Sticky post: Starting points

Hello!

If you’re new here, here’s where to start! (The opposite of the other sticky post!)

The Healers book 1 of 3: The Healers’ Road

by S.E. Robertson

Genre/keywords: slice-of-life fantasy, shouting-distance-from-cozy fantasy but check the content warnings first please, character-driven, road trip from hell, enemies to friends


Second chances and unexpected friends

Agna Despana has studied magical healing for nearly half her life, and now she finally gets to prove herself. Ambitious, opinionated, and out of her depth, she will plan her way out of any situation. Except the presence of the dismissive doomsayer she’s been matched up with.

Keifon the Medic has nearly given up. Having lost his family, his old life, and his revolutionary ex-boyfriend, he puts himself at the gods’ mercy to give him a new purpose. Maybe helping people as a medic will suffice. If only he weren’t saddled with this pompous young heathen.

Assigned as partners, the two travel the back roads with a merchants’ caravan, providing medical aid. They each have all the answers, but it will take a long journey, some chance encounters, and a deep look inside to reach the truth.

The Healers’ Road is an enemies-to-friends low-stakes fantasy road trip with warm campfires, good books, and the power of healing yourself as well as others.

On Amazon – print and ebook, and on Kindle Unlimited where available
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia


How I Became a Therapist in Another World , novella 1 of 7

by C.A. Moss [also me]

Genre/keywords: fantasy isekai but make it tired, millennial, and gay; let’s throw all the tropes in a blender with a giant pile of feelings and see what we get; fish out of water; empathy as a superpower; humor and heart


Not the Chosen One, just doing my best 

After an unexpected accident, Cat wakes up in a new body in a world full of magic. If this is the afterlife, it’s a lot more cottagecore than she expected — even though it’s also haunted by demons that prey on people’s emotions.

Good thing this world summoned the right vintage-loving queer girl, because Cat — now Lavender — was a therapist on Earth. Wielding magic that gives others space to face their literal demons, she sets out to make a new life for herself. 

A world of new friends, territorial Earthlings, rampaging dragons, high society balls, and rollicking nights at the tavern is just down the country road. But so is the reckoning of what she’s lost…

How I Became a Therapist in Another World is a light fantasy heartwarming isekai novella with emotional moments and a wlw human/orc romance side plot. Lavender’s story continues in parts 2-4.

On Amazon – ebook and Kindle Unlimited where available
Books 1-4 are also available as an omnibus in ebook and print.
On Goodreads

Content Notes / Trivia

Sticky post: Most Recent Releases

Welcome! Here are the newest releases. (I’m trying to be concise for once. Can you tell?)

Healers / Balance Academy Series Book 3: The Healers’ Purpose

On Amazon – print and ebook; Kindle Unlimited where available
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia

Released mid-August 2022


The Salty Mageknight and the Sweet Dark Lord (How I Became a Therapist in Another World book 7)

On Amazon – ebook and Kindle Unlimited where available

Content notesTrivia / Recap of the non-romance plot points if you are skipping this one

Released mid-April 2024


Beta reading status: I don’t have anything even close to ready for beta reading currently. However, if you’re interested in beta reading any time in the future (for either series) or have a trade I might be able to help with, feel free to contact me. wheel.of.a.different.color@gmail.com or u/ofthecageandaquarium on Reddit. Let me know which series you’re up for. I’m going to try to continue both. (RIP my spare time.)

When, eventually, I get to the point where I have something ready, there’s no obligation whatsoever. This is more of an “open to being asked” list.

Trades: I don’t always have time or energy to properly devote to beta reading for other people, and I’m trying to be more honest with myself about that. But when the stars align, I love to beta read. However, my genre lane is: not grimdark (though I am fine with some stress, and actually really love a mix of happiness and sadness), not super-hard science fiction. It doesn’t even have to be specfic, but let’s be honest, that’s what I know best.

So if you have one of those, especially if it’s in that zone of maybe quirky, maybe sad, maybe uplifiting specfic, I’d love to pay it forward.

Thanks!

Update (good)

Somewhat TMI, fair warning. Bodies are weird, and if you don’t listen to them and ignore early symptoms, sometimes they go full body-horror WTF on you.

Back at home and doing pretty well. Turns out general anaesthesia hits my brain like a truck, because it took me longer to come out of it than the surgery itself took. So that’s the lesson of the day.

[CW: Links are both to reproductive health articles] The procedure went well, and extracted the body part that was going rogue; it was even more rogue than we expected. But that’s resolved, and I’m very glad to be rid of it. And the near-absence of pain is almost eerie. I was in a little bit of pain most of the time, punctuated by much worse symptoms that came and went. It’s wild that eventually, once everything heals up, it might not hurt at all.

Now I just have to take time to heal and not pick up anything heavy for several weeks. Sounds like a plan.

What’s self-control?

As a gift to myself, a long-overdue update, and a general “stop waffling and jump into the deep end already” move, I’m commissioning custom art for new covers for the Healers series. I probably should wait till they’re complete and do a big unveiling, but I’m excited, so I’m going to say it now. eeeee!

So if you’re midway through the series and want them to match, I hope to have the new edition ready within a couple of months. Just FYI.

Besides that, my Big(ish) Medical Thing date is Tuesday 6/4, so I will probably drop off the radar for a few weeks after that. It shouldn’t be a difficult recuperation (fingers crossed), but I am going to make a conscious effort to limit my internet use while I’m recuperating. It’s a bad time to doomscroll. I intend to keep writing, mental clarity permitting, and work my way through my TBR pile. And, let’s be honest, build Lego sets, watch some anime series, and take naps.

Goals:

  • read all/as many as possible of the books I bought from Cozy the Day Away before the next sale
  • finish the first draft of the current project (Therapist 8, a.k.a. The Ballad of the Bardbarian) by the end of June

Bardbarian is turning into a short-for-fantasy novel (75k?) rather than a novella, but it’s progressing.

Wish me luck and happy Pride Month (in some regions), everyone.

Sale time

Therapist book 1 is now 99c in the US / equivalent “about half off” everywhere else it’s available. I figure I’ll continue it through the week, so till May 31.

That’s it for now!

EDIT, May 29: Added a little page recapping the plot points of Therapist book 7 for anyone who has been following the series, but wants to skip this one. I stand by that book, but I also recognize that I’m not very good at “sticking to the assignment” and changed lanes. Not many people read both f/f and m/m (and m/f and nb/anyone and nobody/nobody, hi, it’s me, I read everything), and I went and included both in the same series like a not-very-smart person. So with that in mind, I wanted to create a little “here’s what else happened” list.

EDIT, May 31: Sale’s over; thanks to anyone who took a chance on Book 1! It is slated to go back on sale as part of the July 12 Cozy the Day Away promotion. More details once we get closer.

Productive procrastination, Monday edition

  • Therapist book 1 goes on sale for 99c this weekend (May 25-28 or so).
  • I just NOW, today, TODAY, found out that “Featherington” (the last name of a side character in Therapist) is a surname from Bridgerton. Which I’ve never watched nor read. I got it from a random name generator. So, oops. It’s not a reference.
  • After having Amazon profiles for about a million years, I finally “finished” them and set up some profile pictures. Pretty basic ones, but hey, it’s a start.
S.E. Robertson icon
C.A. Moss icon

Back to actual writing, including a chapter from Burleigh “my narration is alarmingly easy to write, this is probably a bad sign” Featherington. Wish me luck.

Let’s not think about “good uses of our time”

Did I just spend 45 minutes tweaking and uploading covers for the Therapist series just to take “By” off them, because it was starting to irk me? Yes. [Have not updated this site yet; I want to get on to actual writing today.]

Did I accidentally upload the omnibus file (i.e. 4 books) instead of the book 1 file, while correcting a very small mistake in it?

Also yes. Caught it just in time.

Did I spend probably an hour the other day researching new cover styles for Healers only to discover that I don’t know how to do some pretty elementary stuff in the graphics program I recently bought?

Uh, also yes. Someone should probably get me away from this computer before I break something.

On the other hand, what will probably be the 8th Therapist book is coming along swimmingly. [“Probably” = the next few may end up sorted in a different order than they were written, the way 5-7 did.] Healers 3.5 is started, and my doubt meter is higher on this one, but I have not abandoned that project by a long shot. It’s all going. Just slowly.

It’s spring here. Hooray.

Just a quick check-in.

  • It’s solidly spring here! Hooray! Planted a border of native plants and bought some herbs. It’s going to be a fairly low-ambition gardening year this year, though, because:
  • I finally have a date for a medium-seriousness surgical procedure that will end a health issue that has been plaguing me for about a year. Scary yet exciting stuff. I hope to keep writing and reading through recovery (which is short, 2-3 weeks if all goes well). But in the interest of my own mental health, I hope to keep my internet use to a minimum through that time. So if I drop off the radar next month, that’s why.
  • Speaking of reading: still making my way through that haul from the sale. Good times.
  • Speaking of the sale: I’ve committed to listing Therapist book 1 in the July sale. That’s quite a ways off, so more details once we get closer.
  • I’m not going to make any promises about what I’ll finish writing first, but I am continuing to write consistently. I’m stressing myself out thinking about when the next thing will be done, so let’s leave that aside for now.
  • Anime corner: Still continuing Delicious in Dungeon, Train to the End of the World, Tonari no Yokai-san, The Many Sides of Voice Actor Radio, and Laid-Back Camp, along with the Spice and Wolf reboot. The latter is going exactly on pace with the first adaptation so far, so I sincerely hope it gets additional seasons.
  • Game corner: Started the free-to-play MMO Palia, which is so far the only MMO I’ve ever played. It’s a complete pain to attempt to chat on the Switch and I don’t like keyboard controls, so I don’t know how long this will last. But it’s nice enough so far. In the early phases you don’t actually have to interact with other players, which is just my speed.

Cozy the Day Away haul #1

I’m not much of a book stockpiler. I love reading, but I don’t get as much joy from collecting and keeping books, per se. However, I was excited about this sale, and ended up getting quite a few books in the end. Time will tell how long it will take me to read through them all, but I look forward to it. (I’m currently midway through I Ran Away to Evil, so I haven’t even started yet…)

I have to go in some kind of order, so let’s say alphabetical by title. Mind you, there were lots more books on the list that I’ve already read, didn’t get to, etc. Nothing against any of them.

Artura’s Quest by Tagg Vermette
Awakenings by Claudie Arseneault
Buried in Friendship by T.M. Mayfield
Carry On by Celia Lake
The Crone of Midnight Embers by Iris Beaglehole
Curses & Cocktails by S.L. Rowland
Doll Girl Meets Dead Guy by Lidiya Foxglove
Dusted in Snowflakes by T.M. Mayfield
The Fae’s Bride by R.L. Medina
Familiars and Foes by Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Feathers of Dawn by Jess Galaxie
The Good and the Green by Amy Yorke
Guarding Gus by Karryn Nagel [who also organized the sale, applause]
How to Get a Girlfriend (When You’re a Terrifying Monster) by Marie Cardno
Inspirational Wink and the Altogether Extraordinary Notebook by Delaney Evers
Lollipop Monster Shop by Coyote J.M. Edwards
Love and Lab Extractions by Mary Stephenson Su
Love at First Lance by Gryffin Murphy
The Nameless Restaurant by Tao Wong
The Poison Paradox by Hadley Field and Felix A. Green
The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin
A Second Story by J.A. Collignon
The Tenfold Tenants by E.V. Belknap
Tools of a Thief by D. Hale Rambo
A Touch of Wrath by Arizona Tape
The Urban Underworld Omnibus by Gwyneth Lesley
Vanilla Bean Vampire by Selina J. Eckert
The Winter Feast by Rose Johnson
Working Under the Warlord by Fiona West

[edit: And even after the sale, a few of the books were still on sale, so I got another couple. Edited the list]

Thanks again to everyone who organized the sale! If you happened to get my book (a person can dream) and have any questions or technical issues, the Discord has a section for that (I’m there @SERobertson, very creative), or my contact info is over on the About page.

Happy reading!

All I need is a time machine

(shoutout)

I am nervous / excited for the sale and promo tomorrow — since Cozy the Day Away was happening, I also lined up a newsletter promo on the same day. (BookBarbarian readers, hi!) Simultaneously, I’m also braced for nothing to happen and for all of this to pass without a ripple. I set all of this up before my last round of “Hey, let’s learn more about strategy and The Business,” and while I don’t regret it, I am more in a “why not” mode than a “this is an exciting new step” mode.

I asked some (much) more experienced self-publishers for advice, and the overwhelming consensus was that my first-in-series is too old. You know, the one I am set to promote tomorrow. Uh, oops. Nobody reads old books, they said. If it wasn’t published less than 6 months ago, it’s irrelevant. Some said I could still write on the same pen name if I REALLY wanted to, but I still ought to abandon my useless back catalog. So having learned that, I’m tempering my hopes for these promos I set up several months ago.

And between that and readers calling Healers “a finished trilogy”, I am trying to pivot to another story in that universe instead of writing Healers 4 right now. For a while it was The Strangers’ Crossroads, which is about a pair of Academy graduates tasked with reopening an abandoned shrine. But that one has some even heavier psychological lifting than Healers. Not a great choice if I want to bring new people into this universe. Someday, I do want to finish that book. But I’m not sure it’s the right one now.

Until then? It’s not the done thing, but I still stand by my first in series. There are things I’d change about it now, but I still like it. And I still think it’s not impossible that a few more people might like it too. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic. But I can’t make it any newer than it is, so we’ll just have to work with what we have until I can figure out what to write next.

This all sounds gloomy, but I promise it isn’t. I want to keep developing my skills, figuring out what makes a story “mine,” and bringing that out. It’s a growth process. Y’know, a growth process that starts with grumbling and ends in optimism hey look, it’s my brand again. There’s a reason for that. ; )

Happy-crying while bowling is the new smiling while eating salad

So I’ve been having a meh kind of week, especially with regard to my writing projects. Full of optimism and ambition for once, I asked for help on a writing forum that’s known for its very knowledgeable user base. I said my stuff is a little off the beaten path, but I know it appeals to some people, and I’d like to figure out the best way to give it a shot at finding people who might like it. In other words, now that the thing exists, how do I wrap it up and send it out there so that it reaches its audience? Covers, descriptions, that kind of meta thing.

The knowledgeable user base said LOL no, you’re wasting your time writing your own work, and there’s no point fretting over its packaging. What you need to do is sit down and copy a more successful book, scene by scene. Change some things up so it isn’t exactly the same, we don’t want a lawsuit here, but you basically want a near-copy of something that’s making bank so you can ride its coattails. Think Hunger Games spawning Divergent, to pick an ancient example. Not exactly the same, but not not the same, you dig? People want more of what they like. Give it to them. Anything else is a waste.

And you know, on so many levels, they’re right. It’s efficient, it gives readers more of what they love, and plenty of people have done it and succeeded enormously. I respect the hell out of that hustle.

But I don’t have it in me. I have to have a personal stake in what I’m writing; I don’t have the discipline to put in the work otherwise. I barely have the discipline to write my own work, when I have full creative control. I could no sooner write a market-optimized book than I could grow wings and fly.

So I plummeted into the grumps, read every 1- and 2-star review my first book got on Goodreads (I normally try to avoid reading reviews because it’s a) bad for me and b) not the point of reviews), and submerged neck deep in Talentless Hack Wallowing. Other good things have happened — I released my seventh novella / tenth work overall amidst all this, and had an encouraging talk with my spouse about improving my old covers in spite of the experts’ advice. But going back to the documents and trying to continue has been like pulling teeth. I had to stop working on my two current projects and went back to an older one, hoping that maybe it had a chance of escaping the talentless-hack miasma.

Monday evening after the day job, I fired up a game of Switch Sports bowling. If you remember the smash hit Wii Sports, it’s… a flawed copy that is still reasonably fun to play. (HEY LOOK, A PARALLEL) And while waiting for the other players to connect, I found out that my spouse had sent in a shout-out for my work on an awesome podcast. Because from day one, he has believed in me and my work. Always.

Turns out you can throw a strike on Switch Sports while happy crying. In my defense, the game dings you for quitting in the middle of a match. I can do two things.

If you got here from the Daily Beans, HELLO! Omigod. The where-to-start post is stickied above. Or hey, thanks for just giving it a click.

A meandering thrill ride for fans of Other Blog Post

(And guess who forgot to enroll book 7 in Kindle Unlimited? This very-much-not-a-pro. Biting my nails until I can add it)

I’ve overhauled all but the last few blurbs in both series (Therapist 5 and 6 seem close-enough, and 7 is new). Writing blurbs might be getting slightly easier with practice, but it’s really difficult for me.

The current wisdom is to mostly ignore specifics and focus on emotional resonance: things that the reader will find relatable, intriguing and/or addictive. This is not how I engage with fiction — I don’t insert myself into the story; I live vicariously, even (especially?) through characters who are different from me* — so it’s been a struggle.

It’s also recommended to stuff as many (accurate) tropes and keywords as you can in there, because that’s what people look for. Both of these insights — the “the story is all about you, reader” and the frontloading of tropes — are fascinating to me, even (especially) if my brain doesn’t work that way. The trope lists in particular remind me so much of fanfiction. AO3’s tag system is truly amazing as a work of crowdsourcing and categorization, and it’s fascinating to see it suffuse out into the rest of the reading world.

I’ll be honest, too — there’s a trace of envy in there, too. People all seem to have Their One Thing: the trope or dynamic or specific niche that fits them perfectly, where every single book is written to make them exquisitely happy, and more are written every day. Wandering through this landscape, I feel like someone who has just realized that they don’t have a favorite flavor of ice cream. That they have a few things that they like, and try different things for the sake of trying different things sometimes. People don’t do that. It’s not normal.

But hey. Story of my life.

* This is why none of my characters are singularly “me”, I think. I’m spread between Agna and Keifon and Berry and Solan and Hazel and Morel and Agna’s work friend Fulvia, who is probably the closest depiction in that she is awkward, offputting, and usually says the wrong thing at the wrong time. <3