Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #74

Genre: Women’s Fiction with Thriller elements
Word Count: 94,000


There’s a fine line between revenge and justice, and Robin and Nina are determined to stay on the right side, even though it feels better on the wrong. Way better. The best, actually…dammit. 

Supporting survivors of sexual assault on a daily basis, rape-crisis counselor Robin Richards’s thick skin is beginning to crack. Not even her mother’s weed brownies can soften the truth—that the judicial system doesn’t care about female survivors of violence. But when Robin’s closest friend, Nina Soleti—a residential counselor at a shelter for battered women—uses a stun gun to defend herself, the two realize they can triumph where the system has failed. An opportunity they grab with all four of their manicured hands.

With the success of their first “intervention,” both women fall hard for the intoxicating blend of power and dominance but quickly develop a tolerance, needing to up the ante to feel satisfied. And after one of Nina’s clients dies after falling down a set of stairs, they find the perfect excuse. They know her abusive ex is really to blame, despite what the police reports say. So, they kidnap him to force his confession, an operation that goes off without a hitch. Until he escapes. While duct-taped to a wheelchair. With a pair of scissors lodged in his leg. Yeah, they don’t get how he did it either but they better find him. Fast. Because the system may not take violence against women seriously but a living victim of kidnapping and attempted murder is hard to ignore. 

ROBIN’S A LITTLE HOOD is complete at 94,000 words and could be described as NINE TO FIVE meets DEXTER. Although unpublished, I maintain a blog at and can be found on Twitter with the handle of @ms_jennieshaw. 

First 250:

Just when I think they can’t get any dumber, they manage to out-ass themselves.

I forced myself to take a deep breath and stifled an impulse to bang my head against the wall. Wearing flip-flops meant that I could wiggle my toes to ground myself but it didn’t work. What I’d heard was too ridiculous—too mind-blowing for me to simply swallow. Not that I should have been surprised because it happened all of the time.

Bunch of over-educated morons. Wearing their fancy black robes, passing judgment on survivors when they should be judging the men who raped them. What was it going to take for them to take this shit seriously? A personal experience with forced sodomy? Don’t tempt me. 

Julia shifted on the tan couch, not meeting my eyes.

Even with the central air conditioning—a perk of being in a downtown high-rise—the closed door stopped the air from flowing, turning my average-sized office into a claustrophobic closet. Maintaining confidentiality was crucial in counseling sessions though, so there wasn’t any other choice. The oscillating fan on my standard issue wooden desk hummed as it feebly tried to combat the beads of sweat from rolling down my back and soaking the top band of my favourite black linen shorts. And it was only getting hotter as our rage bounced around the room, gaining momentum like a rubber ball and threatening to break through the small window of the door, set to maim whoever was unlucky enough to be on the other side.  


  1. You have a strong voice in your 250, but I think your query needs more work.

    First, you may want to rethink your use of dashes instead of commas. It can come off as a writing crutch (I have a bad habit with parentheses). Love the weed brownies reference. A great way of showing me she has problems with relaxing without telling me.

    These sentences need a little revision, as the last one is a fragment. "But when Robin’s closest friend, Nina Soleti—a residential counselor at a shelter for battered women—uses a stun gun to defend herself, the two realize they can triumph where the system has failed. An opportunity they grab with all four of their manicured hands."

    Does something like this work?
    "But when Nina Soleti, Robin’s closest friend and residential counselor at a shelter for battered women, uses a stun gun to defend herself, the two realize they can triumph where the system has failed, an opportunity they grab with all four of their manicured hands." *love the manicured hands line*

    Is the abusive ex the inciting incident to your story, or the climax? I get the sense it is closer to the climax. If so, perhaps your query would be more effective leaving that aspect out and focusing on how the ladies are taking their protective role to the next level, until things get out of hand (I'm sure you will find a much better choice of words than that).

    I'm catching hints at a great voice that is getting muddled under wordiness and unnecessary detail in the query. The final paragraph is a good example.

    My suggestion would be to rewrite the final paragraph with an emphasis on the events leading up to the climax. For example, if the kidnapping, escape, and chase is the climax, I would leave out the escape and chase part. Does that make sense? Hope this helps.

    Good luck!
    Amy #73

    1. Thank you for your suggestions! There is always room for improvement! And yes, the kidnapping is the climax of the MS. Robin and Nina have three "operations" before that happens so I can definitely focus on those instead. Definitely something I can work with!

  2. I have to admit that reading your query and first 250 made me do jumpy-claps because I LOVE YOUR VOICE.

    Of course, I agree with Amy in that if the climax is the abusive ex escaping, then focus on what leads up to it (although I love, love, love the imagery you've created with the duct tape, wheelchair and pair of scissors).

    That's about all I can point out. Color me captivated. ;)

    Good luck!
    Bonnie #88

    1. Thank you so much, Bonnie! I'm doing some jumpy-claps myself now. :)

      Yuppers, the climax is the kidnapping with the abusive ex so I'll work on focusing the query on some of the events that lead up to it.

  3. I'm intrigued!

    I had to read through the query again after the first 250. In my opinion, the first 250 grabbed me more than the query (feeling just the opposite about my Q & 250).

    Good luck to you!
    Lisa #95

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! Yeah, those queries are tricky beasts! ;)

  4. I really liked most of your query when I saw it on AQConnect, but your first paragraph's ending hinders the hook. The first line gives a quick snapshot, a "hook" but then whole "way better, the best...damnit" just doesn't work for me, I think it loses what you had. I think your query has so much promise though, and your story seems to be very interesting. I agree with the others about the query giving away too much, though I am also a fan of the whole image of the ex escaping, despite being duct-tapped to a wheelchair.

    Your first 250 held my attention, but the first set of italics threw me talk about men in black robes (judges, obviously) but it made me think for a minute there that they were in a courtroom or something and then I realized that couldn't be so, because she's wearing flip-flops. My suggestion is that you could remove the paragraph with the italics and instead of hearing the MC's tirade about the judicial system, let the reader in on what's happening faster, so that when your MC has that thought later in the opening sequence, the reader is right there with the MC, in total agreement. We haven't heard what the battered client has to say yet, or what her story is, so reading the MC's thoughts about the injustice kind of just floats around without anything to anchor it yet.

    I really love your premise, and I think your work has definite potential. I'd read on if I had pages.


    1. Thank you for your comments, Virginia!

      My two MCs have some equally as disastrous "operations" before the wheelchair incident, so I'm going to choose one of those to focus on in the query.

      Good point about the internal monologue. I was pushing hard to show Robin's frustration but agree that part could definitely be moved to a different place. Something I can work on, for sure!

  5. Your humour comes through in your query and first 250 words. Your premise is unique and piques interest.Your MC is someone I want to read more about.
    My only red flag is that it seems like the end justifies the means here when the MC gives the abusers her own version of justice. The scissors in the leg didn't seem that funny...The revenge must be palatable, acceptable by the reader.

    1. Thanks, Dianne! There is definite humour in the MS but I've worked hard to strike a balance with the serious nature of the issue. I'm a former rape-crisis counsellor myself and many of the women I worked with had fantastic senses of humour. Almost a job requirement, really, considering how emotionally intense the work is.

      The ends somewhat justify the means but Robin and Nina get WAY in over their heads with the kidnapping. The scissors scene isn't funny, by any means--it's an example of how Robin and Nina lose complete control over themselves. Pushed beyond their limits, if you will. Something for me to keep in mind, though!