Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #129

Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Word Count: 55,000


Small town waitress Tanya Rivers has just received unthinkable news: she’s HIV positive.  Unable to accept responsibility for the mistake that infected her, she tries to avoid scrutiny by keeping her diagnosis under wraps.
Even in 1993, Boniface, IL–located east of the Mississippi and south of everywhere exciting—has remained untouched by an epidemic decimating the rest of the world.  That’s what Tanya thinks, until she begins attending a local support group.

The participants are surprisingly diverse, and at first Tanya isn’t sure she has anything in common with them.  As she begins to understand their difficulties and relate them to her own experience with AIDS, Tanya feels more comfortable with her new acquaintances than her lifelong friends.  The group helps her cope with the disease, even as her mysterious behavior confuses those closest to her.  

Between regular meetings and crippling side effects from the medication keeping her alive, Tanya fears it’s only a matter of time before someone uncovers her secret.  The question is: how can the people she cares about come to terms with the illness she refuses to acknowledge?          

First 250:

My name is Tanya Rivers and I’m HIV positive.  That’s how it will all begin.  Say you’re HIV positive, and most people here need a moment to figure out what you mean.  Use the word AIDS and there’s instant understanding, not to mention fear.

Then again, HIV has different connotations.  Maybe you’re on medication, handling your disease to the best of your ability.  No longer a total risk to society.  Having AIDS—especially in 1993 in small town Boniface, IL—means you’re dying.  Horribly, in most cases, a drain on the health care system and a burden to everyone around you.  Nobody wants to think about that.

For the past week, I’ve been doing my best not to.  Strange how that length of time spans both an eternity and the blink of an eye.  If it weren’t for my nosy best friend Delia, I could go on pretending.  Instead, I’m forced into a different charade, where I have to act like I’m done with the first stage of the grieving process.

I’m late for a meeting, stuck in the kind of traffic Boniface only has when I need to be somewhere.  Behind the wheel of my old Chevy, I can’t do much more than adjust the volume on our one good radio station and curse the drivers inching through the light on the edge of downtown.

Downtown always reminds me of skyscrapers and crowds and stores, things I’ve only seen in Chicago or St. Louis a handful of times.


  1. This isn't something I'd likely pull off the shelf for myself, but the writing is solid and the voice is good. And I love the voice in this line from your query: Even in 1993, Boniface, IL–located east of the Mississippi and south of everywhere exciting.

    Good luck to you! :)


  2. I like that you've created suspense surrounding how Tanya was infected, her mysterious behavior, and the secret she's hiding. It adds another element besides the emotional and physical journey of a young woman coping with AIDS. Good luck with the contest!

  3. Wow - you've got a very strong premise here. I love the conflict you created with the setting and the time period as well. While I don't usually read Adult Contemp, I would not be able to walk away from this in the book store (I can barely walk away now - I want to read more, more, more!). Your query really sold me on wanting more. With this story, you can start slower and really pull us in deeper and deeper with each sentence, each revelation.

    Best of luck!

  4. I think this premise is so great - hooked me right away. I'm a sucker for heartbreaking stories, and I'd definitely pick this up. I also really like the voice of your first 250.

    Good luck!

  5. Great concept! Very unique. I think it's a strong query and the writing backs it up. I'd totally read this one.

  6. Bouncer Queen of HeartsFebruary 6, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    This is unique and different and voice-y. From what I see of the first page, I'm not sure you're starting in the best place, so that's something to play with. (Why wait a week after the catalyst for the story to start? Why does the traffic matter?)'re in!

  7. Wow, this has great potential. You might want to think about killing the question in your query. But, wow, I'd so love to read this and see where it goes. I'm so glad you got through to the agent round. I think you're going to get a LOT of requests.