Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bouncer Post #164

Genre: Chick-lit
Word count: 130,000


When a San Jose, California hospital settles a controversial case and removes the life support systems for a viable baby, Emily, a nurse recovering from the death of her own premature baby, flicks the respirator switch back on.

Relying on lessons learned from her unscrupulous estranged husband, good-girl Emily must lie, steal and manipulate to keep the baby hidden until he can breathe on his own, all the while risking her own dreams of becoming a doctor.

As the baby – whom the world thinks is dead – recovers, Emily also must juggle the affections of three men, her husband in rehab, the sweet hospital maintenance man and a determined reporter who keeps pursuing the truth about “Baby M.”

Throughout her ordeal, Emily must transform herself from a depressed, reclusive victim into a strong and often conniving woman on a mission to save a baby who is not even hers.
“A Flick of the Switch” is a fast-paced, chick-lit blend of drama, mystery and romance. The manuscript is complete at 130,000 words and is available upon request. I have included the first 250 words, per contest rules.

A former journalist, my day job is now as a tenured college journalism professor, with side passions of writing both children’s books and adult fiction. The idea for “A Flick of the Switch” came to me when working on an article about premature babies for a parenting publication.

First 250 

I have to stand by while a baby dies.

I duck into the bathroom on my lunch break. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is buzzing with activity and some well-meaning nurse is sure to try to talk to me if I grab a sandwich in the cafeteria.

Thick shoes clop on linoleum.

The door opens. I slide into a stall and sit. There's not enough time to lift my cheap brown loafers.

“Emily, is that you?”

It's Rosy, my only friend here at the hospital. We worked together at Memorial Hospital across town for years. She was transferred here to Santa Clara a month before me; the hospital system was trying to equalize the quality and move “good nurses” like Rosy to the “bad” hospital.

“Yeah, it’s me.” I curse the fact that I wear the same shoes every day.

“I've been looking for you," she says. “Did you see all the protesters out front?”

“Yeah. News travels fast.”

I flush the clean toilet. I can’t hide forever.

Rosy follows me to the sink. “Honey, you look greener than your smock.” She touches the side of my cheek. “And these bags – you’re still not sleeping. Makeup?”

“In my locker.” I avoid meeting her eyes.

Rosy rifles through her purse and hands me powder, which I dab around the darkened corners of my eyes. “You don't have to be in with Baby M. I’ll go.”

“No, I was there at his birth. He knows me, better than his own so-called mother.”


  1. Hi there. This is a very powerful premise, filled with emotion. Good luck!
    For the query - I would consider re-tooling the first sentence to start with Emily, the hospital turning off the switch and her turning it on. Beginning with a person I think will help endear us right away versus a big hospital. Just my opinion.
    Also, in the 250 - since you are first pov I don't think you need itallics for the first line though I might be wrong on that. Also, the para on Rosy seems a bit telling, I don't think we need all that info yet. Otherwise, nice opener.
    Amy (#168)

  2. Hi, I've been reading through the posts, and when I saw a chick-lit I had to read on. I really enjoyed your query and immediately wanted to read on. The first 250 makes me want even more. I think the story is very intruiging and well written. I also love how in your query you mention the three different men who are intersted in Emily. It will be interesting to see how she juggles all of this (and who she chooses) while dealing with such a serious, emotional drama at the center of her life.

    Good job! And good luck with this!
    I'm bouncer post #160 if you want to take a look.

  3. Interesting idea. I'm not sure if chick-lit is the correct genre. Chick-lit implies something more frivolous. I'd suggest labeling it Women's Fiction. Your first 250 is tight. I like the immediate tension.


  4. I agree with Amy. I would say that this is Women's Fiction. It sounds like a tear jerker. I would pick something like this to read off the shelf.

    Good luck from #173

  5. Bouncer Colonel MustardFebruary 11, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    I'm going to wait until Thursday to announce my top 3, but I'm going to give everyone some feedback in the meantime. First, this is an intriguing premise! Second, love the title.

    Some thoughts for query revision: the term "viable" is a little confusing because the term generally means "able to live on its own outside the womb," so the fact that the baby is on life support seems contradictory. If you're using the term "viable" to refer to how many months gestation he was when he was born, maybe just call him a "premature baby?" Also "estranged" would suggest she's lost contact with her husband so why would she be fighting off the affection of someone she's lost contact with?

    These questions may seem tiny, but you don't want to give an agent reason for confusion. Okay… stay tuned!

  6. I was intrigued by the subject matter, good title. I liked te query also, it's piqued my interest. Good luck!

  7. I agree that this sounds like Women's Fiction, rather than Chick Lit. Really love the premise. Very powerful.

  8. I'd so totally read this! I also agree that this needs to be women's fic instead of chick lit because there is a serious matter here. I like the query and 250 words and don't have anything new to add, but I'd read on if I had more pages! Good luck hun!