My Epic Pandemic Writing Marathon

2020 has been a challenging year for many people. There has been a constant onslought of news and disruption in our lives, with toilet paper hoarding, remote learning and working, and limiting time with friends.

I’ve had my own personal disruptions and challenges, but have fared well in this strange storm we’re journeying through together.

The greatest benefit is the quick and constant beats of my life have slowed down, stresses I’ve had have disappeared, and I’ve been able to tuck myself away in the fictional worlds within my mind. Ever since March, it has been as if a floodgate of ideas and storytelling has opened and my fingers have rushed across the keyboard to capture the words before they spill away.

In a typical year, I write about 150,000 to 200,000 words.

Since March, I have written almost 700,000 words and will probably write at least 30,000 before the year ends.

I know part of it is this is how my brain is coping with the quiet stress COVID-19 presses on us in the background. It’s also because other challenges and responsibilities that take up my mental energy are currently gone, freeing up room to focus on these things. It has been fun and fantastic to dive into a story and feel as if I’m being carried along the journey.

The other night, I finished the first draft of a book that grew into a trilogy, and I feel the flood slowing enough that I might actually start working on polishing this plethora of words I’ve written.

So, with all of these projects stacking up in my publication pipeline, I thought I’d give a quick preview of the stories coming soon, starting (hopefully) sometime in Spring 2021.

A Preview of Magically Epic Proportions

The Heiress and the Beanstalk (The Pippington Tales)

black and red train passing through forest

This was a 2019 project inspired by reading my writing friend Rebecca J. Greenwood’s book The Darkest Summer, a regency era retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth. (If you like gardening, a brooding hero, and the polite flirtation of regency era stories, you’ll like this her book).

The Heiress and the Beanstalk is not, however, about Hades and Persphone. Instead, it borrows the idea of heading to the blacksmith’s shop in Gretna Green, the top wedding location for many eloping couples, and adds in the whimsy and humor of The Pippington Tales. I added in some screwball romantic comedy elements, through in a bit of Jack and the Beanstalk, shook it up, and came out with something I that is quite fun.

In this tale, our heroine, Gwendolyn Lee, only wishes to borrow from her dowry to open her own garden shop. However, her parents refuse, so she fakes her own kidnapping to try to get the funds. Soon she is in far over her head, swept away in an adventure with magic, danger, and a dashing young police officer named Jack Kingston, who is there to either arrest or rescue her.

Hans, Greta, and the Gingerbread Caves (Pippington Tales) (Working Title)

yellow trees near mountain and boy of water

I began this novel in 2019 and finished this in April 2020. It is a mix of a sequel to The Matchgirl and the Magician and the epic team-up book for the first three books of the Pippington Tales, like The Avengers or Justice League.

In this tale, our hero, Grant Rashay, returns home to the Surris Mountains (far to the west of Pippington) after his brother and sister-in-law dies. All he wants is to build a career as a musician and to bury his family and let go of his past as a Surris Ranger. However, when his brother’s children, Hans and Greta, go missing along with rumors of kidnappings involving gingerbread, he must return to his role as a ranger. He teams up with Evelyn Havish, a woman he rescued, his stern uncle, and two members of a rival family: the heiress Adeline Winkleston and her frontier-woman aunt, Arastella Dumond. If facing dragons, magic-wielding grannies, and gingerbread golems isn’t enough trouble, he’s also got to watch out for his heart falling for Adeline, who wants less than nothing to do with him.

This adventure grows and includes the leads from The True Bride and the Shoemaker, The Lady and the Frog, and obviously, the Matchgirl and the Magician. I’m still working to figure out how to include that in a blurb.

If you like Westerns, fairy tales, and adventure, you’ll like this one.

The Pirate and the Mermaid’s Tailor Trilogy (The Pippington Tales)

brown ship on sea during sunset

I’ve had the idea for this story for a while now and it’s been percolating while I’ve read several books on pirates (hence, my dog being named Edward Thatch AKA Blackbeard the Cuddler) and worked on other projects. Then, when I needed a break from the main writing project I’ve been working on this year, and I finally watched the highly mediocre Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales a couple months ago, this project said, “Hello! Come play with pirates, mermaids, and fashion.”

If you like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Princess Bride, and Project Runway, this trilogy is for you.

In this tale, our heroine, Mabel Sinclair becomes a pirate at seventeen in a matter involving a high society ball, a mermaid, and her scoundrel of a brother transforming into a toad (though, he is still one while in human form). Mabel embarks on an adventure that leads to outwitting merfolk, a forged marriage certificate, building a fashion empire, and convincing a handsome sailor named Antonio Cortez that his dream of becoming a tailor would be far better with her at his side, instead of the girl waiting for him at home.

This might just be the most ridiculous story of the already magically ridiculous Pippington Tales series.

Female-Driven King Arthur Retelling Epic Fantasy Series

brown concrete palace surrounded by body of water during daytime

My early, unpublished novels are more in the vein of epic fantasy, and my Star Wars and Lord of the Rings Loving heart always wanders back to thoughts of stories of sword fights and sorcery. This series allows me to explore that vein and use all the ridiculous amount of hours I’ve spent studying and researching the original Arthurian legends and other medieval mythology.

This has been my main project this year, beginning with world building during the spring and churning out novel after novel this summer, to the point where my sister who lives with me was relieved that I got distracted by pirates and mermaids so I’d talk about something else. I’ve completed the first four books, am stalled in the middle of the fifth book, and hope the series will be seven books long when finished.

The series begins with the question: What happened to Arthur’s mother, the High Queen?

Did she go demurely into exile? Die? Or did she pull a maneuver like many great queens of history and take power to preserve the kingdom?

The answer I’ve chosen is she holds onto power, and so begins a female-led* epic story of politics, sword fights, epic battles, demons, dragons, airships, all pushing toward the question of: Who should rule the kingdom?

If you like Lord of the Rings, Brandon Sanderson’s works, or the politics of Game of Thrones without the R-rated content, you’ll like this one. This one leans more adult than The Pippington Tales, but remains PG-13.

*On a side note, yes, there are men in the story and they are fully-realized characters, as both heroes and villains. Arthur himself is still one of the main characters, along with the Knights of the Round Table. However, the women have rather run away with the story. For example, Guenivere informed me she comes from a line of magical female knights from a smaller kingdom and has giant snakes and dragons as part of her training before meeting Arthur.

(My favorite adaptation is the series Merlin because it takes most of the gross and depressing things and adapts it in a whimsical way.)

What’s Next in the Writing Process

So, what are you waiting for? I just need to:

  1. Conduct developmental/story/character edits for the second and third drafts – this has the most nebulous time-frame.
  2. Send to beta readers
  3. Edit based on feedback
  4. Send to a professional editor
  5. Go through edits
  6. Do a final proofread
  7. Get a cover
  8. Format
  9. Publish
  10. Convince y’all to buy the books

And not get distracted by any other ideas, like the Pippington Tales Beauty and the Beast retelling involving dragon racing that’s been poking at me for a while, and just got a lot more interesting if I throw in a minor character from the Pirate and the Mermaid’s Tailor story…

Readers:

  • How have you been doing during this strange year of pandemics and presidents?
  • What projects have you been working on?
  • What are your hopes for 2021?

2 thoughts on “My Epic Pandemic Writing Marathon

  1. I admire you for being able to keep your production up. Maybe you’re right, and it was an adrenaline survival rush. Myself, I really struggled to finish a novella I had started in late January. What usually takes me 3 months took 6. Then I couldn’t focus enough to get into revisions.

    Can’t wait to see any of your new stories!

    • I’ve been there and feel you on struggling to write. I’ve had super high-stress periods of my life that just squash my creative output.
      But, we keep pushing through and getting more books out.

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