Greetings!

It is a few days into May already and I’m a little later than usual with the month’s progress update and for good reason…

Volume 8 has been officially released!

I was busy getting things together such as promotional artwork, getting things set up on Amazon (more on that later… ha ha… hoo boy), taking pre-orders for autographed copies, and all of that fun stuff. So, I knew that the progress update was going to run just a little bit later than normal but, alas, here we are!

So, now that Volume 8 is out, I can say that the next volume will begin our march towards the end of the series. I, normally, do not like to do this because things can change between now and then but I did work out a release schedule. It’s a schedule that allows me to submit artwork to Alex as well as get all of that paid for in addition to making any editing or adjustments to the other volumes. With all of that said, these are the target dates for Volumes 9 through 12!

Volume 9: June 15
Volume 10: July 27
Volume 11: September 15
Volume 12: October 26

Of course, this is without extreme outliers. COVID-19 could make an impact. I do live in Florida so hurricane season starts on June 1. You never know if we’re going to get hit! There could be other factors but taking into account for the things I can control, those are the target release dates for the remainder of the series! This means I plan to have the main series of A.R. Dragonfly completely published this year.

I sped up the releases because I, honestly, want to get the books out to everyone before the holidays and so I can take the holidays off myself. I want to give myself the last two months of the year to recharge. I do plan on releasing A.R. Dragonfly Origins in January and do one book on the first week of every month up until the first week of May. Again, barring any and all extreme outliers.

After that, it’ll be on to publishing From Ashe.

So now that I’ve given a glimpse into the future, what about now? What have I done since the last time we spoke back in April?

Progress

Well, for starters, Volume 9’s art is finished and I have gone through and made final edits to the book. I also threw the book into InDesign, formatted it, and rendered it as a PDF! In other words, Volume 9 is publish-ready and all set to go for it’s June 15 release date!

Volume 10 has gone through editing and a grammar/spell check and is in Final Draft. I have not written the bonus chapter for that one as of yet but I already know what I want to do with it. The artwork for Volume 10 is already in progress with Alex and he is about 40% complete with it so far. Once the art is done, I just need to do a final reading/editing pass and we’ll have another book done!

Volume 11 is in the same spot as Volume 10! The book is in Final Draft but the only differences are that the art is not worked on but I do have the art pieces conceptualized. Also, the bonus chapter has not been decided on just yet. I’m not really sure what to do there. Also, Volume 11 is going to feel like a red-headed stepchild. It only has 6 art pieces slated for it which is way down from my usual 10-12. This means that I am going to be re-using some of the older art to fill in the gaps for titles pages and whatnot while I save the important pieces for the scenes within the book.

This is being done for two reasons. The first is budget. I am trying to limit spending due to how COVID has affected my job. As you read in my last update (or maybe you didn’t), I had my hours reduced at work so I ended up taking a 20% cut in pay. I need to fit it within my budget for the time being. The second one is that I know that I am going to spending a LOT for Volume 12. Volume 12 could hold the record for most art pieces in the series including the final scene which may end up being expensive due to how many characters will be in it.

Speaking of Volume 12, the book is in Second Draft. I need to do a grammar/spell check pass on it and a final reading and that, too, will be primed! I do have the bonus chapter already in mind which is simply an author’s reflection on the series. That was always the plan from the start so it’s more like extra content more than a bonus chapter.

Origins

So, as you know, A.R. Dragonfly Origins is next in line and in case you missed that announcement or don’t know what it is, A.R. Dragonfly Origins is a 5-volume series that will flesh out the complete and total backstories for Amber, Kaito, Sebastian, Lynn, and Takumi from when they were children all the way up to when they are introduced into the main series.

I am happy to announce that I have the first two volumes plotted out! Instead of calling these “Volumes,” I have decided to call them “Episodes.” So “Volume 1” will be A.R. Dragonfly Origins: Episode Amber. Volume 2 will be Episode Kaito, Volume 3 is Episode Sebastian, Volume 4 is Episode Lynn, and by way of elimination, Volume 5 is Episode Takumi. I stated that these Episodes will not follow the seven-chapter rule. They could have seven, they could have eight, they could have four, etc. etc. I will plot out and write their backstories until I have covered everything that there is to cover and there is nothing left to tell.

Ironically, despite not following the seven chapter rule, Episode Amber ended up at seven chapters. Kaito’s ended up at six.

Some chapters may be longer than others, some may be shorter. It all depends on how much I can flesh out certain aspects of those time periods of their lives. I am not just going to write the story, though. These books will also have bonus content which I have decided upon. The bonus content will feature fun facts about the characters, an “author interview” with myself about how and why I developed the characters the way that I did, and an art gallery showing off their artwork throughout the years with notes on each one.

I hope that you look forward to those books!

From Ashe

Next up is some progress on From Ashe because there has been progress! If you missed it, Part 3 of the Constructing From Ashe series is up so feel free to check that out at your leisure.

In addition to that, one of the things that has been plaguing my mind is what do Ashe and Renji even look like? I know what their personalities are and I had a vague idea of what I wanted. I just wish technology existed where I could transfer thoughts into a computer and just have it generate the image of what I have in my head. It would certainly make things easier, that’s for sure.

I did a LOT of thinking… I mean over the past few months… and since I couldn’t make up my mind for how I wanted Ashe to look, I decided that I was going to do something different. I decided to just design EVERYTHING that came to mind when it comes to Ashe.

What do I mean by that?

Ashe is going to have different outfits for different occasions! She’s going to have a Spring/Summer attire, a Fall/Winter attire, her work attire, her bumming it at home on the weekend attire, etc. etc. Unlike Amber from A.R., Ashe didn’t buy 7 of the same outfit so she could wear it every day of the week! Nope, this girl knows how to change her look so get ready to see Ashe in many different forms!

The same goes for Renji, although his main design is kind of an all-purpose look but there will be different aspects to his attire that will differ. He may have similar clothes but he’s going to have different color schemes. One of the things I look to have is different color t-shirts with different graphics on them to help set things apart for him. He might also have different belts for his pants, different shoes, etc but his overall look will remain the same. Only difference is maybe in the winter he’ll wear a winter coat. Maybe in the summer, he’ll take off his black jean jacket that he wears over his t-shirt.

Supporting characters may look like they have the same attire all-year round, though. It’s kind of hard (not impossible… just hard) to come up with multiple outfits for everyone but don’t expect a co-worker or friend to come over in hot pants and a t-shirt when it’s 20 below zero. They will dress for the time of year as well.

The goal here is to make this feel like a more realistic setting all while keeping it within the confines of anime.

Lastly, Ashe and Renji are going to have a pet cat living with them. I dwelled on it for a while but I, ultimately, decided to go for it. I am going to pay homage to my cat who passed away back in 2010 by having her created (and thus immortalized) in From Ashe. The cat will share the same name so their cat’s name will be Minew and she will be a Torti-Calico cat just like she was in real life. In fact, here’s some photos of what my cat looked like so you can meet the real Minew before you get to see the virtual one

While I do have another cat now, I do miss Minew as she was one of the best pets I had ever owned. I kind of want to put her in the story so that’s what I’m going to do.

A Victory

Not sure if this actually deserves its own header but after fighting with Amazon for a while, I FINALLY got all of my books… both paperback and eBooks… categorized as light novels! It has been a painstaking process that I, cannot for the life of me, understand why it has to be that way.

So, you can only choose two categories when you publish a book. Amazon does not offer all potential categories to KDP authors upon publication. What you need to do is actually go into the site, and find the path.

For example set your search to Books, then click on a sub category, then another one, then another one, until you find the “path” to the category that you want.

For me, it was Books -> Teen & Young Adult -> Literature & Fiction -> Light Novels for Paperbacks…

…and…

Kindle Store -> Kindle eBooks -> Teen & Young Adult -> Literature & Fiction -> Light Novel (Ranobe) for eBooks.

So I gave them my ASINs and the paths for each book. They classified them as Graphic Novels and Comics… so I emailed them back. They then tell me that I have to select a Juvenile category for paperbacks and then a Juvenile category for eBook as well as specify an age range from 13-18 for those eBooks.

I do all of that and resubmit. Now my books are listed as Children’s Books.

Like WHAT!? How do you keep mislabeling the books when I give you the ASIN and the EXACT PATH EVERY TIME!?

Finally, I got someone… I think from higher up because it wasn’t the standard email… who took care of it and set the categories correctly. I still don’t have a concrete answer as to what I’m supposed to do on my end to make sure this doesn’t happen again so when Volume 9 hits, I’m going to have to fight with them again, probably.

But, what’s done is done and now A.R. Dragonfly and Final Hope are classified as Light Novels!

Huzzah and all that.

Artwork

I have been showing some of these off on Twitter and Facebook already so this might be old news but here are a few pieces… including an unfinished piece that I have been dying to show you all. I wanted to wait for the full color but it just looks SO GOOD!

I’ll save that for last though, muah ha ha!!

Amber Ryann gets taken out for her birthday! She’s so beautiful!
Amber Ryann promotional piece

And now… the one I’ve been so impatient to show you. I gave Alex as much detail as humanly possible for this one. Not only did he meet my expectations, he blew them out of the water completely!

This is the line art Blaze Auras’ 10th and final class: The Tinker.

There are more art pieces than that finished but I can’t show them because SPOILERS. Although, one art piece isn’t spoilers for those who read through Volume 7. Still, I have to take precautions, you know!

While that wraps it up for progress… I do want to ask a serious question of you all.

For the better part of six months, I have been contemplating something but I wasn’t sure if it was something I would go ahead with. In fact, I’m still on the fence about it so that’s why I am asking you all to help me make up my mind and come to a decision. I’ve actually wrote a tweet several times over these last few months to ask this very same question but I always ended up deleting it because I always felt self-conscious, greedy, or just uncomfortable doing it.

In short, I was thinking on making a Patreon for myself.

I just didn’t want to make one and get scoffed at for being greedy or only caring about money but it would also help with the development costs of the series as I do pay out of pocket for 100% of everything and get very little return.

My questions are…

If I did make one, would it be something you would be interested in subscribing to?

If yes (or even no… maybe you can answer this for those who might be interested), what kind of extra (bonus) content would you like me to offer for the various reward tiers?

Also, one of the reasons why I am on the fence is that I love these kinds of communications with the readers. Doing progress updates, showing off art and such, and I’d feel guilty about sticking that open communication that I have behind a paywall. It’s like “Dude, you’re charging me to see the stuff you normally show me for free!?” I understand a lot of people show it off on Patreon first and then debut it to non-subscribers at a later time. That is an option, most definitely.

But I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Am I crazy for wanting to set one up? Am I doing too much too soon? Do you think it’s the right thing to do? That’s what I’ve been wrestling with for the longest time now so I figured I’d just come out and ask for honest feedback and opinions.

Be sure to let me know! Respond here in the comments section, email me (joshpiedra@gmail.com), DM me on Twitter @JJPiedraOELN, hit me up on Facebook (facebook.com/joshuajpiedra). Any way you want to, throw me your feedback!

Until next time,

Ja ne!

One thought

  1. I hope my answer doesn’t discourage you from this, if it’s really what you want to do. I’ve never tried a patreon subscription before mainly because paying monthly for something just isn’t affordable for me. I don’t mind making a one time purchase but monthly subscriptions are a no-go.
    But looking at it objectively, I think patreon services do stir a bit of value depending on how big your audience is. If you feel like you have enough of a following, then go ahead. But otherwise, it might not give the results you seek.
    I enjoyed this update. Can’t believe we’re nearing the end of this series. I plan to slowly catch up on my reading this year. A.r. dragonfly is definitely on the list starting from volume 2.
    Good luck

    Like

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