It is the final month of 2020! We’re almost out of one of the worst years of modern times!! (In before the clock strikes midnight on 12/31/20 and it switches over to 13/1/20). My God is there a lot to talk about this month as I made some significant progress since the last time we talked!

From Ashe

Normally, I start out with a progress update on A.R. Dragonfly Origins and while I do have some news to share on that front, let’s start off with the big news!

Volume 1 is complete and in First Draft!

Every November, I take up the NaNoWriMo challenge and while I don’t ever officially enter any submissions to them, I take on the challenge on a personal level. The goal was to complete a book of at least 50,000 words and From Ashe met that goal!

The only problem is that I kind of did too much discovery writing with the book and I ended up advancing some plot points further than I would have liked for a first volume and I also messed up the way Renji’s character was supposed to be.

In short, Renji’s character is supposed to be very monotone and emotionless on the outside; only speaking in one-word answers or short phrases. On the inside; however, Renji is supposed to be very sweet, kind, and full of warmth as told through his inner monologues. I kind of made him a bit of an emo mess with his monologues and need to fix that. There is supposed to be a very stark duality to his character and I didn’t quite nail that so… lots of dialogue rewriting is on the horizon!

I will deal with all of that once I get to the editing phase. Once I get Volume 1 into Final Draft, I will work on plotting out Volumes 2-4 as I already have an idea of where I would like to go. Not to spoil any details but one of the pieces of feedback I received with A.R. Dragonfly is that the main character’s stories too a while to develop. Some people would have liked to see something happen sooner.

Well, in From Ashe, I am going to leave Volume 3 on a pretty big cliffhanger and then Volume 4 is going to seem like an entirely new novel! Volume 4 is going to act like an Origins volume where I explain all of Renji and Ashe’s backstory. This way, readers can get to know the main characters sooner but I don’t want to do it right off the bat as I still have a world to establish and stories to tell.

In fact, just in the first volume, there are two additional storylines developing just at Ashe’s job in addition to her main storyline as a writer and all of the hints pointing towards Renji’s past. Right away, I have four storylines kicking off in the first volume which aligns with my goal of always having something happening no matter what scene Ashe is in.

I need to shut up before I start spoiling the details of the story but needless to say, I’ve been very excited about it but writing the first volume hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been doing with From Ashe.

Early Feedback

When I say that I take my criticisms to heart, I mean it. As long as criticisms are constructive, I will listen and I will work hard at trying to improve myself. If you’re just going to flat out state that my work is trash without providing any valid reasoning other than you liking the sound of your own voice mouthing off to someone, then chances are I’m not going to care about what you have to say.

But I did receive a lot of great feedback over A.R. Dragonfly to the point where I see From Ashe as a clean slate. Some people have stated that my prose needed work, other people have said that backstories and plot points seemed random, I’ve received complaints that some conflicts wrapped up too quickly and/or easily, etc. So, in the spirit of making sure that my new series is kicking off in the right way, I lent out the First Draft of chapter 1 to anyone who wanted to read it in order to gain some feedback.

It proved to be valuable as I did get some great feedback that I am going to incorporate into my first editing pass!

One of the pieces of feedback was that I took a little too much time describing Ashe’s house. I really wanted readers to visualize what her home looked like; however, by doing so, it was stated that it took them out of the story and broke the flow of it. To make sure it just wasn’t one person’s opinion, I shopped that statement around to others who read the first chapter and they felt the same way. Even though they liked the description of her house and that it helped them visualize it, it caused a jarring stop to the story’s flow.

So, I’m going to keep the description but I’m going to break it up in such a way where you can still visualize it without sacrificing the flow at all.

Another thing I got feedback on was my prose which was to be expected. I sometimes used Renji’s name too often and too close to each other instead of saying “him.” That was something I already intended to fix. I received that feedback before and have been more conscious of it during my editing phases. When I write a First Draft, I write really quickly and don’t stop to think about using proper names and pronouns. I just write to get my ideas down on paper so I will have that issue almost always in my First Drafts. Doesn’t mean it won’t get fixed. I did a lot of pronoun substitution for proper nouns in the editing passes of Origins so I’m well aware of that!

Other than that, the feedback was majorly positive. Some wished they knew more of what was going on but it was just the first chapter. The second introduces the reader to Ashe’s job and it begins the stories that will unfold there. As you get deeper, more stories begin to take shape and, hopefully, will keep you interested and wanting to know where they go!

Of course, if you want to check out the first chapter for yourself… feel free to let me know! I won’t say no to more feedback!

A.R. Dragonfly Origins

Last month, I did a lot of writing. This month, I did a lot of reading and writing! Both A.R. Dragonfly Origins: Episode Amber and Episode Kaito are in Final Draft! I read through both books, made my edits and did a spell check pass through Google Docs and a grammar pass through Grammarly. All that is left for those books is the art and a final reading!

I did some nice editing on Episode Amber. I think I added over 2,000 words to the second chapter alone! I didn’t do it just to fluff my word count, though. I realized that one of the characters didn’t have any real motivation to do something in the story.,.. so I added some new scenes which helped prop up his reasons for doing said things.

I’m still wondering if it’s enough but there’s a lot of points in both Amber and Kaito’s stories where you get the gist of what’s going on. I didn’t want to go SUPER in-depth and detail every minute of every day of every month of every year of their childhood. I wanted to focus on the major moments but in the case of Episode Amber, there had to be some expansion in order to make more sense of an action in a later chapter. Hopefully, it was enough!

As for Episode Kaito, I didn’t really have to do much editing in this one. Other than fixing prose, eliminating sentences that virtually said the same thing two sentences ago, and things like that, I felt the story was really solid. In fact, even though Episode Kaito is one chapter shorter than Episode Amber, I don’t think that there wasn’t much that I could have added. Of course, if you’ve read the main story, you’ll know that Kaito and Meiko used to be dating when Kaito lived in Japan. I didn’t actually put one of their dates in there because I didn’t think it was actually necessary but even if I did, it wouldn’t be enough to justify sticking to my seven chapter rule.

Even still, I found myself still daydreaming about Kaito’s backstory when I went back into work on Monday. That’s how I can tell if I’m really satisfied with the story. While things did kind of get kicked into high gear at the end of the book, I still felt it told Kaito’s story in a good way. I think with Amber’s story, you got an emotion where you just want to put her in your arms and never let go. With Kaito, it’s a bit different. You kind of understand where he’s coming from and at times you want to hug him… other times, you just want to belt him across the face. I think there’s a nice balance there with Kaito than there is with Amber which is perfect because it really plays into how the two of them start off in the main series.

You finally understand why Kaito is a dick to Amber and why Amber is so afraid of her own shadow.

Needless to say, I’m really proud of these Origin stories and can’t wait to drop them on you guys in January!

Artwork

Been a while since we’ve had an art update but Alex is back in full swing and working on the commissions for both Episode Amber and Episode Kaito! Because as such, I have the first art piece in which also happens to be the cover!

After looking up actual light novels from Japan, I noticed that a lot of Slice of Life light novels had a very simplistic cover. Most of them were just pure white with a character on it along with the title. Heck, even one cover had so much negative white space on it that it looked like it was slapped together in Microsoft Word! (I won’t name the series to save it from embarrassment but it was a very popular isekai series!)

So, I decided to go the same route and; honestly, I actually like it! It’s simplistic, yet, it grabs your attention! With From Ashe looking to take the same approach, I kind of wanted to use this as a testing ground to see if I really wanted to go this direction. Needless to say, I think I’ll be going this direction from now on!

With more art pieces coming in, I’ll be sure to share them on Twitter! I may even have enough to do for a mid-month art update but we’ll see when we get there.

Writing Contest Results

As I said over the past few updates, I would give you the results of the writing contest that I entered.

Now that it’s over, I will state that I entered a contest on Jougo Chihaya’s Discord server with the top prize being $300. I submitted the first chapter of my isekai series Reincarnated as a Wolf Girl Assassin.

The results?

I didn’t win.

I did get a runner-up mention as my story was up for prize consideration but there were only so many prize slots and mine must have had too many issues to not be considered for one of them. While disappointing, I still had fun! I still plan on writing this series but, right now, I am focusing on getting Origins out onto bookshelves and From Ashe planned and mapped out.

I’m focusing on three books right now so once that gets settled down to just one series, I’ll probably pick Wolf Girl back up from time to time and pick at it. After all, this series is fully being written on the fly with discovery writing so when I feel as if I need a creative outlet and/or a break away from From Ashe, then I will work on this series. Since Wolf Girl is intended for web publishing, I’m not in a rush to get it out to readers. Also, since it’s going to be completely free to read, I don’t mind giving away the first chapter!

Website Updates

Piggybacking off of how I ended that previous segment, I should mention that I did some small updates to the website!

Since I am giving away the first chapter of Reincarnated as a Wolf Girl Assassin, I figured why not give away some other material that I had written in the past? Right now, I have one of my older short stories up there, Two Futures, which also served as a bonus chapter in A.R. Dragonfly. Now, you can read it without buying the book!

I look to add more to this new section over time as I collect and format some of my earliest works! Soon, I hope to fill this up with more and more stories for you to enjoy!

Where can you find all of this great current and future content? Under the new menu item called “Writings” (or just click the word since I conveniently linked it for you!)

By adding a Writings section, it made the main menu bar a little too crowded, so I created a category called Book Series and threw Final Hope, A.R. Dragonfly, and From Ashe’s sections into there. Each section now has a cool little flyout menu that will bring you to where you need to go! It also makes the top menu bar that much more tidy looking!

I still have more website updates planned but time is a valuable resource and I need a lot more of it. It will get done, though… eventually!

Until Next Time

That’s going to wrap it up for me this month! Next month, I hope to have From Ashe Vol. 1 wrapped up on the editing side with art commissions underway. I also look to have Volumes 2-4 planned out and some work done on Volume 2. If not in December, then definitely in January.

In short, it’s all about editing and artwork for the foreseeable future.

See you all in the next one!

Until then,

Ja ne!

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