Year In Review

This writing blog has been sorely neglected. For those of you that follow–I apologize! This absence of posts reflects the busy year and introspective change in my attitude as a writer. I suppose that statement requires an explanation that I’m afraid will be rather lengthy, but, luckily for me, it’s cold outside so there’s not much better to do than hole up indoors with a computer and read this missive. I’ve always been fond of lists as they organize my always disorganized thought process, so here follows a list of what I’ve done this past year in writing and life.

I Started Another Blog 

For those of you who follow me via Facebook, this is old news. For you exclusive WordPress followers, this will be new. In March 2016, at the urging of friends, I decided to take my fashion obsession to the Internet and begin a style blog called Luna Elise. I have been lucky enough to have several amazing shoots with friends and, through these talented photographers, I have met even more connections to collaborate and shoot with. Books and clothes are two of my favorite things in life, and I have definitely enjoyed extending some effort towards fashion. Since Luna Elise’s inception, I have come a long way. I’ve gained a decent following, become a more confident model, gotten a sponsorship with a well-known online boutique and even made the runway model roster for Kansas City Fashion Week! To learn more about my other blog, check it out at!

I Traveled a LOT 

This past year has been crazy and amazing with the amount of traveling I’ve done. Aside from going to Cancun, Colorado and Austin, I also went on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip with my boyfriend. The exhaustive list of places visited–The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Crater Lake, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Aspen–plus all the amazing highways and little gems along the way. The entire trip was a month long, then we immediately headed out to Colorado with my Dad for the annual mountain climbing trip. All this travel amounts to nearly two months of my year, which is a pretty ideal work:play ratio if you ask me. 🙂

I Did Writer’s League of Texas Conference Again

The travel wasn’t all play; I attended the WLT Conference in Austin in June. This was coming off of the huge realization that Capacitance needed a much more involved rewrite than I had envisioned. As I went back through the story (which I originally thought I would have rewritten for the conference and ready to pitch), I realized that the entire storyline needed work, needed depth. It was frustrating, but necessary to accept. Thus, I went into the conference ready to pitch ideas, not land a deal. I remember sitting in my hotel room right before pitching to an agent, brainstorming a plot that I would pitch on the fly in 10 minutes time! The plot I pitched was DRASTICALLY different from the original Capacitance. It still has the same characters, but the set-up is quite changed. I pitched to Jessica Papin at Dystel & Goderich (despite my former rejection there), and bluntly asked her if she thought the idea was salable and good. She said yes, and that she would like to see the rewrite. But here’s the thing–I have no idea whether to believe the agents at these conferences. Especially at the pitch sessions. We pay to pitch to them, so I am wary of their reactions. It is so much more comfortable to say something encouraging even when you’re thinking how much it sucks. Hurting someone’s feelings is uncomfortable. So, maybe this is just my perpetually hyper-critical brain being paranoid, or I’m onto something here. Almost all agents at conferences say they want to see material. Honestly, I think that’s just easier on them than saying no. What’s another email to just delete? All said and done, my experience at WLT was interesting, but it just added to my general frustration on the professional world of literature.

I Took A Break

Which leads me to my next point. My six weeks of traveling came hard on the heels of WLT, and I took that as a sign to pause and breathe. Jessica Papin wasn’t going to be sitting with bated breath at her computer waiting for my revamped version of Capacitance. She might not even really want it anyway. So, I decided to give my mind a break from my characters. It may not make sense to anyone but the writer, but your characters are always with you. The brain is always carving away at them, shaping them and trying to fit them together into this perfect story. Believe it or not, it’s rather difficult to make the mind stop doing this! However, as Johnny and I hiked mountains, walked beaches, and sipped poolside drinks, I was able to let the characters go and give my mind a much-needed respite from what had been a very high pressure journey of expectations that were too high on a timeline that was way too short.

I Moved 

After our travels, not wanting to cease our constant companionship of the past six weeks, Johnny and I moved in together. It was a very natural choice, especially since I no longer needed the secluded haven of living on my family’s farm. However, my delicate, over-thinking writer brain always needs time for the proverbial waters to settle after they are disturbed by any major change (thanks, brain), so during this transitory time, the characters in my mind continued to stay silent–or were drowned out by all the other noise. Until one day they spoke up again. Although this time it wasn’t Mara and Runey clamoring for my attention, it was a completely new story, inspired by this old, odd river town I’d moved into. A town where Victorian mansions march up and down the riverfront hills, shoulder to shoulder with a Catholic university and mystery fills the air (to romanticize it heavily). It’s always said to write what you know, and I think small town Kansas fits the bill and represents an unexplored potential for stories. Johnny and I aren’t in this small town by choice but rather by career moves, but I think this piece of our puzzle serves several purposes, one of them being major inspiration for a new novel. I am not going to say much more about this project I am working on. I’ve already said too much about it! This time around, there won’t be any jumping the gun. No aspirations of fame dancing in my mind after the first draft. But I will say, I am excited about this project and I’m approaching it in an entirely new way by doing more planning and structuring of the plot before I start writing. So now I appear more lazy than ever since much of this work has been contained to the old cranium thus far (HA).

In conclusion, no, I haven’t forgotten Mara and Runey’s story. I don’t think I ever will forget it. That statement makes it sound so final, and that’s not intentional. Truly, I plan to tackle that saga again in the future and implement new ideas–maybe even the ones I improvised 10 minutes before pitching! That being said, I am in no hurry to get back to Capacitance. I got severely burnt out on it and I want to make sure I am fully fresh and ready to be excited by the project before I start it again.

What’s in store for 2017? Already, I have a lot of travel planned. The Luna Elise blog is picking up steam. Thus, there will be distractions. However, I am going to go into full-on writing mode. Like, hide in the basement with notes all over the walls and a giant white board full of outlining writer-mode. The downside of going offline in my writing mind for so long is that it makes it VERY hard to get back into the habit of self-discipline and treating writing like a job. That is the ultimate struggle. So, 2017 is going to be a tough one. I welcome your encouragement and understanding of my very infrequent blog posts. 🙂


No Right Way To Do It.

As you may know if you’ve been perusing my (sadly infrequent) posts on this blog, I am in the midst of rewriting my first novel, Capacitance. It goes without saying that I have mixed feelings about this rewrite.

The first, by far, is confusion. Here is this story, that I wrote, that I identify with, but that I also know contains a lot of complete crap. When you write like I do, spontaneously, not from an outline, by default a lot of word vomit and stream of consciousness prose hits the page as you try to keep writing anything and everything. Now instead of filling pages, I am chopping things out, leaving myself with snippets of story that are still good and usable.

Now the question is, how do I use them? Do I construct a rewrite around these snippets from the first draft or do I go in cold and write a new book, referencing and using stuff from the first draft? Each sounds like it stands a chance to become a weird mash-up that doesn’t flow. Like when I wrote the first draft I will just go with the flow and see where that leads me, narrative-wise.

Finally, the worst, most frustrating thought is “should I have even started the second and third books before focusing on the first??” I have a large wave of panic roll through me at the thought that maybe I wrote almost 500 pages of text in the sequels for nothing. Plus my prose style gets better as the books go on. I want to save those interactions, or at least some of them. I’m hoping to find some common ground where I can keep most of the dynamic in the subsequent books, but not let them dictate the initial novel.

So while I would love to bestow some helpful advice on how to go about your rewrite, I’m afraid I can’t offer any that makes too much sense. The process will be different for each person. As with any writing project, persistence is key. Keep on trying until something sticks. Another goal would be to never give up. I was overzealous last year in my goals to be published, but even though I admit that, it doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the effort. With that in mind, I am finally going to commit to booking a spot at the Writers League of Texas conference this June. I am not confident that I will have my rewrite done by then, but I do hope to have a solid pitch nailed down for the rewrite that will show some agents how invested I am in making this book work.

Disowning Your Book-Child

Ok, disowning may be a harsh term, but I have finally found that healthy degree of separation from where I was as an author last year and where I am right now. I finally, finally, finally got serious with looking at Capacitance and doing a harsh critique. It has been very harsh. So far, I have wanted to chop pretty much every chapter I’ve gone through. This is a long way from last year when I’d just finished the book and was wantonly shopping it around to every agent out there–utterly terrifying first page and all.

Now, I have a process. I read the chapter, and don’t even really line edit as I feel like (for the first ten or so chapters at least) I will need to do an entire overhaul. Instead, I take notes of key points, concepts, character building and world building that I established in the chapter. This way, I re-align with my characters, story and world. So far, this method has already led to some great over-arching questions about the story and some specific modifications I know I want to make.

I am considering some major modifications. World-altering (their world, not ours), relationship-dynamic changing modifications. Now that I am a year away from birthing the precious first baby of a book, I can see some of the critiques agents were throwing around about the characters’ relationships being inorganic. There are some critiques that I am still a little iffy on, but as a whole I see where the agents were coming from and I think that’s a good thing. Their remarks may sting, but they are industry professionals–when all is said and done, they know what sells.

Sadly, many of the poetic metaphors and paragraphs of adjective-laden exposition do not sell. Reading through them again and at a distance, I can see why. Especially in the first few chapters, this dramatic use of language is not going to reel anyone it. It is going to bore them to death. Several times while editing, I found myself shaking my head saying to myself (aloud I might add!), “Ok, ok, I get it, you can do cool s&*t with words. Now get on with it!” If I am resorting to profanity over my own writing, I can only imagine what readers’ reactions would be!

It’s not all negative when I edit. I really am at a point where I feel very energized to go back and tackle the story from an entirely new vantage point. I know I can make it better. I know I have come a long way since last year. My prose has gotten cleaner, my story has developed to the point where I have much more of a world built up. I know I need to add suspense and stakes–now that I have had practice raising the stakes for the duration of the succeeding two books, I am more confident in my ability to do so. The key now is to try and gain some focus to actually channel this excitement and motivation. With all the activities and things going on in my life right now, finding focus might be the biggest struggle.

Killing Your Own Characters

As is probably readily apparent to everyone due to lack of blog posts on here, my life has been a whirlwind. Aside from the launch of my second blog Luna Elise, which features my fashion addiction, my personal life has pretty much demanded the majority of my time. I can’t say I’m complaining–I’m probably having way too much fun, but the writing has taken a hit for sure.

This used to bother me more than it does now. I have grown to the point as an author where I understand no one is going to strike you down with wrath if you don’t finish one chapter per day. I will admit, I’m still finding that balance, but I find that not leaving room for burnout to creep in lets the ideas flow more freely. Plus, it allows for more strategic planning which is a crucial step in the final stages of a trilogy.

These final stages have me asking some big questions, and thinking things through before writing. For once, I find myself weighing alternatives and unable to decide what is best for the story. This is very different to my usual “word vomit” method of writing whatever comes banging out of my mind. Right now, one of the biggest decisions I am struggling with is whether or not to kill off one of my secondary characters. Morbid, I know, but it is a post-apocalyptic story. I feel like it could use a little more darkness right now.

However, this character I am considering offing is undeniably a figure of light in the books. I think I like this secondary character more than my main characters! You always hear stories of authors literally crying as they write in the death of a favorite character (I think this happened with J.K. Rowling and Fred Weasley, but I could be just making that up entirely!). I understand sometimes it needs to happen for dramatic effect, but I don’t want the dramatic effect to be overridden by the anger I am sure readers will feel. This is the equivalent of Gandalf falling to the balrog but not coming back–this character will be missed!

Ultimately, I think it comes down to whether the character will be of importance or useful to the story as it plays out. There is a potential conflict that could use this character, but that also could be omitted. You can see the back and forth is very prevalent right now. I can’t make any decisions as of now! Perhaps this hesitation is my writerly subconscious screaming at me not to kill the character (yet anyway).

Manic Creativity

The title says it all. I had an extremely productive weekend working on all sorts of projects and releasing a lot of pent up creativity. I worked on an oil painting, started my new fashion blog ( for those interested), and wrote. The hours flew by in the creative zone that we artists know so well and strive for.

With my mind so stimulated by creating, Resistance was at the height of my consciousness. While out on a nice, long run, my mind tuned into my story instead of the usual jumble of everyday life situations and worries. I came up with a concept that I think is going to propel me to the ending of the trilogy. While I still don’t know the exact ending, I think this gives me another pivotal plot point to work to. I find I work better when I’m working up to some event. Actually I get frustrated at times because I want to just write that big scene I’m leading up to–and I want to write it now!!

This pacing might be the biggest lesson I have learned as a writer. In my writer’s block times, I would get frustrated plodding through these leading up moments, just wanting to get to the events already. Then I would lose patience with myself and my willpower went down the drain thinking of the at the time insurmountable amount of work I had to do to convey the exciting story in my head.

However, if this weekend is any example, I’m able to take on any task. Perhaps I just need to focus my creativity a bit more efficiently so I can balance all  these different endeavors. So I’m approaching this week with the goal of finding balance–I hope you all have a peaceful and balanced week as well.


I just made a list of the key points I have to wrap up to finish the Capacitance trilogy. There are 14 of them (so far), the last one of which being “The state of the world.” So that’s intimidating; cue me running away from my computer, never to write again. Just kidding–maybe.

The other 13 points are a bit more doable. Most of them are comprised of characters. Obviously I will have to tie up Mara and Runey’s story lines as well as all the secondary characters. I listed some tertiary characters on the list as well. At this time, I am not sure how relevant they will end up being to the endgame of my story, but listing them was more of a device to remind me what tools I have in my toolbox, so to speak.

Time for a little writing secret. I didn’t figure this out until basically just now (embarrassingly enough). Employing characters you’ve already introduced to come into plot play down the road makes you look like a genius-level author. Look at J.K. Rowling–that tiara from the Sorcerer’s Stone comes out of nowhere as a horcrux in the last book. Was she planning this all along or did she come to a point in her story where she needed a horcrux so she plucked one out of the existing scenery she had created? We may never know, but in my case it would have been the latter situation. You should all know by now most of my writing is improvisational, so characters, settings, actions all spew out of their own accord. Now that I’m nearing the end of the trilogy, I have the luxury of flipping back through these characters and scenarios I have created and deciding how best to use them. That obscure character from midway through Capacitance? Maybe she will come back and play an intrinsic part in the resolution of the trilogy, leaving readers to wonder at my strategic placement and planning (ha!).

To summarize, I think using this strategy will help me organize my thoughts, discover new creative ideas and ultimately give a well-rounded feel to the trilogy as a whole. Time to go crank out some exciting installments!

Capping Off a Productive Week

I posted earlier this week about being energized, so now I am happy to say I have had a good writing week as a result. Yesterday was a great writing session.  I had been working on Chapter 19, and it was the same old routine. I start it out, knowing everything that needs to happen and then it stagnates halfway through because I get bored with the writing. Typically this is because it is deciding action leading up to some exciting action that I can’t wait to write about. I’m impatient to get there and so I end up getting frustrated and letting it sit. This week is a victory because while this happened twice, I made myself go back each time and slog through it. Thus, I have two finished chapters here on Friday and that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time!

Yesterday, when I sat down to hammer out the rest of 19, one of these great moments occurred where your characters take over your brain and your fingers type out some crazy stuff you hadn’t planned on. For the first time, I was writing an entire chapter in the POV of one of my secondary characters. This refreshing change naturally leads to better character development, but the end of the chapter spelled out some feelings that I had never anticipated putting into words. So now there is another layer in my plot, and that was much needed. Now the reader will go into the big action scene coming up with yet another layer of dramatic tension in their mind. That’s always a good thing. There is still quite a ways to go, but I have mapped out a couple defining events that should propel things forward faster. And all the characters should be back in one general setting soon, so that is sure to provide some dramatic material.

Space in the Noise

The world is a noisy busy place. Constantly, we are surrounded by facets of distraction. Our phone needs monitored for pivotal social media updates, our dogs need to go for a walk, that work project deadline is looming. It’s hard to find space to create in all this jumble. Being a writer, it is even more challenging as my canvas is attached to the prime agent of distraction–my computer/the internet. Some days I sit down and feel like I can’t have a coherent thought, let alone finish a sentence.

It’s easy to get caught up and find yourself at the end of the week with nothing of creative merit stacked up to your name, and then get funneled into the weekend hoping to just relax for a moment. When our minds are so busy like this, downtime and relaxation are important, but when you’re a creative, even vegging out in front of the TV can cause anxiety because you know you could be putting your mind to better use.

Or at least that’s how my brain functions. If yours is anything like mine, you know the feeling. But you also need to recognize the power of sub-cognitive functions. While you are lounging on the couch, stuffing your face with pizza and downing wine, perhaps the film you are watching will inspire you in ways you never would have thought. During those extra lazy hours of sleeping in on Sunday, you might have a dream which solidifies a loose end of a story line. Our brains are working all the time, and are naturally focused on matters most important to us. As creative souls, these matters tend to be our art.

If this still isn’t reassuring, and  your brain works like mine on twelve layers at once like some really magnificent cake, then consider this. Even when I am working on tax forms, balancing the books, planning a fashion blog, and playing fetch with my bulldogs in some chaotic ballet of working from home, my novel’s story is ALWAYS in the back of my mind. I don’t have to peel away many layers to discover the thread. My mind is continually churning away at it, waiting for that facet to be brought to the forefront when I finally close out of Facebook and open up Microsoft Word–even if that takes a couple days.

Lately I have been experiencing a much-needed burst of energy in my life in general, but also in my writing. The ideas for the ending of my trilogy are still not quite there, but I have enough of an interesting fomentation of concepts that I am comfortable enough to continue blazing forward (hopefully into a sunset of glory that is a perfect ending to the trilogy).

Aside from my renewed motivation to work on Resistance, Capacitance has also sparked some interest in my mind again. I received an email from an agent who requested to see it at the WLT conference last June (yes, it sometimes takes them THAT long to respond). It was a very nice rejection email. Even though it was a rejection, the key statement I grabbed was, “I think this is a story with legs.” To me, after months of wallowing in the despair of the over-saturated dystopian lit market, this was music to my starving ears! This agent is looking for smart science fiction, and he sees potential in my story. He also saw my not-pub ready narration. If you are a first-time author reading this, I cannot stress this enough–DO NOT, DO NOT (SERIOUSLY DO NOT) SUBMIT YOUR WORK UNTIL YOU HAVE EDITED AND EDITED SOME MORE AND PROBABLY REWRITTEN IT!!! We all do it; we get into a frenzy thinking we are going to be the next Stephen King, our parents/grandparents/etc are telling us we ARE going to be the next Stephen King (actual thing my Grandpa said the other day. Sigh). This frenzy of foreseen fame inflates our egos and has us pressing send on a blind query email and attached sample work from a loosely edited first draft.

I’m being so scathing because I have been there. Despite reading several articles, blog posts, etc. which said the same thing I just vehemently exhorted above. For instance, this agent who just emailed me liked my story, but didn’t like my narration. If I had edited more carefully and spent some time curating a truly polished story would the outcome of that email have been different? Luckily with this agent, I had established a personal connection with him due to actually meeting him at the conference. He is a really nice guy who came off as a jerk when I asked him a question on day one of the conference. On the last day he came up, and apologized for his stand-offishness and asked me to send my work. So when I got his rejection email, I didn’t feel any qualms about sending him a follow up email. I kept it short (key to interaction with agents, by the way), told  him I now realized I had jumped the gun on submitting the story, then asked if he would be interested in seeing Capacitance again after a rewrite. The answer, which arrived a mere two days later–much better response time!–was “Sounds great Elise.” This may not amount to anything, but I am more energized to do a rewrite since I know this agent has an interest in my story and has agreed to have a look at it again upon rewrite (HUGE!!).

I put this out in the last blog post, and I will put the call out again. If any of my readers have free time or interest in reading Capacitance and providing me with critique that goes beyond just copy editing, but goes into the scope and feel of the story as a whole, please let me know! I have a few people (outside of my overly supportive nepotistic family) reading it right now and I have found that to be very helpful. After a couple months the sound of rewrite doesn’t sound so terrifying!

Classic Bestsellers

When one hears the titles “A Farewell to Arms” or “Jane Eyre,” it is common to think of a literature course. However, these classics have another thing in common–they were both instant bestsellers when they were first released. A friend of mine sent me an email which raised the question, how does a novel go from the bestseller list to the reading list of the classics?

There is no question that Bronte’s classic bildungsroman (coming of age) story and Hemingway’s perfect, crisp prose are works of art. Only a true work of art would inspire the literally throw-the-book-across-the-room rage I felt upon finishing a Farewell to Arms. I can and have written essays on both the content and literary merits of both these novels. However, the question lingers when looking at today’s “popular” fiction. Bronte and Hemingway topped the charts in their respective days, but what about the bestselling books now? Will Twilight and The Hunger Games hit the college classrooms in the future?

This brings up the interesting dichotomy that has sprung up between commercial (think Stephen King, James Patterson) and literary fiction (Ian McEwan, Celeste Ng). Our bestseller lists now are topped with mostly books from the commercial fiction category. Sometimes a literary fiction title will cross over–for example, The Lovely Bones–but usually we are looking at quick reads. As an author and a lover of literature and words, I would be saddened to think that future generations will be studying the literary intricacies of The Hunger Games. I’ll be the first to admit I am a big fan of this series of books and the films, but do I see them as literary art–no.

However, there are valuable popular books that absolutely should end up being studied by posterity. For example, anything by J.K. Rowling is masterful in both her deceptively simple use of the language and her plot development. As an author myself, I try to incorporate a slightly elevated use of the English language into my decidedly commercial fiction novels. There’s no reason to dumb work down–I’m not producing novels for the sole purpose of the sale, the movie deal, the get rich quick dream that many strive for.

I can’t say what the future of literary education and the classics will entail, but one thing I know for certain–future students will almost certainly have a cinematic version of their material to view. Movie day in class is always fun, right?