Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #78

Genre: Upmarket Women's Fiction
Word Count: 66 000 


In THE MONKEY CHARM, an upmarket women's novel of 68,000 words, Anne Ramone receives startling evidence that helping an abused family may be healing her husband’s brain injury.  

Bob Ramone was an outgoing, athletic cop before a stroke leaves him unable to talk, walk or recognize his family. The doctors have labeled him vegetative, sparking Anne’s desperate search for a cure to “awaken” her husband. Anne discovers the Singhs, a mother and two young daughters, traumatized by domestic abuse and becomes their “monkey charm” – a secret, protective benefactor. To Anne’s surprise, the more she helps the Singhs, the more Bob responds to treatment.

When the Singhs’ abuser violates his restraining order and places the family in danger, Anne pledges to safeguard them - not only to help the Singhs, but to save Bob as well. 

The manuscript for the MONKEY CHARM earned me two Ontario Arts Council grants and a Toronto Arts Council grant. My writing has appeared in literary journals, newspapers, and on CBC national radio. You can read more about me and my writing at

First 250:

“He is mad.” Devanshi Singh sat in the witness box and twisted the thin copper bracelet around her wrist.

“What happened next?” Crown attorney May MacQuillan asked.

I leaned across my desk in front of the judge and tapped the volume button on the cassette recorder. Mrs. Singh’s voice was infused with a heavy Indian accent. I didn’t want difficulties transcribing the proceedings later in my office.

“He come into kitchen.” Mrs. Singh spoke directly to May. “He push over chair.” She made a shoving motion with her hands. “The children at table. They stop eating.”

“Yes.” May moved to block Mrs. Singh’s view of her scowling husband sitting at the defense table.

“He throw plates at me, bowl, knife, fork. I go like this.” Mrs. Singh spread her fingers over her face, the bangles on her wrist jangling. “He say bad names, bad words. Children screaming. I ask him stop.”

Domestics were tough. Heartbreaking for the victim, challenging for staff.  The images stuck in my memory, long after I typed the court minutes. 

“And then?” May asked.

A man in a trench coat walked into the court and stopped in front of Judge Bailey’s bench. 

It was Poice Inspector David Cooper. He worked with my husband at 51 Division. What did he have to do with the Singh case?

I felt a touch on my shoulder. “You have to go.” It was Carol, another court monitor.  

“What’s going on?” I asked.    

David Cooper looked over at me. I froze. 


  1. I think my only disconnect with this is the query sets the story to start at a very different point than the story does start at. From the query it seems like you'll be starting well after her husband had the stroke, yet from the bit I read it's clear you're starting the story earlier, at the point of the stroke. I think a question you might want to ask yourself is where you *ought* to start the story: where the query seems to indicate it should start (clearly for the story arc and her growth the time after the stroke is key) or where you are starting it. If the latter is the case, you might want to change the query so it reflects more of the story you do have.

  2. I really like where this begins. The way you write her, I can already tell I'm going to like Mrs. Singh and be rooting for her (and your MC too). A simple change in your query's second paragraph could fix the issue of timing, i.e. if you begin it with "When".

    Best of luck!

    (I'm number 81)

    1. Oops! I put my reply in the wrong place. Thanks Rachel for your comments. I'm glad you feel connected to the characters. And thanks for the quick fix suggestion.
      Dianne #78

  3. Hi Dianne!

    So, our subject matter has a slight overlap, so it piqued my interest right away. Also, we're both Canadian (*Northern high five* ;) ).

    I'm a little confused how Anne (a) learns about the Signs and (b) what she would be doing as a secret benefactor. Is this about money? How can she be protective if they don't know who she is? Your query is on the shorter side right now, so I think you have some room to connect the two plot arcs. As it stands, there's a bit of a disconnect (for me). There's a hint in your 250 that she may be the court transcriber, but I'd appreciate that info in the query, for clarity. Very cool concept, though!

    Your first 250 are very engaging. Two typos: Crown Attorney needs a capital "A" (as far as I know) and Police needs an "l."

    Good Luck!
    Jennie (post #74)

    1. Thanks for your comment Jennie, my fellow Canadian!. In my longer version of my query, I do go into more detail about how Anne helps the Singhs(money, she watches over them, she pays for the kids summer camp, she investigates the abusive husband and calls police when he hangs around...)
      She meets the Singhs in court, in this first scene..but I will try to connect the two plots more clearly.
      Great advice. Thanks

  4. Whoops, speaking of typos...*Singhs* :)

  5. Fascinating concept. I like the idea of a "monkey charm" and wish I had one. :) I personally like where you start the story and I think this is an excellent example of how subjective this business is. I like to get to know the characters a bit before we throw them to the wolves.

    Query: One thought, from your 250, it's clear May knows of the Singhs before her hubby's stroke, but in the query you say "Anne discovers the Singhs." Perhaps a different word, like "remembers." Question - does something special prompt May to want to help this family? If so, I would mention it in the query.

    250: Outstanding dialogue and opening scene.

    Good luck!
    Amy #73

    1. I'm glad you are rooting for my two main female characters. Thanks for the comments.
      Dianne Scott

    2. Oops! Sorry, the above is my reply to Rachel's comments.
      Thanks, Amy, for your positive comments. You are very encouraging! I'll switch the word to "remembers" as you suggested for clarity.
      Dianne, #78