Archive for the ‘Beta readers’ Category


I have 64 chapters of my  thriller story “Girl at the Window” uploaded at Wattpad. I would appreciate it if anyone could join my army of Beta readers to comment on the chapters over at Wattpad. Your input would be valuable.

Not everyone is a grammar expert, so it doesn’t matter if you are not a major in English, though experts in US style and grammar would be welcome.  A reader’s input is just as valuable to pick out missing or incorrect word usage. How you feel about the characters. What works and what doesn’t. Plot progression. Correct police proceedures, etc. You could be as brutal as you like with your critique as I have a hard skin. What is important to me is that when self-published, readers will enjoy the story from start to finish. The story is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18 as it contains scenes of violence and adult themes.

CLICK THE LINK FOR WATTPAD

https://www.wattpad.com/DeclanConner

Girl at the Window © 2017: All rights reserved.

 Comments on the design idea welcome.

The Girl at the Window print cover (1)

Here’s the draft blurb.

All families have secrets. Only this family’s past is far darker than most.

A psychological thriller for those who enjoyed The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

Clara is trapped in an abusive life by her Pa who is hiding a dark secret. Home schooled and with no outside social contact – constantly on the move – she wishes him dead.

When they arrive at a small mid-west town, he had promised her freedom. He lied, but the seed of freedom is sown. He forbids her to have contact with the townsfolk who he considers to be the disciples of the Devil. Clara defies him and meets Nat and Jordan who vie for her affection. She finds the courage to consider escaping his clutches, but her Pa and fate has other ideas to trap her in slavery.

When her Pa is found murdered by the town sheriff, the circumstances point firmly to Clara as the guilty party. Assigned to the case, a personal conflict causes Detective Alana Bossé to dig deeper. As her suspect list grows, it looks as though there is a slim chance that Clara could be innocent.

But is everything as it seems? Or should they lock Clara up and throw away the key

Over at Wattpad, once you join you can access my story either on your computer or mobile device.  At the side of each paragraph you will find a + sign. Clicking or actioning this allows you to leave comments, though you don’t have to comment if you have nothing to add. You can also vote for the chapter to give it more visibility to others on the site.

Images of Clara and her PA

Here’s the first 2 chapters to see if it is to your taste.

CHAPTER  ONE

Clara’s Dilemma

 

If I’d have died there and then in the bitter cold of my bedroom, no one would have shed tears for me. Only maybe Pa, but I wouldn’t have missed him, and that’s the God’s honest truth. He would likely have mourned that there’d be no one to cook and clean for him to his command, and little else. I wondered if death could be the freedom I needed. But then thinking about it, freedom to live a life of my own choosing would have been preferable to anything death could ever provide me with, unless it was his death.

A deep-felt craving to venture out ate away in my chest with every breath I took. That’s what hurt me the most. Maybe if the world outside wasn’t my enemy as Pa had taught me, I could have tested fate out there. He told me that it was a world full of sinners who would do their best to harm me now that I was a woman. I shivered at that thought and rolled my shoulders. It was as if a spirit had walked through me.

Even in the sunlight, I sensed darkness through my bedroom window. I fought with the not knowing what was out there every day. Pa said it was dangerous on the outside. I was only to go out with him by my side to protect me. I had my doubts about his preaching, and yearned for the independence to find out for myself before my mind would implode.

The glass misted with the steam from my coffee. I drew HELP with my finger on the windowpane. None was coming. It was a cry to myself. No one would be out there waiting to rescue me. There was no white knight ready to whisk me away, and that’s the truth. Maybe it’s because only I could read the word that faced me. Especially when there weren’t any neighbors as far as my eyes could see. With a flourish, I wiped my sleeve across the letters at the futility.

A fresh blanket of snow covered the landscape. It taunted me to leave witness for if I dared to sneak out. The flakes were heavier now. I had an urge to want to dance in the snow. To scoop up a handful and throw it in the air. To make a snowman like I did when I was a child.

Pa was asleep, snoring. He sometimes slept light. A creak on the stairs would surely have wakened him. Strange how he ignored his own honking, but yet he had a second sense when I attempted freedom to be alone, even if it was only to the porch out front. I yearned to overcome my internal fear. If only I had had the courage to defy him. To be able to make my own way outside with no one watching my every move. To feel the warmth of the sun’s rays, or the cold of a winter breeze, bathing me without his shadow following my every move.

The few times I had dared to venture out alone, I had been torn inside out with guilt. Tightness in my chest would consume me as our house disappeared from view. Short breaths. Leaden legs. Then the tremors for if Pa caught sight of me.

He guessed all my excuses to venture out alone. Kept my shoes under his chair, or he took them to his bedroom. I thought it would be different in our new home. He promised. It was a lie. I didn’t know why we had to move around so much. Every move always seemed to be in such a hurry. I didn’t even know why he always had to choose isolated locations, except, he said it was better to live off the grid. All I did know is that I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do if he were not there.

Movement outside distracted my train of thought. A blackbird took flight from a pine tree. It swooped and landed on the ground. Ruffled its feathers. Dug its beak in the snow. Moved on, hopping, then stopping and digging some more. It took flight, landing back in the cover of the pine tree. Its claws had left arrow tracks in the snow, but only for a short while. They were soon covered by the flakes as if it had never been there.

Maybe, I thought, that’s what would happen to me if I defied him and tried to escape. I could have died in the freezing air. No one would have known if a fresh blanket had covered my tracks. Only the blackbird would have borne witness, but then who would he have told? Birds can’t speak. But then neither could I. Even if I had had the nerve and the strength to carry life’s breath beyond the confines of our house, I wouldn’t have dared to speak. Not that I knew anyone. I knew no one, only Pa.

I wished Pa dead. It’s not that he hadn’t treated me well as long as I had obeyed him. He provided sustenance and I wanted for nothing in the material sense. Except I did want. There were people out there my own age. Experiences I had never had. All I knew was from the books he had provided over the years for home schooling. Then there was his Bible, The Old Testament. He used passages to prove he had the rights over me that God gave him. I had a deep urge to taste a different life that I would never have while ever he lived. That was another truth I couldn’t deny. The sooner he breathed his last breath, the better.

 

CHAPTER TWO

The following morning Pa was outside, fixing the chains to his pickup tires. He glanced my way. I shuddered at the rattle of the links clinking as I washed the breakfast dishes. I reckoned that he gave them an extra rattle to remind me. My ankles itched at the memories.

It would be our first journey into town for provisions. He bent over to secure the last of the chains. Elbows on the worktop, I held a carving knife with both hands and closed my eyes. A vision of Pa instructing me to slice his hunting knife across a goat’s neck crossed my mind. ‘Empty your head,’ he’d said. ‘It’s God’s will.’ I couldn’t help but wonder if God was putting the images of me grasping Pa’s hair and slicing the knife across his neck when he stooped at the tire. He rose to his full height and held his back as if pained.

Pa hollered, “Clara, get out here now.”

As I reached the front door at the porch, he stamped his boots, then he shook his coat, powdery flakes cascading to the wooden flooring.

“I’ll get my coat and boots,” I said.

“No need.”

“But it’s cold and snowing.”

“The engine’s running. It’ll be warm in the pickup soon. Forget your boots. I don’t want you wandering off.”

There was no point protesting. He picked me up and carried me to the open pickup door. Launched me onto the seat. My teeth chattered as he opened his door and slid onto his seat. The tires spun, and with a lurch, together with a crunch on the crisp snow covering, we set off. My entire body trembled at the cold air blasting through the ducts. Even with the short distance to the pickup, the flakes that had settled on me now melted into my cotton dress and hair. Spider webs of cracked ice covered the side windows. Staring ahead, I flinched as clumps of snow dislodged from the hood and peppered the windshield, swiped away by the squeaking windshield wiper. At last, warm air began to circulate. The wind picked up, swirling and blowing drifts across out path.

“It’s a blizzard out there. Are you sure we’ll make it back?”

“It’s now or never. We have to eat, child.”

Child! I hated Pa calling me child. It was his way of being condescending. His way of wishful thinking that I would have remained so. He’d stopped putting candles on the cakes this past seven years since I had my eleventh birthday. That was around the time he lost interest in me after my first bleed. His attitude changed. Pa gave up the right that he preached The Old Testament bestowed on him, but still demanded complete obedience.

It stopped snowing. The clouds gave way to sunlight. Ice on the side window turned to pearls of water droplets, streaming across the glass as we picked up speed on the main road into town. The streams of melted ice reminded me of the tears I’d shed the night before when I’d cried myself to sleep.

Pa turned off the wiper. The sign for the town flashed by. Hunter’s End, it had read. Under that it had, ‘Population 786’ but that was struck through with a line and changed to ‘491.’ That in turn was struck through with another line, and under that someone had scrawled ‘299.’

The town looked picturesque. Like a Christmas card image. A wooden church spire dominated the far end of Main Street. Wisps of smoke plumed into the sky from the chimneys. The smoke mocked me with images of families warm in front of their fires. I knew about families, and their begetting, but I had none, except for Pa. That’s not exactly true. I had cousins when I was younger. At least I knew that much. Quite a few really, but I hadn’t seen any of them for many years. They’d only come for the day and sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of them before being sent to my room. Pa said they weren’t cleansed enough for me to meet them. We pulled over and stopped outside the grocery store.

“Wait here.”

“Can’t I come with you?”

“No, I won’t be long.”

He reached over me and removed the handle for my side window. His breath reeked of chewing tobacco. I retched at the repulsive smell. He was wheezing. I’d noticed him being short of breath lately and talking with a rasp. Maybe it wouldn’t take a knife to see the back of him, I thought.

He labored up the wooden steps to the porch outside the store. There were three young men around my age, sitting on a bench to the left of the entrance that I’d noticed when Pa opened his door. They’d been laughing and passing a cigarette between them. I drew my knees up to my chest, wrapped my arms around my legs, then rocked back and forth. A rap on my side window and I near jumped out of my skin. My chest tightened.

“Wind your window down.”

It wasn’t Pa’s voice. The windows were misted again. All I could see was a shadow.

“C’mon, don’t be shy. Only we don’t get many gals around these parts. We only want to jaw.”

“Go away,” I wrote with my finger on the misted window, then tugged at my ear. I pulled the sleeve of my dress over my hand and wiped the words away at realizing they’d need a mirror to read the message. A mop of black hair and white teeth loomed large as he bent over. It was the white teeth that held my gaze. I was used to seeing Pa’s toothless grin, surrounded by his long white facial hair. Well, not exactly toothless, just his top two teeth were missing. The rest were twisted and stained with the tobacco he chewed.

“I’m Jordan, what’s your name?” he said, and smiled. “You moved in around here, or just visiting?” he said, not waiting for a reply to his first question.

Pulses of shivers ran through my body. I noticed my hands shaking, unable to stop the tremors.

“I… I’m Clara. Listen, I can’t open the window, please go away.”

His features distorted as the moisture on the window misted again. Maybe Pa’s preaching was right and it was the demon in him I could now see.

“Hey, watcha doing hanging around my pickup?” Pa called out.

“Just being neighborly.”

“Well, just skedaddle.”

“Fuck you, old man. Just trying to be friendly.”

“Fuck you! I’ll show you who’s gonna fuck who.”

“Whoa there, put the gun away.”