Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #48

Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 35,000


It’s no mistake Tobin won Top Seed-Finder for Junior Mice two seasons in a row. After all, he knows the Rules of Rodentia like the back of his paw. But after a thunderstorm wreaks havoc on the Great Burrow and exposes his friends and family, Tobin’s routine forest life crumbles like last autumn’s leaves.

When a scavenging spider pilfers the damaged burrow, Tobin spies the eight-legged monster scuttle away with a newborn pinkling mouse in its clutches. The web-wrapped pinkling squeaks and Tobin recognizes his own baby brother. Even though the Rules clearly state to run from predators — never, ever after them — Tobin knows he’s his brother’s only chance.

Along with his best friend Wiley and little sister Talia, Tobin plunges into the dark woods. After crossing paths with a potentially dangerous ally, a serpent named Hess, Tobin learns he’s not the only animal with a grudge against this nasty breed of spider. Tobin must save his brother before a horde of enraged predators descends upon the spider lair. But once Tobin sees the horrors inside, saving one pinkling will only be the beginning. Sometimes a mouse just has to break the Rules.

First 250:

Crouched in perfect stillness beneath a toadstool, Tobin recalled his training. He knew the Rules like the back of his paw. It was no accident he was top Seed-finder for Junior Mice two seasons in a row.  So traveling this familiar patch of forest was simple as scratching a flea. 

Tobin concentrated on the final leg of his journey home. The Great Burrow loomed just ahead. Shaped like a giant tortoise shell, the burrow possessed dozens of hidden entrances. It was very important to use different paths and different entrances back inside.

Rule #7- A predictable path provides easy pickings for a predator.

Tobin spied a route he hadn’t taken in a while.

Next, his mind ticked through the age-old checklist taught to all young mice, the second-most important rule in all of Rodentia:

Rule #2- Always survey your surroundings before setting a paw in the open.

Scan for hawks.

Done. Clear skies.

Scan for ground predators. 

No trembling grass. The smells in the air are safe; clover and honeysuckle.

The muscles in his hind legs twitched.


Tobin burst from beneath the toadstool, darting a zig, then zag— enough to throw off a pouncing bobcat or swooping bird. With a giant leap he dived inside the safe confines of the Great Burrow.

He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark tunnels. Only then did he tread home on slow paws. Nothing but chaos waited at his family’s den. Well, nothing but chaos and a new sibling. 


  1. What a vivid introduction. Felt and understood character’s set of mind from the first few sentences-never knew I can see from a mouse perspective :). Few paragraphs pulls you in with such an ease, it makes me wonder what happens next.

    1. I've been trying so hard to get this "mouse world" to feel authentic, so reading your comment makes me very happy! Thank you Natasha! :)

  2. Love, love, love. I love the rules, I love the big brother angle, I love that spiders are evil (because they are). I love your voice. I want to give this to my daughter now! Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much! That you thought about your daughter liking this is about the nicest compliment ever! Spiders do make awesome bad guys- excluding Charlotte, of course. :) Do you have an entry up?

  3. I love the voice in this! Good luck!

  4. I love it too!! The suspense draws you in right away and I was holding my breath.

    Great job!!

    Good luck!


    1. Thank you Mandy! I loved your entry too. :) I'm trying to convey what a dangerous world it is for these little guys so I'm very glad to hear that feeling came across!

  5. I love it and am cheering for this story!

  6. Wow - I loved the query. I got a vibe of Secret of Nimh meets watership down? Is that weird? And the funny thing is, I'm not that much of a fan of the "animal MC" but this drew me in. Probably because the query did such a good job of personalizing them.

    On to your 250, I enjoyed the voice here, a lot. The whole time I was reading it, I knew it was a mouse, yet it had so much personality. I don't know what to tell you, you drew me in - I want to read more.

    Good job and Good luck!

    -Copernicus (post #43)

    1. Thanks, Copernicus! You nailed it- Watership Down and Secret of NIMH are a couple of my favorites. Watership Down, especially, could be pretty intense at times. I loved that as a kid! I also love sibling/buddy stories so it's nice to hear the relationships came through in the query. That's where I think the heart of this lies.

      Best of luck to you, too. I really enjoyed your entry! :)

  7. I loved your query - great tension and suspense!

    Good luck from #40!

    1. Thank you! I got tons of query input during Cupid's CAGI contest last fall and now it seems to be working much better. :) Best of luck with your entry, too! I love stories that involve museums.

  8. I love this! Tobin seems like he'd be a great character to get to know throughout a book. The setting is described perfectly - I didn't feel disconnected the way I sometimes do with fantasy.

    I really like the way you lay out the stakes in the query. The first two sentences of the second paragraph in the query are a bit redundant. You could put those two together to make the query tighter.

    Like someone else said above, this reminds me of The Secret of NIMH (which I love!).

    Good luck! Rooting for you. :)

    Gail (#60)

  9. I adored this! The query does a great job of enticing me to read the book. Then the first chapter is packed full of action and vivid details that paint a perfect picture of Tobin's surroundings. I'd definitely keep reading and would love to share something like this with my kids. I think both girls AND boys would enjoy this story and that's a hard thing to accomplish.