Lonely Awake is COMING!

(This is some old concept for the revamp)

Hey guys.

I am so excited to officially announce that we are revamping Lonely Awake!
It’s been a project that I have had lots of people request I come back to, and a project I think about a lot, wondering how I could elaborate and change it. 

If you would like to follow the process as we make it, we already have some content you can check out in the Flock Block for Lonely Awake, but I would like to give you all a bit more of a personal behind-the-scenes here.

What’s gonna be different in the new Lonely Awake?

We are so excited to retell the story of Will and Eva (and of course Odie) with more depth and character development, new exciting events, and of course, the previous story’s theme of Love. We have a lot of development in the works, and we firmly believe this story will show the true bond and balance of masculinity and femininity, the truth of what love really is outside of this twisted world’s surface-level definition, and how our natural identities play into the big picture through service, humility, responsibility, and acceptance.

The story will be a bit different than before, in a fairly similar way to what we did with Nonesuch. Some of the old major points of the story might be a bit different this time around, and we have a couple of pretty big twists we’ll be taking in the story that weren’t in the original version.

What are we up to in the meantime?

I’m stringing plot points together on a crime web, and drawing each of these new characters already way too many times, Audrey is viciously scribbling shadows across those drawings, and J.T. is editing like a mad man. (And then we decide we just have to start all over.) Martha is telling everyone and their mother about it, and Joe is ominously standing over a spreadsheet ready to mail orders. The post it notes are strewn about the office. The computer files are very, very large. The Christmas lights are up in the office illuminating our late nights working, and the ol’ proofs of chapter one sit right here next to me on the desk. Looking slick. Yes, progress, finally.

When is it going up? How often?
My team and I will be posting it here to BitsyComics.com once a month starting on January 27th, but we’re already shipping the book once a month to anyone who wants to sign up for that here! You can read a month early that way, we even throw in special packaging every month with some stickers and drawings too.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this long update and, again, I am so excited about our new project!


When the World Went to Sleep

I took a creative writing class in high school. It was a snow day, and where I lived they had “NTI days,” where even though it was a snow day, the teachers had to give us online assignments or send us home with a packet to do or something. Personally, I hated them with everything in me, they were usually a lot harder and more time consuming than just the regular school work, but my Senior year I had just work blocks, English, French, Creative writing and my Independent Art Study, (which I basically used as another work block- I was running a graphic design business- that’s art, right?) so none of my assignments were ever horribly unenjoyable.

In fact, I looked forward to having to write all day. My creative writing assignment this day was a prompt to write a short story centered around a physiological conflict. I went ahead and spent as much time as I wanted on it, trying to get it well-written in under a page.

I still love this original one. This is the story that I went on to turn into Lonely Awake later.

When the World Went to Sleep

It was a cold morning, snowing, but she kept the room warm with a space heater throughout the night, and with school obviously canceled, she woke up to her room feeling more like a summer day. She shifted from her side to her back, and looked at the ceiling for a good while, thinking about what summer felt like. Her sixteenth birthday was last summer, she had a small party with all her friends, she loved that day. She thought about how on the more quiet days of summer, she would throw the covers off herself and go have coffee with mom-

Oh, right. Coffee.

She picked up her half-finished coffee by her bedside from yesterday and went out to the kitchen to make a fresh cup, knowing full well she should only fill it halfway, but she didn’t. Maybe she would finish it today, put ice in it after lunch… some whipped cream to spice things up a bit.

She usually would expect to hear the dog’s nails tap on the floor for it’s daily dollop of whipped cream, but she didn’t feel she needed to poke her head in the living room to know he was still sleeping. These mornings, everyone was still asleep. She talked to herself though, a lot these past few months. It was very quiet, with everyone sleeping all the time… None of them have been awake since she wrote the date this lonely phenomenon started. She had used to keep a tally on the whiteboard on the fridge, but she didn’t like how she was running out of room on it, or the feeling of herself as a prisoner scratching the tally onto the walls of a cell. She knew she wasn’t in a prison, but she didn’t want to leave. The image of the late-shift cashier dropped asleep from when she first went to restock on food still snuck its way around her thoughts, she would talk to herself to change the subject. But even these ice breakers with herself began to have their awkward silences at the end. Though, she was starting to appreciate them, thinking about how talking to people was an art you had to master, and she felt she had lots of time to practice with herself in the mirror, it was still a relief to see a human being reflect expressions back, to blink and move.

She understood she was going crazy, and expected it from the day she wrote “June 25th, 2017” above the long count of tallies.

It was sick, the spell. Everyone is asleep, as close to death as you come, but it gives the false hope they will all wake up. She thought a lot about sleeping beauty, how the story showed mercy on the princess, making her fall asleep. But no, this spell, that creature said, will tear her piece by piece, and she had begged him, begged him to tell her what he had cursed her with, all he said through a long fit of laughter was “Oh, it’s coming! It’s coming! Then, it will hit! But then, the spell will be gone- but all too late!” And now that it has “hit,” she was able to put together what the monster meant by, “-but all too late.”

To be asleep like a princess, not even needing to feel hope- just simply unconscious– unaware of how close she is to death, how miserable the princess would be, had she been awake.

Oh, what she would give to be unconscious right now.

To feel that peace the people around her are experiencing…

To be like that princess.
She would give her very life.
And that is what she was about to do.

She knew that once she drank this coffee with all her mother’s expired pills, when she made her last breath, the world would wake up again, in that unfortunate irony the creature laughed at, everyone would wake up, but all too late.


The Inspiration for Lonely Awake

Lonely Awake was my first major project I published.

The new mood board I created to explore the new feelings this revamped version would have.

I had been writing my entire childhood, but by the time I graduated high school, I couldn’t shake that I felt called to be writing stories. So as I was working on my graphic design projects for clients during the day, I would be up late working on comics by night.  Originally, Lonely Awake was just a short story I did on a snow day when we were assigned homework. My creative writing teacher gave us a prompt to explore some psychological horror, and so I wrote about a girl who was the only one awake, cursed by some unnamed cryptic being, who would watch her go crazy until she would kill herself to everyone would wake up. I still have it too, you can read it here.

When I graduated high school, I set to officially create a book and print it. So I rolled with that short story because it got my gears spinning. It was simple, so I could focus on the experience of learning the entire process of comic creation without concerning myself too much with a complicated world or plot. My priority was to learn how to market, schedule myself, and interact with my audience and eventually I learned how to print and ship as well. But, it took off a lot more than I ever thought it would, and I was at over 40,000 readers a month and I sold over 100 copies of that giant 400 page graphic novel. (In a one time run, and please no, I am not printing that again.) As fun as it was, I did put down the project once it was complete, and took on Nonesuch after.

I chose to revamp Lonely Awake because there were always lots of ideas and themes I felt had fallen flat, or I didn’t realize would enhance the story so much until all these years later. There is also a lot of life experience and people I’ve met that have influenced and strengthened the original message of the first Lonely Awake, and I feel now that this story isn’t over, and that the message is more important now than ever. As a writer, I am far more equipped to share this message authentically, realistically, and effectively.

I originally wrote the story to talk about what true love was. In a world of high divorce rates and “me, me, me,” the idea of self-sacrifice and a “reckless” love were things I always felt this story was going to be about. I had faced a lot of judgment from people for marrying fast and young, and still do. But I see now so many things that make my marriage work, and why so many others don’t. And it has nothing to do with the timing, knowledge, or “stupidity” on my part and everything to do with me and my husband’s hearts toward our mutual and everlasting agreement of “‘til death do us part.” If you want to read more about the theme of Lonely Awake, you can read about it here.

Road trips.

Joe and I have spent a LOT of time on the road. Especially during our early years of marriage. During the season we were feeling the feelings of romantic and fluttery swoons and yes, the sexual tension, we did a LOT of traveling. It’s such a firmly rooted thing between me and Joe. There was always a trip coming up.

Our vacations and anniversaries are still more the journey than the destination. So, of course, naturally, the revamped version NEEDED to feel like an amazing road trip. It could feel like a quest! Joe and I do most our traveling to North Carolina, often seeing a lot of his family throughout the trip, hitting those beautiful landmarks like Deal’s Gap, Hiking trails and backpacking in Asheville, eating chicken cooked over fires at campsites and making memories with his family under the shade of the RV, enjoying the tight communities around his family member’s hometowns all the way up to the shores, staying at AirBNB beach houses, standing at the shore watched Joe wade in the waves. It was all too obvious this feeling of staring at the road passing at 70 miles an hour, lost in a big thought, or lost together in a thought over hours on the road… these are the things that give a journey character. 

The Fantastical.

This universe the crew and I have gotten to explore has been full of excited elaborations and uncontrollable laughter. That’s the goal of this world-building project. A fun, lighthearted, subtly-more-fantastical-than-our-own world that gives us enough freedom to push the limits but keep the day to day relatable to our own everyday lives. Rabbits are real, but you might find a jackalope in your front yard too. You might be studying to be a nurse and go over a course in hexes. You might find an ancient famous nymph on the cover of a magazine, or stumble across Bigfoot’s tiktok account. Maybe you’ll need to make sure you bring your cockatrice bite kit if you’re going backpacking or keep real still and quiet when a little fairy approaches you. You might have a friend who can talk to animals, or your dad might go to work at the law firm, where he helps people get out of bad deals with a fae, sue a snake oil company for fraud, or break a spell cast by his client’s ex-wife. Legendary creatures come from their own land where they were first originated, but you might find the Loch Ness Monster anywhere along the Atlantic Coasts, or see gnomes on your hike. They’re considered an invasive species in the Appalachian mountains, they snuck on ships from Europe when the colonists came to America.

Biblical Imagery

The more serious and prominent characters and scenes are much more heavily leaning on the bible, sometimes directly. The story of Adam and Eve was the biggest inspiration, one that I return to often when I’m stuck writing. It’s the root of our purpose as a creation, the bedrock of marriage, and the defining point of masculinity and femininity. Snakes, leaves, skulls, and apples. A man and a woman, alone, where every decision decides the fate of all mankind.

Some more sketches developing the feeling of the new story.

Why we’re writing Lonely Awake.

 This story is about sexuality and identity.
Our culture has a very broken and hurt view of love, sex, and romance. 
And it’s rooted in a deeply deformed, selfish connection with ourselves.

There was a sweet meme I saw about a newly married couple. They were on their way home from their honeymoon, and the guy almost dropped his wife off at her parents house, just out of habit of always picking her up and dropping her off there. I was disheartened by the comments. Full of people saying marriage was stupid and how the couple was going to get divorced because they needed to live with their partner before getting married… but there was one girl who’s comment broke my heart. She called marriage “antiquated and unevolved.” She even disparaged people who got married young, pessimistically and critically saying that it was stupid and an almost guarantee you’ll get divorced.

Now, I don’t usually get into comment debates. I really don’t. But I suggested that the divorce rates might have more to do with our culture’s selfish attitude of “me first,” that if the relationship does not benefit them or hurts them, they break up or divorce. Love requires sacrifice, and people these days don’t want to sacrifice anything for anybody. We are incapable of real, true love because Love isn’t the romantic feelings or the sexual tension between two people, it’s the decision to stay together through thick and thin, commitment for the sake of growth and strength in trials together. 

Her response was almost demonic. She was berating and hateful, had no arguments aside from aggressive words and projecting her own insecurities on me. I kept talking with her because it was a clear and obvious window into the heart of the women in western culture today. Sure, she was a bit more extreme and obnoxious, but her words were interesting to me. She chose to set herself above the idea of marriage because she thought it was pointless and almost embarrassing, (Considering she herself was actively making fun of me for choosing to get married at a young age.) and that the risk was not worth her time. She wanted “freedom” to have sex if she so chooses, without the commitment involved that God designed to protect it.

“Thus it would be quite a good thing to make the patient decide that ‘Love’ is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ If he is an arrogant man with a contempt for the body really based on delicacy but mistaken by him for purity– and one who takes pleasure in flouting what most of his fellow approve– by all means let him decide against love. Instill in him an overweening asceticism and then, when you have separated his sexuality from all that might humanize it, weigh in on him with it in some much more brutal and cynical form.” (Letter 19, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis) 

Almost every other woman I’ve been very close to has had this exact sentiment. Not only that, but a more dominantly prominent amount of men I’ve met have it as well. The concept that marriage and commitment aren’t for them, either from a place of fear that the commitment won’t pan out because they’ll “fall out of love,” or their partner will if they don’t. It’s not the high divorce rate, it’s deeper than that. It’s that they’ve seen so many divorces, because they’ve never seen anyone living a marriage in true love. 

People give up. They care more about what they can get out of the marriage rather than what they can give. They only see how they were hurt, not how they are hurting the other. They put a cap on their extension of forgiveness out of self-preservation rather than falling into that recklessly selfless love that extends forgiveness to any necessary level and hold out in faith and love for their partner. It’s all about how “toxic” everything is, when really every human is fully capable of just as much evil as the next- it’s just a matter of how far they’re pushed and in what way they’re tested. Everyone is toxic. Having fights and having problems is human, and you can very easily pull the toxic card and get out of any relationship if you just take it from the selfish view of “prioritizing your mental health.” Yes, I do think that prioritizing your mental health is selfish. You can’t be bothered to take on the burden of another? Your inner turmoil and your problems are more important than another’s? You’d leave another person’s struggle in the dust to save your own peace of mind? We talk about “taking on burdens” and think it means “standing by” someone struggling through a hard time, like a poor financial situation, or a sickness or an injury- but that’s not carrying a burden. That’s having sympathy. That’s easy, because it makes you look good with no cost to you but a couple minutes where you at least look like you’re listening, and even get some bonus points for remembering details. Truly carrying the burden of another is taking hits, paying prices, and sacrificing anyway.
I’m not saying this from a place of judgment, because, believe me, I’m more than guilty of doing this myself. I’ve shoved off so many people in my life without a second thought because their shortcomings were not worth my time or my energy. But as I’ve received the grace and mercy from people who’ve carried the burden I loaded on them- the burden of my own hurtful words, actions, and horrible, delusional beliefs about them, the mercy and grace they had for me changed my life. That mercy and forgiveness let me see myself for something I wasn’t, to extend that mercy and forgiveness to myself rather than bounce around to new seasons of people like a pinball, never establishing any deep and meaningful relationships. I got the “maybe I’m the problem” realization without the lonely, hopeless feeling of being all alone with the monster that I am. Because of the people carrying the true burden of my shortcomings, holding out in patience with my hurtful ways, when I came around, I was standing in love. I had the hope that I can still be loved, and that fixing myself is worth it, and I don’t have to see myself as a horrible creature unworthy of holding anyone close to me.

In this world, there’s no grace. There’s no mercy. It’s only extended as far as people are willing to extend it to themselves, and this self-obsessed world has too high of standards for even themselves. Everyone is all too important to be bothered by other people’s toxic behavior, because they’re too busy hating the person in the mirror for their own shortcomings.
No one wants to change because it’s not worth it. What’s the point of fixing yourself if everyone only sees what you’ve done, ruminates on your sins… keeps them lingering around and pulling you back down to them? In a world thinking like this, everyone is against you. Some even hope you always stay the same to justify their own hurt. Others have no hope in you, and abandon you to protect themselves. It’s a vicious cycle that permeates through parents and children, friendships, romances- it’s no wonder the fundamental idea of marriage doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

So in Lonely Awake, we’re gonna talk about that.
We’re gonna talk about how true love is a choice. A choice to love someone despite all the hurt, failure and sin of someone else, and learning how to really love yourself, too.

The Inspiration for Nonesuch

The original dream long entry.

The whole idea came from a dream.

I know, it’s kind of underwhelming.
I was wandering around in a dark forest, looking for my husband, Joe. I hugged him and felt relief when I finally found him… But the thing is, when I looked at him, it… wasn’t him. It looked like him, but I knew it wasn’t. I ran away and found myself in an old staged town, full of copies of Joe and me. On a bench, a large woman in a striped shirt and a trench coat invited me to sit next to her. She offered me a clipboard for notes, and informed me that I can’t go home until I find my husband. She helped me narrow down the slight differences between the copies of my husband until I found him. And I woke up.
I immediately and viciously started writing out the elaborated concept from this unsettling and intriguing idea. I tried to make notes of the arrangement of the town, the way it felt like a puppet show, the woman’s very vivid image in my head, the potential things that could happen in this town, various strategies to escape, adding more “what if” and “why” questions to flesh it out. I spent the next month fleshing out the characters and the story, and started posting the canvas version over 2020.

I kept a corel file and started adding sketches and images to it, as I usually do.

The song, “Panic Room” by Au/Ra was the song I had strongly associate with the story, I had heard it the day before and was listening to it on repeat, and I still wonder if it had anything to do with that dream I had the night after I discovered it.

Gathering elements and moods of the setting.

The Town

I got the name from my creative writing class in high school. We were working on world development, and Mr. Haughton gave us a list of all the towns in Kentucky. There’s a lot of really weird ones. But I loved the sound of “Nonesuch.” It was mysterious and it had so much character. It was just so Kentucky. It sounded old and even a bit western. The project I went through I had this world stuck in a sort of time bubble, that this unnamed character passed by it, it “picked” him, and he somehow got stuck in it. The story followed him explored it, trying to figure out how he could leave. He met various characters through it, I used it as a study of how money can bring out the best and worst of people, but for this next project, I felt the name still was so awesome. You can probably see how the concept translated into my clone version of the setting.

The other interesting thing, I always recognized the name “Nonesuch” when Joe and I passed by it on our way back and fourth through Bowling Green and home when we lived in the apartment. Driving those windy, creepy backroads every other weekend, tired out of our minds, trying to stay awake together. It lead me to want to write about an engaged couple, as I had just gotten married, and Joe and I were learning more about each other, fighting a bit more, learning what it means to live out love.

I also considered them being high schoolers, but my editing group said it needed to be an engaged couple, there was more to explore and the stakes are higher that way.


The Characters

I started working out what would eventually be Bridget, Connor, and Shannon. I will go more into detail about Connor, Bridget, and Shannon in their own posts, but the characters never really changed from their roots. Bridget’s arc and struggle was based off myself and Connor’s off my husband. Joe and I were fighting about moving back home with our friends and family, but he was terrified. Having faith to quit his awful job and trust God to help him find a new job and a new house in our town, while his parents were encouraging him to stay in Bowling Green despite how bad it was for us there… was difficult for him. Meanwhile, my struggle over that time involved grappling my vindictive feelings toward my family, trying to forgive myself for the things I did, and trying to learn to trust Joe with those feelings and fears and doubts about myself. Being honest with him about the voices in my head telling me I was things that I wasn’t, fearing he would realize he made a mistake marrying me, were the loudest and hardest parts about living in the apartment at the first conception of the story.
Shannon’s arc… was a more interesting story. I felt like it had to revolve around guilt. It felt only natural that someone who got stuck there would be living with the knowledge that they were stuck there because they killed their partner. (How it was in the canvas version.) So some sort of idea of redemption and forgiveness was bound to be a prominent theme. Eventually, her character settled into one strongly tied with her mother. I was currently in a bad place with my own mom specifically, learning what it means to forgive and be forgiven with her. Reflecting on the events of my wedding and engagement, the things I said that hurt my mom the things she said that hurt me… That would resolve over the course of the canvas version’s development, strongly influenced my understanding of what forgiveness was.


Final Style for Canvas

Their designs made slight variations over the course of development. But none of them really made too many drastic changes. Here is what I came to by the start of the canvas version.