What’s going on, everyone? It’s been a hot minute since I wrote one of these; however, I’m doing one here in late March for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I launched From Ashe Vol. 1 back on March 1 which would normally be the day I would post a progress update. At that point, I hadn’t started editing From Ashe Vol. 2 so the book launch WAS the progress update.

I was going to do the next one on April 1; however, I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t be doing anything that week as I am planning on taking my first vacation in a year from work. The reason why this is significant is because while I hadn’t had a vacation from my 8-5 job in a year, I actually never truly took a vacation in almost 6 years.

Whenever I had a week off from work, I would spend it writing, editing, launching a book, or still writing articles and doing reviews for The Outerhaven. I was always working even when I was supposed to be on vacation.

Not this time.

From Monday, March 29 to Friday, April 2, I am not working on anything. I’m off from my 8-5, I’m off from The Outerhaven, and I’m off from being an author. I am too far behind on things and every time I want to get caught up, I’m working on something else or I’m so burned out that I just don’t want to do anything. Even something simple as playing a video game, reading a book, or watching an anime show becomes a herculean task.

All I want to do is just sit here and listen to music with my eyes closed in the dark. I’m that burned out from life. I need the time off and I’m going to take it.

So, for one week, I’m dead to the world and the world is dead to me. Time to just sit back, relax, get caught up on recreational things I’ve been putting off, and just recharge.

That’s why you’re getting this update now because come April 1, none of this is going to exist in my mind until my vacation is over. So, let’s get into what I’ve been up to.

From Ashe

Well, as I said in the intro… From Ashe Vol. 1 has launched and, for me, it was a pretty successful launch! It already received its first two ratings of 4 stars and 5 stars, respectively, I’ve gotten other positive personal feedback on it from other readers, and sales were a bit better than I expected.

After 18 days, it reached rank #233 in the Teen & Young Adult Light Novel category on Kindle and it continues to climb. Hopefully, it can break the Top 100 which would really make this feel like a success!

So far, there hasn’t been any negative feedback on it which is both a blessing and a curse. While I am happy that people are enjoying the book, I’m just waiting for that one person to have a problem with it. I know that as an author, nothing I write is going to be perfect. In fact, no author is perfect regardless of their success. I will not please 100% of readers and I’m okay with that.

If you hate a character of mine… fine! If you don’t like the story I’m telling… fine! If you don’t like the book because of the way it’s written… not fine. I learned a lot of lessons with Final Hope… I learned even more with A.R. Dragonfly. I tried my best to apply those lessons to From Ashe. I tried reducing the redundancy within my paragraphs, I tried shortening the dialogue to make it more direct and to the point without sacrificing a character’s traits, and I tried to scale back on long-winded explanations as to not bore people to death.

But I know that while I addressed the more prominent issues that there still may be some leftover that I haven’t been told about or I, myself, haven’t realized. That’s why I’m waiting for my first piece of negative feedback to see what it is that I missed or if the things I tried to fix weren’t fixed enough. If it never comes, then I can only assume I did a good job this time around.

I’ve said it before… selling copies and making money off of my hard work is an incredible feeling and to be able to do this for a living would be a dream but someone not enjoying what I wrote stings 100x worse than a book that didn’t get sold. As an author, the number one thing I want is for people enjoy what I write. If you’re not enjoying it because of my skills and ability as a writer, I want to know so I can fix that.

I’ll never be able to achieve my dream if I can’t write my path there.

As for Volume 2, editing has begun on it and just like with Volume 1, I am taking my time with it. Normally, I would edit 1-2 chapters per day but now, Chapter 1 took me 3 days to edit because I was really making sure it was what I wanted. I already have a plethora of notes of things I want to change in this volume as, again, I think I pulled the trigger too early on a story point or I decided to go in a different direction in the future. I’ll fix those as I come across them.

Chapter 2 has begun its editing process. I’m actually starting off with a grammar sweep this time rather than just jumping in and reading it. I want to reduce certain words that I keep overusing such as “really” and “actually” or phrases like “In order to” or “In fact.” I have a bad habit of using those phrases and while they can be used… they shouldn’t be in the volume that I am using them in. So, now my first step in editing is getting rid of all of that and fixing any grammar errors.

That’s where I’m at. I haven’t begun to read Chapter 2 yet and I keep telling myself that I should do it before my vacation and I sat here thinking “why?”

Volume 1 came out just 19 days ago. It hasn’t even been a month. Volume 2 isn’t due out until some point in either May or June. I am WELL ahead of the curve right now so why should I force myself when I’m already admittedly burned out? That’s why I’m going to hold off on editing the rest of the book until after my vacation. I have PLENTY of time before its release to do so!

Volume 3 is outlined, though. I managed to get that done and I had a lot of fun plotting out how it goes. I even have the cover already designed in my head! Without giving too much away, Volume 3 is going to be like the Origins story for From Ashe. It’s going to give you all of the details on Renji and Ashe’s past and what truly happened BUT it’s not going to solve everything. One of the complaints with A.R. is that situations got solved too quickly. This is more or less going to be a “well, now that it’s out in the open, the healing process can begin” type of story.

It’s not just going to be all about Renji and Ashe, though. I plan to touch on Kelsey and what happened to her after an event in Volume 2, as well as continue the Jase storyline that started in Volume 2 as well.

One thing is that the writing portion of the series may come to a halt in this volume as I will be busy doing a story and character development-based volume; however, if you love reading Ashe’s stories, do not fret… Volumes 4 and 5 will be filled with them as those books will begin the Writing Competition mini arc. It will be Ashe’s first competition (and not her last). She will meet new rivals and new friends there and, yes, I do have a (hopefully) touching story for one of the new characters which causes Ashe and this character to bond and become friends. It also will be a set-up for another story at some point in the future, too.

If A.R. Dragonfly has taught you anything about me, it’s that I love introducing a minor character and turning them into something bigger later on down the line. I want the characters in From Ashe to mean something more this time around so each character that is introduced is going to have a purpose.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself but I’m just excited about the things that I have planned with this series

A.R. Dragonfly Origins Reviews

The books have been out for a couple of months and the reviews are starting to come in. Of course, The A.C. Stories has been reviewing and giving his thoughts on the A.R. Dragonfly series for a while now, so it was only a matter of time before he came out with another video talking about the Origins books!

You can check out his review below!

Also, both Origins books got their first written reviews on Amazon with each one scoring 5 stars!

While I usually shun at a 5-star rating because, to me, that says perfection and nothing is perfect, I’m actually happy for these ratings because I learned how Amazon treats star ratings.

Apparently, to Amazon, 5 stars only means “Good.” 4 stars means “An Okay Book” and anything 3 stars and below typically is “whatever” and gets ignored by their algorithms or isn’t weighted as much.

So, thank you for all of the 5-star ratings and for thinking that my books are “good.”

Hitting the Big Time (or so I thought)

In this current day and age, the theme seems to be about breaking barriers. The Original English Light Novel (OELN) community is still in its infantile stages and doesn’t have a lot of exposure. There are those out there trying to give it exposure like I am trying to do with The Outerhaven by establishing the OELN Database along with opening the doors to any and all OELN authors to submit news stories for their books to help get them some exposure.

Others are doing the same such as Justus R. Stone who has his own OELN Database. He’s also toying with the idea of launching a new podcast in order to talk to OELN authors. The A.C. Stories also does a podcast or a book discussion/review every now and then where he talks to authors as does Zeke Changuris with the Web, Light Novel, and Manga Review podcast. There are those such as L.C. Gatsu who have begun to take a look at OELNs.

There are now a couple of OELN publishers out there such as Vic’s Lab, Novel Horizons, and MoonQuill for people to choose from, and several communities like the Orion Writing Studio and Neovel for people to check out on Discord.

All of this means that OELNs and its community are getting bigger by the day, but there is one thing that hasn’t happened yet and that is a book getting mainstream exposure.

Sure, Vic’s Lab had a news story ran on Anime News Network but no single title has been reported on until now!

From Ashe got mentioned in a news story on Crunchryoll!

Sure, Josh. In your dreams, right?

Nope! Click and see for yourself!

https://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2021/02/16/original-english-light-novel-from-ashe-debuts-on-march-1st

People wondered, “How in the hell did you pull that off!?”

Well… I do work for The Outerhaven and I do have connections with the PR staff at Crunchyroll; however, that, honestly, doesn’t mean anything. Why? Because I tried a couple of times before with A.R. Dragonfly and nothing came from it. All my PR contacts can do is forward my press release to the news department and it is up to them and them alone whether or not to run a story. So, just because I have contacts, it doesn’t give me any advantage outside of a different channel to get a news story to their news department. That’s it. They have zero influence on whether my story gets published or not.

So, in short… it’s a crap shoot.

Well, I don’t know if it’s because I pestered them enough or if it’s because it was a brand-new series, but I rolled the dice and things came up in my favor. They ran the story which means I should be selling 100’s of books each and every day right? Surely, having a story put in front of a user base of 30 million members would cause me to reap the benefits!

Nope.

Honestly, nothing came from it. The only thing that did come from it are a couple of comments criticizing my choice of art style or someone telling people to go read Brandon Varnell’s books instead (which you should, btw… I’ve read a couple of them and they are worth your attention! Just don’t forget about mine!!)

While I am disappointed that nothing came from it, it was a stark reminder that as much as the OELN community has grown, it really hasn’t.

That stigma is still there. OELNs are not taken seriously by the anime community and people will crap all over them for no good reason whatsoever. The standard writing community has no idea what a light novel is so it’s hard to even get accepted by other authors. To say that it is an uphill battle for OELN authors is an understatement.

Just being an indie author itself is hard enough. You’re a virtual unknown who put words to paper and are looking to have your voice heard in a sea of thousands upon thousands of other people all shouting about their work as well. Then, there is the whole self-publishing and marketing aspect and not many people make much money off of doing this. Now imagine all of that while focusing on just the anime community because an OELN is a very niche genre that caters to a very specific audience. Now imagine that audience having zero faith in you and not willing to even give you a chance! Now, multiply that frustration times ten because you see the community taking ten steps forward but in reality, it hasn’t gone much of anywhere.

That’s what it’s like to be an OELN author.

So, why do it?

For the same reason a pro-wrestler travels hundreds of miles every night from town to town… from state to state… or even from continent to continent to put their body through the equivalent of a car crash every single night for $50 or less.

Because we love it.

And we know that, one day, our big break will come.

I thought I kicked down a door but, all I did was rattle a door that remained firmly shut… for now.

Hypocrisy

There is one last thing I want to address before I throw some artwork at you that you guys haven’t seen yet!

Recently, I’ve been getting a string of negative reviews over my A.R. Dragonfly series. I’m not going to name names or anything like that but it got to the point where I had to go through everything that they followed me on and block them. I, simply, had had enough of it.

But wait! Didn’t you say at the top of this column that you welcomed negative feedback!? Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite for blocking someone who is giving you that negative feedback?

On the surface, yes… but, actually, no. Not in this case.

The reviews are much like my issues with redundancy. It says the same stuff over and over again. They don’t like my characters, they say I have corny dialogue, they say that the prose is broken and needs to be fixed, it’s unreadable, etc. etc.

Funny thing is, they hardly ever give specific examples so I didn’t know what they were referring to. I wasn’t questioning their claims, I just wanted to know what specifically was wrong so I could review it and understand their points and fix it. It took several back and forth messages to get them to finally point things out.

At that point, I had gotten the message loud and clear and I knew what to fix! Should have been a “GG, Guys” moment and it should have ended there. Except it didn’t.

The hate-filled reviews still kept coming and it got to the point where other people have asked them “why do you still read something that you hate?” I even told them myself that if they weren’t enjoying my series like that, then just stop. Any normal, rational person would do just that. I know that if there is something I don’t like reading, I just stop reading it and move on with my life.

They didn’t. They continued to read A.R. and continued to hate on it. They even admitted to me that, at this point, they loved to hate my series and they made it clear that they don’t intend to stop.

Once I read that, I no longer took it as a form of critique. I viewed this as a form of harassment. Reading their reviews was like watching a dead horse get beaten over and over again and after 8 volumes of listening to the same bitching and moaning, I got tired of it.

I had already gotten the point. I already received the feedback I needed. I was made aware of the issues my series had. I felt that there was no further need to read this person’s reviews. Apparently, I was told that they also reviewed A.R. Dragonfly Vol. 9 and Final Hope Vol. 2 after I blocked them but I’ll never know nor do I care. They could give those books 1 star or 5 and it won’t matter to me because of the way they chose to act towards my works. It’s not about not wanting to read the reviews… I simply don’t care about what they have to say about anything any longer. Not just my work but about others’ as well.

It’s simple. If you hate my work… that’s fine. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you didn’t like it. Go read something else that you’ll enjoy. If it was because of the type of story or the type of characters, it’s more than understandable as not every story and not every character connects with a reader.

If you hate it because of the quality of the writing… let me know. I’ll be more than happy to fix it.

But if you hate it, openly admit time and time again that you hate it, and continue to read it all for the sake of publicly hating it even more, that, in my eyes, is no longer critique… it’s harassment, and I simply won’t stand for it. You will find yourself blocked immediately.

Again… I’m all for negative reviews. I love constructive criticism and welcome it. But if you’re going to act like a child to the point where people question you and why you’re even still bothering, that’s a problem.

But… moving on.

Artwork

I promised some new pieces and I’m going to give them to you. I contemplated on not showing these because I thought that they would be spoilers but after thinking back on these pieces, they’re not really spoilers. If I were to have shown a certain image from Chapter 4 of A.R. Dragonfly Vol. 8… yeah.. that was a spoiler. These, not so much.

So, with that, I’m unveiling these two new pieces here for the first time today!

The first image here is Jase taking a selfie with himself and Ashe after work one day. The reason for that selfie will come into play later but I wanted to show this because this is the third outfit Ashe has been drawn in over the span of just two volumes. Plus, Jase is wearing his plaid shirt on him this time rather than around his waist.

With A.R. Dragonfly, Amber had 1 outfit (save for her birthday dress in Volume 10). I even poked fun at it by saying she bought 7 of the same outfit as an excuse to keep her design the same. Rarely did the characters change clothes.

That’s not the case in From Ashe. Ashe has been seen in her grey and olive green home attire, her red, grey, and blue jean casual attire, and now here in her business work attire. Ashe has more outfits so don’t been surprised to see her in a few other designs as the series rolls on!

Here, this is one of the scenes in Volume 2. There’s a bit of build up to this moment but to say that things are a little competitive between Renji and Jase are an understatement. Everyone sees Renji as this shut-in who has no emotions or anything. Nobody would even think for a second that he knew how to bowl. So, after an event that causes Renji to step in, he shows off his perfect form and skills and Jase is completely stunned by it as he (along with everyone else sans Ashe) wouldn’t have seen something like this coming!

Until Next Time

That was a pretty hefty progress update!

With my upcoming vacation, May’s progress update will probably have an update on Volume 2’s editing, Volume 3’s progress and maybe a release date for Volume 2!

As always, thanks for reading and until next time,

Go read Volume 1!

Ja ne!

One thought

  1. Just came across your blog. You made some great points about the status of OELNs. I agree that seeing more outlets spring up for OELN authors is encouraging and concur that the stigma for non-Japanese light novels is still there and it’s an upward battle.

    Like

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