29 January 2011

And now, for something completely different...

This blog was created originally to promote a science-fiction series, but my oh my I write other genre, too!

In the mainstream or literary fiction category, I have a novel of tragic romance which I have recently entered in a competition sponsored by Amazon.com/Penguin. The novel was my MFA thesis and I worked very hard on it, though such a claim counts for nothing, certainly. I almost self-published it, but held back at the last moment because I believed strongly in its traditional publishing potential. And time passed. Agents ignored it. I got busy with other projects. And now I've pushed it into the arena once more.

I would like to post the "pitch" for it here. The criteria: be 300 words or less and make us want to read more in the next stage of the competition, where a 5000 word excerpt from the opening chapters is considered. And so, without further adieu, here it is:

Íris left Iceland after her father’s death, but still struggles to find her place in the world. As an Art student at a college in the U.S., she meets her opposite: Eric, the new professor. When a stormy night brings them together, Íris sees how Eric resembles her abusive father. She flees. Eric longs for her but just as he stops searching, Íris stumbles back into his life. She’s pregnant but doesn’t want anything from him--yet he convinces her they should try to be a family.  
Opposites may attract--but can they ever stay together? Both have inner demons to kill. 
Never having anyone care about her, Íris only knows one way to deal with men. She teases and taunts Eric, gets him into trouble with his department chair--just as his playboy colleague faces sexual harassment charges. With Íris in his class now, Eric must step carefully. He believes their family is working. When they travel south to meet his parents, Íris, bored and feeling controlled, indulges her desires at a spring break party--and Eric witnesses her infidelity. 
Íris believes, having free will, she has done nothing wrong, yet her colleagues on campus and online convince her otherwise. Eric faces his own temptations at a conference, knows he can't leave Íris. She asks her classmate to negotiate a reunion, but Eric stubbornly has conditions: Íris must confess everything and get help. Now distraught, Íris sees her world unraveling. Her Wiccan ways no longer help and in a traumatic afternoon she regains her strength through her ancestral faith. 
A BEAUTIFUL CHILL is a powerful novel of doomed romance, a grittier Nicholas Sparks story that compares to other cross-cultural tales, like Guterson’s "Snow Falling on Cedars," where differences prevent mutual happiness, and Prose’s anti-romance, "Blue Angel," where campus dynamics first tease then destroy.

1 comment:

  1. I am sure other authors feel the same way I do about my book: that it is so much more than what can be summed in 300 words. In that snip I can only get out the three items that will cause a screener to kick it out: 1) involves a relationship between a teacher and a student, including 2) she gets pregnant, he becomes controlling, she rebels, and 3) she regains her strength by leaving him. Are there any other cliches I'm missing?

    But as a novel, it is very tightly woven, with nuanced performances by the two protagonist that lifts it above the cliches it seems to have. It actually and deliberately goes against the apparent cliches. But that doesn't show in 300 words.

    The length is potentially off-putting, especially as a first novel. Though I diligently cut it by 1/3 to get the final form I thought was the finished version years ago, on pure number terms it is still too long. The length limits for the competition forced me to trim more; now it fits the criteria for the competition but still exceeds the patience of most agents and editor (according to many who have posted on various discussion threads related to the competition).

    Women who have read it--and not all were friends prior to reading it; hence a presumed honest response to it--loved it, enjoyed seeing the female character grow, fall, and be reborn. They loved to hate the male character but they also could see why he acted as he did. All subtle things that don't show in a pitch or an excerpt.

    How best, then, to get across the simple idea that a long novel about two people's conflict-filled relationship is greater than the sum of its pitch?