Working on An Earl In Time

This is turning out to be a lot of fun to write. I’ve never written anything like this before. Being able to work outside the world of “realism” has opened up an assortment of possible story ideas to work with that regular romances don’t allow.

I chose to open a scenario where the American heroine, in our contemporary time, inherits an English estate and intends to sell it. But she’s unable to sign the contract to sell it, and she’s unable to leave the property. In both cases, magic is behind it, though she doesn’t realize this until about 1/3 of the way into the book.

On the historical timeline, there’s the hero who got transported, by magic, to a parallel world when he arrived at the same estate to deal with his father’s funeral. So he’s in the same manor she is, except their worlds are distinct. While her world moves forward in time, his does not.

The hero is in June 17, 1817, and he’s stuck in an endless loop of the same day. The servants aren’t aware of this. The hero is the only one who knows everyone in the household has being stuck in June 17, 1817 for a little over two centuries.

So those are the two main things I had figured out when I began this story. I started writing to find out why they’re in the situation they are and how they’re going to get out of it. My creative brain doesn’t work by outlining, at least not for long stories. I went into this knowing nothing except that the heroine is going to find a way into the past so she and the hero are in the same world. It’s a romance, and I want these two to be in the same physical space in order to fall in love. I also know there’s a happy ending. How to get to that happy ending is still a mystery to me, and I’m almost 50,000 words into the story. I think I have about 30,000 more words to go, but we’ll see how things play out.

In addition to this being a romance, my goal is to write something that can truly be classified as a fairy tale. I originally thought this was going to take on a Grimm fairy tale feel to it because the story does start out pretty dark. But as the story has been progressing, it’s taken on a lighter tone. Certain elements of this story started to remind me of Disney fairy tales. I’ve inserted three animals that were magically turned into humans. There are going to be two fairies who will pop up later on. Growing up and watching Disney fairy tales, it’s common for the main characters to be able to communicate with animals, sometimes animals turn into people, and sometimes a fairy plays a role in the storyline. So, really, I think An Earl In Time is going to be midway on the spectrum between a Grimm fairy tale and a Disney fairy tale. Not too dark and not too light.

One thing I decided I’d do early on is give colors significance because, to me, that helps with the magical flavor of the plot. Good and evil has its colors. I based the colors for good from the cover. (The entire inspiration for this story came from the pre-made cover I bought on the Book Designer website.) So that’s why red and gold represent good. It took some time to decide the colors for evil, and those finally ended up being pink and purple. (I happened to be working on perlers at the time and loved the way the pink and purple beads looked together.) Green is about to come onto the scene, and I suspect blue will soon follow. Green and blue will be the neutral colors.

I spent days naming (and renaming) the main characters because I wanted their names to have significance. I got the name “Willow” from the gothic names online search I did. (In the heroine’s contemporary timeline, the story does have a dark tone to it. I’d say why but that would be a spoiler.) Her last name has no significance assigned to it, though. I just remember the name “Knudson” from when I was a senior in high school in the Florida panhandle. That name was pretty popular there. I liked the name but never had a reason to use it until now, so I figured, “Why not?”

The hero was harder to name. In the end, I settled for Julian Azazel. I changed his name a couple of times, but this one finally stuck. Julian means youthful, which is to represent him never aging for about two centuries because he’s frozen in time. Azazel means scapegoat. The curse the hero is under was placed on him because of something that happened before he was born. In essence, he is the object of the villain’s wrath. The villain was unable to go after the person who got in his/her way, so he/she is going directly after Julian and (by extension of the curse, Willow). I don’t want to give the villain’s gender because it would be a spoiler. I have a very limited cast of characters in this book, so even a hint would ruin things.

At the moment, I don’t know if the villain is justified in being upset or not because I’m still trying to figure out how the big conflict even began. All I know is that in the villain’s eyes, the “sins” of the grandfather have passed on to the grandson.

This is one book that I really don’t know what is going to happen beyond a chapter or two as I’m writing it. I feel like I’m writing in the dark with no roadmap. I only have a flashlight. So when a turn in the path comes up, I only know about it right as I reach it. This has taken me outside my normal comfort zone for writing because I’ve never written a book so dependent on “trusting the creative process” like this. The use of magic has widened my options. I think it’s good for writers to break free from the same old-same old and explore new methods. I think it revives the creative brain.

I only said something to a very few group of people, but before I saw that pre-made cover up above, I was giving serious consideration to not writing in 2021. I felt like my creativity had dried up, and while I had ideas, I had no motivation to write. It’s why all of my projects are behind schedule right now. I wasn’t able to write anything for about 2.5 months. Then I came across that pre-made cover one day because I like to browse pre-made covers from time to time just out of habit. I fell in love with that cover. I held off on buying it right away because I needed a story for it. In a week, I had the idea, and I purchased the cover. As soon as I started writing the story that went with that cover, the motivation and desire to write all came rushing back. And I was able to finish Perfectly Matched, start on A Perilous Marriage, and continue with what I had started in Interview for a Wife. That’s why I think it’s good for an author who gets into a rut to break free and do something different. That something different could be the spark needed to light the creative fires again.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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5 Responses to Working on An Earl In Time

  1. Bonnie J. Tweddle-Schuster says:

    Can hardly wait! It sounds wonderful! Looking forward to reading it!

  2. Sounds very different from your usual work.

    • It is. It’s weird, too, because while I’m struggling to figure out how to connect all the dots, it’s also been surprisingly easy to write (or rather, rewrite). There have been a lot of rewrites in some scenes.

      • That happens. A lot of the time, when you’re working on a story and struggling to connect dots in believable ways, you can edit and rewrite the basic story to make dots connect.
        I did that with Toyland in my last draft.

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