Category Archives: Books

Look, spellcheck, I know “fuckup-itude” is not a word

…so yeah, I went and wrote a gay romcom, because it had devoured my brain and would turn me into a lifeless husk if I didn’t. It features a character set up as an antagonist 6 books ago and the drama-llama speechifyer he seemingly summoned to this world to be his nemesis. Choice scenes include “Dark Lord goes shopping for porn”, “the edgelord finally gets his ass to therapy”, and “a bunch of isekai’d humans play D&D in an actual fantasy world.” It is fluffy, angsty, silly, and sappy. It’s uploading now.

I have been having a lot of complicated feelings about this series lately. I always knew it was a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche; nobody writes queer isekai about mental health because no one wants it. But I did, and so I wrote it. And I still love it. Every single one of my unasked-for, stupidly-small-niche, screen-door-on-a-submarine story-children.

Even with all of that angst, I haven’t given up on the series. I don’t have any more in the pipeline I made for myself, ready to roll within a month, but I have started on one and have ideas for a couple more. I still don’t regret the time I spent on it. Not a minute. No matter how it does on the charts. It meant something to me, and so I put my heart into it. Because that’s what I do.

Judging books — well, you know

It seems like the artist I’d hired for most of the Therapist covers isn’t available right now (no offense, they’ve been great), so I figured — it’s a story where it would be nice to have two characters on the cover, why not go a bit further with it?

One chaotic “hiring” post later and I found a fantastic option; I am so, so pumped. They’ve even worked on light novels before, so they know the style; I loved their portfolio; y’all, I am PUMPED. This also means that I should be able to release Therapist 7 within the next couple of months, if all goes well. Fingers crossed.

As usual, I also heard from a bunch of other great artists who I’d also be happy to hire, and I’m thinking again about having some illustrated covers made for Healers. All three of them. In my head it’s for the 10th anniversary of The Healers’ Road this fall, but I would like all of them to match, so it’s a big undertaking.

We’ll see; I’ll put together the reference documents and stew about it for a while. (Related: We recently finished the anime The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, and my husband commented that its lead character looks like Agna. And now I can’t unsee it, haha.)

This also reminds me of the “trilogy” thing: I swear I actually am, slowly, working on more Healers books. I consider the story soft-closed/resolved-ish but not closed-forever. Like, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I want the end of book 3 to feel satisfying. But I also hope that if I write a book 4, it won’t be annoying to readers, like “I thought this was done.”

This may be an impossibility, asking for both of those things. I hope not.


Just a brief games note: I started The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on Christmas Day and finished it the day before Easter, three months and a couple of days. Logged 190something hours. Completed all the shrines (which I didn’t think I would, but here we are). Found all the lightroots and wells. Did not find all the bubbulfrogs; I stopped about 30 short. Completed all of the sidequests except two (the last mine cart one – meh – and the one where you need to find Gleeok guts – are you kidding me). Collected all the armor that didn’t require defeating a) a King Gleeok (are you kidding me) or b) several waves of Lynels (ditto). And one of the glide challenges. Which is to say, I got almost all of the armor. Did not upgrade all of it, which would require more grinding than all of the rest of the game put together.

Fought one (1), count ’em, one Lynel, and I was pretty annoyed about it. I did enough of that in BOTW. You can’t make me. Except that one time.

The ending makes no sense. But they could not have done the ending that would make sense; people would spontaneously combust. Not spoiling, so I can’t say more than that. (I did get the “true ending” after the credits; I liked that one fine.)

It got me through the winter. I probably could have kept playing for another 50 hours, just meandering around. I don’t even consider myself a giant Zelda fan, but these are both beautifully realized open-world games. Not perfect, sure! But they were hyped for a reason.

So that’s that. I’m thinking I’ll try to ease off, play Switch Sports and Ring Fit Adventure, and actually practice the guitar like I keep meaning to do (oops) for a while. We’re heading into spring.

And… …done.

Therapist book 6, Starting Over in Another World With My Level 99 Self-Doubt, is on its way. As soon as the links are live, I’ll update the sticky post above.

I say this a lot, and I say it because it’s true: I really liked this one. It’s actually low-key apart from some references to past stress; it has some of the same elements as the first four books through a very different narrator POV; it brings us back to a fun setting (the tavern) and gives it more room to breathe.

Also, let’s be honest, plant nerdery.

So that’s exciting. Still looking forward to the sale at the end of April. Personal life is still in limbo. That’s all for now.

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.

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.

Can’t be productive, too surly

Here’s what I did today instead of anything useful:

  • Added a statement to the Healers page explaining that it is not categorically cozy fantasy, FFS, please stop complaining that it’s not (and I know that won’t stop anyone, but hey, I tried)
  • Editing out the “Uncategorized” tags on this blog
  • Breaking up the “Checking In” tag into its component parts – usually games nattering, anime nattering, and book nattering – and leaving “Checking In” for year-end posts and other truly uncategorizable whatsits

Why? Because the next thing on my agenda, aside from beta reading an excellent book that I’m about halfway through, is diving into Healers 4 planning. And as much as I love this world/story, I’m daunted. Almost discouraged. Let’s be honest, though, I’m going to make a solid try of it. Because I love it too much. It’s just hard to take that first step right now.

Let’s wish one another good luck and try again tomorrow.

Another one done.

Book 5 of Therapist, called The Sylvan Dragon’s Herald, is uploading/processing now. It’s the first of three spin-offs narrated by side characters from the original series; this one is narrated by Hazel, the wood witch Lavender met in her first chapter, as she helps the forest’s guardian dragon return a lair’s worth of stolen loot. It’s extremely Ghibli/cottagecore/turning-of-the-seasons/let’s-dive-into-middle-aged-feelings, in contrast to, well, everything before it. Plus some moments of levity, an adorable sidekick, and mental health as always.

I really enjoyed this one. I mean, I really enjoyed all of them in this series; that’s kind of a theme here.

Since we’re committing to Kindle Unlimited/Amazon for the time being for this series, this one will likewise be KU/Amazon only for a while. Like the first round of novellas, my goal is to compile these three side stories into an omnibus when they’re all complete.

Links as soon as the processing …process is done.

Edit: here we go: Amazon (ebook): US / UK / CA / AU

Another quick update: …Mostly

I think I’m done with the meta/etc., at least until I see how the ads go in December. [Apparently? You shouldn’t run ads in December at all. Christmas and everything. Oh well. I’m doing it anyway. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll learn something.]

Anyway, I changed some keyword stuff behind all the scenes – winnowing out some that nobody actually searches for, brainstorming some others (like, can you believe I never had “camping” as a keyword on Healers’ Road? Camping. The thing that takes up 50% of the novel. Yeesh.)

I also caved and added subtitles to both series. Subtitles are those things like “: An InsertGenreHere Adventure” or “: An InsertSubgenreHere AlsoMaybeAUsefulBuzzword Romance.” You know, “A Fated Mates Shifter Romance” or “A Cozy LitRPG Adventure.” I have never. ever. used. them., because when I started, the only people who seemed to use them stuffed them so full of obvious SEO buzzwordage that they took on a bad reputation. Nowadays, subtitles are commonplace; they help people recognize what genre/subgenre the story is before they even get to the description. (And honestly? I understand why people did the way-too-many-buzzwords thing. They were trying. It’s rough out there.)

The subtitle I added for Healers was “A Slice of Life Fantasy Novel”. Because that’s what it is. “Cozy fantasy” is solidifying into one specific thing that this story is not, and that’s fine. I just don’t want people to expect a quirky small-business story when I’m doing something else. Slice of life covers it.

The subtitle I added for Therapist was “A Slightly Heavy Light Novel”; full credit to my spouse on that one. It’s not as helpful for catching searches, but it nails the “funny but also kind of serious” tone. Hey, I’ve got little to lose on Therapist‘s traction so far; I may as well experiment.

(Ironically, I don’t fully believe that this is a light novel, because it’s not YA. But it draws on light novel tropes and subverts a few of them, and it helps to have a passing familiarity with the genre. If the subtitle starts confusing people, I’ll think of something else.)

I also want to say that all of this meta/marketing/etc. stuff I’m doing isn’t to be cynical or mercenary or to change any of the content of what I do at all. It’s more about shoring up a skill I’ve always felt I lacked, and an area I don’t know much about. To demystify it for myself so it’s less daunting. And ultimately, once a story is written, to try to give it a fair shake at finding people who would enjoy reading it. That’s my actual goal with this part.

I wrote both of these series for me, at the end of the day. I needed a story about two very different people who get past their own flaws to become friends, and also a lot of camping and linguistics. And I needed a story about finding yourself stranded in a goofball fantasy world, mourning what you’ve lost, and rebuilding your life with the friends you’ve made along the way.

Those were for me, at different stages of my life. But I know that both of them would be fun for someone else to read, too. It’s just a matter of putting up a flag for the “someone else”s who would like them. That’s how I’m approaching “marketing.” Figuring out what the flag is for each series, and learning how to raise it.

Hey. I’ve got a bunch of offbeat, comforting, sometimes sad, usually queer, overly introspective stories with some jokes in them. Want some?