Happy Leap Year month as this year’s February gives us an extra day which means that I get an extra day to work on A.R. Dragonfly! YAY!

But that doesn’t mean that I have been slacking. I have been hard at work and I have a lot of great information to share with you this month! Let’s kick things off with the series’ progress as a whole

Writing Update

Last time I talked to you guys, all I needed to do was the final read through of Volume 7 as well as get the artwork from Alex. I’ll touch upon Alex in the art section but the final read through of Volume 7 is progressing well. Four out of the seven chapters are publish-ready! So, how or why did I not do all seven chapters in the span of a month?

The reason was that in order to keep pace with Alex’s speed, I needed to get writing once again. I put proofing Volume 7 off until the very last week of January so I am still in the process of doing that. Because I did that, I can happily say that Volume 9’s main story is written and in first draft!!

Writing will be coming to a halt, though, as I don’t want to get TOO far ahead. I thought about it and rather than trying to match Alex’s speed, I’m going to schedule him around my time to do the artwork. This is going to allow me to focus on the series without rushing through it for the sake of keeping pace with an artist who possesses great quality paired with blazing speed.

On the other hand, I created a new system that will allow me to speed up releases from 1 book every 6 months to 1 book every 2 months. In order for this system to work, Volume 9 had to be written. There was no way around that.

The old system was like this:

Write Vol. 1
Edit Vol. 1 into Second Draft
Create Art Commissions and Submit them to artist
Write Vol. 2
Edit Vol. 2 into Second Draft
Create Art Commissions
As Vol. 1 commissions near completion, Edit Vol. 1 into Final Draft and Complete it
Format Vol. 1 in InDesign
Insert Art and Publish
Submit Artwork for Vol. 2
Write Vol. 3

You get the idea. Now, my new system works like this (again, using Volumes 1, 2, and 3 as examples):

Write Vol. 1
Edit Vol. 1 into Second Draft + Spell Check it into Final Draft
Create Art Commissions
Write Vol. 2
Edit Vol. 2 into Second Draft + Spell Check it into Final Draft
Create Art Commissions for Vol. 2
Submit Commissions for Vol. 1
Final read through of Vol. 1, place into InDesign
Insert Artwork into Vol. 1… Submit Art for Vol. 2
Write Vol. 3
Edit Vol. 3 into Second Draft + Spell Check it into Final Draft
Create Art Commissions for Vol. 3
Publish Vol. 1

So you see, there is a delay now in publishing a book. Plus, I never said what the time frame is for submitting… so to better understand this new system, let’s start with the Publishing of Vol. 1

Vol. 1 Publishes in January.
When it publishes, Vol. 2 is completed and ready to go. It is scheduled to release in March.
In February, Vol. 3’s artwork is submitted
When Vol. 2 publishes in March, Vol. 3 is completed and ready to go. It is scheduled to release in May

See how that works now? The goal is to always have a book completed and ready while putting it on a 2-month delay between completion and release. By also requesting the artwork for the next volume 1 month before the one waiting to publish gets released, it also means I’ll never fall behind schedule as it gives Alex a 3-month window to complete commissions.

I hope that became just a little bit clearer to my revamped system. This is why Volume 5 came out on December 24, Volume 6 has been ready for almost a month and is coming out in February. In March, I plan on submitting the commissions for Vol. 8. The book should be edited and ready to go before Vol. 8’s art is done. That way when it’s finished, it will be ready to go come June when it is due for release.

It seems like I gave myself extra work but I didn’t. The nice thing is, this is the pace I’ve been keeping all along. The only reason why it took 6 months for a book to come out was due to the artwork. With Alex, that problem seems to be resolved so this system actually matches my actual output. Until I said screw it and started writing volumes ahead of where I was, I was literally sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for art and it didn’t feel good. I didn’t want to get too far ahead so I just caved and didn’t do anything while waiting for the artwork.

Not anymore. I decided to just write and now, I’m in a position to where I can publish with the speed that I want to.

Speaking of Volume 8… since the last update, the book is in Final Draft. It just needs 1 more read through and it, too, will be publish-ready. Also, I spoke to Alex and the previously nixed manga adaptation that was supposed to be Vol. 6’s bonus chapter is back on and it will now be Vol. 8’s bonus chapter instead!! Get hyped!

I’ve been talking about art and Alex a little bit so let’s hit that next section up!

Artwork

Remember how I said Alex was fast? Well, all of Volume 7’s art is finished. Like… completely done. This marks the first time in my history as a light novel writer that the art is finished before a book was ready to be published. Alex had cranked out 1 commission per DAY for me. That is absolutely insane.

The only downside to him pumping out art that fast is the money issue. With shelling out money each day for art, it added up. So much so that I switched to paying him with PayPal Credit. So now with me setting up this new schedule, it allows me to pay him with PayPal Credit and pay off the balance before requesting more art. Needless to say, I racked up quite the bill with 2 1/2 books worth of art in about a month’s worth of time.

Still, it’s worth it to me. His work has been amazing! Here, just check out a few of his pieces from Vol. 7!

Dragonfly
Khaine
Jessi Hammons
Lynn Aichner

As an added bonus… all most of the character artwork is up on the Downloads page in the form of cellphone wallpapers! Why is there a strike through ‘all’? Hmm… perhaps if you do some sleuthing, you might uncover some hidden artwork on the site that appears in Vol. 6!

Be warned: For longtime readers, finding such art is going to be a spoiler whereas to new readers of A.R. Dragonfly, you’ll just see these as new characters. That’s all I will say. Happy hunting if you take the time and effort to find them!

Outside of that, I have about half of Vol. 8’s commissions conceptualized. That will be my next step after Vol. 7 gets finished and loaded into InDesign.

What’s Next?

A lot of work on my end, that’s what! Here’s what is next for me in terms of editing and writing:

Final editing for Vol. 7,
Formatting Vol. 7 in InDesign
Remaining art commissions for Vol 8
Final editing for Vol. 8
Formatting Vol. 8 in InDesign
First editing pass for Vol. 9
Art commissions for Vol. 9
Start writing Vol. 10

Vol. 7’s editing and InDesign formatting should be finished this weekend (by February 2). Art commissions MIGHT be done by Sunday 2/2 as well but if not, will be done by Monday 2/3.

After that, I will spend next week doing final edits for Vol. 8. I hope to have that wrapped up by Sunday 2/9.

That means I can start editing Vol. 9 and hope to have that done by Sunday 2/16.

Art commissions for Vol. 9 should be conceptualized the following week and that weekend (2/22, 2/23), I should be able to start writing Vol. 10. Then when March hits, I can submit the commissions for Vol. 8. By the mid-point to third week of March, I aim to have Vol. 10 in first draft.

Beyond that, I don’t know. That’s as far as I planned thus far.

Or is it?

The Future Awaits

As I announced in December, after A.R. Dragonfly comes A.R. Dragonfly Origins, the prequel “series”. I don’t want to call it a series because it’s not that. It’s like what Crisis Core, Advent Children, On the Way to a Smile, and Dirge of Cerberus was to Final Fantasy VII… compliments and extensions that fleshed out the main story… or in A.R. Dragonfly’s case… the main characters.

That’s why these books are not called volumes… they’re called episodes. They will not follow the 7-chapter rule. They will vary in length. Who knows? It might take 300 pages to tell Amber’s story and only 150 to tell Kaito’s. Kaito’s book might have 4 chapters while Sebastian’s could have 6. Takumi’s could have 8.

My goal is to write much as necessary to complete their stories. It’s completely free form. The episode ends when the story ends… plain and simple.

I do have a very ambitious goal. Whether or not I can pull this off or not remains to be seen. That is why I said Vol. 10 is as far as I planned. So this is not a plan… this is just an estimate.

My estimate is to have Vols. 10, 11, 12, and all five Episodes of Origins done THIS YEAR.

That is a SUPER AMBITIOUS goal… but I’ve always been known to challenge myself so challenge accepted. Much like a race to world first in World of Warcraft, it’s time to see if I can race against myself and truly complete writing this series in 2020.

Notice I said WRITING this series in 2020… not PUBLISHING. Sorry, but you’ll just have to wait for these books!

However, if… and I do mean IF I pull it off and hit this goal… I will look and try to get Vol. 12 published in Jan. 2021 and release an episode of Origins each month thereafter which means A.R. Dragonfly will truly conclude in June of 2021.

By no means am I saying that I am rushing things. I want to write this out and produce quality for you guys so if I do need to take more time in order to make sure it is something worth reading and that causes me to miss my own deadline… so be it. I will admit defeat to my own challenge and I am completely fine with that.

I always think it’s important to push yourself, though. It sometimes brings out the best in you. I’m just not going to take this challenge as a do or die thing. If I can’t do it… if I get burned out… if I feel the quality is suffering, the challenge is off.

Simple as that.

But you better believe I’m going to go for it though. I’m just taking this on with my own safety net in place.

Good luck to me!

Beyond the Future

I’ve saved the best for last. The last time I did this, it ended up being taken with a grain of salt. When you read this, you might be like “yeah right, J.J., whatever you say.”

But I will tell you this. I wouldn’t be making this announcement if I wasn’t 150% committed to it.

I have decided on my next series after A.R. Dragonfly.

“Here we go again… you’re going to announce it and then you’re going to cancel it because you’ve just got a core idea and can’t do anything with it!”

Not this time, fam. Not this time.

You see, when I was in high school, I had to go to summer school to graduate through no fault of my own. In Junior year, I had enough credits to graduate after mid-terms in my Senior year. Then I moved from Massachusetts to Florida and the only thing that didn’t come in my U-Haul was all of my class credits. The Florida school system refused to recognize some of the classes I took and I went from graduating a half year early to being held back half a year, thus requiring me to go to summer school to graduate.

I know… complete BS, right?

During summer school I wrote 144 pages in a notebook for a story. If you’ve read Final Hope or A.R. Dragonfly, you’ve heard of it already… it was called Shadow Wing. I vowed to, one day, return to that story and rewrite it. Now that I’m doing light novels, I thought that my third series would be my revisiting of that work.

But after gaining experience with two book series, I felt that the story was too generic. I felt that it was no different than a typical, run-of-the-mill fantasy series. That’s why I tried to change it and thus, the name went from Shadow Wing to The Zero Eclipse.

The problem is, the plot was coming together but the characters weren’t. When you write fantasy, you’re kind of pigeon holed into certain archetypes. While you can put spins on them, there’s only so much you can do before they stop fitting that archetype. After having the freedom to make any personality I wanted in the Slice-of-Life genre, I felt that deep down, I was meant to write Slice-of-Life.

So, I said I was putting The Zero Eclipse on indefinite hold. After combining Slice-of-Life with Romance, Battle, Comedy, and having a wide range of dynamic characters, I felt like I was cheating my readers by going to something standard and run-of-the-mill. It was like I had set this expectation of myself to make things interesting enough for people to enjoy. If they read a generic fantasy series after I had poured my heart and soul into A.R., I didn’t want people to go “wow, J.J., what happened? This is nothing like A.R. A.R. was clearly better than this!”

That’s why I decided to stick with Slice-of-Life.

I had a few ideas in mind and then last weekend, an epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. I came up with the first name of a character. I said “I don’t know what I will do but I love this name so much that whatever I write, it will star this character.”

Then this past weekend, a title popped into my head. All it took was for me to think of this title and suddenly, this entire world opened up in front of my eyes. I had a main character… I had two main characters… I had a setting… I had a story…. I had story points… I had it all. The more I thought about it, the more I got into it.

I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction. I thought about it for the entire week. The more I thought about it, the more I could see this world unfolding. I starting thinking of backstories, personalities, dialogue. I even had conversations with myself as these characters to see how they would play off of each other.

I had a book series in my head almost instantly and as the week passed, I was convinced that I could tell a compelling story with it. Thus, my mind had been made up.

Unlike The Zero Eclipse, I could envision everything clearly. So much so that I could probably start bullet pointing the story right now but not yet. I don’t want to rush this. I don’t want to get so absorbed in this that I lose focus on A.R. Ideas have been written. They are stored and they are waiting. They will happen.

So, without further hesitation, with 150% certainty that this WILL happen… I give you my next light novel series:

From Ashe centers around a girl named Ashe Sawyer. Her goal is to become a novelist. This is the story of her journey towards that goal. It will explain how she fell in love with writing and how she discovered the knack for it. We will experience the emotions of Ashe’s journey… everything from success and failure, triumphs and heartbreak. Experiences in self-publishing, traditional publishing, working with an editor, writing contests, and everything else in between.

Ashe won’t be on this journey alone, though. She will be accompanied by her roommate and childhood friend Renji Keita. Ashe is a tomboyish girl who is very outspoken and certainly not shy. She has a different personality when writing as she puts away the fun and becomes very serious about her work. Renji, on the other hand is lethargic. He’s very emotionless, very soft-spoken with a young raspy voice. He’s also a freeloader (or NEET) that lives with Ashe but Ashe refuses to get rid of him because she can’t just throw away a friend. Also, Renji is a phenomenal cook and Ashe can’t cook worth a damn so she sees that he’s worth keeping around just for that.

Renji will be a different kind of character. While he is short in his answers and lacks any emotion or energy when talking, he is constantly thinking. His inner monologues will give a much deeper meaning to his character. You will understand that he is actually extremely kind and thoughtful. The goal is to make Renji someone you want to hug but slap at the same time. I want you to feel attached to him but be frustrated with him all at once. He will be a very dynamic character that will accompany Ashe on her journey.

No time table is set for this series. I am simply announcing it with “Coming in the Future” attached to it.

Until Next Time

That’s going to wrap it up for me. I hope you enjoyed this update as there was a lot to talk about. Next time I see you, it will be for the launch of Volume 6 which is slated for the end of February!

I can’t give an exact date due to Amazon’s review process which can take as little as a couple of hours up to 3 days (yeesh). Just know it will be out before the end of this month!

I hope you look forward to reading it and I will see you then!

Ja ne!

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