Sticky post: 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

Amazon US / UK / CA / AU – print and ebook
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia

Released mid-August 2022


The Sylvan Dragon’s Herald (How I Became a Therapist in Another World book 5)

Amazon (ebook): US / UK / CA / AU
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content notes / Trivia

Released early December 2023


Beta reading status: Looking for beta readers for book 7 of Therapist (#6 is in its last edits now). There are synopses of 5-7 in this post. #7 is a particular doozy, so if you are up for m/m romance and boatloads of swearing, please hit me up. Contact: wheel.of.a.different.color@gmail.com or u/ofthecageandaquarium on Reddit.

I’m also available for swaps in more or less comparable genres: non-grimdark fantasy and non-milSF/hard science fiction. I am not great with plot structure, but I catch grammar issues like a machine (an increasingly useless superpower!).

Thanks!

A grab bag for February

Today’s productive(?) procrastination: researching cover trends to decide whether I want to overhaul the Healers covers. The promo didn’t work; therefore, something must be wrong that keeps people from clicking. I honestly still like covers 1 and 3, but I have to face the fact that they don’t look like the other covers out there in the cozy/literary fantasy space. That’s a hindrance.

If I do end up doing this, then all my agita about print editions is out the window; I will, in that case, redesign the interiors too.

I find this all kind of fascinating to research, but wildly out of my wheelhouse (I am not a visual person at all). It’s also exhausting to have to make decisions about it. But hey. That’s the fate of self-publishing.


Listened to another podcast episode that got me to buy a book: Why Do So Many Coffee Shops Look the Same?

Likewise, this kind of analysis is fascinating to me and wildly outside my wheelhouse, as someone who is not visually oriented and has never taken to social media that is visually oriented. Have not read the book yet; I’ll get to it soon.


Recent reads/recommendations include the entirety of Greenwing & Dart (the series feels unfinished, but I loved it up to that point), Wyngraf’s Valentine’s Day 2024 special (adorable) and the first couple of omnibi of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (sad and adorable; will have more to say about this once I read the whole series).


Look at that, we’re halfway through the Winter 2024 anime season. TIme might be linear after all.

  • Delicious in Dungeon: Love it. Characterization is a breath of fresh air in a world of stale tropes. Opening theme is a banger. Calls on fantasy/RPG nostalgia without mindlessly copy-pasting. Only one notable female character so far (the other one is languishing in a dragon’s colon), but she is great despite being the party’s constant naysayer. We’ve been on the verge of cancelling Netflix among our raft of streaming services, and now I’m kind of mad that this has dragged me back in.
  • Mr. Villain’s Day Off: I think it’s accomplishing the “one joke” better than Too Cute Crisis did, which is why I’m still watching it. Not perfect — I’d like to dig six inches deeper on the characters they’ve established rather than just throwing in more and more new ones — but it’s refreshing to have a show that focuses on achievable work/life balance instead of throwing its hands up and saying “welp, the only way out is to die and get isekai’d, lol.”
  • ‘Tis Time for “Torture,” Princess — this season’s “this is so silly, and yet I’m still watching” pick. Nothing makes sense, but it’s oddly charming. Also not perfect (see the game of pervy chicken they’re playing with the paladin character), but mostly harmless. There is a large cast of adorable demons who take excellent care of each other and their prisoners, and I’m a sucker for that.
  • Have not started Sign of Affection yet; I’ll tackle it in the backlog later.
  • Backlog we’re still working on: Natsume’s Book of Friends, Isekai Izakaya, The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, Revue Starlight. I had to pause RS for a bit when I didn’t have the stomach for drama, but I’m back in. Hidive, your days are also numbered. Sorry. Akiba Maid War was fucking fantastic and I’m glad I finally got through Penguindrum, but there are only a few more series I want to watch in your lineup.

edit to add: ooh, I forgot one! I started a Zoom guitar class. Having loads of fun. It seems like some of the general concepts I learned with the ukulele are carrying over, which is nice, but the strings are SO much sharper!

Constructive procrastination, part n+1

Here’s the path that unfolded this week:

“Oh, I ought to update my bio on the Healers books. I haven’t changed it in a million years.”

“…These epub files were all hand-coded, and I kind of mentally refused to do that incredibly fiddly task ever again. …Right.”

*uploads doc version*

*chaos ensues*

*sigh* “Okay, Atticus. Do your thing.” [not an affiliate link, I don’t do that]

*incredibly boring montage: two evenings of correcting chapter titles, chapter breaks of various kinds, and italics*

Result: We have slightly more polished versions of all three Healers ebooks, or we will as soon as Amazon finishes processing them (usually within 24 hours). The print books haven’t changed. I plan to keep hand-coding/laying out the print books, because I’m sure it would be annoying to have books 1-3 match and 4+(?) not match. However, I think an ebook can be re-downloaded at any point, so it doesn’t seem like it’s as big a deal.

That said, if you are a reader who’s run into issues along those lines with my books, please send me an email (info on About page). We’ll figure out what needs to be done.

The actual changes are:

  • took out the summary at the beginning of THR; that isn’t a thing anyone does anymore [I did leave the “previously” summaries in 2 and 3]
  • new copyright page (ooh, thrilling) – same info, just formatted slightly differently
  • nicer font on the chapter headings
  • slight changes to the afterwords, linking to the next book in the series
  • entirely new About page

Since the new About page links to all of my books, I will end up updating it every time I publish another book. I’ve chained myself to this situation, I know, but I like how it turned out. Eventually I will probably whip up a standard About page for the C.A. Moss books as well. (So I can update almost a dozen books every time instead of three.)

Until then, I’m reflecting on the snippets that I read as I skimmed through. As much as I’ve rhapsodized about taking a break from the series, I still really love it, y’all. I do. It’s extremely emotional and the plots don’t always make sense and I love it.

I have started writing Healers 4, picking up where 3 left off. I’d like to finish this one in a more reasonable time than the last. That’s my goal.

EDIT, a few days later: Also added a content notes page at the start of each Healers book. I decided to apply for a cozy fantasy group promotion, and since I know my work is only at the edge of cozy, I thought it would be best to be extra, extra, extra clear about the content.

The promotion hasn’t happened yet, but it’s being organized by promisepress.org if you’re interested in signing up as a reader or author.

2 months of winter to go

Therapist book 6 is with the cover designer, which is generally the last stop before release. I really like this one, too. I mean, I really like every single one of them. As we get to the end of the novellas I’ve finished/nearly finished, I’m sad to shift away from this series, at least for a while. Ah, well. Chances are I’ll circle back after another Healers book. And I hope I’ve learned enough from this experience to take back over to Healers, like how to write faster, for the love of all that’s good and holy

(ahem)

I’m not remotely done with this series anyway; book 7 is still with the beta readers, and then I plan to commission another paperback cover and compile 5-7 on paper. So we won’t see the back of this series for a little while yet, even leaving aside future as-yet-unwritten stories.


I’ve spent the last seven weeks line- and copy-editing my spouse’s first novel. It’s been an exciting process seeing this whole thing take shape. He’s supported me through half a million words’ worth of my stuff; it’s about time I got to even begin to return the favor. And it’s a lovely story.

And honestly? I enjoy this part. There’s a reason The Healers’ Road circled around, unfinished and endlessly re-edited, for something like 5 years before I broke the cycle and finished a complete draft. I love tweaking a sentence. Probably to my own detriment.

I also discovered that editing on paper somehow clicks with my brain. Maybe because I don’t often read on paper these days; I’ve been Ebook Hive for 12 years now. So I don’t get sucked into the story in the same way. However it happens, it seems to work. So I guess next time I edit one of my own, I’m printing the thing out.


Gaming: 70 hours into Tears of the Kingdom, so, y’know, less than halfway. I started Breath of the Wild in late fall on purpose, planning to zone out through the winter on these two games. Which is exactly what’s happening. Though I am trying to limit my time on weekdays: work, sleep, writing/editing, and exercise take priority. It’s mostly fine.

As with pretty much any open-world game, I am inclined toward exploring and collecting. Just finished all the petroglyphs/memories and did the Thing that the Game Nudges You Toward Right After That. (y’know, the thing where you hold the A button for a long long time)

Actually, narratively, doing things in that order was quite effective. Though I was spoiled for the end of the game by watching my spouse finish it a few years ago; it probably would have been quite a whallop if I hadn’t known. It’s okay. I was still moved. For a series not known for its narrative coherence, it’s doing just fine by me.

Better things around the corner

“One day at a time” mode is never a fun place to be. Of course, January is sometimes a little bit like this anyway; this is just a January of Januaries.

However, Therapist book 6 is almost ready — I hope to release it by the end of the month if all goes well. This one is Berry’s story (the retired adventurer from book 3), and it might be the most mellow of the series? I think it is.

In the Winter 2024 anime season, we’re trying Mr. Villain’s Day Off (already relatable, don’t mess it up), Delicious in Dungeon (fun so far), and A Sign of Affection (haven’t started it yet). It looks like ‘Tis Time for “Torture”, Princess is, despite its title, a food porn show, and we tend to like those in this house. But the descriptions I’ve seen make me kind of tired for reasons I can’t quite articulate, so that may go on the back burner (heh) for now.

[Edit, like 1 day later: I had some down time, and tried the first episode. Funny enough to keep going.]

Still working on The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent season 1, Natsume’s Book of Friends season 1, and Isekai Izakaya in the backlog, and I’m also midway through created-in-a-lab-for-the-likes-of-me Revue Starlight. We’ve got enough to watch for now.

Grab bag time

  • Punched up the Healers’ Road description for the first time in basically ever. The sale last month didn’t accomplish much, so my takeaway lesson is that something is probably wrong with my cover or blurb (description). The blurb is easier for me to fix, so I’ll start there. We’ll see! (I hope it’s not the cover; I love the current cover. It’s a kill-your-darlings situation, and I didn’t even make it.)
  • Also brushed up the Healers listing page on this site with covers and a few wording tweaks.
  • Via animefeminist.com, I enjoyed reading through several of the articles linked at This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2023.
  • In particular, while I wouldn’t go entirely as far as the author here, this article gets at a lot of my discomfort with the cozy genre in both fiction and gaming: Comfort is a weapon

It’s unfair to generalize and I know that, but I’m still haunted by the reaction of the Stardew Valley fanbase to suggestions from other fans that it would be nice if the idyllic small-town setting had more people who looked like them in it. The fanbase’s reaction was: This is supposed to be a safe, happy, idealized world. Having people like you in it ruins it.

I think about that a lot.

I was also reminded of an exchange I had about cozy fantasy. A fan of the genre said that they liked stories about running businesses because they enjoyed cooking and crafting. Puzzled, I asked why you can’t also cook and craft without selling what you make, for friends and family, say. They didn’t understand what I was talking about.

I think about that a lot, too.

I think about the townsfolk in House on the Cerulean Sea, genteelly howling to destroy anything that seems awkward or uncomfortable, because their comfort matters more than other people’s lives.

I think too much.

Anyway, thought-provoking article, is what I’m saying. And hey, all that said, I still read cozy fantasy (alongside other genres) and play cozy games (ditto). And I keep tilting toward flower-picking and cooking in noncozy games that I play, besides — I’m several hours into The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and my favorite aspect is all those depots of building materials scattered around the landscape. In context, they exist mostly so the player can put together more rocket-powered killdozers, but I like their in-story purpose as a sign of rebuilding. Sure, they’re an advertisement for that goofily culty construction company up in Tarrey Town, but they’re also a reminder that the kingdom is trying to pull together after the disaster.

Don’t get me started on the Chosen One thing; that’s a rant for another day.

Numbers, year 9

“Surely,” I thought, “it’s far too early to do a year-end wrap-up.” And maybe it is, but the last one was at this time last year. So here we are.

It’s been a while, so I’ll preface this with my usual philosophy/statement of scale. Namely: I’m aware that these are tiny numbers. I’m not embarrassed; don’t be embarrassed for me. I’ve come to accept and enjoy what I do. Some people had a nice enough time reading something I wrote. That’s pretty neat. Also, it’s not my main source of income (I still have a day job, much to the annoyance of some of my coworkers), so we’re not starving over this.

I think it’s useful to say awkward things out loud. To refuse to buy into shame. So I’m transparent about the fact that not everyone out here is a millionaire, and believe that those of us who aren’t still deserve to talk about our experiences.

That said, here are some little charts.

With numbers on them

Welcome? I hope?

Tomorrow and Wednesday (Dec. 12 and 13), I’m lined up to run some ads for The Healers’ Road for the first time since 2015. It will be on sale for 99c in the US for 5 days, from the 12th-19th.

So we might get some new readers, which is cool! Or…maybe not, I don’t know! Should be a learning experience in any case!

If you’re new here, welcome. The Books pages on the menu contain all of the details about my books. I have two pen names. One for mostly-serious slice-of-life fantasy where cranky people have long conversations about things. One for goofy portal fantasy about a magical therapist.

This is a freeform blog where I tend to ramble about:
a) where I am in the writing process (often “lost”)
b) video games (I started The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a couple of weeks ago, and have Tears of the Kingdom lined up after it)
c) other people’s books (still a die-hard LeGuin fan, sorry not sorry)
d) anime (my favorite series is Revolutionary Girl Utena; I gravitate toward girly, artsy and as close to devoid of fanboy pandering as possible).

I’m a self-published part-time person-who-lines-up-words with a desk job in the nonprofit sector. All of my education was in STEM, approximately one thousand years ago. But I like writing. A lot. And so here we are.

Welcome.

If you’re not new here, also welcome.