August 2021 Writing Update

I’ll admit, it’s weird to reach the start of a new academic semester and NOT have homework to do. And…no sugar coating about it, I don’t miss it. It’s SO GOOD to be done with school.

Though earlier this summer I thought I’d start up my monthly schedule writing updates again, I’m just going to stick to updates as needed. I’m writing more now than I did during college, but progress is still slow as I balance writing with a full-time job and other life things. 

My main writing focus this summer was the Whitman Court series, my middle-grade magical realism story. In June, I finished “Draft 2.5” of the first book, The Queen of Whitman Court. I call it “Draft 2.5” because its content is half from the original book and half new material. In all honesty, it feels pretty frankensteined together, but it has given me a direction that I can work with. It’s also only 28K words, which is perfect. I’m letting a friend read it for insight, then I’m going to work hard on polishing it up. My hope would be to start querying in 2022, though it would be cool to start pitching it later this year.

As I let the first book simmer, I’ve already started on book two, The Knights of Whitman Court, which I think will be about the same ratio of old and new content (half and half). If I can successfully create a full draft of a second book, I should feel more confident about transforming my much-too-long original draft into a multi-book series. Right now, I do sometimes question whether this was actually a smart idea. If I can find my rhythm and keep up the same inspiration and quirky spirit that helped me write the initial story, the series will be a ton of fun to write. At the moment, it feels a bit daunting.

To help combat that, though, I’ve created my “series bible” for Whitman Court. Unique from my other current writing projects, Whitman Court’s development notes are exclusively scattered in notebooks and contained in a single outline document. It never needed more–until it became a series. Each series bible I have is different based on the needs of the series, and Whitman Court’s includes my standard plot summary for each book, character profiles, themes, and a joint timeline & world-building page. Since the world of the series is imagined by the kids, I needed a space to keep track of how the kids’ kingdom will evolve over the course of the series instead of keeping timeline and world-building separate, like they are in my other series bibles. 

Another big project I’ve worked on this summer are blog posts. I’ve got enough posts queued up to last a few months, which is where I prefer to be so I can focus my writing time on my books without stressing over blog content. I only have a couple of additional posts planned this year that I’ll have to write closer to the post date, such as my Thanksgiving reflection and my end-of-the-year Reading Recap (though I do kind of work on that one year-round, as I take some initial notes on the book after I finish it). 

This summer, I’ve also been rereading the Harry Potter books. Though I am planning a longer blog post as part of my “Rereading” blog series, I’ll say here that rereading this series, even with how familiar I am with it, never fails to inspire me. In particular, this time around, I’ve been so fascinated by J. K. Rowling’s immersive world. She’s added so many wonderful details in the pages of her books that make the hidden Wizarding World so real and delightful for readers. I’m challenged to up my own world-building game by the series. While I’m okay at creating and fleshing out worlds, Harry Potter inspires me to go deeper. And that’s exactly what I’m doing with my Myth-Keepers series, which, like Harry Potter, is also supposed to be set in a magical place tucked within our modern day world. 

Myth-Keepers, as the world presently stands, has a pretty expansive lore surrounding the mythical creatures of the series. One of the world’s weaker points is how that mythical lore intersects with and remains hidden from the real world. The series and its world were dreamed up before I had a realistic understanding of modern tech, and as I’ve gone through college, I’ve come up with even more fun ideas I’d like to integrate. The new additions to the world also affect my story in positive ways, but also means rethinking the plot of the books. So, as I focus primarily on Whitman Court, I’m going to continue building this world and creating a new story, pulling in some of the things I’ve learned from rereading Harry Potter and other successful series I enjoy. 

I’m optimistic about where I’m heading, writing-wise. Stay tuned for those upcoming blog posts — the next one’s a brief reflection on my love of Minnesota Vikings football — and for future writing updates! Huzzah!