Excerpt from “Chameleon in a Mirror” for #WIPpet Wednesday

I finished the read-through / editing pass of Chameleon in a Mirror yesterday, but it was late, and I didn’t have any brain cells left for contacting my beta readers. I did that just now.

I did a complete overhaul of the novel earlier this year and sent it to a writing buddy for a critique exchange, but he became a brand new daddy last year, and he’s pretty swamped, so it’s back to the drawing board. Since it had been several months since I’d last looked at it, I figured I could read it with (relatively) fresh eyes, and I did find several things to change. I’m sure my beta readers will find many more. They haven’t read it umpteen times like I have. 🙂

Anyway, since CIAM is what has been taking up most of my time for the last week (besides the long-term translation job, the garden, and the grand-daughter), I figured I would share an excerpt from my Aphra Behn time travel for WIPpet Wednesday this week. WIPpet Wednesday is the brainchild of K.L. Schwengel, in which we post excerpts from works in progress (WIP) that somehow correspond to the date. So I give you 9 sentences from chapter 4 of Chameleon in a Mirror. In this scene, our heroine Billie has accompanied Aphra Behn to a sitting for a portrait being done by Mary Beale:

Billie turned away from the portrait abruptly and pretended to examine some of the works lining the walls. Here the room looked almost like a museum, and she wished it were; then she could walk out the door, straight into smoggy, twenty-first century London, Aphra or no Aphra. Part of her was stunned and amazed that she might possibly (very likely?) be here, in Restoration London — with Aphra Behn, no less. And her hostess had been charming, showing her the sights whenever her schedule allowed. Billie had passed on the bull-baiting, the bear-baiting, and the Charing Cross freaks, but nonetheless, the past few days had been like wandering around an open-air museum, although it would still take some time to grow used to the stench.
But even on the trip to Vauxhall, gazing after the floating music hall on the Thames, or strolling through the gardens, there was the constant awareness in the back of her mind that she didn’t belong. Ambling along the streets of the open-air museum of Rhodes had not been as mind-blowing. All the tourists, just like her, were a constant reminder of the twenty-first century, even if the place looked like it had hardly changed for hundreds of years. And she had a return ticket to London.
This trip, she had no idea how she was supposed to get back home.

And here is the portrait of Aphra that Billie turns away from:

Aphra Behn by Mary Beale

Other than CIAM and translating, I haven’t made any progress on my other goals in the last week. I put A Wasted Land on hold until I could get this book out of the house again. I really want to have at least one new novel to bring out before Christmas, and this one is a lot farther along than any of my other projects. My apologies to those who are waiting for a new book in the Pendragon Chronicles series, but one of these days, I want to start making money at this writing business again. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Excerpt from “Chameleon in a Mirror” for #WIPpet Wednesday”

  1. Ah, poor Billie. She feels so desolate here. Enjoying some of the moment, but seeming to long for home and you leave us wondering if she will ever make it back.

  2. Great picture!

    i love the details about London. (Am I following this correctly? We’re talking about an era, right? As opposed to a separate place?) Especially the smell bit, since that gets left out of many novels. 🙂

    1. Yes, you have it right — she’s been unwillingly propelled into Restoration London (17th century), and she has no idea how to get back to her own time.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I would have passed on the baiting activities like Billie. And the fact that Billie passed on that last thing… Totally researching that after posting this comment (so I’ll know what I’d pass on).

    You are painting a beautiful picture of her emotions and surroundings in a single stroke. Really masterfully done.

  4. I love this piece, Ruth. The only caveat I have, mostly because I’m too much of a Dr. Who fan, is how Billie being the name of the protagonist evokes too much similarity with the name of the actresss Billie Piper who played Rose Tyler in Dr. Who ,,,and them both being time travel stories…

    That’s just me, I suspect, but figured you might be interested to know. Otherwise, wonderful scene setting. The only sense I felt was left out was “touch”, a sense that her body felt as out of place (or in place) as her mind seems to be.

      1. It could be nothing, Ruth, just me and my obsessive compulsive observations, but if anyone else mentions it, it might be worth reconsidering.

  5. It sounds to me like you’re making great progress, getting plans in place for moving forward, getting things to your beta readers. Sometimes you have to get those details in order before you can move ahead on the words.

  6. I love this! I wrote an article about Aphra Behn a few years ago and I’m fascinated by the Restoration period. In fact the children’s novel I’m currently editing (a time travel adventure story) has a few chapters set in Restoration London.

    Billie’s fascination with being there and having seen all the weird and wonderful sights and not so pleasant smells of 17th century London combined with her loneliness of being stuck in a time that she doesn’t belong in comes across really well.

  7. I love the tug and pull of the feeling of interest in where she is and the longing to go back to where she is from. It’s a great description of that.

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