Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #79

Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 65,000


A seed of hope and a hasty decision hurl Erin Wilson halfway around the world, where the trip of her dreams quickly spirals into nightmare.  

Erin Wilson makes careful plans and color codes her leftovers; she certainly doesn’t throw herself into risky relationships. However, when the one time object of her grad school fantasies, Professor Paul Gibson, strolls back onto the scene, Erin can’t help but reach for that tantalizing, missed opportunity.

Paul turns her on, then turns her down, but invites her to go to Turkey, as a last minute nanny substitute for his rambunctious ward, three year old Sam. With her pride still smarting, Erin impulsively agrees, seizing the chance to make her lifelong travel dreams a reality. A little awkwardness with Paul won’t stop her from seeing minarets silhouetted against a purple sky; but a little awkwardness gives way to perilous ground, as traveling with Paul forces Erin to face the depth of her feelings for him.

When the plane touches down in Istanbul, trouble begins, and Erin soon finds herself alone with her charge. A week of breezy sightseeing takes several sinister turns. Sam disappears, and Erin must rely on an enigmatic stranger for help. Tariq Al-Rafeed is maddening, mysterious, and unnervingly handsome; he is also her only hope for rescuing a child that she barely knows, but has grown to love.

The unexpected return of Paul tightens the knots of their dangerous search, and illuminates the desires of Erin’s conflicted heart.

First 250:

Erin was mortified. Horrified. Epically humiliated. She was too embarrassed to move. Her backside smarted, her pride was demolished, and the shabby contents of her dripping tote were strewn across the library’s marble floor. A motley collection of damp receipts clung to the half eaten granola bar that had been her dinner. Dried up ink pens rattled past her mud stained mini pruning shears. Erin closed her eyes, hoping that if she couldn’t see him, the man whose foot she had just impaled with her heel would find her invisible too.

“Are you okay, hon?” A security guard rushed over in alarm.  “I told maintenance to put up a wet floor sign.”  Erin winced as the guard’s lug sole boot mashed the remains of her granola bar, trailing gooey residue and flapping receipts across the polished tiles. 

“I'm fine, I'm fine. Thank you,” Erin said, her cheeks scarlet. She reached for the battered paperback romance novel that had landed near her knee, quickly stuffing the hero’s bared chest and the heroine’s heaving bosom back into the safety of her purse. 

“She should be asking if I'm fine,” said a deep voice from behind. A strong arm swooped down to steady Erin while she got to her feet. “I could sue for assault, battery and broken toes,” the man’s voice continued, dripping with mock indignation.

Taking a deep breath, Erin turned and looked straight into a brilliant pair of merry blue eyes. A shockingly familiar pair of merry blue eyes. Erin’s heart vaulted to her throat.


  1. This is great! I really, REALLY want to read the rest of it! Love the way your descriptions build the character so quickly. I feel I already know a lot about Erin from the first paragraph alone. Please leave a comment at and let me know when this is published, so I can buy a copy! Good luck!

  2. Oh, nice (okay, the description at the start went on for perhaps one item too many, but I didn't mind!) My one, really big quibble with this is the genre you put down. This is a romance, either romantic suspense or, possibly gothic (which would be really cool! but I don't know enough about the story to say). Now I love romance, so I love this, but I'm reasonably certain that you've misclassified this when you put it under Woman's Fiction. Not a big deal, any agent reading the query will get right away that it's a romance, but as an author it's generally better if you know your genre.

  3. Hi Ellie – You’re right – it is classic romantic suspense (in the vein of Mary Stewart). However, I used the Women’s Fiction label, b/c there is infinitely more sexual tension than explicit sex in the story; and I feel like bandying about the Romance label instantly sets up the expectation that there will be an abundance of graphic sex scenes. I’ve seen Women’s Fiction used as an umbrella term for a variety of love/relationship stories, encompassing romance. What is your definition of Women’s Fiction? It’s entirely possible that I am misunderstanding/misinterpreting the genre labels.

  4. Freaking amazing 250. Way to go! I think that Ellie's right about Women's Fiction not being the best genre choice. From my understanding, if the main plot arc of your MS is about a romantic relationship, then it's a romance. That said, I don't read a TON of romance, but not all of the books I've read have an abundance of graphic sex scenes. Yes, there is sex, but it's not always graphic and there's a lot more...well..."romance" than just sex.

    And I'd love some more clarification from your query. For instance, how old is Erin? The reference to grad school being in the past made me think she was older, but then I was thrown when she became a substitute nanny. What was she doing for work that she'd be able to take off to Turkey for a while? Is there a woman traveling with them, too, or is it Paul, Erin and the son? How does Paul's tighten the knots of the search? Because of the love triangle? If none of Erin's feelings for him are reciprocal, I don't quite see the tension.

    I think that your hook could use some work, too. Since we know nothing about Erin, writing that she goes halfway across the world doesn't paint me a picture because I don't know where she is in the first place.

    But, as I said, I really got into your first 250. Especially the first paragraph. :)

    Good luck!
    Jennie (post #74)

  5. Hi Erika,

    Great query - I've got nothing. OK - one small nit pick "barely knows, but has grown to love". I get what you're trying to say, but that made me pause. Nixing 'barely knows' would solve it if you decide to make a change.

    250: Great beginning. Great descriptions. I just want to hug her.

    Regarding genre - I struggle with this too, and it is hard to tell from just a query and first page. This article offers a pretty good definition of the two, Since you know how your story evolves, you are a better judge. Romance labels don't necessarily equate to lots of sex, especially with people in the industry. There are all sorts of romances with limited sexy parts. :)

    Good luck.
    Amy #73

  6. Exotic locale, quirky protagonist, and mystery elements to boot? You're in!