Monday, February 13, 2012

Bouncer Post #96

Genre: Mystery
Word Count: 80,000


Discovering the CEO’s corpse in the company gym is so not the way to kick off a career, as 22-year-old Casey True learns in DIAL 9 TO GET OUT, the first book in my suspenseful, satirical “Running Total” mystery series.

Casey, a college running star, was supposed to be training for the Olympics after graduation. Instead, she’s coaching at her old high school and couch-surfing at dad’s, scrimping to pay loans and bills from the car accident that ruined her running career. So when pharmaceutical company Sunday Health offers her a job as their new social media coordinator, she accepts—only to find the CEO dead on her second day.

Not only is Casey now a suspect, but she’s also prey: When a drug prototype goes missing, more employees are murdered, and Casey receives notes reading, “You’re next,” her job duties turn from staying employed to staying alive. And all she was trying to do was convince her boss it was okay to Tweet “Drugs are awesome!”

Set in Portland, Oregon, DIAL 9 TO GET OUT combines the relatable voice of a Jennifer Weiner heroine with the snarky meander of a Carl Hiassen plot. I’m a Writing Seminars graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and have written professionally for over 15 years. 

First 250:

I’m pretty sure there’s no career website that tells you what to do when you find someone floating face down in your office building’s swimming pool.

Especially when it’s on the second day of your first real job.   
But that’s what I saw after swiping my brand new work ID card at the entrance to the pool: A man, in the deep end, halfway between the surface and the bottom. Wavy in the water. Somewhere between float and sink.     
My heart sped. I felt hot. This was really happening. I spun, looking for people, anyone, a security camera. 

“Hello? Anyone here?” I shouted, turning in circles.

No answer. Just my voice—and the dude in the pool who I guessed wasn’t doing a breath-holding drill.

“Hey!” I yelled to him. “You okay?”

Of course he wasn’t okay, but I couldn’t just leave. Where was the fire alarm? Finally, my eyes landed on an old-style handset attached to the wall. Phone! I snatched the receiver with my left hand and pounded out 911 with my right.

Nothing. Not even a dial tone. I hung up and dialed 911 again. Dead air. Maybe someone had cut the line!Ohmigod, I was going to be the next floater. 

Oh, wait! Didn’t offices have that dial 9 for an outside line thing? I dialed 9, and then 911. In an instant an operator popped onto the line.

“I’m in the fitness center in the Sunday Health building!” I shouted. “And there’s a body in the pool!” I gave her the office’s northwest Portland address and said I was going into the pool to get him out.

Propping the door open with my water bottle, I returned to the pool and dove in next to the sign that said “No Diving.”


  1. Bouncer Bookish HandygirlFebruary 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Your query doesn't have a promising opening, but your premise and your first 250 hooked me. You're in!

  2. Wow, that's a stressful first day! Very morbid, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh a little.

    So much luck to you! :)

  3. The opening sentences of your 250 hooked me. Nice work.

  4. Thank you, Bouncer Bookish Handygirl!

    It's funny, I'd recently revised my query opening, but now I'm wondering if I fixed something that wasn't broken.

    Thanks again! :)

  5. Loved the voice in the first 250!

    I'd suggest you start your query with something like this:
    For twenty two year old Casey True, discovering the CEO’s corpse in the company gym is so not the way to kick off a career.

    Then I'd save the title and the mention of a series for an ending paragraph. Just a thought. Good luck!

  6. I liked the energy, the humor and the promise of a fun ride with an entertaining narrator. She seems to have just the right combination of smarts and wit to be really engaging. For what it's worth, I liked the first line of your query. It's actually what made me carry on reading rather than going to another entry. So, you know, tomatoe tomattow etc :)

  7. Your query made me laugh ("Drugs are awesome!") and I thought your first 250 was great. Good luck to you!

  8. Totally agree with Carmen's suggestion for first sentence tweak. This sounds like a fun mystery but here are some nitpicky things for first 250: the query mentions her tweeting so I am surprised given that mention and also in general, why she wasn't carrying a cell phone to dial 911. Also for context I think it would grab me more and seem more realistic if I knew time of day and what she was doing at pool. Was she going for a swim and in bathing suit and that's why no phone? Or was she fully clothed, not even kicking off her shoes before jumping in? I just think a few more details early on would go a long way to providing a realistic context to suck the reader in all the more. Also the title being explained in first 250 seems too easy unless if has a different meaning. Overall, nice writing!