Author Topic: LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery  (Read 202 times)

Offline MichelleG

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LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery
« on: November 01, 2022, 10:10:01 AM »
Hello fellow Querytrackers

I can’t decided if I like this or not. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

This is the first chapter to Lies on the Seine.  If you have read either the romance or mystery queries for this book posted previously (or both) - please know that Jane and Al ARE Sue and Joe from the queries - I just can’t settle on their names.

Romance query - https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=25991.0
Mystery query - https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=25962.0



CHAPTER ONE
       There were three people in line in front of Jane Devon. She didn’t recognize the man behind the cart. Having to deal with a stranger wasn’t unheard of, but ever since the woman in Berlin it always made her throat dry. She had to force herself not to swallow. Jane was on high alert whenever it happened.
       Jane surveyed the area around her for anyone who looked suspicious. A woman sitting on a wooden bench had a stroller and a book, but she didn’t seem to be reading or paying any attention to her child.  A man in a fully buttoned three piece suit was leaning on a tree talking on his phone. He wouldn’t stand out so much if he loosened his tie. She noticed a group of teenagers over her left shoulder, most of them were looking in the other direction watching BMXers. The one in the baseball cap and sunglasses seemed to be looking directly at her, she couldn’t be sure. Jane wasn’t paranoid, suspicious people could be extremely dangerous.
       There were two people in line in front of Jane. She turned her attention to the sandbox for a moment. Jacob and Jason were playing their favorite, and to Jane most annoying, game of burying their cars and then needing help to find them. Being that it was rare to get  a few minutes off in the middle of the day to meet his family at the park, Al was unaware that the four-year-olds were conning him. She watched as he desperately looked for cars where the twins pointed, even though they both knew he was excavating in the wrong location. To Al ruining his expensive tailored suit was a small price to pay if it meant he could play with his sons. Watching them having so much fun together was a distraction she couldn’t afford.
       Jane surveyed the area again. When she turned around she saw that a previously unobserved woman had joined the man behind the cart. She could feel the remaining moisture draining out of her throat.
       There was one person in line in front of her. Jane flexed her hand before she reached into her bag and prepared herself for the worse. Meetings like this always put her on edge and could be hazardous to her health. At least she was out in the open, unlike the time inside the rubbled hospital remains in Iran when the only thing she accomplished was getting out alive. She had been with the CIA for almost fifteen years and in her department danger came with the job.  Now, as an operative assigned to gather intel on a black market arms dealer, she expected to find herself in situations that put her life at risk. However, being in such close proximity to her family was a whole different kind of scared.
       It was her turn. “Do you have black cherry?”
        “No, Madam,” said the man. “That’s only a special when my wife decides to make it.”
        “Think she’ll make it anytime soon?”
        “Maybe Tuesday.”
         Letting go of the gun in her bag she pulled out her wallet. “Then I’ll just take two small chocolate cones.”
Jane watched his every move.
         He handed her the ice cream and she handed him the payment wrapped around a memory card.
       For the first time since entering the park she took a breath as if it wasn’t her last.
       Without thinking she licked the ice cream of one of the cones. Knowing whichever twin got  it was sure to perceive it as some kind of slight, she licked the other one too. Jacob ran towards her at full speed. He took a cone in one hand, took her hand with his other and began dragging her back from where he came.
       Jane watched Al chasing Jason around a bench. He leaped over it just as Jason dove under it, popping up on the other side laughing. Walking back she heard Al laugh too. Usually the sound of his laughing was comforting. Today it shivered her. Jane couldn’t help but think  how bringing down a black market arms dealer would be so less complicated if he wasn’t such a good father to their children.




« Last Edit: November 01, 2022, 01:34:56 PM by MichelleG »
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline MDane

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Re: LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2022, 03:25:11 PM »
Hello fellow Querytrackers

I can’t decided if I like this or not. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

This is the first chapter to Lies on the Seine.  If you have read either the romance or mystery queries for this book posted previously (or both) - please know that Jane and Al ARE Sue and Joe from the queries - I just can’t settle on their names.

Romance query - https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=25991.0
Mystery query - https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=25962.0


Hi Michelle, thanks for taking a look at my query. Congrats on this book! It is always an awesome feeling to finish. Overall you have done a good job with helping us understand the storyline. My thoughts below are just little things I picked up on. I think This chapter could be cut in half. It has the feeling of a tense chapter, heart racing stuff, but it is weighed down with information which can be released later in the novel, such as Jane's past, the dad's love of the kids, the kids playing tricks on the dad etc.

I hope this helps!!! Congrats again :)


CHAPTER ONE
       There were tThree people stood in line in front of Jane Devon. She didn’t recognize the man behind the cart. Having to deal with a stranger wasn’t unheard of, but ever since the woman in Berlin it always made her throat dry. She had to force herself not to swallow. Jane was on high alert whenever it happened. I understand what you're going for here, but I believe this could be tighter. Perhaps something along the lines of "Three people stood in line in front of Jane Devon, but it was the man behind the cart who got her heart racing. Not again, she thought. I can't let Berlin happen again. Jane's eyes flitted through the crowd...
       Jane surveyed the area around her for anyone who looked suspicious. A woman sitting on a wooden bench had a stroller and a book, but she didn’t seem to be reading or paying any attention to her child.  A man in a fully buttoned three piece suit was leaning on a tree talking on his phone. He wouldn’t stand out so much if he loosened his tie. She noticed Using words like SAW of FELT or NOTICED creates distance to the reader. I would start this line with-- A group of teenagers hovered over her left shoulder, most of them were looking in the other direction watching BMXers. The one in the baseball cap and sunglasses seemed to be looking directly at her, she couldn’t be sure. Jane wasn’t paranoid; suspicious people could be extremely dangerous.
       There were two people in line in front of Jane. She turned her attention to the sandbox for a moment. Jacob and Jason were playing their favorite, and to Jane most annoying, game of burying their cars and then needing help to find them. Being that it was rare to get (You have an extra space here)a few minutes off in the middle of the day to meet his family at the park, Al was unaware that the four-year-olds were conning him. She watched as he desperately looked for cars where the twins pointed, even though they both knew he was excavating in the wrong location. To Al ruining his expensive tailored suit was a small price to pay if it meant he could play with his sons. Watching them having so much fun together was a distraction she couldn’t afford.
       Jane surveyed the area again. When she turned around sShe saw that a previously unobserved woman had joined the man behind the cart. She could feel the remaining moisture draining out of her throat.
       There was one person in line in front of her. Jane flexed her hand before she reached into her bag and prepared herself for the worse. Meetings like this always put her on edge and could be hazardous to her health. At least she was out in the open, unlike the time inside the rubbled hospital remains in Iran when the only thing she accomplished was getting out alive. She had been with the CIA for almost fifteen years and in her department danger came with the job.  Now, as an operative assigned to gather intel on a black market arms dealer, she expected to find herself in situations that put her life at risk. However, being in such close proximity to her family was a whole different kind of scared. (I feel this much backstory so early in the book slows it down. From what you have written above, people will understand what Jane is about. If this information is vital, I'd drop it in later in the story)
       It was her turn. “Do you have black cherry?”
        “No, Madam,” said the man. “That’s only a special when my wife decides to make it.”
        “Think she’ll make it anytime soon?”
        “Maybe Tuesday.”
         Letting go of the gun in her bag she pulled out her wallet. “Then I’ll just take two small chocolate cones.”
Jane watched his every move.
         He handed her the ice cream and she handed him the payment wrapped around a memory card.
       For the first time since entering the park she took a breath as if it wasn’t her last.
       Without thinking she licked the ice cream of one of the cones. Knowing whichever twin got(You have two spaces here)it was sure to perceive it as some kind of slight, she licked the other one too. Jacob ran towards her at full speed. He took a cone in one hand, took her hand with his other and began dragging her back from where he came.
       Jane watched Al chasing Jason around a bench. He leaped over it just as Jason dove under it, popping up on the other side laughing. Walking back she heard Al laugh too. Usually the sound of his laughing was comforting. Today it shivered her. Jane couldn’t help but think  how bringing down a black market arms dealer would be so less complicated if he wasn’t such a good father to their children.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2022, 04:27:04 PM »
Thanks MDane for your thoughts.

Shows how people see things differently - i was thinking the chapter is too short and i should flesh it out a bit - you think I should cut it in half   :)

My goal for the chapter, which I hope I have achieved, is to show he is oblivious to what is wrong in his happy marriage  and what is going on around him and she is a little regretful with what is going on. 

I like the little bits of backstory - to show the reader that she wasn't married to him and then got dragged into being a spy - but she was a spy (agent) first.
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Farfadet

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Re: LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2022, 10:03:27 AM »



CHAPTER ONE
       There were three people in line in front of Jane Devon. She didn’t recognize the man behind the cart. Having to deal with a stranger wasn’t unheard of, but ever since the woman in Berlin it always made her throat dry. She had to force herself not to swallow. Jane was on high alert whenever it happened. I'd start with this line. I feel like you first sentence isn't really engaging. This one feels more apt to garner a readers attention. I barred it happened because I don't understand what happened. ( dealing with a stranger?) needs clarification I believe.
      Jane surveyed the area around her for anyone who looked suspicious. A woman sitting on a wooden bench had a stroller and a book, but she didn’t seem to be reading or paying any attention to her child.  A man in a fully buttoned three piece suit was leaning on a tree talking on his phone. He wouldn’t stand out so much if he loosened his tie. She noticed a group of teenagers over her left shoulder, most of them were looking in the other direction watching BMXers. The one in the baseball cap and sunglasses seemed to be looking directly at her, she couldn’t be sure. Jane wasn’t paranoid, suspicious people could be extremely dangerous.
       There were two people in line in front of Jane. She turned her attention to the sandbox for a moment. Jacob and Jason were playing their favorite, and to Jane most annoying, game of burying their cars and then needing help to find them. Being that it was rare to get  a few minutes off in the middle of the day to meet his family at the park, Al was unaware that the four-year-olds were conning him. She watched as he desperately looked for cars where the twins pointed, even though they both knew he was excavating in the wrong location. To Al ruining his expensive tailored suit was a small price to pay if it meant he could play with his sons. Watching them having so much fun together was a distraction she couldn’t afford.
       Jane surveyed the area again. When she turned around she saw that a previously unobserved woman had joined the man behind the cart. She could feel the remaining moisture draining out of her throat.
       There was one person in line in front of her. Jane flexed her hand before she reached into her bag and prepared herself for the worse. Meetings like this always put her on edge and could be hazardous to her health. At least she was out in the open, unlike the time inside the rubbled hospital remains in Iran when the only thing she accomplished was getting out alive. She had been with the CIA for almost fifteen years and in her department danger came with the job.  Now, as an operative assigned to gather intel on a black market arms dealer, she expected to find herself in situations that put her life at risk. However, being in such close proximity to her family was a whole different kind of scared.
       It was her turn. “Do you have black cherry?”
        “No, Madam,” said the man. “That’s only a special when my wife decides to make it.”
        “Think she’ll make it anytime soon?”
        “Maybe Tuesday.”
         Letting go of the gun in her bag she pulled out her wallet. “Then I’ll just take two small chocolate cones.”
Jane watched his every move.
         He handed her the ice cream and she handed him the payment wrapped around a memory card.
       For the first time since entering the park she took a breath as if it wasn’t her last.
       Without thinking she licked the ice cream of one of the cones. Knowing whichever twin got  it was sure to perceive it as some kind of slight, she licked the other one too. Jacob ran towards her at full speed. He took a cone in one hand, took her hand with his other and began dragging her back from where he came.
       Jane watched Al chasing Jason around a bench. He leaped over it just as Jason dove under it, popping up on the other side laughing. Walking back she heard Al laugh too. Usually the sound of his laughing was comforting. Today it shivered her. Jane couldn’t help but think  how bringing down a black market arms dealer would be so less complicated if he wasn’t such a good father to their children.
[/quote]

I like the effect you're trying to convey. I would tighten the sentences with people in front of her. Just snap words. Two, now. One person left. (She's alerted so keep her thoughts sharp.) I feel like the descriptions are too clean for her state of mind. I liked the gun holding part for that. Most phrases with descriptor I would take out to create the sense of urgency (those barred). This is my opinion of course. I like the twist at the end, but I think we need to get there a bit faster and tightening your sentences will help with that. Rule of thumb verbs like think, feel, see, look are indicative of telling and are not needed, except in very few cases. Hope it helps!  :)

Offline jhartsock

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Re: LIES ON THE SEINE - Romance Mystery
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2022, 02:15:46 PM »
CHAPTER ONE
       There were three people in line in front of Jane Devon. She didn’t recognize the man behind the cart. Having to deal with a stranger wasn’t unheard of, but ever since the woman in Berlin it always made her throat dry. She had to force herself not to swallow. Jane was on high alert . I'd start with this line. I feel like you first sentence isn't really engaging. This one feels more apt to garner a readers attention. I barred it happened because I don't understand what happened. ( dealing with a stranger?) needs clarification I believe. (STRONGLY AGREE WITH THIS ADVICE)
      (verb here – scanning, examining… to tie to above sentence ending in “alert”) the area around her for anyone who looked suspicious. The woman sitting on the wooden bench with the stroller and the book - she didn’t seem to be reading or paying any attention to her child.  The man in the fully buttoned three-piece-suit leaning on a tree talking on his phone - he wouldn’t stand out so much if he loosened his tie. The group (word interest – pride, band, congregation..) of teenagers over her left shoulder - they were looking in the other direction watching BMXers. Though, the one in the baseball cap and sunglasses seemed to be looking directly at her. She couldn’t be sure. Jane wasn’t paranoid; suspicious people could be extremely dangerous. (this feels a little cliché. I wonder if you could build voice here, like “It wasn’t that Jane was paranoid. It was just that, in her experience, which was considerable, dismissing someone as merely suspicious could have deadly consequences. – I mean, I don’t know if in your book, it does or could, but if so…)
      The line advanced leaving only two people standing in front of Jane. the sandbox for a moment. Jacob and Jason  playing their favorite, and, to Jane thought, most annoying, game of burying their cars and then needing help to find them. Being that it was rare to get  a few minutes off in the middle of the day to meet his family at the park, Al (I love the name Jane for personal reasons, but every time I see Al, I read it A.I. as in Artificial Intelligence and it makes me think of computers.) was unaware that the four-year-olds were conning him. as he desperately looked for cars where the twins pointed, even though they both knew he was excavating in the wrong location. To Al ruining his expensive tailored suit was a small price to pay if it meant he could play for the privilege/luxury/joy/chance to play with his sons.  so much fun together was a distraction she couldn’t afford.
      the area again.  that a previously unobserved woman had joined the man behind the cart.  the remaining moisture draining out of her throat.
       There was one person in line in front of her. Jane flexed her hand before she reached into her bag and prepared herself for the worse. Meetings like this always put her on edge and could be hazardous to her health. At least she was out in the open, unlike the time inside the rubbled hospital remains in Iran when the only thing she accomplished was getting out alive. She had been with the CIA for almost fifteen years and in her department danger came with the job.  Now, as an operative assigned to gather intel on a black market arms dealer, she expected to find herself in situations that put her life at risk. However, being in such close proximity to her family was a whole different kind of scared. (I'm kind of confused about where the protagonist is and what they're doing. I understand that the idea is a kind of slow reveal of the protagonists back story, but I'm not feeling curious, I'm feeling confused.)
       It was her turn. “Do you have black cherry?”
        “No, Madam,” said the man. “That’s only a special when my wife decides to make it.”
        “Think she’ll make it anytime soon?”
        “Maybe Tuesday.”
         Letting go of the gun in her bag she pulled out her wallet. “Then I’ll just take two small chocolate cones.”
Jane watched his every move.
         He handed her the ice cream and she handed him the payment wrapped around a memory card.
       For the first time since entering the park she took a breath as if it wasn’t her last.
       Without thinking she licked the ice cream of one of the cones. Knowing whichever twin got  it (do the twins have gender, he/she?) was sure to perceive it as some kind of slight, she licked the other one too. Jacob ran towards her at full speed. He took a cone in one hand, took her hand with his other and  dragging her back from where he came.
       Jane watched Al chasing Jason around a bench. He leaped over it just as Jason dove under it, popping up on the other side laughing. Walking back she heard Al laugh too. Usually the sound of his laughing was comforting. Today it shivered (not sure this is the right word) her. Jane   how bringing down a black market arms dealer would be so less complicated if he wasn’t such a good father to their children. (that last line packs a punch, that's a fun reveal)


I'm relatively new to the forums and this is the first time I've provided feedback, so if it's not helpful, please just scroll by and ignore me. My overarching feedback is that this sounds like a fun premise for a novel. What I'm thinking is kind of Mr. and Mrs. Smith but with kids? And twins to boot. I don't know if your novel is finished and what your word count is, but I think this could be longer and provide a little bit more description. I felt pretty confused as I was reading until I got to the very last line and then I was like, OH! This is someone who is doing an ordinary every day thing, but she is seeing it through the lens of her job (CIA, assassin or something similar?). I think what would have helped me is actually more descriptions of the ordinary-ness of it. Because the emphasis on the gun in her purse and her evaluation of the people around her -  I think that needs to be balanced a little more.