Tag Archives: Chameleon in a Mirror

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Be Willing to Make Changes

More than once in this series, I have pointed out the things an author might want to take a critical look at if her book isn’t selling — assuming she is doing the marketing work to get the word out in the first place, that is. 🙂 Without regular marketing, all the fabulous book blurbs and pretty covers are nothing, since no one will see them. (If you have not yet read my post about what to do if your books aren’t selling, it’s available here.)

The simple summary is this: in my opinion, the most important things standing between an author and a sale are:

– A less-than-gripping book description
– A cover that isn’t compelling enough
– First pages that don’t make the reader eager for more

I admit up front that I have never rewritten the first pages of a novel to give it more of the character of a hook that will lead to a sale. But I have switched stories around in a collection to see if the new first pages will result in better sales. And I have revamped descriptions more than once, along with keywords and all that comes with it.

But changing descriptions and keywords is relatively easy. The work (and possibly expense) involved in changing covers is something else again. Nonetheless, I have done it a few times. Here are a couple of covers I’ve changed:

The cover for Mars was a new one when I finally published the short story to Amazon, so I have no comparisons there, but with The Future, Imperfect, sales increased dramatically after I changed the cover.

If you are doing regular marketing and your sales are still flagging, I strongly recommend running your covers by a new site, Rate Book Cover, to see what readers totally unconnected to you think of your cover.

Naturally, I have to test these things myself. Since sales for Chameleon in a Mirror have been limping along recently, I decided to upload it.

It flunked out.

Okay, not completely. It got an average of three stars out of five. But that is not good enough. Over a third rated the cover average, and even more rated it either poor or awful. Most of the readers in the last two categories are probably not going to click on that cover, and I’m assuming quite a few who rated it average are lost to me as well.

I still like the cover. But I can see how it might be too busy for some readers. And since Chameleon in a Mirror is a book of my heart, I think it deserves some experimenting.

I started out with two considerations: 1) The book plays with literary history; 2) It’s a time travel.

For #1, it occurred to me that a number of novels that revolve around thought experiments involving historical figures use art in the public domain in their covers. So I started searching for paintings of women gazing into mirrors. I would have preferred something from the same period as the novel, but I couldn’t find anything I liked. Instead, I went for John William Waterhouse. The result is the cover at the beginning of this post.

For #2, I went to Amazon and searched for “time travel.” Going through several pages of results, and ignoring the time travel romances, I noticed that a lot of the better selling books have a background with clockworks or a clock face. So for a cover emphasizing time travel, here’s what I came up with:

I don’t regard either of the covers as “finished” yet — I still need to work on type and layout, among other things. But once I’m satisfied with them, I’ll upload both to the Rate Book Cover site to see if they can get better reader ratings than what I have now. I also intend to upload all three to the cover comparison site, Help me choose a cover. Unfortunately, that one doesn’t get very much traffic.

If all of the covers get bad ratings, I will keep trying. My goal is to come up with a cover that gets an average rating of at least 4, meaning more positive reactions than negative. Once I have a compelling cover, I’ll upload the new one and then schedule a promotion for the book, so I can see if the results are better than with the previous cover.

I’m not looking forward to another rash of “awful” ratings, *g* but I figure if I can get an idea of reader reactions before I upload a new cover, it might save me time on the promotion end. The truth can be harsh, like the reader feedback I got for our first Chameleon cover, but now that I know, I can work on coming up with a better cover for the book, one that grabs the readers CIAM was meant to reach. 🙂

One of the freedoms of being an indie author is that we have control over every aspect of the book, from editing to appearance to marketing. By the same token, we also have responsibility for every aspect of the book.

For that reason, we need to be willing to recognize errors in judgment and make changes accordingly. I intend to slowly start uploading all my covers to the Rate Book Cover site — one at a time, since I don’t have tons of extra time to start working on new covers or finding new cover artists.

Oh, and please feel free to let me know what you think of the new designs. For the sake of comparison, here’s the old:

Starting out as an indie author: Creating a wraparound cover for your print book

Last week, I provided some tips on how to format the interior of your book for print on demand. This week I will finish the POD publishing lesson by showing you a little on how to make the wraparound cover that you need for a print book.

The first thing you will need is a template in the size you want with the spine the correct width for the length of your book. You can either create this yourself using the instructions on your publishing site (here for CreateSpace), or download the template built by CreateSpace when you enter the details for your book, which you can do here:

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

Createspace now also has a Cover Creator that you can use as well, but of course it’s more limited than creating your own, and it assumes that you do not yet have an ebook cover already designed. I have not used it, so I can’t say much about it. I only glanced through the designs available and didn’t see any for pre-designed front covers.

The formatted interior of Chameleon in a Mirror came out to 383 pages, and I want to use cream paper rather than white, which to me looks more professional. This is what the template looks like that CS built for the book:
CreateSpace Cover template

Once I have the template, I open it in Photoshop and change the resolution to 300 dpi. I make a copy of the layer, and change one of the two to the background.

Then I drag my ebook cover image into Photoshop, create a layer from it, and drag that onto my paperback cover template, like so:

I make another copy of the layer based on the template. Using the eyedrop tool, I take a color on the edge of my ebook cover and fill this new layer with the chosen color. This is to make sure that I will not end up with any white edges when the paperback book is created — besides having a color on the spine and back that fits with the color scheme of the front cover image. My PSD file now looks like this:

Next I create the text layers for the spine, the title and the author name. Choosing the text layers one at a time, I rotate them and move them to where I want them on the spine. (In my ancient version of Photoshop, this is in the Edit menu under Transform / Rotate 90°.) Of course, if you don’t use different fonts for the author name and title, this would be only a one step process. Here is how my cover looks after this step:

Here you see that after creating the base color layer, I made the template visible again to assist me in placing elements on my cover.

If you have a logo for your book imprint, you could also put that on the bottom of the spine.

The back cover usually has a description of the book, and sometimes an excerpt, some quotes from reviews, or a short bio of the author. You also need to create the necessary white space for the bar code. So going to my solid brown layer, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to mark a square the same size as the bar code box. In the edit menu, I choose fill, and fill the box with white.

For the rest of the back cover, I decided on a short version of the book description and a repetition of the mirror motif from the front cover. In order to make the text stand out more, I set the opacity of the mirror image at 30%.

Anyway, here is what the cover looks like now:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

It also would have been possible to have a simple description above on the back cover, and a bio with a pic of me below, with no further design elements. That is the layout of the cover template that Joel Friedlander sells on his site for $57 — and here I’ve pretty much told you how to do the same thing for free. 🙂 As you can see, if you already have a front cover — as well as some knowledge of a good graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp — it’s not all that hard to create your own wraparound cover for print publication.

And as an added benefit for me, I have finally put together the files for the POD version of Chameleon in a Mirror. According to Create Space, the print version should be available on Amazon in the next 3-5 days. 🙂

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Gaetano’s suspicions confirmed for #WIPpet Wednesday

It’s WIP snippet day again! And I am just marching right along through the first draft of Facets of Glass, not worrying about spoiling anything for anybody. *g* This excerpt comes immediately after the one I gave you last week. Gaetano has reported back to the Evil Dowager Princess after delivering the glass apple to Minerva. Math today 11-3 = 8 for 8 short paragraphs — plus one, just because I want to give you Gaetano’s reaction to what the DP says:

Gaetano returned to the palazzo on the Grand Canal, confused, sad almost, and reported to the Dowager princess in her audience chamber.
“You delivered the gift successfully?” she asked.
“I did, Your Grace.”
“And?” she prompted. “How did Minerva like it?”
“I had no opportunity to ask her,” he said, watching the Dowager Princess carefully. “After she opened the package, she fainted. By the time I left, they still had not been able to revive her.”
There, the barest hint of a smile, a faint light in her eyes. If he had not been looking for it, he would have missed it. “How unfortunate,” she said. “I hope she is herself again soon.”
“I am sure she will be,” he lied. “Young women have a penchant for fainting.”
She nodded. “That they do, Gaetano. My physicians tell me it is because in their vanity, they truss their corsets too tight.”
Gaetano gazed at her perfectly preserved beauty, wondering how she could accuse others of vanity and exclude herself.

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.

As to the weekly update, I’m quite happy with my progress. I finished the first chapter of the translation on Monday, and I rewarded myself with some extra time for my own projects. Tuesday I got another installment of “Starting Out as an Indie Author” written — and while doing so finally got the interior of Chameleon in a Mirror formatted for CreateSpace, seeing as that was the subject of the blog post. 🙂 I am also making steady progress on Shards of Glass. I’m still not sure how the big showdown will play out, but I am inexorably moving towards it!

Some good news, and more from Facets of Glass for #WIPpet Wednesday

As those who follow this blog know, I had a fairly successful free run for my time travel novel Chameleon in a Mirror last week. Nonetheless, my summary of the results were a bit on the skeptical side, and I predicted that CIAM would soon drop out of the Top 100 lists that it managed to get into again once it went back to paid.

I am happy to announce that I was wrong — so far. *g* Since Sunday, it has been slowly climbing in the rankings rather than falling. Here is where it was when I checked before starting this blog post:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,894 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#28 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#52 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#89 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

I have some ideas as to why that is happening, but I would like to save my tentative conclusions for a dedicated marketing post in my blog series “Starting out as an indie author.”

While the upside of the marketing is actual daily sales again for a change, the downside is less time for writing. I’m still hopeful that I’ll make my 4,000 words for the week, though. My total for Monday and Tuesday was 1400, which would put me still on target.

The Mirror by Frank Dicksee, 1896
The Mirror by Frank Dicksee, 1896

We have another mirror this week for WIPpet Wednesday. I’m still posting from Facets of Glass, the 2nd book in The Glassmakers series after Island of Glass. Dowager Princess Zilia of House Foscari in the Empire of Venice just dismissed the witch in last week’s installment and is now alone with the magic mirror. Here for the 22nd are 22 lines from the manuscript:

When the ornate double doors in shades of cream and pale blue closed behind the witch, Zilia turned to the mirror impatiently. What could be so magic about a white-haired witch? There had to be something in the mirror itself, and if there was, she would be able to call on it too.
Glass apple in hand, she turned back to the mirror, which now only reflected an image of herself in her retiring room — her favorite place in the world, her sanctuary.
“Magic mirror, please show to me,
“Where the maker of this apple might be.”
Nothing happened. The mirror stubbornly continued to display no more than her own reflection. Of course, the dowager princess had no complaints regarding her appearance; the heavy rust and gold brocade of her gown glittered with the sunlight coming in from the high windows, highlights in her hair complimented the colors in her gown, and the skin of her face displayed next to no wrinkles. She was often complimented on how young she looked, and she was quite sure that had she wanted to, she could easily have married again.
But while her own reflection was pleasing, the unresponsiveness of the mirror was not.
She tried again, taking a step forward and holding the apple closer to the mirror. “Magic mirror, please show to me,
“Where the maker of this apple might be.”
Still nothing! Zilia was sorely tempted to hurl the glass apple into the farthest corner of her retiring room, and fling the mirror to the floor for good measure. She did not like being shown up. She was one of the most powerful women in one of the most powerful empires in Europe. A mere mirror not obeying her command felt like an affront.

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.

Results of free run for Chameleon in a Mirror and further experiments

I promised to report the results of my free run last week with my time travel novel Chameleon in a Mirror.

In one word: mixed.

Altogether I managed to give away over 2000 books, many in places where I’ve never sold anything before. The only Amazon store where CIAM didn’t get any downloads was Mexico. And that was all without spending a dime, only announcing the free run on my blog and through the free sites listed here. On Amazon.de, CIAM even managed to stay in the Top 100 free overall for over three days. Today, the novel is in two Top 100 categories on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,197 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#59 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy

The book had several borrows immediately after the free run, which has led me to re-enroll it in KDP Select. As long as it is still visible, I might manage to get a few more borrows.

So why is that mixed? CIAM is pretty far down in the top 100 categories it managed to get into, which means it will probably drop out of sight again fairly quickly. And in marketing books, everything is about visibility. If no one sees your book, no one will buy it.

On Amazon.de, despite being in the Top 100 overall for several days, CIAM is not in a single Top 100 category right now.

But I’m still hoping that all the downloads will lead to a few more reviews.

For my next experiment, starting Wednesday, I will be trying another Countdown Deal, this time with my short story collection, The Future, Imperfect.

The Future, Imperfect

The Future, Imperfect has a couple of strikes against it, the main one being that as a short story collection, it has gotten several bad reviews from readers who objected to the short stories being short. I’ve had reviews like that for all of my short story collections by now, so I’m used to it. Unfortunately, it makes it next to impossible to advertize those books, since most sites require an average rating of at least 4 stars.

Thus, comparing results would be like apples and oranges. Instead, I just want to see what strategies might possibly work to get my books selling again.

So remember, if you like dystopian fiction and you read short stories, The Future, Imperfect, will be on sale for 99c from Oct. 22 – Oct. 27. 🙂

Giving “Free” another chance with Chameleon in a Mirror

Some time ago, after a series of very disappointing free runs that hardly seemed to bump the visibility of the respective books at all, I decided to give up on temporary free runs as an advertizing method. Instead, I tried to increase interest using permafree offerings.

Let’s just say that hasn’t gone so well.

I haven’t been doing a lot of marketing for some time, and it has really been showing in my sales figures. Admittedly I didn’t have a lot of time while I was working on the translation, but it has made me quite convinced that if you don’t make any effort to market and find readers, they are not going to find you.

I published Chameleon in a Mirror earlier this year when I was right in the middle of the translation. I didn’t do anything other than announce it on this blog and post a couple of chapters to my Aphra Behn Page. It sold a few copies and then proceeded to sink into oblivion. Even after over half a year, it still doesn’t have enough reviews for me to book any paid advertizing anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. I updated my list here on this blog of places to notify about a free run, went through it only using the sites that didn’t charge for the announcement, and got back to organizing the cover reveal for Island of Glass.

To my surprise, CIAM took off. Here is where it now stands on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College

Then it got picked up by the German version of Pixel of Ink, XTME. And now the book is practically set to break the Top 100 free books overall on Amazon.de. Here the present ranking:

Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #105 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 – Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop)

Nr. 1 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Belletristik > Populäre Belletristik > Historisch

So if anyone reading this is in Germany, please download a copy! (And everyone else too, of course.) It’s free through October 18. It would be so cool to get into the top 100 here!

Another thing I love about this is that maybe a few more people will also learn about my idol, Aphra Behn. 🙂

Aphra Behn by Peter Lely

Of course, I don’t yet know if this will result in actual sales once the free run is over. Be assured that I will post more next week. My sales on sites other than Amazon are so abysmal, if this works, it might be worth to pull my books elsewhere and put all my eggs back in one basket, as bad as that advice usually is.

ADDENDUM: Chameleon is a Mirror is now #89 on Amazon.de!

A mostly marketing update, and more mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

With the cover reveal for Island of Glass yesterday, the first free run in almost a year that I’ve organized for one of my books, and a lot of work on the big translation project, I haven’t had much time for actual writing so far this week. What free time I’ve been able to devote to my writing has been taken up with marketing.

But that is going VERY well! I want to thank you all so much who participated in the cover reveal for Island of Glass. The book isn’t even out yet, and it has already cracked a Top 100 list with pre-orders! Here’s where it stands as of this writing:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#50 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Fairy Tales & Folklore

You guys are the greatest! *Hugs* 😀

As to the free book, that’s my Aphra Behn time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror. I tossed that one out on the market earlier this year without a plan. It’s been limping along and still doesn’t even have enough reviews for me to advertize it anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. More on that decision tomorrow, since it’s free through Saturday, and I have time. Right now I just want to share with you how well it’s doing on its free run:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Chameleon in a Mirror

So grab yourself a copy while you can! Tell your friends so they can grab a copy too! *g*

On to WIPpet Wednesday. I’m still posting from Facets of Glass, the second book in the Glassmakers trilogy after Island of Glass. It’s getting a bit difficult to do without providing spoilers, so this excerpt is a page or so after the last one I gave you, skipping the bits with a bit too much information. So here are 15 sentences for the 15th day of the month. Princess Zilia has just seen what the magic mirror has to show her:

The dowager princess clenched her hands in the folds of her skirts, controlling her anger with an effort. She hated many things, but she particularly hated betrayal. That combined with potential pecuniary loss to the Empire of Venice made it all the more heinous in her eyes.
“I would like to keep this mirror in my rooms for the time being,” she told the witch.
Vanna pressed her lips together before she spoke. “With all due respect, Princess Zilia, this mirror is my main source of income.”
“And I would not dream of taking it from you without compensation,” she said, although of course she had. “I treasure your services too much. Inform my steward what your projected loss of income will be, and he will see to it that you are paid.”
The witch seemed to choke back a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Your Grace. May I inquire as to what you intend to do with the mirror, as you do not have the magic to ask questions of it yourself?”
“Keep it out of the hands of others, Vanna, no more and no less.”
“Ah, very wise.”
“You are dismissed. The apple please?”

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.

It’s accounting time again! Me and my goals, first quarter 2014

Long, long ago, when I first came to Germany, I was given the nickname “Nessie” (for my last name), and I liked it so much, I kept it. Who wouldn’t want to be a big green sea monster, after all? Anyway, my son got me this excellent T-Shirt, which I think is very appropriate for a post where I have to fess up to all the things I didn’t accomplish in this round:

Nessie

In case you can’t read the words, they’re “The important thing is that I believe in myself.”

Anyway, on to the accounting for the first Round of Words in 2014:

Writing:

– Write every day, aiming for at least a page, or 250 words. This is really low for me, and once I manage to catch up on the translation, I can raise my goals. At that point, I will also add some specific project goals.

I did work on writing projects almost every day, but it was more revising and editing than creating new words. Still, as long as I continue to work consistently towards my writing goals, I’m pretty happy with myself.

Business:

– Be done with the Big Translation Project by the end of the round

Not quite. I am now on page 257 of 303. At least the finish line is in sight now. Maybe I can get it done before the next round starts.

Writing business:

– Publish Chameleon in a Mirror
DONE!

– Publish Island of Glass

Nope. Only recently got the comments back from the final beta reader, so I’m still working on revisions on that one.

– Publish “The Shadow Artist”
Nada.

– Upload “Leaving Sweater” to Smashwords and make it free
‘Fraid not.

– Publish Shadow of Stone to B&N, Smashwords and D2D
DONE!

– Publish “Mars, A Traveler’s Guide” to Amazon and make it free
No such luck.

– Make Author Page for Amazon.de and Amazon.uk

I made my author page for Amazon UK! It’s not live yet, though. I’ll provide the link when I have it. I still need to do Amazon.de.

– Update my blog’s book page
DONE!! You can see the new page here.

– Submit a short story a week to traditional publishers

Not quite. I submitted four short stories this round, of which three have already been rejected. I added this goal late, but I still should have had twice the submissions. Maybe next time!

I did have a long list of goals, and the translation is keeping me very busy, so despite all the goals I didn’t achieve, I’m still pretty happy. Hope the rest of you are too!

Chameleon in a Mirror now available for Kindle!

My big update of the week is that I finally managed to get another book published! I uploaded Chameleon in a Mirror to KDP yesterday, and today it is live!

I want to thank all my beta readers and critique partners over the years for all their help. Feedback is so essential! I may not always take the advice I get, but I do address problems — I might resolve them in a different way than is suggested in the critiques, though. 🙂

I also have a question for you all. The only “time travel” category on Amazon that I could find is in the romance genre. CIAM has a strong romance subplot, but it’s not HEA, which romance readers expect. On the other hand, The Time Traveler’s Wife is also listed in the same category, and that’s not HEA either. Do you guys think it’s a mistake for me to list it under romance? I’m a little afraid I will end up with negative reviews for not making Billie give up everything she’s ever known for the sake of a married man. What do you guys think?

For now, the book is only available on Amazon. I’m still considering entering it in KDP Select for a while and trying a Countdown Deal with it to get more exposure before I publish it elsewhere. (But not free. I don’t believe in free anymore, with the exception of permafree.) My sales on other platforms are pretty pathetic, though, so I wouldn’t be giving much up, if anything. Amazon is where I make most of my money. If you are an ereader owner, where to you buy your ebooks?

Also, if anyone would like a review copy, please let me know!

As to my other goals, they’ve largely been on hold while I was concentrating on getting this book out. I did, however, get another short story submitted to a traditional market. That’s three so far this round! Not what I was aiming for, but still. I also continue to make progress on the translation. Now that CIAM is published, I will have to do a big push on that.

This is like a stone off my chest, I have to admit. The book may sell squat, but it’s a big item I can cross off my to-do list, and it makes me feel so much better. 🙂

Hope everyone else is happy with their progress!

Depressing discoverability issues, an update, and #WIPpet Wednesday

The other day, I read a great post by Chuck Wendig about book discovery, and how much more difficult is getting to find “channels of discovery” as an indie author. As long as you don’t mind profanity, I highly recommend it for anyone who is considering going indie or has already self-published. He provides a lot of numbers, a lot of uncomfortable opinions, some suggestions for what to do to get out of the deluge, and a nice graphic I’m going to link to, illustrating how tough we all really have it:

Quoted from terribleminds

The thing is, it’s getting harder and harder to be an indie these days. Partly it has to do with the mountains of ebooks being published that Chuck points out, and the way many readers are starting to feel burned and are shying away from self-published books. Another thing playing a role is that traditional publishers have started wising up and are no longer making the same mistakes they were a year or two ago — mostly regarding pricing. A couple months back, Toby Neal wrote a great post about this, and the “indies getting clobbered” meme bounced around the net for a while. (You can read a good response with more details at The Digital Reader.)

Does this mean that we should all return to traditional publishing? For me, it does not. And that goes for anyone who writes in a genre that publishers think doesn’t sell, like Arthurian fiction, or who writes stuff that’s hard to put a label on, like time travel with a literary plot and a romance sub-plot that doesn’t end happily-ever-after. (Yes, if you read last week’s post, you are right in assuming that’s my non-genre description for Chameleon in a Mirror.) Or anyone who doesn’t want to wait for over a year to never get a response from an agent or a publisher and has had to pull a submission more than once in order to be able to submit a manuscript elsewhere. Or anyone who has been traditionally published already, and for whatever reason does not want to go that route anymore.

We have to develop much thicker skins — and we have to try even harder to make sure we put out a quality product. That’s the only way we self-published authors can win back readers we’ve lost.

I, for one, haven’t given up yet. And that’s what my update is all about. 🙂 I still haven’t managed to get Chameleon in a Mirror published — but soon, I hope. Making the changes from the line edits sent me took longer than I’d expected. But I’m done now, and I’m on to formatting. I had a bit of a setback yesterday, though — for some reason, Word ate all my italics when I was about halfway through with the formatting. I only noticed when I saw that a title of one of the many Restoration plays I mention was no longer in italics. Since I didn’t know when it happened, I figured it would be too dangerous to try and recover the version with italics using “undo”, so now I’m manually going though the HTML version I created to get a clean copy and searching for the HTML tag “EM”. Sigh. It might have been easier to just start reformatting from the HTML file, but I’m already 7 chapters in, and it doesn’t make much sense to start over again now.

Have I ever mentioned before that I really don’t like Word?

Anyway, that’s the sum total of my update: edits added, formatting almost done.

Now on to the fun part of today’s post, WIPPET WEDNESDAY! My math for today’s date is simply to add up all the digits: 2 + 6 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 4 = 15. So here are 15 short paragraphs from Chameleon in a Mirror, the next scene in Billie’s pov, after the string of her lute snapped. (For the sake of clarification, when she arrived in the past, everyone assumed she was male because of her pants, her height, and her slim build.)

The door of the changing room opened, and Aphra entered. The playwright took in the lute on the floor and Billie’s reddened eyes and shook her head. “A broken string is nothing to cry about, Will,” she said gently.
Billie sighed and wiped her face with a Kleenex she pulled out of the pocket of her jeans. “It wasn’t the string.”
“I imagine not. Is London too great a challenge for you, fresh from the colonies as you are?”
“I — it’s not London. I’ve been places you probably never heard of, places you couldn’t even imagine.”
Aphra sat down next to her, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Did you run away, lad?”
“Not exactly. It’s not what you think.”
“‘Tis rarely what people think.”
At that oh so appropriate answer, Billie found herself chuckling, despite the hopeless situation she found herself in. Or imagined she found herself in.
She took a deep breath, reaching for the top button of her silk blouse. “I’m not what you think either.”
“Now, lad, restrain yourself!” Aphra said sternly. “There are still many others in the playhouse. I’ll –” Her voice died away as Billie opened her blouse to reveal her undershirt and minimal amount of cleavage.
Aphra’s eyes went wide and she let out a ringing laugh. “Excellent masquerade, Will! Or what should I call you now?”
Billie raked her mind for a name that might suit and lit on the lines she’d recited in front of the mirror. “Clarinda.”
“I see you do not yet trust me,” Aphra said with a faint smile. “So be it. I, too, have my alias. You may call me Astrea — most people do.”
Apparently Billie’s chosen name was in the pastoral pseudonym department, the kind given to figures in poetry and plays; Aphra had just offered her own pen name in exchange. But hey, how was she to know? She was a literary critic, not a historian. Which didn’t bode well for her if she really was in the seventeenth century, and not breathing shallowly on the floor of a classroom at Blackfriars, plagued by unusually vivid dreams.

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. 🙂