Monday, October 1, 2012

GUTGAA SPP #11 - If a Butterfly

If a Butterfly
Mainstream Fiction
240,000

Query:

If a butterfly flaps its wings on its journey from Canada to Mexico, will hurricanes attack America’s East Coast? Will there be sex in space? Will a married couple manage to survive spending thirty straight days together on vacation? The mainstream novel, If a Butterfly, is like Six Degrees of Separation From Kevin Bacon, but with a butterfly.

When a couple, driving across the country, accidentally “kidnap” a Monarch butterfly and drive it away from its normal migration path, they create a confluence of events. Each action collides with another, producing slight, but perceptible, shifts from the original likely results. A few characters are placed in danger, some reach their breaking points, but others arrive at solutions for problems they’ve set aside for too long.

An actress, a quilter, a teacher, a scientist, a grad student, an astronaut, and a rock deejay all become connected in various ways as the butterfly continues on its journey, and we see how each life can touch another, and witness the effects chance encounters can produce.



First 150 Words:

The air was as cold and still as a winter graveyard, and the frost clinging to the needles of the fir trees showed no sign of melting in the crisp morning air. Worried, because this weather could be devastating for the Monarchs, Robert Meyers glanced back at the small group of teachers straggling behind him up the mountain trail at the El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary.

Beyond making sure they were all accounted for, he also wanted to get another glimpse of Laura Benson. There was something familiar about her, as if he recognized her from some age long past. Ridiculous, of course. He was from Texas and she was from Ontario. His glance caught her eye and she smiled up at him. He responded with a brief twitch of his mouth, but embarrassed at being caught, quickly turned his attention back to the trail and the thick, low fog which had wrapped itself around their ankles, obscuring the ground.

11 comments:

Manchee said...

This is extremely intriguing. The only thing is, the 240k wordcount really throws me off. Is this possibly a typo? I'm off to look at some other entries, but I'll be back to think some more on this one...

Slave to the Muse said...

So I love, love, LOVE this premise. Great idea. Your opening is good, but might it be stronger? Can you slip a real hook in that first 150 words that make the rest irresistable? Great writing. I'll be voting later, so check back!

Slave to the Muse said...

Uh, that would be "irresistible". My bad. ;o)

Manchee said...

Can't stop thinking about this one, so you have my vote!

Rose Cardinal said...

Beautiful writing and an interesting concept that made me want to know more. But I hope 240k is a misprint. Even the largest of mainstream fiction usually tops out at 150k. Still, you made my short list!

Kinderella said...

Really enjoyed this. I like how you open the novel. "The air was as cold and still as a winter graveyard, and the frost clinging to the needles of the fir trees showed no sign of melting in the crisp morning air." <---That sentence set the scene for me. Your prose is beautiful. Great job. You've got my vote!!!

Michael Sirois said...

Thank all of you for your wonderful comments. It's very gratifying to hear such nice things.

Sorry, no, I have to confess it's not a typo. The novel *is* currently about 240,000 words, undergoing its third trim. I don't think it will get much smaller without creating a very different (less complex) book.

At this length it's probably about 700 pages (think Jean Auel, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin). I know one problem is that it's extremely difficult for a first-time novelist's agent to sell something of this length. Someone asked if I could split it into two books, down the middle. It actually is divided into two sections ("Before the Storm" and "After the Storm"), but if I did that, one book would have the beginning and middle of the story, and the other would have a middle and end.

It would be possible to create two companion books, however. The climax of the books involves two separate incidents, involving two separate characters, in two different parts of the country. The larger story could be told as two parallel story lines, with a few of the characters drifting back and forth between stories. All of the characters interact with at least one other character, and some interact with more than one at some point.

Anyway, thank you again for your comments. They mean so much to me.

Michael

Escape Artist said...

There's something about the first paragraph of your query that threw me off. I had to read it twice. I'm not wild about that sex in space line.

Everything is is wonderful.

I know that the word count is going to be an issue. I'm 99% sure you'll have to do something about that.

Other than that, I love it.

You have my VOTE!

Alaskan Ninja said...

a 240 thousand word manuscript and a query that opens with three rhetorical questions in a row.

Where's Janet Reid when you need her?

Anonymous said...

I second Ninja's comment. The judges are actually questioning the quality of the query, and at the same time voting for book that's about *three times* as long as anything that's realistically going to sell. What's wrong with this picture?

Carrie-Anne said...

I've written books far longer than this (historical sagas I deliberately planned and plotted at that length, and am considering indie or e-publishing for obvious reasons), but this doesn't really suggest a storyline that merits such a sweeping length. If you're querying a deliberately long book, I've been told to emphasize HUGE events that are way up there, not make it seem like an ordinary novel thats "too long" for today's market.