Can a nerdy girl and a broken football hero fall in love and restore their lives with the help of a gateway to the past?
Our new novel, Slipping into the Green, just wasn’t getting off the ground. Reviews from readers were halfhearted, comments from review services were depressing. What was wrong?
We had some pretty good concepts we though: time travel, a high school teacher whose lectures let students relive critical moments in history. We had a broken football hero who desperately wanted to return to the past and undo the play that destroyed his career.
We also thought we had a great main character, a Mexican American kid who was the beneficiary of the fallen football hero’s legacy and only friend. The kid’s goodhearted cheerleader girlfriend was generous and kind to everyone… even the class nerd. So, what was wrong?
Was there too much going on, we wondered—too many characters, no central storyline strong enough to hold people’s interest.
We looked at our list of characters, we looked at our story and started peeling away the layers, looking for the story’s heart and soul. We needed someone to step up and tie it all together. What could we do?
So, what about that class nerd, we asked ourselves. Well, we knew she was the smartest person in the school, and she had a great rapport with that powerful lecturer. Just to be friendly, our popular cheerleader has already decided to sit at the nerd’s lonely table one day… try and make friends with her. Somewhere in the conversation between Emily, the nerd, and Chantelle, the cheerleader, Chantelle asked Emily if she had a boyfriend or had ever been in love with anyone. Emily’s answer, in that early version of the story, was vague. But was that right?
Okay, so, how about this? What if Emily had a secret crush on Jake, the broken QB. That could work, but the guy was probably SO messed up that he wouldn’t even care about her unless she had something to offer him… something to help solve his problem.
That made more sense. And then we wondered what if Emily was the person who discovered the portal to the past? She goes back through time and sees Jake at the peak of his success. She decides that bringing Jake back to the past and rerunning the play that injured him might allow him to avoid the injury and make his life whole again. In other words, the whole idea of using the past to restore Jake’s life was Emily’s idea… because she’s secretly in love with him.
In rewriting our story, we ended up taking an unimportant character and making her the hero. Our novel became Emily’s love story. Can she help Jake, can she win his love?
We liked this approach, and Emily was becoming the central figure. Emily discovers the gateway to the past; Emily brings Jake through it and shows him that there is a way to turn his life around.
As for the lectures on social injustice… we had ideas there too? Jake realizes that he needs help rerunning the play that got him hurt. So, he starts bringing football players from 2019 back with him through the gateway. They arrive in 2011 and try to help Jake. But eventually, they have to return to the present, and when they do, the gateway plays with their minds, makes them start time tripping in the classroom. Each trip spins off a lecture on social injustice and ends up being a visit to a historical event that teaches a lesson appropriate to the character.
Of course, being a well-constructed novel, things never work out easily anyway, and in the end, everything still seems to be falling apart. That’s when Emily and Chantelle have an in-person visit with the Salem Witch Trials, where they learn an important lesson – not about witchcraft or religious paranoia, but about having faith and confidence in yourself.
But it’s Jake, who, on the verge of giving up on Emily and everything else and withdrawing into a life of bitterness, experiences the most dramatic time trip of them all.
Now we started feeling great about our story; everything was working. We had Emily’s love story. We had Jake’s possible redemption. We’ve had a gateway to the past that just might be able to help everyone, and time-tripping experiences that highlight real historical events and teach lessons. Does it work? Find out for yourself.
The book came out on October 1, 2020. Get a copy and learn if a nerdy girl and a broken football hero can fall in love and restore their lives with the help of a gateway to the past. Check it out… THE PROMISE OF THE GATEWAY on Amazon.