manage to enter into the mind of a child well - the lake scene is particularly harrowing - as one would expect the drowning of a child to be. And the throwing around of accusations very child-like - shame the mother has to succumb to it too. The dialogue between Melinda and John towards the end is child simplicity to a tee.

I'll come back and read more of this another time - my eyes are beginning to feel like dried apricots! But overall, a really compelling read.

Neil

J.Wickham wrote 592 days ago

Thanks to all of you who I haven't personally thanked for your continued support and positive feedback. It makes all of the hard work worth it when I come here to see such great support from those whose opinion (and critical eye) I value most.

Regards friends,

JC Wickham

Tom Bye wrote 593 days ago

Hello J Christopher Wickham.
book -- The girl in the Rain---

I read four chapters of this great literary read some 304 days ago now-
I have again scanned those four and some more now -
It's a book to savour ever so slowly sitting beside a nice fire- it has that
eerie touch and it is both intriguing and atmospheric- and would like to
say again ' One of the better books on this site'
very surprised that it is not in top 20 by now- it deserves to be-
it get my six stars again- more if more available-

good luck with this very impressive book J. Christopher -

tom bye
book- from hugs to kisses-

Casimir Greenfield wrote 593 days ago

Club Agatha Comment:

The pitch of The Girl In The Rain is an object lesson for us all. Clear, enticing and enough to pull a reader in. Good start.

I've just arrived from the 'If I were an agent...' thread, so my mind is in a critical mode. At this stage, I wouldn't worry about the agent thing. I'll just get into the book.

The sense of rain is already the overwhelming image, just as it should be. I feel drenched and parched. The lyricism of the opening (not a prologue...) has some good imagery. The paper prison, the drops of brandy... It makes for an intrigung read. This was never going to be a book for skimming.

A long, dense first chapter (of 35) setting the scene and the atmosphere unquestionably well. At no point did I lose my immersement in the story. I always comment on feel (unless the typos scream at me) and there was nothing that caused me to lose sight of the story. This is a good thing. The writer has that assured voice that convinces.

There is an underlying melancholy about the writing. Rain can do that. The dialogue and the characterisation always felt grounded in reality.

This is a big book at nearly 128k, so I have starred and watch listed for a proper read.

The line in the pitch haunts... 'like a fingerprint on a window...'

Fine writing.

Ghosty wrote 594 days ago

Club Agatha Critique, Ch 1 & 2-

This is an intriguing and very well written mystery. You have some really lovely descriptions, which give the book a haunting atmosphere and there is certainly a sense of misery with the incessant rain. The prologue and opening chapters bring the reader directly into the intrigue and we are left wondering what happened to John. Chapter 2 delves into the past and we begun to understand where all the characters knew each other. The history that binds them is a powerful and sad one. It is realistically portrayed and emotional too. I have only one minor point, that is, when you describe the way Melinda speaks in whispers, you use 'your,' almost like the first person. It doesn't quite fit, well, for me anyway and maybe 'their' would suit more? Apart from that, I think this is a really fascinating read and I look forward to reading on.
G

Inqusitive Agie wrote 594 days ago

Agatha critique round two

The journal has a classic feel to it. The first chapter looks tidy and professional. The descriptions of Campbell and Gwen are second to none, however I got confused between John and James and thought the journal was written by Gwen's husband. The story is deep and intruging, it demands the readers full attention. I got sucked in the first chapter, but I found the second disapointing, too much telling.

Searcher wrote 596 days ago

Hi Christopher, Your short pitch drew me in!

Intriguing beginning! Dawson's death adds mystery and more questions. Interesting transcript between Dr. Campbell & John! It's easy to get drawn into this story. Very well written! Was John insane? I agree with another comment .. the weather really helps to set the stage! Each chapter kept me wanting to read to the next! Just wish I had more time! Good job! Highly starred!

Jane Lawry
The Genealogists: On Holy Ground (Thriller/Horror)
http://www.authonomy.com/books/44825/the-genealogists-on-holy-ground/

gr84ll wrote 596 days ago

Club Agatha Critique:
Wow, in some spots difficult for me to read... not anything to do with your prose or punctuation, but the situation, the child's death, circumstances... description done very well, made it all too real. Your first chapter and prologue provide enough enticement to make me "have" to read this... interesting premise, a real page turner! Some minor editing errors, but truthfully, I was so caught up in trying to figure out what is happening to John and why Gwenn is at the house and the what relationship the doctor has in all of this... I barely noticed! I'm intrigued, want to read more... I don't think I'll be reading this one after dark! Jacque (Upside Down)

CatherineM wrote 598 days ago

Club Agatha Critique, Chapters 1 & 2

Hi there! I chose your book right off the bat because of the intriguing pitch. You have a great set up here for a page-turner. I love the way you introduce your protagonist as "keeper of the 26 ghosts." Spooky!

There were just a few issues that tripped me up as a reader. I didn't feel that your opener, presented as a journal entry, worked in that way. A fine section, but not the way a person would write in a diary. In particular, you switch between present and past tense, which doesn't quite add up. Similarly, your flashbacks in chapter 2 seem to trip you up a little -- what's present? what's past? (I always have a hard time with flashbacks so I am tuned in to that.) I think, too, there were some little details which are hard to buy. Would she really fall down just from nerves? Would she then be more interested in his decorating than her urgent errand? Little things.

Still, a very entertaining beginning. I look forward to seeing it unfold.

Sincerely,
Catherine Morgan
Nickel Ridge

Lenny Banks wrote 604 days ago

Hi J.C. I read chapter 7. You have an interesting idea here and it could be a gripping best seller. Your story flows well and the characters are strong and easily warmed to. I Love how you conveyed the nervous young man through the dialogue and feel this is going to do very well.

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

Abby Vandiver wrote 611 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

This is very good. And very well written. I love ghost stories so much.

Certainly your first chapter sets up the mystery and the intrigue and make you want to know more. In reading Chapter Two I thought, the funeral scene is not very sad, it should draw some emtion - - then I got to the actual accident. It was so sad I couldn't read it. I knew I had to, but I could just see that mother screaming, and sobbing and fussing between breaths. And Dean trying to figure out what to do and running to the hospital . . .

I can't even talk about it.

A few errors:

Puctuation goes inside of quotes. Only saw it once I think (got kind of engrossed) where you put ' followed by a period.

It isn't clear at first the "his" when he says who is sitting at the front at the funeral. Initially I thought "his" best friends were Dawson's best friends and I wondered how at two he had any. It took me a couple of reads and then going back after learning of how they played to understand whose best friends they were. Maybe make a little clearer.

"Like pictured he'd seen of the Mediterranean . . . " s/b "pictures"

I don't think that you should continue with the quotation marks around 'respects' after you've done it once. The reader understands the meaning.

No double punctuation marks "Where is Dawson?!" Just use one.

And you need a comma before and after a "however" In Chapter Two, you need one in front of it as it is followed by a period.

High marks!! (Uhm, six to be exact).

Cupcake xx wrote 618 days ago

Hey! Here for the Club agatha critique!
Here are my thoughts as I read:
- I like your opening sentence. The imagery is brilliantly placed. Well done.
- Your imagery so far is brilliant. I love your word choices. Very vivid.
- Your characterisation is good too.
- I like the characters a lot: they will definitely make a good team!

Your story is very intriguing, and is very well written, which makes a perfect team for a good book so far!
Well done!

Alex

Greenleaf wrote 619 days ago

Club Agatha Critique

I've read the prologue and first two chapters of The Girl in the Rain for the Club Agatha Round Two competition. This book has everything--mystery, ghosts, psychology, tragedy, a mansion, a stormy night, and a crime. I was immediately drawn in by the prologue, which is atmospheric and mysterious. There's a chance the victim (John Chapel) might be crazy and there might not really be any ghosts, but I suspect they're real. I already like the professor and John's widow, Gwenn, and think they'll make a good crime-solving/mystery-solving team.

The writing is very good, with lots of detail and description. The flashback to John's childhood and the funeral of his friend adds depth and shows that John and Gwenn knew each other all their lives. This looks like a very complicated and intriguing story. I'm looking forward to reading the whole book when I have time. I'm adding this to my watchlist so I won't forget to come back to it.

Susan/Greenleaf (Provenance; Chameleon)

Louis W wrote 626 days ago

I'm really surprised how much I like this because this isn't where I'd normally pick a up a book. But the writing is good and lends a slightly old-fashioned atmosphere and even the author's name contributes to an old-worldly feel. I don't know where it's going yet, but if the plot pans out like the writing talent, it's a winner.

Mushiegirl wrote 637 days ago

What a great beginning to a story I am eager to read. I like the dialogue and the descriptions. I agree the rain, the weather needs to remain - experts or not for it not only sets the tone but is also a vehicle to drive this story and a metaphor for more than just the fact it is raining.

Mushie

Maria44 wrote 641 days ago

Cracking opening. This kind of writing I like, deep descriptive, and absolutely wasted on a computer screen. I like to read this sort of stuff in bed and give it my full attention. Some good similes / metaphors and the hook for the reader to carry on.

Only critique I can think of is one or two excessive words in places, other than that I've got nothing.

Well done

Maria

CrazyChick wrote 643 days ago

I came across this and only meant to read chapter 1 but I'm still going. I find it intriguing and so will continue to read. In the meantime I will put it on my shelf with pleasure. Only a small comment so far, the format. The font of the letter and the single line spacing of the text is a little hard to read, perhaps italics and double spacing would help.

Inkysparrow wrote 645 days ago

I have to agree about the weather. The weather seems to set the whole mood, and is the bane of the female lead. The letter at the beginning doesn't really feel like a prologue to me, but merelya clue. Loved the first chapter, and will be adding it to my watchlist. It's a lovely, chilly mystery.

J.Wickham wrote 647 days ago

Jane thanks for the constructive critique, I am presently editing the book and trimmng out the fat. I agree with several points, but with respect to you and Mr.Leonard, you couldn't be more wrong about the weather. The entire book series treats the rain not only as a vehicle for storytelling, but also as a character in the book. If you'd read beyond the first chapter, you'd see that. The main character loses his mind because of the rain, but I guess I can change it to chocolate sauce to avoid breaking the rules and chasing off my audience.

Jane Mauret wrote 648 days ago

Hello, JC Wickham (The Girl in the Rain)
I intended to read the first three chapters but stayed in Ch 1.
My comments are based on some tenets of Elmore Leonard who says:
Avoid prologues (especially if the info can be incorporated later).
Never open a book with weather (especially if it not relevant to the plot).
Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Don't go into great detail describing places and things.

The weather is not important to the story here at all.

“On an unseasonably warm but seasonably wet April evening, Gwenn Chapel hesitated
by her black sedan, staring up at the house through water-drenched lids.”

The weather report is made worse by the 2 uses of un/seasonably so close together - too clumsy. I know you wanted to make the contrast, but if it is going to mean awkwardness, then forget it, move on.

You, the author, need to be able to hear the words; it is not sufficient to think they look OK; Save any tricks for the plot.

The ‘water-drenched lids’, ‘stinging her face and her exposed legs was like a thousand icy fingers clawing at her”: all redundant. The reader does not need to be told she is getting wet – if you insist on keeping the weather in. Also, the rain is never going to drown her (unless she has fallen into a rapidly filling hole with no escape) – it sounds literal used here.

I would make the first sentence something like this:
“It seemed a more daunting task to walk those final thirty steps compared to the previous 300 miles.”
This is more powerful, surely?
I would then pretty much go straight to this part:

“It had already been a fifteen minute internalized debate leading up to the
unfastening of her seatbelt and unlocking the car door.

HOWEVER, do you think it could be shortened for impact, something like:
“It had taken her fifteen minutes to unfasten the seatbelt, unlock the door.”

The first seven paragraphs are very repetitive and seem to go on forever. We get the “will she, won’t she” idea pretty swiftly and prolonging it for the reader detracts from any quality writing.

We keep hearing about debating and retreating. Once you start repeating specific words on top of everything else, start paying a copy-editor.

I don’t believe anyone’s legs actually wobble and forget things like the calf reference. I know the feeling you want to describe which is more of a feeling of weakness, light-headedness or a sensation from the tummy.

But we know by now she is nervous. Leave it at that. You must remember that the reader is quite capable of working out details re common experiences for themselves. They don’t need every nuance rammed down their throats over and over.

“A smile peeked through the auburn-red hair plastered to her face. She pushed it out of the way with the back of her hand, revealing a face that looked like that of a frightened child, not one belonging to a woman in her mid-thirties.”

This could be shortened. We don’t need to know it was the back of her hand; auburn alone is fine; 2 usages of face. She seems to be at one and same time, smiling and frightened – which is it?

You might like to condense it, something like this perhaps:

“She pushed her auburn hair aside, revealing a face like a frightened child.”

Established writers also say don’t overuse themes; in this case, the rain. Repetition of anything loses its power. I virtually never use 4-letter words (in my writing or everyday speech!) very often, but when I do – it makes an impact. The same applies to over-usage of any words, phrases, themes.

I am aware I come across like the cranky, batty old school-mam and I am not qualified to comment on anyone else’s work at all. However, any critique I have made is based on my extensive reading of what the experts recommend. I don’t believe in just offering compliments because it is doing nobody any favours. As I have said before on this site, I learn a lot by reading other contributors’ work; I learn more by launching a full-frontal massacre upon it; and I apply any lessons learned to my own writing (if it ever sees the light of day!). Have a go at carving it right back (keeping the master of course). It takes ages (I know) but it has to be done sometime.

The July 2012 issue of the UK’s WriterMag has a very good article by Adrian (forget surname) on what is covered above.

I will close by saying I sense there is a very interesting mystery story here but I do not think I am alone in feeling it would be a good exercise to trim it all right back. Something about your face tells me you have it in you. I think as new writers, we can only focus on one sentence at a time. We do not have skill to hear the whole paragraph, page or chapter in our heads, which is the really hard aspect of writing.
Kind regards, Jane Mauret.

ELAdams wrote 673 days ago

Loved the first chapter- what a great hook! The pitch is great and caught my attention from the start; I knew I had to read this. The use of Dr Campbell's journal to open creates an intriguing sense of mystery, and I like that you begin in the middle of the action, hinting at what happened previously and revealing information effectively through dialogue rather than devoting a lot of time to explain previous events. The idea of the faces in the pictures is creepy and you build a suspenseful atmosphere throughout. Overall your writing is really well paced, with description and dialogue both virtually free from errors and well balanced.
A great start to what promises to be a gripping story- fantastic work! Six stars from me, and best of luck!

Emma, 'The Puppet Spell'

Ron Mitchell wrote 676 days ago

You have a great writing style allowing the reader to read with ease. Your writing is very descriptive with great contrasts in your dialogue. I wish you all the best with this novel. I believe you have a very strong story. I only wish I had more time to read the whole book. Thank you for your support of December Gold.

melissa_simonson wrote 724 days ago

Here for the reap swap we orchestrated!

I didn't know this until I finished it (obviously) but the journal entry reads nothing like a journal entry to me. I know everybody is different, and what not, and for all I know people all over the place are writing flowering journal entries like this - but I just didn't believe it. Not that it was bad -- it was nice. Snippets from it that I particularly enjoyed were 'water snakes' and 'paper prisons'.

I could tell from the end of the journal entry that you are more literary. That is marvelous, but many people these days don't have the patience for a lot of prose. When Gwenn is by the car, especially, it feels endless. I get that she was nervous, etc, but it really did go on a bit longer than I felt necessary.

The cliche alarm in my head sounded upon reading "her legs shook like a newborn calves".

Another thing from that passage that I noticed was you used 'debate' quite a lot, and very close together. Debate, I'm sure, has loads of synonyms, so you might want to interchange one or two of those with a synonym. If I noticed, other people might.

This sounds like I'm nit-picking, but I couldn't help noticing - 'auburn' doesn't need to be capitalized. And while I'm on this auburn train, I wondered why you said auburn-red. Auburn is a reddish-brown, so I felt the hypen red tacked on at the end was unnecessary.

You used italics an awful lot. They distracted me. A lot. I re-read the lines that were italicised, and often felt they didn't need to be emphasized THAT much. It wasn't just the first chapter either, it continued into the third, and every time I saw them I wondered why they absolutely needed to be there. Maybe I'm just OCD.

Small typo when little John is describing Melinda -- you said pictured when I'm pretty sure you meant pictures.

Pretty clever to add the transcription of John's session with Dr. Campbell into the third chapter. It was well placed because now the audience gets a better feel of John's character, though he's dead. If it hadn't been there, I probably would have been hard-pressed to care that he was dead. Like when someone I don't know gets into an accident, and I hear about it....it sucks, but I'm not going to be upset by the news. Hope that made some sense.

I am wondering how many words this is, total. You have such long descriptive paragraphs that, while beautiful, may over-inflate the word count. If you are anything like me, you will loathe trimming down passages you may have labored over, so I won't suggest doing that, but I'm afraid you might lose your audience to boredom because they don't want to read long-winded descriptive paragraphs about rain and such. Of course, when I hear that, I think, well shit, I don't want those uneducated dolts reading my stuff anyway -- but then, actually, I kind of do. I don't know. Something you may consider. I could be crazy ( I really am).

Hope I could be of some help.

Melissa

Egon R. Tausch wrote 784 days ago

Dear Mr. Wickham, Your descriptive powers are excellent. The mysteriousness of the first two chapters seems forced -- -- you appear to be demanding your reader's attention by repeating the same clues and hints with no progress. Otherwise very professional. Will put on my Watch List and read on a while.

Egon Richard Tausch
A Voice In Rama: A Novel of the Slaughter of the Innocents

Noelle J. Alabaster wrote 842 days ago

A BHCG review-
This was a great read. Lots of mystery with nice description and sentence flow. Some might think your style is over-wordy, so taking a few adverbs and adjectives out might be a good idea. I wouldn't say you really needed to, though. I'd suggest splitting the prologue and the first chapter, just so people don't click on your book and think, 'great, another one with really long chapters'.
Your grammar and punctuation is great--I always enjoy running into well-editted books on authonomy. The only thing I'd suggest you do is look at how many time you use the word 'rain'. I noticced so many times in the first part of the book it threw me off somewhat. That's a problem I have to edit out of my writing all the time, so it's not a big deal!
I really liked this. Watchlisted and starred, and I hope my review can help you out.
Noelle J. Alabaster

AudreyB wrote 844 days ago

Hi, there – this is your festive Christmas BHCG review from AudreyB. As you may know, I am accompanied on my reviews by my English teacher alter-ego, The Grammar Hag. Whatever you don’t agree with was likely her doing.

SP – Your SP reads like the remark you might make to someone who asks, “What’s your book about?” I think it should read more like a tantalizing invitation, with a sense of mystery and foreboding.

LP – She’s watching the rain wash her husband away like a fingerprint on a window. Does rain wash fingerprints away? I would think it blurs them. In any case, this image doesn’t work for me. I bet you can write something much stronger.

Plot – opening, narrative flow/momentum
“The rain is tapping…” is fairly weak for an opening line. “The rain taps…” would be better. This initial font is very hard to read.

“…some belonging and the rest belong….” The two verbs should have the same endings.

“…batter angrily at those panes of glass and howls.” Howls should be howl to be parallel with batter.

The Journal of James Campbell seems too long. This may be due to the font. But I think you could tighten this prose for stronger effect to splash the reader with the cold, dark rain and really invite us into this mysterious story.

“She was trying to prepare…” How about, “She prepared herself…” These constructions distance the reader from the text, making me feel as if you don’t really want me to read your story.

The final half of Chapter 1 is far superior to the starting half. More of the words convey meaningful information here.

The mention of lip gloss at the funeral gives me my first indication of the time period—it can’t be too far back in history—but I still don’t know where we are.

Characters/Characterization
There’s a lot of prose here but not much information about the two—or three, really--characters. A hint about hair color (gray?) or creaking bones could help us position these people in age. I was a little astonished when James looked at the widow’s legs, as I had assumed she was considerably older than he was. And I don’t understand what kind of man watches a woman fall down on his patio and doesn’t run out to help her up.

The descriptions of the children playing (chapter 2) is again wordy and long when it could be precise and powerful. There’s too much about what they normally do and not enough about the specific incident. And could we have a little foreshadowing? Something about the cold stream before the boy is in it? A glimpse of the hospital before it’s needed?

Point of View/Voice
Omni, which seems best for this as you deliver the story from the perspectives of the various players.

Style – very subjective but good to know if it works or not for the reader
Your style makes you seem a passive and reluctant story-teller. We need more juicy, powerful verbs and colors and smells and sights and sounds to make this story come alive.

Sentence level – grammar, repetitive structure, wordiness, unneeded phrases etc
The paragraph after the widow mentions “Merrill Lake” is particularly vague. I have no idea what or where Merrill Lake is, and no clues about what’s happened there. But I do know that it’s mysterious.

How does James *know* he has John’s account of those days in his hands? Did the widow tell him so? Then he would know that she got the notes at Merrill Lake, no?

“One in the same” should be “One and the same.”

The first two paragraphs of Chapter 2 could be clearer and stronger. It’s difficult to tell if he was 7 and a half at his great grandmother’s funeral or at the current one. Did his dad tell him he didn’t have to go to grandma’s funeral or to Dawson’s? Your tendency to rely on verbs of being exacerbates this effect.

“…because she did neat things like…” Wordy. You could say, “John liked spending time with her, too, because she liked climbing trees…” This section, where we see John as a young boy and the two girls as rivals for his affection, tells us much but shows us little. Let a scene or two play out so that we see how the girls vie for his attentions.

Dialogue
The opening conversation between Gwenn and James seems disjointed. She says, “I called from there and came straight here.” Then he says, “It’s okay, I’m not sleeping either…” And why is his tone queer when he suggests keeping the towel?

I keep sensing an odd juxtaposition of everyday speech mixed with unusually formal talk. It’s got me disoriented.

As the conversation progresses, I get a glimpse of John and his problems. I’ve learned more in this conversation than in all the narration before. I wonder if you could start here??

Originality
I don’t read many mysteries, so I couldn’t really comment on this.

Publishability
I think this story needs some work before you begin sending it out.

After reading two chapters, I do have a curiosity about what happened in the life of the mysterious John. If the text were more readable, I’d spend more time here to find out.

Incidentally, when you post replies to comments on your page, the person you’re trying to reach doesn’t see them. All it does is artificially inflate the number of comments on your book.

All the best to you,
~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

Bill Scott wrote 851 days ago

JC

I believe this is a return read. Sorry for the delay.

I very easily could imagine the prologue and chapter one as the opening scene of a black and white movie — the girls face appearing ing the rain on the glass, the pages taped to the wall. I kept hearing thunder in my head. There were a couple of instances where the prose was a bit more flowery than is my personal preference, but there is definite beauty in your words and phrasing. I hope this is a big success.

Bill
HAKTAW HEART

CaileD wrote 864 days ago

A BHCG review
Sorry about the length, I always use few words. Fewer the better.
Plot – The opening is very wordy, descriptive.
Pacing – The paragraphs seem to move along evenly, chronologically, though it doesn’t really ask much from me.
Characters/Characterization – Nice build up of MC and introduction of minor ones.
Point of View/Voice – Good use of 3rd person.
Style – The story unfolds at its own speed, not rushing, personally not my cup of tea, but works for many readers.
Sentence level – Correct grammer, though I felt there were many repetitive syntactic structures.
Dialogue – Real. No problems, no surprises.
Originality – You can definitely write, though perhaps a little tightening up would make your writing more original, closer to your core.
DJC

J.Wickham wrote 865 days ago

Cooee,

I appreciate your eye for detail and I appreciate those types of suggestions as much as I enjoy praise - they help me bring the book into focus - as I'm currently doing as I write this. Another major revision is coming, and I have made a list of the little hiccups to correct.

Thanks again!

JC Wickham

cooee wrote 865 days ago

Just some comments on the opening.

Firstly, I like your pitch very much and thought the idea intriguing. I think you write rather well and I like the voice of the first section, but did wonder if possibly some things couldn’t be clarified just a little more.

Some thoughts below as I read.

A frantic phone call three hours before and a darkened, rumbling sky led me down that long hallway again, though. -----you don’t need that comma between ‘darkened’ and ‘rumbling’ – nor I feel that ‘though’

the rain or the widow who won’t let me forget those things ----- I don’t think that should be ‘who’ but ‘which’ - that said, the following line ‘and both announced their coming within seconds of one other.’ ----I don’t think makes sense…not sure how the ‘window’ could announce it coming…isn’t it there already?

There’s something she wants from me, and at least she’d been somewhat clear about her intentions; the rain just continues to batter angrily at those panes of glass and howls. ---- I’m not sure it is clear what or who ‘she’ is – who what it has to do with the rain – unless you are trying to use ‘she’ as a metaphor for rain, netherless I don’t feel it is clear what the narrators intention is.

I stare out at it, searching for the outline of one of those strange faces John insisted was there, and I find one staring back at me. ---- be careful of using ‘it’ as you have in that last sentence – it isn’t clear what it is, possibly the rain, but again I’m not sure and am starting to lose faith in the narrator (not author) - in the same paragraph ((((know that it’s her, though, and not one of his phantoms – not his “girl in )))) it also isn’t clear who ‘he’ is or that ‘his’ refer to.

By the end of the first scene I understood (or think I understand) that the girl he is seeing in the rain is the wife of the dead man…so when you are using ‘she’ – but I am wondering than how old this girl is to be wife…so if she is a woman – consider calling her that.

I think this has great potential and will come back to read some more.

Good luck with this.

J.Wickham wrote 865 days ago

Dianna,

Thank you for the kind words and the review! I'm glad that the book has kept you engrossed and that you are exactly the audience I wrote it for. I wanted to keep people guessing, be able to see the deeper, underlying themes and stories, and really want to follow Gwenn along her crusade til the end.

As you may have guessed (or read on my bio) this is one of four books, and as such, I promise you'll have some answers at the end of "Girl", but it will leave you with more questions as well. The good news is that the next book is almost ready (30 days out yet), the bad news is that you won't know everything until the last book. I hope I keep you as a loyal reader until then.

Thank you again,

J C Wickham

Dianna Lanser wrote 865 days ago

Justin, This is your promised LF40 review.

I don’t know how I can be objective since having read all the way up to chapter twelve of your book. You have won me over with this incredible tale. There is so much passion and longing within the two, well, really three entwined stories, I can hardly stand to break away. I feel much like the desperate lovers in your book.

You have a gift of tantalizing your audience to read on. Like your characters, the reader is tempted to “go all the way” right now. But this story is one to savor, one to read patiently, because in the end it will be more beautiful and much more meaningful… There is just so much richness to take in.

The Girl in The Rain is a work of art, especially how you have woven these two parallel stories together. The emotion you exuded from the reader is like the best of Nicolas Sparks. And the intrigue and mystery surrounding your cast of characters is almost palpable.

I know without a doubt that the remaining chapters will live up too or surpass the intensity that I experienced in the first twelve chapters. Doesn’t all our writing get even better later on? This is a book that I will definitely read to the end. Just like Gwen I need to find the answers!

Justin, This is most likely my own problem, but at the beginning of the book I had to really work at keeping John Chapel and James Campbell straight in my head. The names are a bit alike.

And then in chapter one, I saw that the point of view still shifts a couple times between James and Gwen - in the paragraph starting, “A smile peeked through the auburn-red hair…” and then in the paragraph starting, “She turned to meet his gaze with sparking amber eyes, the firelight really making them shimmer the way John had described them.” Whose eyes are shimmering here? If they are James Campbell’s that fine, but if they are Gwenn’s, then you have hopped to James point of view and it sounds like you stay in his point of until the paragraph that starts, “Her nostrils flared, trying to pick up his scent.”

Finally a couple misspellings:

Chapter two
Those eyes of hers had always sparkled at him and were a mixture of beautiful blue, like pictured (s) he’d seen…

Chapter three
Check the first paragraph that quotes John. There’s a misspelled word and some of the wording is awkward.

Other than those couple things, I believe you have done a thorough job of editing! I’m bumping up my star rating to six stars! And a promise get The Girl in the Rain on my shelf soon.

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

traceintime wrote 873 days ago

LF40 review

This story just kept me reading! I really want to know what's going to happen - what is at the heart of all this, but at the same time I felt very patient throughout the long (slightly rambling) story of Chapter 3, and 4, that all of it would make sense in the long run. I gave my trust to you as the writer, that you wouldn't let me down. To some extent this also applies in chapters 6 and 7 with John and his mates. A lot of names are introduced and we have to distinguish one from the other. I was also trying to assimilate the many different threads of the story but as I say, I trusted that you would pull them all together for me. And I can see, as Campbell points out, how 'June 15th' relates to the un-named boy story.

I was a bit confused in chapters 3 and 4, in that there seemed to be a dream within a dream. There was one girl and then another one, who knew his name. I wondered if that was some kind of reflection of Gwenn and Melinda.

The opening is mesmeric, there is something about rain on the window that evokes such a feeling of melancholia. I too strain to see those faces in the streaming channels of water.

Very atmospheric when Gwenn arrives, falling on the wet path, being admittted in to the warm, firelit house. I begin to get an idea of how much material we have to get through to find out what is really going on in this book, from the extent of Campbell's and Gwenn's investigations so far. This is definitely a book I will read more of, having only read through to the end of chapter 8 so far.

The characterisation is great, I have a clear impression of Gwenn, Melinda, the children in chapter 2, Melinda's parents, and John's friends in chapters 6 and 7, hence the neccesity for your lengthy accounts.

The dialogue is natural and believable.

One problem I did have through most of the chapters was a confusion in the use of the words 'he' and 'him'. Since you were dealing with a lot of male characters, sometimes you omitted to use names when it would have made it a lot easier to understand who you were referring to.

I noted a few nit picks, and I feel that each chapter needs to be raked through with a fine tooth comb, so to speak, to pull the writing up to as smooth a level as the intricate and intriguing plot.

Here's a sample:

Ch 1 'one in the same' - one and the same
ch 2 the passage about the two funerals was a bit confusing to me. I would like it to be clearer which funeral you were talking about. Similar, for me, to the he and him issue.

I'm not sure a seven and a half year old would have had the sophisticated thoughts about the flowers and the big place taking away from the significance of the small casket, and maybe that being the point.

ch 3 'that safe place among her eyes' not sure about 'among' in the context of eyes.
ch 4 'he waited for a red sun to go down and a black moon to rise as he waited' - cut one of the 'waited'?
ch 6 '...had nearly retired until he was killed...' when he was killed
You mention JD when I think you mean JB
At the end of chapter 6, there's the start of a sentence - ' "I have a journal sitting in the top drawer of my nights...
ch 7 'she noticed and seemed subconscious about it' - self conscious

Having picked at all this I think the story is ingeniously constructed, and look forward to reading more...

Tracey
The last Time We Saw Marion

J.S.Watts wrote 880 days ago

LF40 Review

The prologue starts in present tense, but paragraph two felt a little confused tense-wise with the introduction of the pluperfect (I’d locked), the perfect (I could) and then the present again (It lingers).

Despite this, it is a spooky, atmospheric read with plenty of intriguing hooks.

Chapter One – a grammatical issue “to either retreat…” and some missing punctuation. Should “One in the same” be “One and the same”?

Otherwise, this is an old fashioned, spooky opening which raises more questions than it answers. Very atmospheric, very descriptive, a bit like an American B movie of the 40s or 50s. I would query whether some of the descriptions are slightly over-written (at least for my taste) and whether you need both a prologue and an opening first chapter like this – it felt like a case of two introductions to me.

Chapter Two – some ongoing issues of missing punctuation. Once again a very descriptive section with lots of raw emotion and credible, childlike responses. I wondered whether you could tighten this up to make it a faster read, but then you would lose out on the descriptions.

Chapter Three – Possible typos: “I did my best to my Mom to let me stay”, “more serious is I didn’t go”. Punctuation is missing or inconsistent. “he knew not how” sounds very antiquated in construction and, for me, stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the paragraph.

I like the idea of notes of a conversation – it moves things along nicely. The fantasy element is smoothly done, although towards the end of the chapter I felt it was becoming a tad repetitive and could be tightened up a bit. My other observation is that the fantast chapter takes us away from the gothic, spine-tingler of the opening chapters and, it feels, into a different genre (I was reminded of the chronicles of Thomas Covenant). I’m intrigued to know whether fantasy or gothic horror predominates through the rest of the book or whether the text manages to merge them effectively.

Other observations: the dialogue is strong, realistic and effectively moves the plot on while raising more questions than it answers, which is good; the pitches imply that the widow, Gwenn, is the main character of the book, but from the chapters I’ve read both the Professor and John feel more central to the story than her. Dipping into chapters later in the book, it still felt as if John is more central than Gwenn. If that is the case, you might want to reconsider your pitches. I found this an imaginative work with a strong premise and lots of potential, but I feel it still needs a bit of work doing to it to tighten it up and improve the use of language within it, making it agent or publisher ready.


J.S.Watts
Witchlight


L_MC wrote 880 days ago

A BHCG review

I read five chapters.
Plot – The cover suggests sinister to me. The opening provides an intriguing hook again with a sinister feeling, a nice lead in to the first chapter and Gwenn trying to go into the house. I almost felt a shiver down my own spine at the thought of those 'thousand icy fingers clawing at her.'
Pacing – Nothing is rushed in this story, it unfolds, a little more revealed with each chapter so that the reader tries to unravel the mystery of John Chapel just as Gwenn and Jim do. The room and the drawings, the diary and the recording are effective tools to relay the story without giving stale backdrop or information dumps.
Characters/Characterization: John is mysterious and clearly suffered moments of trauma. Gwenn is driven and confused, Jim seems intrigued and frustrated. I understand that Jim's expertise is history and can see the connection to that and faces from the past that John saw but I Jim also seemed very knowledgeable and psychology which is useful in trying to find a scientific explanation for John's behaviour but I wondered where Jim garnered this knowledge from. I'm intrigued by Melissa and how her actions impacted on John.
Point of View/Voice and Style – you have a well developed tone to your writing that conveys a sense of intrigue and tension but at a pace that suits the story.
Sentence level – polished, crisp and very easy to read. I noticed a few very minor typos:
"Those eyes of hers had always sparkled at him and were a mixture of beautiful blue, like pictured he'd seen of the Mediterranean Sea.' 'she threatened something more serious is I didn't go with my dad.' 'It was either the fifth of sixth time.'
Dialogue: natural, flowed well and felt real
Originality: the concepts feel unique and fresh. I haven't come across the idea of the faces in the rain before and think it is a very effective tool to work on fears which works towards the feel of a thriller with a dark undercurrent.
Publishability: I think this story would appeal to a wide audience.

J.Wickham wrote 882 days ago

Thank you Jonie!! I appreciate any feedback, especially from talented writers like yourself.

Jonie M. Julan wrote 883 days ago

A BHCG review

Plot: Very intriguing. It is unique and creative, yet fits in a marketable nitch. This book is mysterious like a horror movie, but the relation of rain to the hallucinations makes this story original. Using such a common natural event as rain ensures that everyone who reads this will be able to relate to the plot and picture the story. Well done. I also like the mysterious quality. Information is coming out naturally through the dialogue, yet we are left with questions about John and his "visions," as well as Melinda and her role in these events. This first chapter peeks your reader's curiosity and encourages them to read more. It serves as a wonderful hook. Well done.

Dialogue: Another impressive point. The characters' lines flow very well and are not overly verbose, but also not choppy. I would recommend getting rid of the italicized words. I felt they were distracting, and I think your text is strong enough to speak for itself.

Description: You portray the setting very clearly. Right at the beginning, the rain plays an important role and remains in the background. You also describe the house very effectively, giving us a sense of setting that takes us into the room with the doctor and with Gwenn. I like that John's papers are out on the wall, visible. We can see them at the same time that the readers can, and the pictures lurk in the background throughout the conversation. Very effective.

Style: You have a nice writing style which comes out especially strong in the dialogue. You did switch back and forth between the doctor's point of view, and Gwenn's, which might make it harder for a reader to connect with a single character's viewpoint, but I understand that both character's thoughts are important to the story. Maybe you would be able to rework that, or keep the POV with one character a little longer before switching. Your story is still clear. I did feel that you used the word "though" quite a bit. Maybe it's unnecessary sometimes and could be eliminated.

A good read and a compelling story. Well done. Best of luck with this and thank you for exchanging reads. Hope some of this feedback will be encouraging and helpful.

Jonie

bunderful wrote 883 days ago

A BHCG Review

I'll start by saying this - your short and long pitches are so effective that I felt like if I were a literary agent I would sign you on the basis of that alone. I got chills down my spine just reading the long pitch. I do not like horror or spooky stories but I was drawn to this plot and to the historical fiction aspect of the story. I am wondering if you have tried to query this, I can't imagine that you won't be successful when you try...I hope the writing stands up to this. Eager to read now.

Plot – The opening is excellent. Your writing is hypnotic. Something about it forces me to read slowly and to listen to every word. The "voice" here is crystal clear, chilling, extremely well wrought. Narrative flow/momentum so far is nearly flawless. The end of chapter one is certainly gripping and forces the reader to read on. What I am a little bit confused about still, on into chapter three is who Dr. Campbell is. You said somewhere that he is not a psychologist but rather a historian? But he seems to act like a psychologist. I was very confused by this.

Pacing – Like I mention below about dialogue - I am a little confused in the conversation that Gwenn and Jim have, feeling like I don't know enough yet to understand all of the nuances of their conversation and fight. The narrativein chapter 3 when John describes his experience (or vision?) in the forest seemed to drag a bit for me.

Characters/Characterization - very strong. Gwenn and Jim are so far, spot on for me in terms of feeling "real" and believable. I could use a tad mit more descpription of what they look like, I'd say. The kids in chapter two are likewise believable and strong.

Point of View/Voice - You are a confident writer. That is clear. And your sentences are strong, clear, concise, your images powerful. You write in such a way that the reader trusts you and feels like they are along for the ride no matter what happens. You know the story and you know where you are taking us and we need to take your hand and trust you. And we do. I'm not really sure how you accomplished that in your prose, but that is how I felt.

Sentence level –

"like a thousand icy fingers clawing at her" - love this

"not all of the groaning and creaking came from the beautiful, old wood floors." - lovely

"winter recently deceased" - this didn't work for me. I found it confusing. I had to read it two or three times.
It is very difficult when writing about something like rain - when you know it's going to play such a key part in your story to constantly find new ways of describing it. One book comes to mind - Kim Edwards "The Lake of Dreams" was a book that struck me and stayed with me because she has so many different ways of describing water and the lake - and each and every one was unique and not cliched. So far, I think, for the most part, you are managine this well. But it is a challenge and you might want to look at every time you mention rain and make sure the metaphor really works in each place and see that you are not repeating yourself etc.


Dialogue - we are drawn immediately into a conflict between Jim and Gwenn, and while I think that your dialogue is realistic, I felt a little out of my depth in the first chapter because there was so much shared history and as their fight became a bit heated I felt that I had trouble following it because I didn't know enough of the backstory to understand why they were so angry at each other so soon.

In chapter two the dialogue between all the children seems fully realized and accurate as far as I can tell. Nothing jarred me there.

Originality - extremely original it seems to me. I have not read much in this genre because I tend to be very influenced by what I read and don't like getting nightmares, but the historical fiction angle drew me in. I have not read anything quite like this. And I can't imagine that an agent or publisher won't think so too.

All in all - this is heady, powerful stuff. I see no reason why this should not be in bookstore shelves. Please message me and tell me that you are querying this because if you aren't you should be.

- Bunderful, author of Master of the Miracles

J.Wickham wrote 883 days ago

UPDATE 11/14: Have updated Chapters 1-6. Enjoy!

J.Wickham wrote 885 days ago

Ian, Thank you for the thorough and honest review. I've struggled with some of the same things you've pointed out (the short/long pitch as well as chapter 2 - I'm still not in love with it as I should be). "Boy that was lost to the water" refers both to John (as it relates to is gradual disappearance in the water) and Dawson (the boy who actually drowned). I might need to play with the wording a bit to convey this.

Thank you again for giving it your attention.

JC Wickham

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