It’s February… you know what that means. Welcome to another progress update on all things A.R…. uh… on all things From Ashe! A lot has happened since last month and while the updates themselves might be “short,” they sure didn’t feel that way from my end.
Let’s get right into things, shall we?
Saying Goodbye to A.R. Dragonfly
Last month, I noted that we were just a couple of days away from the launch of A.R. Dragonfly Origins Episodes Amber and Kaito. Well… the launches happened for those two books as did the launch of A.R. Dragonfly Illustrations!
With the launches of those titles comes an end of an era for me. When I reflect back on things, it’s kind of bittersweet. I am never one to shy away from my flaws and, needless to say, despite the early praise from readers about how A.R. Dragonfly was better than Final Hope, it didn’t seem that way in the end simply because it wasn’t.
My mind works a certain way. Oftentimes, the way my mind works is reflected in my writing. A few people have given me the feedback that I overexplain things and, thus, slow down the pacing of the story or I repeat things that don’t need to be repeated and they’re right. I do. It’s kind of the way my mind works and even when I go back and re-read it, it all sounds fine to me but that, obviously, was not the case.
It’s not something that cannot be fixed as I am actively fixing that in From Ashe. It is something I am becoming more and more aware of as I write and I’m trying to clean it up. I can already say that there are a few instances of Ashe and Renji repeating the same old thing a few times throughout the first volume; however, I left some of that in because, in this case, it’s intentional. I want the reader to actually get sick of seeing the same thing over and over and I want them to be frustrated with it.
However, that was not intended in A.R. Dragonfly but my own inexperience didn’t allow me to see it that way. Then, there was the issue of people pointing out cheesy dialogue. Some of it (as with Amber) was intentional because that was her character. Apparently, some other dialogue wasn’t written as well as it could have been. I remember receiving some examples of improving it which was odd because, to me, the examples provided were cheesier than the lines I had written. Maybe it’s just the way different minds process different things? I don’t really think there is a wrong way or a right way to say things… as long as it fits the character.
Still, it’s something that I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind while writing From Ashe.
One thing I had to laugh at though was some of the feedback I received on A.R. Dragonfly versus some of the early feedback I received on From Ashe Vol. 1 (I had sent out from digital PDF copies ahead of time for some feedback).
In A.R. Dragonfly, I was criticized for trying to be too poetic in some scenes… namely the ending scene to Volume 6. I tried to describe how the golden rays of the sun painted a picture to try and capture a magical moment. I was actually criticized for that so, in From Ashe, I cut down on the poetic nature of things. Then, I received initial feedback on Volume 1 where I was told that the volume could have benefitted from being a bit more poetic in my writing.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
In the end, I am proud of A.R. Dragonfly much like I was with Final Hope but with all of the missteps I took with it, each time I look at the name of the book, I’m reminded of all of the things I did wrong. After all… I am my worst critic and while I would love nothing more than to make a living off my books and just be an author full time, the very essence of why I decided to write and share my stories with the world was so that other people could enjoy them. I wouldn’t have decided to publish Final Hope and A.R. Dragonfly if I didn’t want someone to pick up my book and be happy with what was written.
When someone reads my book and doesn’t enjoy it, that stings a million times worse than not making a sale. Money is money but putting a smile on someone’s face is invaluable and when I can’t do that, it just tells me that I failed at my job.
There are two things that you can do when you fail. You can either sit and wallow in your own self-pity and possibly contemplate on throwing in the towel or you can learn from your mistakes and use those lessons to fuel your passion to create something better the next time around.
I always choose the latter.
I’ve been writing far too long to just give up because a couple of people didn’t like my work. I cannot please everyone and I certainly don’t write to do so. I know full well that there are going to be people who dislike From Ashe just as sure as I am there are people who are going to love that series. But, I would much rather have people dislike From Ashe because the type of story just isn’t their thing versus disliking the series because of the writing style or the way the characters are portrayed or any other thing that is solely my fault that I could have done better.
If it’s within my power to fix it, I’ll make every effort to. I will not, however, sacrifice the kind of story that I aim to tell just to fit it to someone’s preference. I can fix prose, I can fix dialogue, I can fix formatting, I can fix checking for errors and grammar, but I cannot and will not fix a story and alter its intended plots and direction to fit your wants and desires. If you think you can do my story better then there’s this thing called Fan Fiction. Have at it.
Back on the subject of A.R. Dragonfly… do I wish I could go back and redo some things? Sure. There are a lot of things I wish I could have done better… from Amber and Kaito’s backstories, to not rushing the Lynn/Rebekah story, perhaps even making a certain event more pronounced in the final volume rather than as just part of the series of epilogues, etc. Again, I am my own worst critic so keep that in mind when I say that I’m merely satisfied with the way A.R. Dragonfly turned out. I cannot say that I am truly happy.
Then again, I felt the same way about Final Hope after it was done, and people still, to this day, have told me that they liked it. So, who knows? On to more positive things.
As you’ve probably seen from social media or from the post right before this one, From Ashe Vol. 1 is fully complete and scheduled to release on March 1, 2021. I would say I’m excited for the launch of this new series but, truth be told, I am a bit nervous… mainly for all the reasons I listed above.
Did I make enough corrections?
Did I fix the prose to where it keeps the reader engaged?
Are these new characters likable? Can people relate?
Is the story itself something you want more of?
Is there a good enough balance in everything?
Are my readers going to keep an open mind or are they just going to compare it to A.R. Dragonfly?
…and so forth.
I hate failing at something. Typically in life, if I make a mistake… I make it a point to do my best to not make that mistake ever again. Needless to say, launching a new series is stressful enough as it is… launching a new series coming off of some bitter feedback on your previous one only makes it tougher. At the same time, I’m excited because, to me, it’s a clean slate to start over so I really can’t wait for people to get their hands on it, give it a read, and hear what they have to say.
I did take a lot of extra precautions with the first volume. I sent out unedited or modified drafts of the first chapter to people and got some early feedback. I applied all of that feedback to the rest of the book. I then remembered the criticisms I received from A.R. Dragonfly and made revisions during my editing process to try and catch a lot of those pitfalls I set for myself.
Normally, I write a first draft and read through the story twice before calling it done. With the first volume of From Ashe, I read through the entire book three times and I think I ran it through about four grammar passes using two different spellcheckers. After thrice reading and four passes with 2 programs, if there are still errors in there, I throw my hands up in defeat. I honestly do not know what more I could do beyond paying money for an editor and even then it’s not guaranteed (especially since I have manga from professional major companies with typos in them. It happens.)
That’s what I was doing for Volume 1… so, what about Volume 2?
Work has already begun on that and, as of the time of this posting, I would have just begun on Chapter 5 out of 7 for that book.
This one has been a bit odd to write. It builds off of the ending I wrote for Volume 1 and then kind of drops it for a couple of chapters. It’s still there; however, other storylines begin to come into play that force the issue to the back burner.
The big focuses on Volume 2 are Jase’s character development and building on the situation between Ashe and Renji. All of it will culminate into another ending which should make everyone aware that Volume 1’s ending certainly wasn’t forgotten or treated as an afterthought.
One thing that is toned down a bit in Volume 2 is Ashe’s writing. There is going to be a bit of it returning in the back half of the volume but it was toned down on purpose in order to build Jase, his backstory, and further a storyline with him. You have to keep in mind, this is planned to be a very long series. This is not a sprint… it’s a marathon.
Although, I will say that Volume 2 is going through some changes. While writing Chapters 1, 2, and 3, I noticed that I had quite a lot to say. Those chapters are around 18-21 pages (of 8.5 x 11 paper or about 8,000-10,000 words) each. When I got to Chapter 4, I was almost done by the end of Page 6. When I looked at Chapter 5, I realized that I could combine the two chapters as they flowed pretty well into each other. This allowed me to extend Chapter 4 to 17 pages.
The problem came in where I now needed a new Chapter 5… so I decided to give the spotlight back to a new character that was formally introduced earlier in the book. The chapter will be akin to a small side story episode in an anime but it’s still going to relate to the main story and even help set up the ending a bit better than what I had previously had there before! Now, I just need to hope that there’s enough content there to where it doesn’t break the pacing again! I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
I can already tell that Volume 2 is going to need some heavy editing much like Volume 1 did but that’s okay. First Drafts are becoming less and less important to me. By that, I mean that I’m not worrying as much about how things are written or how things sound. The first draft serves as a way to get all of your ideas down on paper. The editing process is all about shaping the story, making cuts and additions, finding new or better ways to say or explain something, etc.
Before, the first draft was where all of my important writing happened. Now, to me, all of that important writing and the stuff that matters most happens in the first editing pass. It’s like building a house. The first draft lays down the foundation. The first editing pass puts up the walls and the support beams. The second pass puts in the drywall, floors, and all of the important details, and then the final draft hooks up all the internal wiring, air/heating systems, and slaps the final coat of paint on the house before it’s torn down by people who wanted it blue with a 2-car garage instead of white with a 1-car garage.
Before I wrap things up here… just a quick note that yesterday (Sunday 1/31), I sat down with Zeke Changuris and did my second episode of the Web Light Novel & Manga Review podcast! I talked about A.R. Dragonfly coming to an end as well as From Ashe!
The episode should be up in the near future so I’ll be sure to do another post on here and link it for you all when it becomes available.
Which reminds me… if you have a podcast and you would like to have me as a guest on there in order to talk about my books or just shoot the shit about anime and manga in general, contact me and let’s set something up!
I’m always up for doing interviews or simply just having some good ol’ fashioned otaku discussion!
Until Next Time
As I said, the update itself was a bit on the short side but, to me, it didn’t exactly feel short at all. I put in a lot of work over the past month and I have no intention of slowing down…. yet.
I do have a vacation from work from March 29 to April 2. Typically, during a vacation I’ll still work for The Outerhaven and still do some writing and/or editing.
Not this time.
I haven’t taken a true vacation in… well… I can’t remember the last time that I did. It has been that long. That’s why I notified The Outerhaven to expect 0 posts and/or reviews from me during that span. I am taking the full week off from my 8-5 job, from Outerhaven, and from being an author.
It’s been LONG overdue and I truly need this to recharge. I plan to use that week to watch anime, play video games, and play catch up on everything I have been putting off for the sake of something else.
I am finally going to get some “me” time and I’m really looking forward to it.
Again, I’ll throw up the WLNM Podcast for you guys when it goes live. After that, it’ll be book launch time followed by your March update! Exciting (and scary) times are ahead (for me, at least).
Until next time,