Editing Chameleon in a Mirror, and an excerpt for #WIPpet Wednesday

I didn’t get around to posting an update on Sunday because we were painting in the new apartment where my son and his family are going to move in. Afterwards, catching up on the translation and new word goals took up too much time and I didn’t feel like blogging anymore.

Last week, I managed to get 1600 new words written. I also started to go through the edits for Chameleon in a Mirror. I don’t remember if I posted the latest incarnation of the cover yet, so here it is:

Right now, I’m up to chapter 6 on the edits. I really want to get this baby published by the end of the month, so I’m giving up on new word goals until I do. So far this week, I’ve managed 500 words on the thriller, and that will be it until I get CIAM done.

Anyway, since I haven’t been working on A Wasted Land, this week I’m going to give you an excerpt from my Aphra Behn time travel for WIPpet Wednesday. WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂 Today I’m using the date in this way: I went to page 14 of the manuscript and counted 29 lines. In this scene, Billie has just been sent to the past by a magic mirror after reciting some lines from a play by Aphra Behn. Now she is trying to reverse the magic:

Pulling a notebook and pen out of a back pocket of her jeans, Billie sat down at the table in front of the mirror. The little pocket-sized notebook was her constant companion, her resource for notes for all occasions. She liked to “collect images” as she called it; they were the raw material for her poems and songs.
Desperation made her memory especially clear, and she soon had a working copy of the lines to Clarinda.
Her stomach clamping painfully, Billie looked into the mirror and read the verses out loud. Nothing. She read the verses last line first. Nothing. She read them backwards, word by word. Still nothing. She stood up, gripping the lute, posed and pranced and tried all three methods all over, but the only feeling of nausea she experienced was from disappointment. She sat down again, her insides hollow.
She drew a deep breath, and another. It all had to be a dream anyway, so what did it matter? She wished she could force herself to wake up, but since she couldn’t, she might as well acquaint herself with the lute. Unfortunately, she’d never played a lute before. She knew it was related to the mandolin somehow, but that didn’t solve her problem of how to tune the damn thing. What was she supposed to do with the extra pair of strings or that last single string?
Simple: ignore them. The main thing was to get the instrument into some kind of working order so she could play it. She would tune the fifth to second courses like a mandolin and the others an octave higher. That way at least she’d know where to put her fingers.
Luckily, the strings appeared to be relatively new; the lute must have been restrung before it was stashed in the cellar. By the time she had urged the instrument into “G”, “D”, “A” and “E”, she’d regained some of her usual equilibrium. But just as she almost reached the second “G”, the string snapped with a loud twang. She jumped, the lute sliding out of her lap and onto the floor.
Billie put her head in her fists and burst into tears.

If anyone is so inclined, I’d love some feedback on the blurb I’ve come up with:

– one graduate student who wants to change history;
– one dead playwright who did change history, now forgotten;
– the colorful and turbulent times of the English Restoration;
– one magic mirror.

Mix thoroughly, and you have a Chameleon in a Mirror.

Billie Armstrong has long wanted to give Aphra Behn, the first professional woman writer in English, the prominence she deserves. But when Billie accidentally activates the magical properties of a baroque mirror, propelling herself into the seventeenth century, she gets more than she bargained for. What develops is an unwilling masquerade in a tale of license, love and literature, a high-spirited Restoration romp, as Billie does her best to survive in a strange era and ensure Aphra’s literary survival in the future.

What do you guys think? Too silly? Not silly enough? 🙂

26 thoughts on “Editing Chameleon in a Mirror, and an excerpt for #WIPpet Wednesday”

  1. I like it. I don’t usually like blurbs that sell the story’s features (rather than just giving a hint of the story itself), but I think this really works. The “recipe” intro is more interesting than cute, and I appreciate that. I’d pick it up. Wish I could write blurbs so well!

    Love the cover, too!

  2. Nice cover! I like the blurb, though my editor’s eye paused over the following:

    “- one dead playwright who did change history, now forgotten;” “Now forgotten” feels misplaced. What would happen if you changed this phrase to, “one dead–and now forgotten–playwright who did change history.”

    The last sentence is a bit clunky. I’d go with something like this: “What develops is an unwilling masquerade, a tale of license, love and literature, as Billie does her best to survive in a strange era and ensure Aphra’s literary survival in the future.”

    Besides those small suggestions, I think it sounds great–very catchy and intriguing. 🙂

  3. I love how you run a gamut of emotions in this snippet. Frustration, a little anger perhaps that it’s just not working, she starts to feel calm, the lute helping her focus and keeping her distracted, then…BAM! Argh.

    I stumbled over the dead playwright line as well. I think Denise has a good fix there. The last line seemed a bit clunky, and broke the rhythm of the blurb. I really tripped over “a high-spirited Restoration romp”. For some reason, I kept ready Restorative. O_o No clue why.

  4. Seeing the cover so big on my screen made me realise, over again, what a beautiful piece of art it is!

    Without reading the comments first, I was going to say the last sentence is a little clunky … 😀 … my thoughts …

    In a high-spirited Restoration tale of license, love and literature, Billie struggles to ensure Aphra’s literary survival.

    … could even be a separate paragraph?

  5. The cover is… mm, *drools*, excuse me, *grabs towel* Sorry about that. It’s very pretty, Ruth.

    I had mixed reactions to the blurb though. I liked it enough, but if I weren’t already familiar with your writing, I’d probably pass it by based on the blurb alone. It feels ‘sensational, at least to me.

    Though the WIPpet this week was so sweet. Sad in so many ways, but somehow sweet too.

  6. I like the second half of the blurb better than the first. The first feels too business-like to me. 🙂 The cover is gorgeous!!!

    Poor Billie. It doesn’t sound like she’s having much fun. I’ve sometimes wondered how I’d do if I were transported back in time. Probably not any better than Billie. 🙂

    1. Yeah, when writing this thing, I was trying very hard to make the experience in the past more of a culture shock than is usually common in TT, where the heroine immediately understands medieval French and doesn’t have any problems with the sanitary conditions … 🙂

  7. That’s a striking cover and I like the blurb too – I’m intrigued by the Restoration period so this is a book that I would want to read. the first part of the blurb is quirky but I think it works (along with the more traditional blurb too).

    I got a real sense of Billie’s frustration in your WIPpet and I’m not surprised she burst into tears at the end. I’m really enjoying reading extracts from this book.

    1. Thanks, Kate! Probably won’t be too many more excerpts from this one, since I’m hoping to publish it in the next few days. 🙂 (I wanted to have it done by the end of the month, but of course, I didn’t make it …)

  8. Love the blurb (HATE writing them) but I do agree with the suggested edits. The WIPit piece was, as always, emotional, detailed and well done! But I must say, I’m not a huge fan of he cover 😦 Well, I like most of it. What I think spoils it are the chameleon, and the title fonts. Other than that, I liked the rest. But as everyone else seems to like it, what do I know? 🙂

    1. Thanks, Shah. And yeah, I guess I’m not going to mess with the cover anymore at this point, since the vast majority likes it. The tyranny of democracy! *g* The chameleon is a bit odd, I realize, but I think it might help to keep the reader from thinking this is your standard romance novel, which it isn’t.

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