Hello everyone! Welcome to another jam-packed progress update on A.R. Dragonfly.
We wrapped up National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo in a big way! NaNoWriMo challenges authors to complete a book during the month of November. I decided to push myself and up the ante by setting a goal of completing two books instead of one!
I ended up starting seven days late but that didn’t deter me. 2 1/2 weeks later, I completed Volumes 7 and 8 and got them both into first draft! I am now, officially, four volumes ahead of my releases!
Volume 7 was pretty fun to write as it focuses on setting up the next major event which happens in Volume 8. Volume 8 became one of the toughest volumes of A.R. Dragonfly that I had to write and, to make matters worse, a real-life event happened that completely impacted both volumes.
I would love nothing more than to talk about it but doing so would absolutely destroy both volumes and spoil damn near everything. However, in Volume 8’s Afterword, I will reveal what that event was and why it was so impactful. Sadly, by the time Volume 8 comes out, it might be a “oh yeah, I remember that happening” thing rather than something fresh as if it happened just a week ago (which it did from the time of this writing.)
Still, not talking about my books is one of the hardest things for me to do as an author. I can sit here and make up story ideas all day but keeping it all to myself is painful. I often forget that the world is reading Volume 4 and here I am completing Volume 8. I was talking to friend about an announcement I have later on in this update and I almost spoiled Kaito’s backstory in Volume 6 because I forgot that she hasn’t read it yet despite me writing it months ago.
I just need someone who doesn’t care and wants to hear everything I have planned so I can just spill my guts and get it out of my system! LOL!
Speaking of planning things and NaNoWriMo… once I had completed Volumes 7 and 8, my “stretch goal” for the last week of the month would be to plan out Volumes 9-12, which means bullet pointing the final arc of the series which will bring it to a close.
Well, that didn’t last long as I managed to plot it out in an entire day. While I was writing Volume 4, I had already come up with the way I wanted A.R. Dragonfly to end. It was simply finding enough interesting points to get there. I have some interesting things planned along the way and it changes some things up in the story. Some things you are used to will be different heading into the home stretch and that’s all I can say about it.
Here Comes a New Character
One thing that will be different will be the addition of a new character. After certain events transpire in Volumes 7 and 8, one of the characters ends up meeting a new character named Rebekah. Rebekah was added on a whim as I was writing. 0 planning whatsoever. As soon as I thought of adding a side character to the story, I looked up a cool name for her. Then as soon as I picked Rebekah, her character instantly became clear to me. The way she looked, acted, her personality… it almost felt like a light switch had turned on and just her existence alone caused me to make a few decisions about some of the other characters in the series. It’s like she changed the whole dynamic in a heartbeat. Even I can’t believe that happened all off of a knee-jerk whim.
Still… Rebekah had no last name. I put some thought into it and as I was going through what sounded cool as a last name, I just started giggling to myself… especially when I found a great last name for her which made me giggle even more. Her last name became Gallagher (pronounced Gal-uh-her). Of course, with a name like Rebekah Gallagher, I needed to put in a certain middle name. What name that begins with a certain letter just rolls off the tongue?
Because Rebekah Noelle Gallagher was randomly created on a whim, her initials are RNG.
I know. I’m a genius!
Well, maybe not, but I still thought it was clever!
So who is Rebekah? Rebekah is an oddball who is into the occult, UFO’s, conspiracies, and everything like that. She also loves a good mystery… especially when that mystery involves people’s lives. The more mysterious a person is, the more attracted she is to them. Notice I said “person” and not guy or girl. That is because Little Miss RNG will also be A.R. Dragonfly’s first bisexual character!
She should be incredibly fun to write. While she seems out there and 100% creeper status, she actually doesn’t mean any harm and slowly our other characters are going to see and understand that. She’s basically sending a message of it being okay to be yourself, even if yourself is a little out there as there are those who will accept you for who you are.
Outside of that, I can’t say more as it will spoil what I have planned for her and for the end of the series.
The Future of Me As a Writer
Speaking of the end of A.R. Dragonfly, I guess it’s time to get to that big announcement that I teased on Twitter and Facebook.
So, as you all know… I announced that my next light novel series after A.R. Dragonfly is going to be The Zero Eclipse… a re-imagining of my original idea that I called Shadow Wing. I started hand-writing a medieval story back in high school and got through 144 handwritten pages before stopping. I always wanted to go back and revisit that and when I became an author, I said that I would make this story happen.
After I finished planning A.R. Dragonfly, I got to work on The Zero Eclipse. I had bullet points for the first volume which covered Stacatto standing at the end of the world, staring the unmaker right in the face, ready to draw his sword and do battle underneath a sun which was eclipsed, reducing the world to zero status… only to recall how he got there which would send us back in time to tell his story. I had his training arc completed as he began his journey to becoming a Freelance Knight… a knight so skilled he could carry out missions solo that would normally take an entire group to complete.
I worked on world building and character introduction just like any first volume should. By the time I finished the bullet points for the first 12 chapters (yes, I was abandoning the 7-chapter rule I set for myself with A.R. Dragonfly to tell a more expansive and detailed story), I ran into a problem. The very same problem that I had with Final Hope, only worse.
My characters were flat, uninteresting, and really not all that different from each other. Dargon, Stacatto’s brother, and Lenora, Stacatto’s childhood friend and love interest, all seemed just run-of-the-mill fantasy characters. I tried to make them more unique with different personalities but when I did, I kept drawing upon a lot of the trope-ish characters you would find in any fantasy anime. It got to the point where it was beginning to impact the story as some of their attitudes ended up making plot points irrelevant or nonsensical.
I didn’t want to write another story like Final Hope where the characters were carried by the story. I wanted a series that both story and characters alike were interesting and I just wasn’t getting that. So, I thought about why that was and what made A.R. Dragonfly so much easier to write.
That’s when it dawned on me. In a slice-of-life setting, you have fewer rules that you are bound to when it comes to characters than you are in a specific setting. So, then I started thinking “what else do I enjoy in life?” and I thought of a TON of different things I could write about. I could do something similar to A.R. Dragonfly, I could do something completely different… but each time I thought of what I could write, I felt like I didn’t need to worry about the characters because I could literally make them anything I wanted to… something I can’t in a fantasy novel. Stacatto can’t be an anime-loving otaku with a soft spot for magical girls because that stuff doesn’t exist in fantasy unless I make it into an isekai and Stacatto was that in the real world before being transported/reincarnated/etc.
I wasn’t going to write an isekai. Screw that noise.
So, I made the important decision that The Zero Eclipse is now on indefinite hold.
Where does this leave me now?
I thought about that some more and a massive light bulb went on above my head. After invoking some emotion while penning the bullet points of the final volume and not wanting A.R. Dragonfly to end, I decided that my next light novel series will be… A.R. Dragonfly!!
Before I explain, I shall now reveal the logo for my next series!
A.R. Dragonfly Origins is going to do a deep dive into our main characters’ backstories. Like… a really big deep dive. Each character will receive their own light novel volume which will detail everything that happened to them up until the part where they were introduced into A.R. Dragonfly.
With A.R. Dragonfly Origins, there will be no “Volumes.” Instead, there will be “Episodes.” For example, the first one will be called A.R. Dragonfly Origins – Episode: Amber.
In that volume, we will see Amber growing up, her time in middle school, high school, how she was bullied, neglected by her parents, how her anxiety condition came to be, how she got expelled, found games as her only outlet, the day she moved into her apartment, her win at the first-ever Legacy of Champions Tournament and more.
These volumes will not have a set chapter count. The will simply be written with as many chapters as needed until the story is completely told. There are five episodes planned right now: Amber, Kaito, Lynn, Takumi, and Sebastian. If people want to see more… like with Jessi, Rebekah, Kaiza, etc. I will not hesitate to write them.
After Origins is completed, I will move onto another new idea. I haven’t decided what that new idea is but it will be in the slice-of-life genre. One of the biggest things A.R. Dragonfly has taught me was that my niche is in writing slice-of-life. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had writing this series and when I think about this genre and what I could do with it, I get just as or even more excited about the possibilities. I just have this feeling that the slice-of-life genre was made for me and that this will be my biggest strength.
This is the path that I will take with my future light novels.
I haven’t received art piece #5 yet from my artist. It has been nearly a month since I received the sketch but he has been hit hard with other commissions so it’s taking a while for him to get this one done.
I don’t mind the wait. Right now, Volume 4 wasn’t even scheduled to release until this month and it published back on September 3rd. Volume 5 was originally slated for June 2020 and here we are still in 2019 staring down the 1/2 way mark for art completion. We are so far ahead of schedule that I can’t really complain if one or two pieces are a tad late. I did give him a deadline of March 2020 so he still has 4 months to complete the art.
Plus, Volume 4 came out just 10 weeks ago. 10 weeks! That’s nuts to think that it still hasn’t been all that long. I’m not a professional light novel author with a team of artists at my beck and call that can pump out volumes several times a year. Even if Volume 5 were to, somehow, release before December 31st (which I doubt), that would mean I was able to release 3 volumes in one year through just sheer will and the hard work of 1 artist that lives 1/2 way around the world from me. That would have been an incredible feat when you compare that to actual professionals that live off of their work. Something I am VERY far away from being able to do.
Patience is a virtue that I have learned to cherish. Besides, you can probably agree that Zara’s art is phenomenal and worth the wait!
That’s it for art on Zara’s side. On my side, I’ve been hard at work creating some more painted over photos for scenes in A.R. Dragonfly. However, they’re not being used as scenes… instead, they are being used as book covers!
First up, I introduce a new location in Volume 5 called The Roast… a small corner coffee shop. Some things happen at The Roast but you’ll have to read to find out what they are. Until then, here is the art I worked on for that to help bring it to life:
Even though this one may end up be used as a scene…you should pay attention to the color scheme used here. Sandy brown, green, khaki? Hmm.. I wonder what that could mean?
Since Volume 6’s art isn’t being worked on, Sebastian’s Vol. 1 art is serving as a placeholder for the cover!
Next up, I created a much simpler cover for Volume 7, drawing inspiration from the volume’s major plot. Kaito will end up gracing Volume 7’s cover and as with like Volume 6’s, I’m using his Volume 5 artwork as a placeholder until it’s time for his cover art to be created in which I already have a perfect vision of what it should be. This one may go through a few revisions before I feel it is done but this is a peek at where I’m going with this one
Of course, we need to complete the hat trick and for this one, I went back to doing some digital painting over a photograph. It’s finally time for Takumi to grace a cover and, just like the others, his Volume 5 artwork is serving as a placeholder until his Volume 8 art can be worked on.
As you can see, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy even if I am taking a break from writing… for now!
I have also decided that Rebekah will get the honor of gracing Volume 9’s cover!
My First Video Review
Another thing I want to share with you all is that A.R. Dragonfly received its very first video review from The A.C. Stories! I thought it was cool of The A.C. to buy my books. I found out that he had when I just randomly saw him post a photo of them on Twitter/Facebook. At first, I thought he was just reading Volume 1, but he dug right in with the first three volumes. When Volume 4 released, he just jumped right in and read that as well.
I thought that was enough on its own but then he goes and makes an honest video review of the first four volumes! If you’re reading this, A.C., then know I am forever grateful for you taking the time to read my story and giving it your honest thoughts. I know I told you that on Twitter already but I want to say it again because I truly mean it!
I’m happy you’re enjoying the series and that you’re looking forward to Volume 5!
Here’s a link to his video review. Like he said in his video, I’ve known A.C. from VIC’s Lab and on social media. He’s always been a cool guy so give his channel a follow, check out his content, read his excepts, and all of that social media following jazz!
He also encourages you to to talk about the books as well so drop some comments and let’s have a discussion!
Maybe I should also join the bandwagon and set up an A.R. Dragonfly / Final Hope Discord? Hmm…
Would you guys be interested in that?
Next up, I held a Holiday Contest where 2 lucky winners would receive autographed sets of A.R. Dragonfly volumes 1-4. I was set to pick one winner from the U.S. and one from a country not named the United States.
Well, those winners were picked and I want to say congratulations to @hinata_kai of the United States and @ani_penguin_x of the United Kingdom for winning your copies!
I hope you enjoy them!
Thank you to everyone else who has entered. I will be offering Digital PDFs to everyone who entered as a way of saying Thank You! This way, everybody has the option to not leave empty-handed!
Oof, that was a long update. Needless to say, I think November was my most productive month ever. I definitely put in some work but with the Holidays here, I’m just going to take a breather… although I do have a new goal in mind… that goal is to finish A.R. Dragonfly and plan out the Origins series by April.
Even if I can’t publish them for years to come, at least the heavy lifting will be done by me. If I could afford it, I’d hire multiple artists to work on the volumes to get them out quicker but since none of this funded and I pay out of pocket for it all, that’s just not going to happen.
Remember that whole patience is a virtue thing I said earlier? This is my biggest test of that. I just love sharing my story with others and I want people to read it as much as possible but I have to face reality that it just can’t happen with the system I have set up for myself. Oh well, that’s just how it goes sometimes.
Anyway, I’ve kept you here long enough.
Go enjoy your Holidays and I’ll see you all on the other side.