Book Jacket

 

rank 3832
word count 15573
date submitted 02.08.2012
date updated 17.02.2014
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Crime
classification: universal
incomplete

The Deadly Caress

O. Stefan

Amanda Blake sets out to find her mother’s murderer. She gets more than she bargained for and becomes a target herself.

 

Amanda Blake, a Sydney based freelance photographer, discovers she has been adopted and seeks out her natural mother Jean Campbell in California. When it becomes evident that her mother has been murdered, Amanda sets out to discover her mother’s killer. Her quest takes her back to Sydney to see the man who she thinks holds the answer to the killer’s identity. While visiting this man, she has to run for her life as a hail of gunshots pockmark the walls and shatter the windows. Someone will stop at nothing until she is dead. If she thought things were bad enough, they are about to get much worse...
The Deadly Caress is complete at 85,000 words
My brush with fame...Fay Weldon looked at my story a while ago and left me a ton of comments, most of which were positive. Also, Alan Gold read this story as well and gave me some great tips.

My cover photo is taken from an online painting by pavel guzenko.
My book is out on kindle now. USA: http://tinyurl.com/mqulyjl UK: http://tinyurl.com/lsuwy9j

NB: AUTHONOMY HAS LOST MY FORMATTING. MY TEXT IS NOW BLOCKED. I'VE TRIED TO FIX IT TO NO AVAIL.

 
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tags

crime, horror, mystery, thriller

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41 comments

 

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Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 285 days ago

Olga,
This book moves at a brisk pace from the very beginning, Amanda meeting her mother Jean for the first time after many years. The backstory surfaces rapidly, Amanda and her twin Brian adopted out in Australia when Jean was seventeen and penniless, but now a rich widow in California able to call them back together, their time for catching up cut short by her murder. It is a busy plot around diverse characters eyeing a huge inheritance while a murder takes place and suspicion is rife, giving investigators a puzzle to unravel. Your prose is clearcut and to the point in both narration and dialogue, making the story easy to follow. Thank you so much for the captivating read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Yasmina wrote 304 days ago

The Deadly Caress
Olga Segal

We read all that you posted although our intention was just to read two or three chapters. The book kept our interest and we couldn't stop reading. This has all the ingredients of a good murder mystery - a very rich woman, a spoilt step son and twins given up for adoption. You set the scene very well at the beginning and keep adding little bits to feed our interest.

Your writing style is very good as is the grammar. The narration and dialogue is good making a fast paced story.

And then you tease us with a final page turner, "someone else had been listening." Guess we'll have to wait for the book to be published to find out what happens.

This book is well thought out and one of the better books on Authonomy. Highly starred.

Yasmina & Charles Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey


Max China wrote 300 days ago

It doesn't take long to see we have a storyteller at work. Olga, you write convincing dialogue, your characters are well formed and three dimensional, the story is intriguing and becoming more interesting by the minute in the second chapter. From the pre-arranged signal on, things start hotting up as the relationships between the characters become clear. I wlll be back to comment further in due course. High stars and remaining on my WL. PS Can't believe your star rating isn't higher at less than 4! Deserves more than that.

Max China
The Sister

Chris 1 wrote 7 days ago

This is well-written and, as a story, carries and suggests a number of tensions that will invite the reader to step inside.

I liked the setting and the characters - from the Mexican help, to the MCs, Jean and Amanda, mother and daughter finally reunited, often a good premise full of emotion and a thousand questions, many of which are not answered...yet. This packs the story with its, thus far, strongest hook.

I also liked the scene shift, the signal to Brian outside on the beach, when Jean opens the balcony window - although it seems quite innocent, I thought that little action, that little piece of business, contained within it, I don't know, something sinister? The subsequent scene when Brian meets his twin amanda and her waking up from a deep sleep fortifies that feeling that all is not really right.

Your first three chapters set up what promises to be a good story. My only question might be that I found Amanda a touch too abrasive with her long lost mother at times. I know that she would have feelings of resentment and abandonment having been adopted and her adoptive parents were not the easiest to be around while she grew up, but I can't help think that, as a young girl she would have dreamt of breaking away from her parents, as a lot of children do trapped in a dysfunctional family. They may even dream or wish they WERE adopted so detached are they from their family. Amanda is thirty when she finds out she is adopted, a professional and successful woman, yes, it would be a shock to find out the truth but I can't help feeling that, in there amid the shock would be a lot of confirmation of her buried feelings about her dysfunctional family and maybe wanting to opt out of that family.

I think, maybe, she would have been more - not necessarily gushing over her new found mother - but certainly intrigued and polite initially, gobsmacked even. Maybe you've misjudged this side of her character, equally her snappiness towards her new found twin brother when he uses familiar language with her 'sis etc. Yes, it may well be too much too soon, but wouldn't she keep that quiet till later? I don't know. But I can't help but feel that these feelings would be more measured before they were verbalised, I think that would be more realistic (if that's the right word). It's only a few thoughts of mine.

On the other hand, I think you got the Dorian character spot on - resentful, suspicious, angry.

BACKED

Michelle Richardson wrote 7 days ago

The Deadly Caress - After the the shocking revelation that the parents she grew up were not really her parents, Amanda flies from Sydney to California to meet her birth mother, Jean Campbell. The initial meeting in the opening chapter works well to draw the reader in, and the tension between the two was well-written and easy to pick up. This has a great first chapter, only revealing the elements needed to keep the reader wanting more. On my WL to take another look at soon.
Michelle - 43 Primrose Avenue

Tina Webb wrote 83 days ago

Olga,
This is the first book that I've read on this site that I haven't been able to stop reading. I'm in Chapter Seven. Bravo for a plot that grabs the reader! The characters are intriguing and in these early chapters you've stirred up enough suggestion of internal conflict for at least Amanda, her twin and Dorian to make readers want to go deeper into their lives and individual situations.

I found some missing words e.g. "Why you wait this long?" (Amanda speaking to Jean)-- you may want to do a slow and keen edit. I noticed a few punctuation errors as well.
Some of the dialect needs improvement. Perhaps consult someone about this.

The last thing I'll say is that your book is mostly action of the quick scenes, events and dialogue. I find myself wanting a bit more depth, explanation and description at times. For example at the very end of Chapter Seven when Dorian "turned back" and you make reference to an experience with a girl. That paragraph..."The knowledge..." could be longer, with a deeper explanation of his challenges and emotions while keeping his lifestyle a secret.

Overall, you've got the perfect ingredients for a good read.

Keiran Proffer wrote 141 days ago

The Deadly Caress : Olga Stefan

I didn't really get on with this book. However, I read chap 1 and most of chap 2, and decided to send you my comments anyway, on the grounds they may be of some use.

Keiran

Blurb:
1. I would leave out “she has to run…” and just have “somebody tries to kill her”, or “she becomes aware that someone is trying to kill her”. i.e. whet the appetite without revealing the details.
2. Also “back to Sydney”? Say she had travelled from Sydney, to make it clear she was going back there.

Chap 1
1. Do we need to know about the chauffeur’s hair? I found it irrelevant.
2. Generally quotes of letters are put in italics rather than a different font.
3. Jean should have said something about why she was adopted. Also why did she not question her supposed parents? Or if she did, you should mention it.
4. The sudden speech “Please let me…” threw me. Was this in the present, or someone who helped her earlier? Is it the chauffeur speaking? OK, after a moment I see it is, but this section should be re-written. Also “Please” should be indented to match the other speech lines.
5. “shorter” is comparative, i.e. if she is “the shorter woman” there are 2 of them. Change it to “short”.
6. Chap 1 is very short and just sets the scene. It is more usual practice to make that sort a prologue.

Chap 2
1. We have suddenly switched from Amanda’s view to an unspecified narrator. This should be made clear with an opening sentence like “While Amanda was getting out of the car, two people sat in an upstairs room”.
2. Breaking off speech is normally shown by “But…” rather than “But-“
3. “changes but” > “changes, but”
4. Indenting of paragraphs is all over the place.
5. “she grew more apprehensive” Who did? After a moment I got it was Jean, but I thought we had jumped back to Amanda’s viewpoint for a moment, as Jean would not know A was wearing low heels. Make it “Jean grew…”. Suddenly I realise it was Amanda after all! So make it “Amanda grew”
6. “use by” > “use-by”
7. Lonely 17 years? Who adopted her? If she did not know she was adopted until now, she must have had some foster parents. Where are they? What did they say when she learned her origins?
8. I don’t believe this meeting. They would be more cautious and formal: they are meeting as more or less strangers after 29 years.

Sheena Macleod wrote 203 days ago

The Deadly Caress by O. Stefan
Genres- Thriller, Horror, crime
I was drawn to read this through the pitches. I love thrillers, and the pitch promises a great read. I would pick this up in a bookstore.
I liked the surprise of the twin- Unexpected and adds depth to the story. The stepbrother is full of attitude. You have built the characters up well.
I enjoyed what I read.

Suggested edits (my opinion only)
Long Pitch - If she thought things were bad (enough- remove?)
Chapter one
He spoke with an accent (remove) – ( Suggest incorporating this into the next statement - At a guess she thought his accent was Mexican ?)
Remove (typical) maids garb
Chapter two
Why (did?) you wait this long?
Jean cared (,) she really cared
On a plane for eighteen hours

Sheena
Carnival of Lies

P.S.Hope wrote 231 days ago

The Deadly Caress by O. Stefan (CH 1-6)

BHCG, GSWTCG
This work was downloaded on 18/08/2013. Bear with me if changes were made since.

Para-phrasing from a movie I loved watching. (These words are something I keep close to my heart when I read a critic)

In many ways the work of a critic is easy, ‘cause he thrives on negative criticism. In this world of new talent, the average piece of junk is more worthy than the worthless words the critics have to share. The world is often unkind to new, especially new talent.

Any suggestions meant are purely for a constructive review and no ill-will is meant. All comments are based on how I felt as a reader and nothing more. Please forgive me for any hurt caused. I feel that we are here to polish our work.


Title/Cover:
The title is intriguing. The cover image (maybe it was my lap screen), was a bit off. I can see an eye, but something felt odd.

Pitch:
Short- A great choice of words that shout out to readers to have a go at this book.
Long- The pitch promises a story happening in 2 continents and are informative, yet elusive, to the required minimum. I personally won’t prefer stating about urself in the Long pitch. It should have been added to ur profile (These r my personal opinions, so leave it if u feel otherwise)

Start:
Ok, I have to hand it out to you for having made a great start to a thriller/suspense novel that promises to be one associated with crime. A letter, couple of servants on call and a Rolls, speak of a wealthy biological mom (a rather smart intro to the character yet to be shown).

Plot:
A young woman finds herself reunited with her biological mom who had let her off for adoption at birth. She finds herself face to face with a twin brother and a step brother (a bit ruthless) as she meets mom. The plot is further intensified as mom is killed and all are police suspects.

Setting:
A story that is to happen inn two different continents, US and Australia.

POV:
Multiple POV’s.

Dialogue:
There are a few instances when the dialogue felt a bit forced and un-happening. Mostly, the dialogues were ok.

Characters:
Amanda (lead), Jean (bio-mom), Brian (twin bro), Dorian (step-bro), all the servants and Amanda’s adopted family. All felt to have their individual charecters.
Numerous characters introduced in the first three chapters. Though I felt a bit off at first, the introduction felt appropriate as soon as the story was beginning to open up. Mostly loved the way Dorian was given life in the story. (It’s not easy to portray someone as irritating)

Show, not tell:
I felt comfortable. So, no comments.

Thoughts, Punctuations, Spelling and grammar:
I am a bit off and notorious (in my writing) in this regard. These comments were made as and when read from the book. I tend to forget, once I finish a chapter. Hence, maybe, these comments may feel disconnected at times. Also, there may be repeated comments. I don’t read other’s comment before I read a work. They, unfortunate and accurate as it may be, will paint a picture of the read before it is even started. I dislike to being guided by others opinion. For each his own!

Ch1:
Short, yet promising to be a story that is going to have all the elements for a thriller. But I felt that no info was shared on the lead till the end of this (short) first chapter. I am turning my page to see where this story is headed. Great 1st CH.

Ch2:
I am unsure as to whether u r related to theatre plays. I felt so, reading Jean talk with Lionel. It felt a bit forced
weeks to lift[1 (a typo)
Jean is well introduced with guilt conscience and a new grown backbone to fend off advice. The talk b/w a mom and daughter (after being separated for a long time) seemed a bit strange and at times cold. They are more formal rather than filled with feelings. I, as a reader expected at least a few tears and a bit of hugging, kissing and tense smiles (didn’t find it). Won’t she be feeling a lot more emotional, rather than recognising the paintings and porcelain figures (it would have been different if she had met her mom after a bit of wait, so that she would have time to let her eyes roam around the room). Also, I felt like the mom daughter relation was a bit too formal.
five years ago.” “Your husband (I think it’s better to start different person conv in different lines. Also, since already Jean had told that the father was different, why would Amanda ask the query? You said it was a stab, Ok that sounds good. Would u in place of Amanda have asked the same query? That would have been heartless (Amanda states later that she missed a mum in life, so I guess, she won’t be heartless).

I am stating this repeatedly since I have been feeling the same for the last few paras. Please try changing the conversations to be less formal. They are a mom and daughter who have met after a long while. They should have been more emotional rather than having a conversation that felt like that b/w 2 officials. Also, why mention the type of flight/coffee/bakery/beer. They take away the flow of the read.

I loved the way their feelings were expressed during the plot, but felt disconnected with the dialogues. (This is my personal opinion as a reader)

Brian McMahon, a new character, seems a great introduction. Felt a connection instantly.
Jean cared (,) she really
This man: her twin. He didn’t speak (something is wrong)
His jaw: more angular, and his face: sharp tanned planes. The eyes were different: deep green with hints of gold. “Hi.” (something is wrong)
“Can you play something softer not that crazy thump, thump stuff?” Now Amanda was (why not start it as a new line since Amanda is speaking?) Already 29 is mentioned. Y again?
‘Now what is she? Half stepsister. What a nice mouthful.” (different quotations)

This chapter felt a bit strange. You had introduced a lot of characters, but rather than bringing them in slow, you have made it all into a tight bind. Also, Brian felt more comfortable with Amanda (mostly what I, as a reader, would have expected to happen with Jean and Amanda too). Why is Dorian this annoying? He had only met the trio now. Would anyone show their unwelcomeness in such stiff manners. I don’t think so (It was a bit childish from Dorian’s part. He is not a child).

Great things, on this chapter-
I felt a lot of characters were introduced and they have their own individuality. So, I guess there would be a lot of different directions and back story to be expected soon. This way, I feel a bigger plot is in the happening.

Ch3:
Breath she told (shouldn’t it be breathe?)
The story seems to have broken free from the shackles and the pace has regained. I am unsure if I am right, but why not substitute “ : ” with “ ; ”.
Loved the way Dorian hinted at Jean’s death being necessary for the money to change hands. Overall, the read has begun its journey towards a more realistic plot. But, there is one thing I need to ask u. Can u say that a woman can hide the fact that she had undergone delivery of a child (in this case 2) from a lover/husband. The body (I mean the whole of it when naked) will show the signs of having been pregnant and delivered. I guess that this is one issue no female can ever hide from a male with whom she were to ever share a bed.

Ch4:
Interesting to learn that Amanda too had a unborn child. (This story is getting complicated with each passing chapter; in a good way)
.A glance at (extra “ . ”)
Beautiful way to recreate the death scene in a reader’s mind.
The last para -
“The scene swam out of focus. Her head felt light; and the room seemed suddenly darker. She could smell the soft scent of wildflowers and sandalwood as she felt herself sink to the floor.”
This was a real enough, life sized portrait of how one felt while in shock of a dead relative.

Can’t stop myself from turning the page to the next chapter.

Ch5:
I loved the way u wrote this chapter. Still, as a reader I have to ask u a few questions that arose as I read through the work. Do you think that a person (a woman) who has lost her mum would ask for a strong drink. Also, would a friend (Anna) yawn during such a conversation and start talking about her job? These I found a bit off.
Loved the way you brought about Amanda’s feelings, and Brian’s indifference. Turning to read the next chapter.

Ch6:
Conversation with Anna seemed inappropriate. I don’t feel anyone will talk like this to a person who has recently lost a mom. Also, unless it was a dead cat/dog, I don’t think that a joke could be brought about in this conversation. It’s the death of a mum we are discussing here. So, I would ask u to reconsider.
“She had not touched the hash browns and eggs Rosa had prepared earlier. That fried stuff would make her fat. God, she had to stop thinking about calories.” How can a daughter be thinking about her calories when mom was lying dead upstairs?

I am stopping my read here. Hope that you may find some useful use in the uploaded comments.

Thanking you for the read and introducing me to your characters. Good luck on Authonomy,

Take care
LOL



Samuel Z Jones wrote 243 days ago

The sparse prose is sharply evocative, but I'm sure there are more dramatic ways to open this story than with a woman thinking about a letter.

The blurb needs editing; too much plot information, this is what we should want to find out from reading the story. It's too much of a synopsis as it is, it should pose the questions that the prospective reader will then want answered.

The prose is well executed, though, there's a strong sense of location and clear imagery.

Robyn Quaker wrote 243 days ago

A neat succinct first chapter.
Robyn Quaker
Halfpennies And Blue Vinyl

Otter wrote 256 days ago

Chapter 4

A good short chapter, jean is dead and Amanda collapses. We do not know yet if its murder but suspect it is and must read on.

Sebnem wrote 256 days ago

The Deadly Caress-O. Stefan

GSWTCG Review
Chapters 1-3

Ch 1
A gripping first chapter where Amanda is on the verge of meeting her biological mother for the first time. Good page turner…
Ch2
“Why you wait this long?” sounds funny, perhaps “Why did you wait this long?” or “Why wait this long?”
Awkward situation between Amanda and Jean. Conversation delivers this tension.
Brian McMohan…the twin brother…
It was (the) only present she had received……
Ch3
It’s getting intriguing now with the nightmare…and the tension at the end of the chapter foretells the possibility of conflict between Jean and her twins, Brian and Amanda and Dorian, the stepson who is after his late father’s fortune controlled by Jean.

Conclusion:
Interesting story with tension building up towards Jean, Amanda and Brian’s biological mother who gave them up for adoption after giving birth at the age of seventeen… As the pitch mentions Jean’s murder; a rich woman who is being confronted by her stepson for more money, Dorian’s character portrays the possibility of being a suspect. However, I believe it’s not going to be as simple as that.

Amanda, who finds out about her real mother, Jean, and a twin brother, Brian, is in a difficult situation trying to adapt to her new family. There seems to be a lot of potential for the development of the plot towards building the relationships between the characters parallel to the story behind Jean’s murder.

High stars, best wishes,
Sebnem-The Child of Heaven

PS: There’s a typo on your pitch:
While visiting this man, she is has to run for her life……
PPS: I don’t understand why no one has backed this book. It deserves to be backed.

Otter wrote 257 days ago


Chapter 3

All though the emotions are there , from the nightmare, the breakfast table, the hallway - I have not yet formed any emotional attachment to any of the characters.... Everthing feels cold and I presume that is intentional.

Clearly excellent writing and you can tell a story .. I am most definitely curious as to where this is going.

High Stars and will be back ASAP

Typos

spoke and though he did not like --- as though ?

Otter wrote 263 days ago

GSWTCG

Deadly caress

I have only read the short pitch, preferring not to know too much before I read.

Chapter 1

A short opening chapter that leaves both Amanda and the reader to wonder what is to come. I believe that the easy to read prose invites the reader in rather than force a reaction.

Chapter 2

Well written , good dialogue and we meet the key characters. I am not totally convinced by the emotions on display and that is as should be in a thriller. The scene is almost cardboard, a modern Agatha Christie? and I am keen to turn over.

Will be back to see if my initial instincts hold any weight at all. On holidays and crap internet access.

Janet/Helen wrote 269 days ago

The Deadly Caress. Ch 1 to 11

Excellent opening chapters to this murder mystery. Chapter 1 sets the scene very well and in chapter 2 we have the MC, Amanda, meeting her real mother for the first time. I think the apprehension and awkwardness which would be felt at such a meeting come through very well and the dialogue is very believable.

A few minor errors in chapter 2 -

'Why you wait this long?' [Why did you wait....]

'.....until Dad died, and found the adoption papers......' [and I found the]

'Was that all, this woman could say?' [I would delete the comma]

'The Estella turned.......' [Then]

I would be inclined to end chapter 2 at the point where Jean introduces Brian to Amanda and says 'He's your twin'. This would be a gripping end to the chapter and a page turner.

Chapter 3. The story is moving along at a very good pace. I was a little confused by the reference to Jean having to go to the library to speak to Horace Beare on the phone. There is no further mention of the conversation and it's not clear at this point who Horace is.

In chapter 3 and subsequently there are references to Jean's will. Where the reference is to a testamentary document, it should have a capital W.

Chapter 5. The story is unfolding very well and keeping me gripped. Jean has been murdered and you really have to sympathise so much with Amanda and her situation. Just one minor nit-pick. '.......Dorian's casual stance when he step-mother........' [his]

Chapter 6. When the police sergeant meets Brian, Amanda and Rosa I think it is unlikely he would ask 'Is one of you Brian McMahon?' I think it more likely he would address Brian and ask 'Are you Brian McMahon?'

Chapter 7. The plot thickens as we learn about Dorian's lover, Dorian's need for money to pay medical bills and his hold over Lionel. I noticed a tendency to call Dorian by his surname in some places - 'Can I have the money? Campbell asked.' I can see no reason for this and would stick to Dorian.

Very well written opening chapters. The story pulled me along, the characters are good and the twist and turns are starting to appear. This is one I would like to read more of. 6 stars and onto my watchlist. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger In My Life

Janet/Helen wrote 270 days ago

The Deadly Caress. Ch 1.

Having read the pitch and chapter1, I'm hooked. Short on time today so will be back tomorrow to read the opening chapters and comment. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger In My Life

Steve Hawgood wrote 271 days ago

Olga - the return read. Apologies it's taken so long. I've no literary training nor ever published so feel free to deal with these comments as you wish.

I love the crime and thriller genres but am more ambivalent of horror.

I'm simply amazed where this sits in Authonomy. I can only presume you've been focusing more on an approach to agents and publishing, than feedback here. With that in mind I'll try to be as open and honest as I can. As I recall you wanted feedback on the overall quality of the story itself and the characters.

Based on the conventional wisdom that agents can drop a book based on the opening I feel you've passed that litmus test. The level of writing, and editing, stand out, and you quickly set a very clear scene for the reader.

I'm not always a lover of the 'letter' style of voice but this works well and sets the readers mind questioning how events will unfold. The Chapter is short, sharp, very much in the vein that less is more, and the page cannot resist being turned.

Chapter 2 - with a slight step back in time the build is between the two women and an uncertain emotional affinity. It's a very modern read in that sense, questions from both sides that need answering and I feel you've set that for the reader. It's importanht here to develope the characters and both work for me, with some strong dialogue.

If I've one thought for improvement in this Chapter it's that you've relied to much on dialogue to drive this. That side is excellent but as you read through you are pushing the reader to bounce between two characters without a pause to sit back and assess the scene, and the additional info he/she has taken on - a small point but one worth considering - at this point where they both sit on the adoption is key and I'd simply like to see more - women are often defensive in such situations and I felt you didnt let the emotions boil as they can do.

Chapter 3 - I'm convinced your writing is far above the average Authonomy upload. Good opening scene, quickly supported by solid dialogue. It's therefore the characters and the overall story I'll focus on from here.

This an important Chapter to build the foundation of the story for the two womens relationship. If I have one mild criticism, and it is very mild, it's that you've shown both women in a way less intense than it would in real life. My own mother discovered she was an illigitimate child and met her half brother many years later - the emotions were very intense. i do feel you can really push that - you need the reader to connect to these two women as they're driving the story. It all works but push it further.

Chapter 4 - the first few lines made me feel this was a repeat of the emotional build in the previous 3 Chapters but that quickly changes. Again less is more and this is a very strong Chapter.

Chapter 5 - again well written. I've nothing on the characters nor the writing that remains superb - again a small thought - we've 5 Chapters of this meeting - does it need a little more beyond the birth and adoptions? The two short Chapters are in my view the best.

Chapter 6 and again overall works well but I do believe you've focused too much on dialogue here - read this through slowly - you could have painted more of a mpicture of the house and turmoil and emotion - just a thought.

Olga - again apologies for not sending comments. Overall I'm impressed by the quality of this read and how it compares to other uploads. My comments are personal and intended to make small improvements on what is an excellent read. Two thoughts are there - firstly push the emotions more early on between mother and daughter - secondly I did notice what i feel is an over reliance on dialogue in just a couple of scenes - I'd like you to set those for me first with a little more descriptive narrative and then allow my own imagination to lead the story. But just my thoughts. best. Steve.

S.M. Koz wrote 275 days ago

Hi Olga,

I really like the premise of your story. Although the idea of an adopted child meeting a biological parent is not new, you've certainly put an original twist on that. I'm short on time so I was only able to read the first couple chapters, but I'm really interested in finding out how Jean became so wealthy and what's happened in all the years since she gave up her children.

I did find a few typos/grammatical errors in the first two chapters:

Chapter 1:
P17: Sentence 2 (S2): Is this supposed to be a question or statement? I'm thinking you might mean "What was this mother like?"
P20: "The" doesn't need to be capitalized.

Chapter 2:
P23: Balding seems repetitive since you already mentioned that.
P45: S1: I think this should be a period, not a question mark.
P47: S2: I think you're missing "did"
P64: S3: I think this should start a new paragraph so it's clear someone else is speaking.

And here are some overall impressions:

I like how you make the dialogue between Amanda and Jean seem awkward, almost forced because I imagine it would be in such a situation. That added a nice sense of realism.

Also, you do a good job of giving each of the characters (and you have a number of them) a unique voice. I'm impressed by your ability to keep them each consistent with so many too juggle. Well done!

The Brian scene in the middle of Chapter 2 is really short, but I liked it. I wouldn't want you to completely get rid of it because it adds some suspense. I'm wondering, though, if it could be lengthened or somehow modified so that it's not such a jarring transition.

Chapter 1 was also really short. Maybe it could be combined with some of Chapter 2 to make them more equitable in length?

You do a great job of creating interest and surprising the reader. I think my jaw literally dropped when I read the part about a twin. Wasn't expecting that!

High stars for you and I'm going to keep this on my WL so I can come back when I have more time. I suspect there are a number of other twists and turns that will leave me gaping!

Cheers,
Shannon (S.M. Koz)
Pangalax

tinca wrote 279 days ago

A BHCG review of ‘The Deadly Caress’

Hello Olga, I checked and found you in the BHCG group so I’ll go that way – it will also help me to get back on track with a review! I’ll use some of the headings recommended but not all; I’ve only read to the beginning of chapter 3, so far.
Plot – the discovery that one’s parents are not one’s real parents is not an original idea, of course, but it is so full of narrative potential that it bears endless reworking. The emotional tensions that you begin to develop in the opening chapters would be enough for me but I note from your preface that there will soon be “a hail of gunshots” as well. As the genre is ‘thriller’, I guess this is to be expected but the story would also work, for me, if it went in a more psychological direction rather than a heavily-armed one.
Pacing – things move along in the first two chapters; we soon meet up with real mother and unsuspected siblings, as well as getting a fair amount of mostly relevant back-story. The length difference between 1 and 2 is slightly disconcerting, and new characters arrive almost too quickly for us to feel we are getting to know them. Perhaps this mirrors your protagonist’s own sense of confusion.
Characterization – I’m pretty convinced by Amanda most of the time. She has the emotions one would expect and these are conveyed quite nicely as she asks herself questions about the turmoil in her life. Would it be better if she were more ordinary rather than a kind of superwoman, daredevil photographer? Also, I was surprised that although she noticed a house full of servants and works by major artists she expresses no surprise (or delight) that her real mother is apparently seriously rich. I liked the way you presented real mother and the way the girl’s name “hung hesitantly” between them – very nice. “Wildflowers and sandalwood” was an excellent, telling detail, too.
Point of view – confidently shifted between characters so far but personally I think it’s dangerous to overdo this; I like to get to know one character really well rather than a dozen less so. Personal preference.
Style – lots of the above here, too – always difficult to pronounce on this. For me the opening sentence contains too much vocabulary – “sucked”, “suppressed”, “escalating anxiety” hint at overwriting for me but I certainly don’t say that you do this all the time. Pointless adjectives – is the fact that the chauffeur and maid have dark hair significant in some way? Occasional clichés – “knot in her stomach” and “it had been hell”; but some readers want clichés in their genres, and some writers know this. Amanda notices “typical maid’s garb” – why not “in a maid’s uniform”? We are down to fine points here but these two phrases have different effects.
Sentence Level – more accurate than most that I read. Occasional minor errors in speech layout - …My name, Estella,’ The shorter woman said. ‘Why you wait this long?’ suggests being Mexican is infectious; is suicide ever a verb? Minor points…
Dialogue – lots of it, in some long runs, but often convincing. I would have clearer paragraphing breaks between Amanda’s speech and her following thoughts.
Publishability – I always feel that I should say something here but on what authority? I have read worse openings to thrillers in print and much, much worse on Kindle. Yes, with professional edits, this is a story worth telling and reading.

Hope this helps.

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 285 days ago

Olga,
This book moves at a brisk pace from the very beginning, Amanda meeting her mother Jean for the first time after many years. The backstory surfaces rapidly, Amanda and her twin Brian adopted out in Australia when Jean was seventeen and penniless, but now a rich widow in California able to call them back together, their time for catching up cut short by her murder. It is a busy plot around diverse characters eyeing a huge inheritance while a murder takes place and suspicion is rife, giving investigators a puzzle to unravel. Your prose is clearcut and to the point in both narration and dialogue, making the story easy to follow. Thank you so much for the captivating read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Lara wrote 285 days ago

Hi Olga. I did like the premise of a woman finding out that she has a different birth mother. You cleverly change the usual father to mother, and poor foundling to rich. The story goes on to set up some tasty luxury and continues into the lifestyle of Jean with her odious son and the mysterious Brian. The story then becomes a murder mystery. Lots of tensions in the family for detectives to ponder, lots of reasons to exercise Amanda s emotions.

I think you could heighten the drama by having an additional chapter at the beginning. Let Amanda show us her setting as photographer and let us see her shock discovery over her mother.

Good luck.

I am a supporter of another Aussie writer, Marj, whose books are available. Have you read Not a Man?

Rosalind Minett
A RELATIVE INVASION
SPEECHLESS

KathrynW wrote 286 days ago

Dear Olga

I very much enjoyed your first two chapters. My family keep interrupting me, so I will give you my initial thoughts before I forget them. You hurl the reader straight into the plot, and maintain their interest with believable characters and good dialogue. You have an assurance of tone which is missing in so many of the things I have read on authonomy. I spotted a few editorial issues. I jotted down my notes late last night on a small piece of paper and am now having trouble deciphering them. There was 'why you wait this long' instead of 'why DID you wait this long' and 'the sadenss that wellED up', and a 'can not' rather than a 'cannot'. However, overall it was an excellent draft.

One comment on the structure was that chapter 1 was very short compared to chapter 2. I wondered whether you could break chapter 2 at the point where she realises she has a twin, as this is a bit of a shock revelation.

You're on my bookshelf and hope to return to your story later.

Kathryn

TobyC wrote 287 days ago

The Deadly Caress by Olga Segal

GSWTCG Review

The eye on the cover is opened wide, as if in fear. Consider darkening the font so we can read the entire title. Before I begin, I believe you used to have another story on Authonomy about a wedding dress. I still remember it.

The short pitch includes a switch in verb tense. Consider making one sentence from the two.

The long pitch suggests Amanda is going to find more trouble than she bargained for, a great attribute for a thriller.

Chapter one, while brief, sets a tone for the remainder of the book. Ms. Campbell's sudden need to know her birth child creates a mystery within a mystery.

The next thing I know, I've finished ch. five. The story engages the reader and keeps us turning pages. I thought Amanda and Jean would get at least one day together. Ah, a murder too soon, but then that's what makes it a thriller.

This needs a good edit so that paragraph indentations and quotes are all the same. Otherwise, it's a good story.

High stars!

TobyC
Dreams Bound in Black


Nitpicks:
Why are BLAKE and CAMPBELL capitalized?
Inconsistent indentation
Estella is referred to as 'short' twice. Consider petite once.
The accent sounds more Asian.
Why a footnote without a note?
'some quotes' -> consider making quote marks around all quotes -> right now, they're inconsistent
paragraph begins with a period -> .Her mother showed concern, real concern.

Sar H wrote 287 days ago

Hi Olga,


Read the first chapters. Liked it. Intrigued me. I’d try and add a bit more emotion to the characters when they are thinking i.e. like Amanda first off. She’s on the way to meet a woman who’s her biological mother – a shock. She’s edgy, worried, intrigued. Let her show it more. Same with her mother Jean.

However, you’ve nailed the description: Short but to the point. Love it! I hate big realms of the stuff. There’s enough to show me but you don’t let it bog the story down. And you give enough of the story to INTRIGUE but not to give the whole deal away. Jean is obviously up to something, changes to a will, business documents for her daughter?

I know years ago S King and the like raised careers of the BIG description stuff, but in the modern day, don’t think it has the same impact. The Mr Grey books prove that, me thinks.

Yes, big up to you. Liked it. I’ll try and read more. Happily backed.

Keep at it and get it sent out to some agents. Or, failing that, self-publish!

Kindest Regards

Sarah

Ildrinn wrote 287 days ago

Just read the rest of the chapters. Can't wait for more. Really good storytelling.

Rachael Richey
Storm Rising

Ildrinn wrote 287 days ago

I really love your book. I was only going to look at the first couple of chapters but I got carried away and so far I've read seven! Need to stop now because I'm supposed to be working! I love the characters and already find I care what happens to them. I shall definitely come back and read some more. I've backed and starred the book. Excellent. :-)

Rachael Richey
Storm Rising
http://authonomy.com/books/53784/storm-rising/

stearn37 wrote 293 days ago

Hi
This is superb, I have given you a full six stars and placed you on my watch list.
Cheers
John Stearn
Author of Derilium

Max China wrote 300 days ago

It doesn't take long to see we have a storyteller at work. Olga, you write convincing dialogue, your characters are well formed and three dimensional, the story is intriguing and becoming more interesting by the minute in the second chapter. From the pre-arranged signal on, things start hotting up as the relationships between the characters become clear. I wlll be back to comment further in due course. High stars and remaining on my WL. PS Can't believe your star rating isn't higher at less than 4! Deserves more than that.

Max China
The Sister

Yasmina wrote 304 days ago

The Deadly Caress
Olga Segal

We read all that you posted although our intention was just to read two or three chapters. The book kept our interest and we couldn't stop reading. This has all the ingredients of a good murder mystery - a very rich woman, a spoilt step son and twins given up for adoption. You set the scene very well at the beginning and keep adding little bits to feed our interest.

Your writing style is very good as is the grammar. The narration and dialogue is good making a fast paced story.

And then you tease us with a final page turner, "someone else had been listening." Guess we'll have to wait for the book to be published to find out what happens.

This book is well thought out and one of the better books on Authonomy. Highly starred.

Yasmina & Charles Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey


Augustineisme wrote 305 days ago

Well, so far so good. It needs some polishing, but this is a great start. I really like the broad range in characters. It has a little Agatha Christie feel to it. I would like to read more if you post. :)

Wussyboy wrote 309 days ago

Only had time for two chapters tonight, Olga, and whilst writing down comments I found I was replicating many of Fiona's, so maybe I'll come back to this after your next edit? (let me know if/when you tackle this). Your writing is fluid, the characters intriguing, and the dialogue very natural, so giving you high stars for now - promises to be a very engaging thriller. My only suggest for now, since chap 2 has quite a bit of it, is to put all your 'thought speech' ('How did she know? How did she find out?'...'Slow down'....'Jean needs more time with her. Allow them both that'...) into italics, it makes for easier reading.

Joe Kovacs
A Marriage made in Chemical Heaven

p.s. nitpicky me, but I think it's caUldron in chap 1, para 1.

Wussyboy wrote 309 days ago

Hi Olga, I set out to read your book tonight, but got stuck on the pitch. I don't know how open you are to change, but both pitches, short and long, sound rather more like a synopsis. Could I suggest the following, it might get you more readers:

Short pitch: When a daughter sets out to find our mother's murderer, she gets more than she bargained for. And becomes a target herself.

Long pitch: Amanda Blake, a freelance photographer, discovers she has been adopted and seeks out her natural mother, Jean Campbell, in California.(rest is okay)

Fiona Haven wrote 309 days ago

Hello Olga,
This is my downunder review.

This is not what I would normally read (I prefer SF and fantasy) so please feel free to ignore my comments if they don't seem right to you.

I found your writing to be straight-forward and easy to read with good pacing.
You use many clichéd phrases, but this seems to be part of your style so may be hard for you to change.

You don't have enough uploaded here to comment much on the plot. From what you have here, some aspects (the fortune to be inherited, the wills, the family in-fighting) have been done many times before, but you do have something different in the aspect of the twins who have been adopted out. That is the main point of interest in your story, I think.

You have a potentially interesting collection of characters. I didn't feel that I understood them too well, so I think there would be scope to round them out more. Even adding their gestures and facial expressions as they speak would help.

One concern I have is that you change point of view between Amanda, Jean and Brian. I wondered if it was necessary. In particular, I'm not sure you need the part from Brian's POV, and you might want to keep him as more of a mystery? It really depends what his role is in the rest of the book. If he is to be a suspect in the murder, I would suggest keeping out of his head.

I made some notes on each chapter:
Chapter 1:
this chapter gives us needed background, although you don't convey much about Amanda herself.
"why was it that this woman had to break this news" - repetition of "this"

chapter 2:
the change in POV from Jean to Amanda was unclear (at first I thought we were hearing Amanda's footsteps from Jean's point of view and that it was Jean growing apprehensive).
I found the conversation between Amanda and Jean rather long and sometimes disjointed (e.g. why did Jean suddenly start talking about Murray buying the beach house 5 years ago?).

"from the ceiling to the floor gentle cascade on coloured glass" - I couldn't picture this. Would it be better as "a gentle cascade of coloured glass from ceiling to floor" ?
"why [did] you wait this long?"
"near the beach side" - delete "side"?
"the secretive tryst her parents had made..." - "tryst" is the wrong word I think, try "deal" or "bargain".
"it was [the] only present"
Check the grammar on the sentence: "She wasn't going to tell that until she was in her early twenties and sought help because she blamed herself..."
"barefoot and pregnant" - I don't understand the "barefoot" reference, is this an Aussie phrase?
"only she had not been privy [to]"

chapter 3:
I thought that it was quite odd for Jean to gift Amanda with pearls which had been given her by Murray. But this may be just me, not a big deal.

"breath" - "breathe"
"Degar" - "Degas" ?
"she'd rather not had the nightmares" - change "had" to "have" or "have had"
"not admitting to this but she noted" - "admitting this, she noted..."
"and though he didn't" - typo "thought"
"I told the Rosa" - "I told Rosa" ?
"I'll need the loo" - "I need the loo"
"Her parents hardly spoke" - "her parents had hardly spoken"

chapter 4+
Good detail about Amanda losing a child due to Anorexia.

I wondered that there was no indication of how Jean had died and that they did not discuss it. But this was about the last part I read, so I might have missed it. I thought maybe Amanda over-reacted to the death a little, after all she had only met Jean the day before, but I suppose it does fit with her high-strung character.

I hope these comments are helpful to you.
Good luck!

Fiona Haven
Falling Upwards

M. A. McRae. wrote 309 days ago

Good story, well written. Backed, Marj.

Tracie Podger wrote 312 days ago

Have read all 8 chapters and believe you have the makings of a good thriller here. The mix of characters is well defined, the sudden appearance of twins and the conflicted Dorian. Jean's uncertainty at meeting her daughter is clear but I wonder if the introduction of Brian is a little too quick. I would have liked to have heard a little more conversation between the two, however, I appreciate the lack of knowledge adds to the mystery.

I noticed one or two small things, "on the cream damask lounge". Lounge may be an item of furniture, I'm not sure. In the UK, it's a room. I wonder if you might rethink what you mean here.

"should have done long before this" doesn't read well - do you mean "I should have done this a long time ago"

"I'll need the loo" perhaps should be "I need the loo".

I noticed a missing speak mark but can't remember where - sorry.

Overall, I like the story and although you have introduced Dorian as a suspect with motive early on, I hope this is a ruse and as the story progresses we will find many twists and turns. Have a rethink on your pitch, you don't need to tell us what happens in chapter one. The introduction of the dream is clever and I'm interested to see where this goes. Well done. :)

JagoBella wrote 571 days ago

Club Agatha: I was as stunned as Amanda to find out she had a twin :) Very good. I like the mix of three siblings. Should be useful for some good plot twists. And all three are very different. The mother is also someone I find intriguing. I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Best wishes.

N J wrote 572 days ago

Olga Segal – The Deadly Caress

Club Agatha comment:

Hi, Olga

I read your first two chapters. I think you need to rewrite both pitches – see them as a way of luring readers in … at the moment they don’t really do that. Read some blurbs on the back of books you may have read or have a look here: http://erinbradypike.com/2012/03/02/how-to-write-a-pitch-for-your-novel/

Having a good pitch really helps to bring the reader in to have a look at your story.

I did have a look though :) and I think you have a good story building here. Amanda is a strong character and you managed to make this reader care about her. I liked some of her sarcastic asides too, especially her come back to Dorian regarding her shade of eye shadow.

In chapter two I found the narrative concerning the dream, up to her joining Brian and Jean for dinner, slightly over done – sorry. A tad too many adjectives in there, if I’m honest and – ‘shivering with fear’ ‘she tore back the covers’ ‘threw off her underwear’ are all very cliché. In fact, I’d rewrite the whole paragraph beginning: ‘Now every dark corner seemed threatening …’ I felt it was vastly overwritten … but it is jmho :)

After two chapters, I do think there is great potential in this novel and with some paring back; it could become an intriguing tale.

I wish you all the best with it.
Neil

Lena M. Pate wrote 610 days ago

Interesting developing story. Three siblings who knew nothing of each other thrown into a mix. The son who thought he was the only one besides his stepmother between him and the money he feels he deserves, and two outcast twins with horrible pasts. Questions, resentments, hurts, mystery and the threat of violence. Good twists.

Maria44 wrote 613 days ago

First chapter read, well written, not sure if it's me but the font seemed to change at one point.. I found the dialogue slighly pedestrian in places and a little double description, (coil and mentioning paintings twice).

You are an experienced writer so please take this with a pinch of salt but you may benefit with a stronger hook, this is my opinion but your genre is thriller horror crime yet there was no evidence of any of this in the first chapter.

Maria

Cupcake xx wrote 616 days ago

Hey! Here for the Club Agatha Critique:
Here are my thoughts while reading:
- I’m not sure about the phrase ‘sucked in’. Maybe put ‘inhaled the salt-laden’ to make it make more sense?
- Maybe have the letter in italics? Purely for distinction reasons
- ‘tomorrow after noon’ the dialogue tag has a typo on it, just a question mark
- I enjoyed your descriptions. They weren’t in depth, but they were just right. I like your first chapter, it leaves me wanting to know more.
- I notice that in chapter two, some of your indenting is off; some of the new paragraphs are and some aren’t.
- I found the introduction of Guy a little sudden; he could have been mentioned a little earlier.
- I liked the dialogue, very realistic.

Overall: I found the beginning chapters very intriguing. It was an easy read, and I enjoyed the characters, though feel they could have some more characterisation in these chapters?
However, a good beginning nonetheless.

Alex

Jane Mauret wrote 616 days ago

The Deadly Caress by Olga Segal
Hello, Olga
This was an easy read but I did feel it could have moved on a bit more quickly. I think that just means editing parts that seem repetitive but that is what we have to do in writing. I always start off putting down too much and then go back and cut the writing down. It makes it crisper and keeps the reader attentive. I cannot critique this story much more than that. I could picture the characters and the surroundings very clearly and I think the dialogue was fairly realistic. I can imagine this book will appeal to fans of Mills and Boon and chick-lit fans. I hope this goes well for you.
Jane Mauret
UGLY IN PARADISE

scargirl wrote 621 days ago

an enjoyable read, though a difficult start. i see a bit of foreshadow in the tale,
j
what every woman should know

RMAWriteNow wrote 621 days ago

Hi Olga; I have just finished reading your first two chapters.
I was very impressed by the pacing of your story. There is an awful lot of information imparted in the first chapter but it does not feel that way. Amanda's trip to visit Jean is nicely played. From the airport collection to mixed reaction meeting with Jean, all flowed well. For me the enthusiastic arrival of Brian into the story really added a bit of pep to the tale.
Moving to chapter two and an altogether easier chapter. Amanda's nightmare, general feelings and meeting at breakfast with Jean and Brian progress the story well. Then enter Dorian. A couple of caustic lines and Dorian immediately changes the feel of the whole story and possibly shows a bit of what's to come.
I have enjoyed what I have read so far and shall hope to read again.
Well done
RMA
The Snow Lily

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