Tag Archives: wip

Enter the Magic Mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

Since posting my goals for this round, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done — only 1000 words. My time has been taken up with other goals: preparing for cover reveal and book launch for Island of Glass, and getting book blurb, bio, and and various other things translated for the translation project (more on that soon — we’re almost there!).

So today we’ll be moving on very quickly to the excerpt of the day for WIPpet Wednesday. Math is super easy: 10 sentences for the 10th month of the year. This excerpt is from Facets of Glass again and follows directly on the one I gave you last week. Dowager Princess Zilia of House Foscari has sent for a witch:

Vanna arrived at Palazzo Foscari in the course of the afternoon, trailed by two servants carrying her magic mirror. The witch had nearly snow white hair that tumbled in curls around her strangely unlined face. The dowager princess had often wondered if this too was some kind of magic — but if it was, why hadn’t Vanna also given her hair the illusion of youth?
“You requested my services, Your Grace?” the witch said after rising from her curtsy, the silk of her skirts swishing richly around her ankles. Witchery was a profitable business in Venice, especially for a witch as talented and powerful as Vanna.
Zilia nodded shortly. “I need you to use your magic mirror to find someone for me.”
“You have something from the hands of this person that will lead the mirror to him or her?”
“I do.” She held out the glass apple.


Ca’ Foscari in Venice, inspiration for my House Foscari in The Glassmakers

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.

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Singing a song of Arthur for #WIPpet Wednesday

I skipped #WIPpet Wednesday entirely last week, knowing I just didn’t have the energy for visiting lots of blogs. I think I’m slowly shaking my lethargy now, and I will try to be a good fellow blogger this week. 🙂

For this excerpt, I’m returning to A Wasted Land and Kustennin, the new Dux Bellorum of Britain. When I last posted an excerpt from his story, he and Taliesin were posing as minstrels to scout out Venta / Winchester, the capital of Cerdic, their enemy in the recent wars. This snippet follows shortly thereafter. I am giving you 25 sentences for the 25th day of the month:

They wandered between the stalls until they found an empty spot where they could begin to play for coin or gifts of food.
Taliesin pulled the strap of his lute around so that the instrument was draped comfortably in front of him and began to pick out a melody on the strings. The other two soldiers who were of their party got out their own instruments, a flute and a lyre. Kustennin was still taking the tambourine and the small drum out of his bag when Taliesin launched into a ballad dedicated to Arthur, Dux Bellorum — and spurring Kustennin to try to reach him with his mind.
Do you know what you’re doing, Taliesin? This is not a city to sing Arthur’s praises!
Of course I know what I’m doing, Young King. We want to gain an audience with Cerdic, do we not? What better way than to praise his enemy!
It will get us thrown out of the city, more like. Assuming we survive the ordeal.

All the while they were arguing in their minds, Taliesin sang of how Arthur defeated the famous Frankish king Chlodowech and saved Roman Britain. People began to gather in front of them, dressed in both British and Saxon garments, and murmuring amongst themselves.
Come, Kustennin, add a little rhythm to the ballad. And smile!
Kustennin knew his expression must be more of a grimace than a grin, but he dutifully began to shake the tambourine and hit it against the heel of his hand, just as he’d been practicing in recent days.
A woman with copper hair stepped up to him. “In these parts, that is not a wise choice as a song to sing. I think you should tell your friend to stop.”
He shrugged. “He’s the leader of our group.”
By now, a number of the spectators were clapping to the rhythm Kustennin beat out, a marching beat to verses of riding in the defense of Diablintis. A battle Kustennin remembered well, a decisive victory during their campaign in Gaul.
And now here he was taking orders from a bard. Kustennin shook his head, smiling. If they came out of this alive, this trip might go far to helping him get his sense of humor back.

Minstrels on stage

Leaving you all with a picture of minstrels at the Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market. 🙂

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.

The last excerpt from Island of Glass and a request

First off, I want to apologize for being such a bad blogger-friend and WIPpeteer in the last couple of weeks. Normally, I always try my best to at least return the favor and post on the blogs of those who posted on mine. But since my dear friend Jay Lake was admitted to hospice and died only a few days later, I haven’t even managed to respond to the comments on my own blog. I hope you will all forgive me.

For over the last week, I haven’t been doing much new writing, allowing my creative brain to recover a bit from mourning. Instead, I returned to Island of Glass, a project I’d put on ice when I heard that Jay’s condition was rapidly deteriorating, and switched to our last novella, Recontact — which I didn’t finish in time, unfortunately.

Anyhoo, my writing work so far this month has revolved around final editng, formatting, bio and blurb writing, and making the paperback cover for Island of Glass. I’m publishing this project ass-backward, for reasons I will explain later, and am doing the Createspace (hard copy) version first. Most of you have already seen the beautiful cover for the novella done by Rachel Cole of Littera Designs. Based on that, I started a paperback cover, which my daughter cleaned up, given her superior Photoshop skills. I then added the spine and back description:

Island-of-Glass-full

It will probably be about two weeks before I publish the ebook version of the novella. If anyone would like to help out with a cover reveal, an interview, or anything else, please let me know, either in the comments or email. I’m happy to return the favor. 🙂

The last time I posted an excerpt from Island of Glass, Chiara had just presented decorative glass slippers to Prince Vittore. To her dismay, he is determined to try them on. (BTW, I have no math for this week’s WIPpet, just a snippet ending on a nice cliffhanger.) Here is what follows the last excerpt:

Once his feet were encased in no more than fine silk stockings, the prince looked at her. “Signorina Dragoni, the slippers please?”
He obviously meant for her to put the shoes on his feet herself. She repressed a sigh and fetched them from the side table. Kneeling in front of the prince, she lifted his right foot, slid the glass over his toes, and pushed it onto his heel.
To Chiara’s astonishment, it was a perfect fit.
“Amazing, Maestra!” Prince Vittore exclaimed. “I have had custom-made dancing slippers that do not fit as well as this crystal work of art. I will be curious to see if the second shoe is as perfect a fit as the first.”
She picked up the second shoe and looked up into the prince’s eyes. “My prince, even if by some miracle this slipper too fits, please do not try to walk on them. They are glass, they cannot hold your weight. They will break and cut you.”
He lifted her chin a touch higher with one finger. “Nonsense, my dear. As you say, it is a miracle. We are living in an age of magic, after all. You may not have grown used to that fact, but I am fortunate enough to deal with magic on a daily basis. I may be mistaken, but these shoes seem touched by magic.”
“I am no wielder of magic, Your Highness. I am a glassmaker.” She wasn’t about to tell him about the magic of Signora Gutfe, some of which she had learned.
He smiled. “And as a glassmaker, you must admit that glass itself is often much like magic. Or am I wrong?”
She nodded. Cristallo was the most magical substance she knew — and the stones for this glass had been delivered by the birds she had foreseen in the oil on Signora Gutfe’s serving tray.
“The second shoe, Signorina?” the prince reminded her gently.
Praying he was right about the magic in the shoes she had made, she pushed the second one onto the royal foot.
“Again, perfect!”
Prince Vittore rose. The glass slippers held.
From her kneeling position, she watched as the prince strode around the audience chamber. She was not the only one staring — the guards and servants all watched, their mouths half open in surprise. Sunlight from the high windows streamed into the room, and the slippers tinkled with bright music when they touched marble. The prince paced in front of an immense mirror, more expert work from the glassmakers of Murano, and admired his reflection. Cristallo, clear and in shades of red and blue, glittered in the spring sunlight, and the colorful slices of millefiori on the carelessly tied rosettes seemed to dance with the prince’s steps.
He halted in front of her and held out his hand. Chiara took it and rose.
“Did I not tell you there was magic in these shoes?” he murmured close to her ear.
“You did, my prince.” She tried to pull her hand out of his grasp, as was proper, but he held her fingers tight.
Once again, he lifted her chin with one finger. She repressed the urge to jerk her head away.
“Rich, beautiful, talented, unusual, and with hands like an angel and perfect knowledge of my feet.” He gazed at her with a slight smile and an intensity that scared her. “I believe I will marry you, my little glassmaker.”

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. 🙂

Progress on various fronts, Spain workshop, and more Recontact for #WIPpet Wednesday

In the last week, my progress has once again mostly been on the translation, but I have good news — I’m done with the novel proper! All I still have to translate is the glossary and the list of characters. I’m hoping I can get that done tonight. Yay!

My writing progress has been limited to getting this revision pass of Recontact finished, a novella I wrote with Jay Lake. This round of editing too is done, although the novella is not. Next week, I’m off to southern Spain for the next Villa Diodati workshop, where my wonderful fellow expat writers will tear Recontact apart, so that I can put it back together newer and better.

This is where I will be come next Wednesday, working oh so hard on my writing:

Villa Diodati 12

Since I’ll be spending most of Wednesday getting there, and most of the Wednesday following getting back, I probably won’t be posting anything for WIPpet Wednesday the next two weeks. Instead, I may have a few pictures of Costa del Sol. 🙂

The WIP this week is still Recontact. My math for 4/23 goes like this: 23-4=19. So here are 19 sentences from the pov of Melia, a priestess on the planet of Bonifium:

Melia
Bent over her crystal voice, carefully sliding the prayer arm back and forth, Melia did not immediately register the ruckus in the courtyard below. She’d caught wisps of a noise which might be Holy Data streaming from the women in heaven. Like prayer, but aimed back down at the unworthy who scarcely had ears to listen.
She was focusing so much on the voice, it took a while for the noise of horses and new arrivals to disturb her concentration. When it finally began to penetrate, she reluctantly took the stairs down – with her hard face, the one that most people cringed from. All in her clade knew better than to interrupt when she was listening to her voices.
But in the courtyard outside, her anger slid away as fast as rain on tile. Her demi-sister Namma sat on a lathered horse, looking little better than her mount, while Petras the house-steward helped her dismount.
Namma had been in the command ranks at Fonstead – presumed lost in the siege.
“Sib!” Namma cried from the saddle, and slid off with a grunt. The fool Petras barely managed to catch her. Melia doused a surge of rage and ran to help.
“I was at Naxos Bay,” Namma got out. “They are back. I saw them.”
The cold stab which seized Melia’s heart could have come from a silvered knife tempered by moonlight and a man’s gut. She felt the surge of history moving, the sense of the land around her as strong as her own skin, the years marching through her thoughts on the feet of insects, until the potential of this moment felt fit to balloon her skin and spill out like light from all her pores.
“The Prophecy is fulfilled?” she gasped.
“The star, the strangers – it is the Second Landing. It must be!”

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.

#WIPpet Wednesday: Walking on Broken Glass?

It’s Wednesday again, and I’m still revising Island of Glass. (I don’t think I’ll get back to any new writing until the translation project is finished.)

To keep things simple, I’m giving you 9 paragraphs for the 9th day of the month. In this excerpt, which follows immediately on the one I gave you last week, Chiara has presented glass slippers to a prince of Venice, and he is very enthusiastic about them, perhaps too much so:

Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.
“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”
She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.
He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”
She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”
He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”
Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.
He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.
Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would surely happen next.

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. 🙂

This #WIPpet Wednesday: Glass slippers for a prince — and the consequences

I’m still working on (hopefully final) revisions for Island of Glass. With my daughter visiting, there’s a lot less time for writing and translating, and the translation job has to come first. So this week, my WIPpet will again be from my glassmaking fairy tale.

Last week, someone said they would love to see the shoes, and I promised to provide a description. Now this is certainly a lovely glass slipper, but Chiara’s is even cooler:

Glass slipper art

I want to provide the description of Chiara’s art, but at the same time, I want to move the story forward a little bit. So this week I’m going to give you two short excerpts from the novella, 4 paragraphs each for the month, 4 from the completion of the glass shoes, and 4 from the scene of the prince’s reaction to the gift:

“Pasquale, could you heat the millefiori rod for me? I want to make a rosette for the front of the shoe.”
He grinned and pulled on an apron. “As the maestra commands.”
She extended the shoe into the heat again, while Pasquale prepared the rod that would become its laces.
When both of the glass evening slippers were completed, the workers in the hot shop stood back, admiring Chiara’s art. The blue glass of the shoes were decorated with glittering gems of clearest cristallo, and the rosettes at the front made of a mosaic of pure, colorless glass, combined with slices of colorful millefiori. The strips appeared tied together with the carelessness of a real shoe. The red heels had the exact curve of the elegant slippers preferred by the nobility of Venice.

So those are the glass slippers, and this is the way the prince reacts after receiving them. This snippet comes directly after the one I provided last week:

Chiara blushed, glancing at her footmen, his guards, and his secretary. They all stared into the distance with that lack of expression servants cultivated, as if they didn’t hear a thing. She knew that wasn’t true. Although the prince’s words had not been loud, they were easily audible to all in the room. But footmen and guards obviously did not matter to him — he treated them as little more than pieces of furniture.
He noted the direction of her gaze. “Do you want me to send them away?”
“No, please do not for my sake.” She tried to keep any hint of panic out of her voice.
He chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”

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. 🙂

More from Island of Glass for #WIPpet Wednesday

My daughter arrived for a visit from the States on Monday, and this morning, she and I had the youngest in the family because of a strike in the city day care centers. In the afternoon, I did some translating, but then I had to take a break to sleep off the effects of having to look after an energetic four-year-old until early afternoon. In the evening, my daughter and I went out to dinner together to what has long been one of our favorite restaurants here, Stadtgraben. And it was wonderful as usual.

With everything that is going on right now, I’m still working on the latest revision round incurred by the comments of my last beta reader for Island of Glass. So since that’s all I’ve been doing creative writing-wise for the last week, I will be returning to the novella this week. Which is appropriate, since the original short story was inspired by a trip I took with my daughter to Venice almost a decade ago, where we stayed on Murano.

Santi Maria on Murano

I was utterly fascinated by the history of glass we learned while we were there, and it inspired and fed into the story.

Anyway, I’m not going to give you any complicated math this week, just 26 sentences for the 26th day of the month. In this scene, Chiara has presented herself to Prince Vittore of House Foscari with the gift she made for him, inspired by the events of the last scene I shared:

Chiara bowed her head in acknowledgment. “May we inquire as to the exact nature of the crime of which he is accused?” she asked diffidently.
The prince laid the box on a table, removed the wrapping, and began to push aside the wood shavings. “Why, attempting to sell Venetian trade secrets, of course.”
Her heart sank, and she clutched her hands in the folds of her silk skirts. That was much worse than simply violating the ban on leaving the islands of Venice. “My uncle would never sell trade secrets,” she protested. “After all, it is in his own best interests if the glassmakers of Murano create glass that is in demand throughout the world. As long as we are the only ones with the knowledge to make cristallo, our wealth will continue to grow.”
“Then what was he doing on the mainland in Padua, can you tell me that?”
Chiara was considering the wisdom of pointing out that Padua was part of the Venetian Empire, when the prince pulled a velvet-wrapped bundle out of the box and pushed aside the fabric.
“Ah!”
Prince Vittore held the glass slipper up to the light streaming in from the high arcade windows, turning it in his hands to inspect her handiwork.
“It is one of a matching pair,” Chiara hastened to tell him.
“Beautiful,” he murmured reverently, and Chiara could feel her cheeks grow warm. He looked from the glass slipper to her face, his gaze intense. “From your hand, Maestra?”
She nodded.
“I’d heard rumors that the young maestra of the Fenice Glassworks did brilliant work.” He laid the shoe on a low table beside him and reached into the box for its twin. “Had I known how brilliant, I would have made your acquaintance long before this.”
He might be paying her a compliment, but she couldn’t help thinking that his voice had a slimy quality, reminding her vaguely of a reptile. “You do me too much honor, my prince.”
He pushed aside the velvet, his eyes still holding hers, and his expression had turned speculative. “Talented and beautiful,” he murmured. “A very intriguing combination.”

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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:

Take:
– 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? 🙂

Back by popular demand: An excerpt from A Wasted Land for #WIPpet Wednesday

Since you guys were largely agreed that you wanted to see more of A Wasted Land on my snippet days, I returned to the manuscript yesterday and wrote a new scene, part of which I’m sharing with you below. I actually have quite a bit of material after this scene, but it’s much later in the story. My first draft process is very messy. I tend to write a bunch of big, pivotal scenes that really interest me first. (If you’re curious, I’ve written more about my process here.) In between those, I have a slew of notes and questions to myself, like “How do I get Kustennin and Celemon together?”; “Are they already in Dyn Draithou at this point, or still in Caer Leon?” or my favorite (not): “Battle scene here.” The note that led to this scene was, “I need to get in more of the political alliances and tensions!” Then it occurred to me that some of the regional kings might not be particularly happy with the appointment of Celemon to the position of Master of Horse. So this scene is at a fair in Caer Leon. Aurelius (Celemon’s former betrothed), has just confronted Kustennin about the appointment. Please forgive my typical utterly rough draft mode, which is often devoid of details. Just imagine them between the stalls of a fair — I’ll add that in later. 🙂 Oh, and my math is like this: 8 short paragraphs for the 8th, plus two more because I didn’t want it to end there. *g*

“Cador was not a military leader either, and he too was Master of Horse for a time.”
“But he rode with Arthur.”
“Yes, he rode with Arthur.”
“How can you expect Celemon to fill such a position?”
“She will be in charge of the war horses exclusively. I have created two positions out of what was once one. Cynglas has agreed to be Head of Cavalry in the new army of Britain.”
Aurelius glanced at Vortipor. “And what of you?”
“I have agreed to take on the new position of Master of Ship,” Vortipor said. “I will begin building up the fleet and recruiting and training sailors once I return to Moridunum.”
Aurelius turned from Vortipor to Kustennin, gazing at him silently, his expression hard to read, his mind closed. He knew the trick of it. He was the son of Modrun, after all.
“What, Aurelius?” Kustennin finally asked. “I am new at this. I do not yet know what role to ask you to play. But you are one of the strongest kings in southern Britain. Your support will be crucial in keeping the Saxons from expanding further into our territories.”
“My mother’s death is on the traitor Medraut’s head,” Aurelius finally said. “And Cerdic supported Medraut’s rebellion. I am your ally, Kustennin. I hope you do not forget it.”

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. 🙂

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