My newest book is a departure from my others in that the protagonist is not a doctor. It's my first book that is a straight-up women's thriller. The title is The Surrogate Mother.
The last time I published, I asked for help with beta reading and got some pretty good opinions. (It's already gone through four people.) So I'm asking for help once again! Anybody interested in reading a thriller written by yours truly and offering a constructive opinion???
--Actually want to do it. Please don't do it out of obligation or because you feel sorry for me.
--Have read and enjoyed at least one of my other books. The one beta reader I got last time who hadn't read anything by me got halfway through and quit.
--Be able to read it in under one week. And after reading it, be able to email me your opinions in a coherent way. And not vanish instantly when I ask a follow-up question. (If these things hadn't happened to me repeatedly, I wouldn't say them.)
Here is the prologue, so you can see what you're getting into:
I have been informed that in the next twenty-four hours, I will be arrested for first-degree murder.
I don’t know how this could be happening. First-degree murder. I mean, that’s crazy. I’m not the kind of person who goes to jail for murder. I’m not. I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket. Hell, I’ve never even jaywalked before. I’m the most law-abiding citizen who ever was.
“They have a pretty solid case against you, Abby.”
My lawyer, Robert Frisch, does not sugar coat things. I’ve only known him a short time, but I already know he’s not about handholding and gumdrops and lollipops. He has spent the last twenty minutes enumerating all the police’s evidence against me. And when I hear it all laid out for me like that—wow, it’s a lot. It sounds bad. If I were some neutral third party listening to everything Frisch was saying, I’d be thinking to myself, That woman is definitely guilty. Lock her up—throw the key away.
The whole time I was listening to Frisch, my heart was thumping wildly in my chest. It actually made it a bit hard to hear him for stretches of time. To my right, my husband Sam is slumped in his chair, a glassy look in his eyes. Sam was the one who hired Frisch. He’s your best chance, Abby, he told me.
So if he can’t help me, that means I have no chance.
“It’s all circumstantial evidence,” I say, even though I’m not certain that’s the case or even exactly what circumstantial evidence is. But I know one thing: “I didn’t do it.”
Frisch lets out an extended sigh and folds his arms across his chest. “You have to understand that if this goes to court, you’re going to be convicted. You know that, don’t you?”
“If this goes to court?”
“I’d recommend a plea bargain,” he says. “When they arrest you—”
I imagine the police showing up at my door, snapping metal cuffs on my wrists. Reading me my rights. You have the right to remain silent. Is that something they really say in real life? I don’t want to find out.
“If they arrest me,” I correct him.
Frisch gives me a look like I’m out of my mind. He’s been a criminal attorney for nearly thirty years. One of the best. You can tell how successful he is by the leather sofa pushed up against the wall and the mahogany desk where he’s got a photo of himself shaking the hand of Barack Obama. We can afford this guy for now, but the length of a full trial might bleed us dry.
“Second degree murder is fifteen years to life,” Frisch says. “Whereas for Murder One, you could get life without possibility of parole. If you plea down to Murder Two—”
“Fifteen years!” I cry.
I don’t want to go to jail for fifteen years. That’s a lifetime. I don’t want to go to jail for one day, but fifteen years is unthinkable. I can’t wrap my head around it. I can’t make a plea bargain that will guarantee me fifteen years of prison. I can’t.
I look over at Sam, hoping for an equally indignant expression on his face. Instead, he still has that glazed look on his face. He’s staring at the wall behind Frisch, and even though I’m trying to catch his eye, he won’t look at me.
He thinks I did it.
Oh my God, my own husband believes I’m a murderer. He knows me better than anyone else in the world, and he believes I’m guilty. If that’s the case, what chance do I have with a jury?
But I’m not guilty. I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill anyone…
To be continued...
Still reading? If you're interested in being my beta reader, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to hear from you!