In this two-part blog swap, Susan A. Royal discusses the time-travel series, “It’s About Time.” In this first part, she tells us how she started the series and how she fits writing into her busy life. In Part 2, (available November 6) Susan will discuss the next installment in the series.
First, I want to thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today, Jane.
Folks, I’ve met a lot of fascinating people since I began my writing journey, and Jane Blanchard is one of them. I was thrilled when she consented to do a blog swap with me. You can read all about her on my blog She’ll be visiting today and again on November 6.
Another reason I’m happy to be here is that I get to talk about something I love to do—tell a story. I’ve been making them up since I was a little girl. In fact, I still have the first “book” I penned. It’s complete with illustrations, written in pencil on lined notebook paper, folded and bound with a red ribbon. I believe I was six years old at the time.
Urban fantasy, time travel, science fiction, paranormal stories fill my kindle and my book shelves, and that’s pretty much what I write. Remember Steven Spielberg’s television series, “Amazing Stories”? Twisty, quirky little plots, involving someone like you or me, and how they dealt with something that goes beyond the ordinary are the kind of adventures I love.
I wrote Not Long Ago with that in mind. It’s a time travel romance with adventure—but it didn’t start out that way. Several years ago, a member of my online writing group suggested we take turns posting short snippets of our writing. One of us could begin a story and the next person would take up where they left off and continue—like the game we used to play when we were children. This is what I came up with.
I saw him the other day. It happened when I cut across Market Street and passed in front of the fancy new coffee shop. On the other side of spotless glass, waitresses in crisp black uniforms served expensive coffee in fancy cups and saucers. One man sat alone at a table by the window. No one I knew, just a handsome stranger who glanced up as I passed. Our eyes met and I froze in the middle of a busy sidewalk crowded with impatient people. Annoyed, they parted, sweeping past me like water rushing downstream.
What I saw left me reeling, as though someone had knocked the wind out of me. My glimpse deep inside the man’s essence unnerved me, but I couldn’t look away. Who was he? The waitress stopped at his table. He turned, lowering his cup into its saucer and shook his head, his mouth curving into a familiar smile that made my heart lurch.
I pictured an attractive young woman in her early twenties, hurrying down a busy city sidewalk. She glimpses a handsome stranger through a window. Their eyes meet, and she sees something there that leaves her reeling. She knows things about the man…but how and why? Who is he? And why does he make her feel this way?
From there, it could have gone anywhere. Turns out it did. After sitting in a file on my computer for at least 6 months, I began my time travel adventure.
The idea of visiting another time has always been fascinating. In the past or in the future. Can you imagine getting up close and personal with someone famous? Seeing firsthand what life was like in their era? What about the chance to experience things the way they might be in the future?
I chose to write about a rich and colorful medieval world, filled with romance, magic and superstition, and I wrote it in first person, because I liked the idea of my main character telling her story in her own words. The reader can get into her head and feel her shock at finding herself catapulted into another time and her panic when she realizes she may never go home again. Reveal how she admires and eventually falls in love with the handsome knight she meets there.
I wanted a romantic adventure, filled with twists and intriguing characters. I’d just finished writing a fantasy and wanted to try my hand at something different. I was looking for a strong female lead who could adapt to her circumstances and an equally strong male lead with a keen sense of duty and honor.
I never planned to write a series, but when my daughter read it, she told me Erin and Griffin’s story wasn’t finished—and she was right. The second book From Now On starts off right where the first one ended, and I’m currently working on the third installment.
The most important thing I’ve learned about the whole experience is to never ever give up. Someone once told me “There is nothing about your story that can’t be fixed. You’re the author, after all. You can fill the plot holes, flesh it out, expand, or condense, learn to say things better and improve. My least favorite thing about the process is the waiting. I’m an impatient person.
I began submitting my manuscript. I took it for one-on-one interviews at writing conventions. I got rejections. I got ignored. I got a few nibbles. But nothing concrete. Until I submitted to my current publisher. I’ll never forget that email. I still have it.
Months went by and finally I started edits. First with a content editor, then a line editor. Last but not least were the galley edits. I collaborated with a cover artist for my wonderful cover. And then I waited until release day.
When that happened, the real work began. Marketing. A necessary evil. I’m not a shy person, but I had to learn to put myself forward. I’ve done talks at schools about my writing, discovered how much fun it is to blog and made friends from all over the world.
And I’ve continued to write. In My Own Shadow (2013) From Now On – the sequel to Not Long Ago (2014) Xander’s Tangled Web (2015). That’s four books in four years. It’s been a roller coaster ride.
I work full time and two of my children live close along with extended family. We spend a lot of time together. I paint, sew and do craft work. My husband is semi-retired and we still do things together. There’s a lot going on at our house—sometimes all at once. I have to stay focused on the end result.
You’re probably shaking your head and wondering how I ever get anything done. For me, it means setting goals. At the beginning of every month I sit down with a calendar and work my writing time in around everything else. I don’t watch a lot of television, so I do most of my writing in the evenings. Three or four nights a week, I’ll plan a quick supper and head to the computer.
If I’m working on something new, and the ideas are flowing, I’ll let it happen without worrying about punctuation or sentence structure. The important thing is to get the words down first. Go back and polish later. If I have a scene that’s begging to be written, it gets written, no matter where it ends up in the book.
My first draft is filled with question marks and passages in red, so I can go back later and work out the details. I spend anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted time at the computer before getting up and stretching, running an errand or completing a task, and all the while, my mind is working on dialogue or plot. I try to write SOMETHING nearly every day, even if it’s only a hundred words. They add up.
Like I said, it’s been a roller coaster ride. And I love it. Throughout the process I’ve been lucky enough to have a very supportive family. They let me share my ideas, help me get past my blocks, and put up with me whining!! (I do get carried away sometimes) And I can’t forget my writer friends who brainstorm with me when I’m stuck. Best of all I get to do something I love.
Her books (available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads):
- Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery) (Due out in Fall, 2015)
- In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
“It’s About Time” series (time travel, adventure, romance):