Category Archives: The Healers’ Purpose (Book 3)

Lightning. Bottle it.

“To get unstuck and fix this last act,” I said to myself, “I need to tie together the plot threads up to this point, use an external threat to force the rivals to work together without making it come completely out of left field, and let the narrators exercise what they’ve learned up to this point in their growth arcs. Seeding ideas for potential sequels wouldn’t be so bad either, as long as it isn’t obnoxious. So…”

Three brainstormed ideas later and I had one so obvious that I’m mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner. Ten pages of outline / summary / links to Wikipedia after that and we have a road map. Started writing it on Saturday.

Some people can come up with this stuff without writing dead-end drafts for years, but you know, practice, etc. Also, I can only work with what I’m able to do.

I think I also have a new direction for Strangers, the potential project after Healers, that would get more magic into the story (something I’m insecure about) while staying true to the characters and the theme of that story.

What is HAPPENING here. It’s about to make me paranoid about another shoe dropping. Well, time to write down all these ideas and ride the wave.


Entertainments: Up to what seems like the last arc of Dear Brother, stopped for a bit because I want to hear AF‘s commentary. Gameswise, almost done with that 100% completion run of Stardew Valley on the Switch; finished 2064 on PC and will probably pick another game from my PC backlog after writing today. Started Monster Prom on Switch, which is gleefully, unapologetically ridiculous. It seems nearly impossible to 100% complete that thing, so I will likely keep doing runs until it starts to feel repetitive and then move on. I’m not very good at it, mind you; I’ve succeeded three times out of probably 15 runs. Haha.

Meanwhile, since January I have gotten hooked on Ring Fit Adventure? I’ve played exergames fairly frequently since the mid-oughts, and this one is… actually fun AND challenging AND has a lot of variety? With this thing and the treadmill we got about six months ago, I don’t really miss the gym? Huh.

Earworm of the day

The first shot of ODDTAXI is a cinderblock-weighted, tarp-wrapped body sinking into deep water.

This is its ending theme.

I love a good dissonant song choice. Five stars.

Every so often I think: I ought to post pointless thoughts like this on Twitter or something, that’s what it’s for. But then I remind myself that a life goal of mine is to spend as close to 0% of my remaining time on earth as possible arguing with assholes, and that’s what Twitter is also for — so uh, here we are.

(That said, I did not realize the DMs on my reading account were turned off. They’re on now. So like, if anyone has any… questions, I guess? @sadsackgetdown. I am not interested in buying any get rich quick schemes, thank you)

Bookwise, I’m in the middle of rewriting act 3 after pulling what used to be the main plot point in it. It didn’t feel right. We’ll see what remains in act 3, i.e. tying up the threads in acts 1 and 2, and go from there.

I’m starting to feel like some of the stuff in book 3 belongs in another book. I think I’ll be done with A&K after this one, but something like “further tales from Wildern.” I want to get into the establishment of germ theory in a world with magic in it, and the strife in a city with a sudden influx of residents and trade, and Nessiny’s overthrowing the monarchy, and eventually the story-world’s version of the Industrial Revolution. [Also: Realizing jokingly that Agna’s story is the Girlboss trilogy; the one I’ve started working on, with two unreliable narrators, is the Gaslight book; so I’m going to need a Gatekeep book. /j]

It is an absolute miracle how other people can plot things and have them make sense, one thing happening after another, with perfect sense and gripping action, everything unfolding with polished precision to keep people turning pages deep into the night. I am truly in awe. I’ve read books on this, I’ve tried outlining over and over, and it still isn’t happening.

Guess this is why I’m a weirdo semi-monetized amateur instead of a pro. Just appreciating pros for a second. Wow.

Back to it.

One… non-ideal solution.

Alternating edits/rewrites on book 3 with some loosely planned writing on book ?4? (actually takes place before book 1, so we’re going to have to come up with some better numbering).

Couple of thoughts. It starts with cringe comedy.

I don’t like all cringe comedy, but I like a bit of it. I’ve gotten some disdain from friends about it, because how could anyone possibly witness those horrible people doing and saying the Wrong Things? Doesn’t it hurt to see someone so imperfect?

Thing is… I’m a full garbage human who has never said a Right Thing in my life, and almost-impossibly-flawed characters are some of the types that I find most relatable. I think one of the reasons I’ve found book 3 so hard to write is that the narrators have worked on themselves to the point where they are not horrible people anymore. They have flaws and shortsighted spots, but their bond continues, they are not actively self-sabotaging, and they’ve Learned some Stuff.

At the start of the new story, one of the narrators is an inept people-pleaser who is neck deep in well-deserved self-loathing; the other is a likeable extrovert who is a) silently cataloguing everything wrong with everyone around her, in order to use it against them if they ever cross her; and b) perpetuating a very long lie about what she did at the Academy. This is finger-steepling cartoon villain level fun to write. They are awful at this point, and as with book 1, I know where I want them to go; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get them there and make it feel deserved. It’s a breath of fresh air.

That said, I’m realizing that there is even less magic in this story than the Healers trilogy. It follows two more Academy graduates, but they’re a priest (skills: talking) and a swordmaster (skills: hitting things with swords). I really, truly do not know what genre we’re doing anymore. I should care about that? It’s hard to care. As long as I’m writing something, that feels better than writing nothing. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to shoehorn some magic into the plot. I don’t know, man. They’re words. Read them if you want to.

In conclusion: January is nearly over, February is short, and then our hemisphere will be nearly done with winter. Can’t wait.

Happy things, scary things

As a reader(tm): T. Kingfisher’s Paladin books, Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength so far, have me wanting to run around in circles yelling about how awesome they are. I’m only about halfway through Strength, and it is something I have never seen before, in ways that I have a lot of Feelings about. But I’ll leave that to people who can speak coherently about books. I can’t right now. I can just run around in circles yelling. I am so happy these books exist.

[EDIT: There’s a third one, Paladin’s Hope. Bought, read, enjoyed. Absolute corker of a final line. Wow.]


As a whatever(tm): Realizing that I asked both beta readers to read a draft that ended up not being final, and then made a bunch of changes. Now I have no beta readers left. I’m slightly fucked at this point. I could afford to have one book edited if I tapped out my savings, but this is book 3 of a trilogy. An editor would probably suggest well-deserved changes that would drastically affect the continuity/world/etc., so I’d have to pull and rewrite the first two to match. Which I don’t really want to do, even if I should. I’d rather move forward onto new projects when this one is done.(*)

So…

I mean, even if I have to shove it in a drawer and let it die there, I’d rather do so with a finished book. So I’ll keep going. But I don’t know what to do after that.

Well, onward.

(* aside from maybe some extras for an omnibus or something)

[EDIT: To defend my beta readers, they are great and have not gone anywhere. But I have already bothered them, and I don’t want to take any more from them than I already have. If dumping a book that took decades to write and refuses to come together allows me to write another one someday, I will take that bargain. We’ll see; I’m still trying to come up with another way out.]

In my defense, I barely knew what time was in the Before

I spent last night journaling about what I did during September, and I still don’t know where it went.

Hello. What’s up. Here are some unorganized thoughts.

  • Changed the blog category “proof of life” to “checking in”, because for me it crossed the line between “ironic overstatement” and “hmm, no thanks”.
  • Got all of those great notes back from the beta readers, identified some large elements that Book 3 was missing (more motivation for the “antagonists[ish]”, some logistical changes to the second half, commitment on the shipping question), ignored them for the rest of the summer.
  • Vowed in October to write something every day, whether that’s a bit of the story, some journaling, or this here procrastinatory blog post. I want to make it a habit again.
  • I want to not be scared of finishing Book 3, of doing a bad job, of writing something that some undefined someone doesn’t like. I want to write something that I like. I want to bring this storyline to a close and switch gears. I can do it. I just have to keep moving and keep my motivation in mind.

And what’s my motivation?

I read this tweet recently by the truly original Chuck Tingle, and it really struck me. I’ve tried to force sincerity out of my work and become more of what I feel like I’m supposed to be: better plotted, more marketable. It doesn’t work for me. It’s great if you can; I’m not talking about you. It doesn’t work for me, though.

I felt really bad for a really long time because Some Undefined Person Didn’t Approve of Something I Did, and many things in my personality make that just unthinkable. But it’s at the point where to keep doing something I love, I have to put up with that feeling.

I choose the story. I choose to keep going. Not out of spite; I have nothing to prove to anyone. Just because, well, I want to do this thing, and only I can stop me.

So I want to bring Agna and Keifon’s story to some kind of conclusion. I think after this point, if I come back to write about them, it will probably either be a short story or as side characters in a book narrated by another character. But hell, who knows what the future holds.

At the start, I assumed that I’d follow up Agna’s first book with one about Rone, her mentor, because he’s A Guy with a Sword and everybody loves those, don’t they, that’s important, isn’t it. After a while, I assumed I’d follow up Agna’s third book with one about Lina, her sister, because Lina is closer to the political upheaval in their home country, and political upheaval is Exciting and everyone loves Exciting Stories and Plot and that’s important, isn’t it.

I had a story framework on the back burner for a lot of this. A scenario, a setting, two narrators: more Academy graduates, former classmates who can’t stand one another and get assigned to a posting in the same small town. It takes place before Agna’s story, it has nothing to do with the political upheaval (I think), and I’m still not fully sure what Happens in it. The psychological themes are chewy, there’s the kind of drama I love, absolutely nobody was asking for this story and nobody gives one solitary crap about it. Except me.

And I’m writing for me.

So maybe it’s next. Maybe I’ll jump ship from fantasy and write that sociological science fiction idea ricocheting around in my head, about what happens down the road if nightmare capitalists actually do start a space colony where the poor colonists’ descendants are indentured servants. But by the time I do, nineteen other people will have already written theirs, so I can just read theirs.

I hope to write with love, even if I’m writing about unlikeable assholes or nightmare capitalists. Because that’s what motivates me. Not money, which is fine if that’s your motivation. Not approval, even though I feel like I’ll die if I don’t get it (which is fully asinine, I acknowledge that). I like writing. That’s why I do it. That’s all.

Ahahahaha.

After years, I think the covers of both books are finally fixed on Kobo. The help team DID get back to me, but I’d stopped checking that email address out of free-floating despair (not their fault!). I just FINALLY did what they suggested and it seems to have worked.

So *ahem* Books 1 and 2 continue to be available at Kobo, DRM-free:

The Healers’ Road

The Healers’ Home

Yay. If all goes well, I’ll add book 3 when it’s done.


Can I just say for the ten millionth time that I enjoy writing and editing and dread everything else? Writing cover copy, coming up with titles and keywords, researching the market, setting prices. Checking email is terrifying. And I check email all day every day at the day job with no problem. How is Outlook comfortable and familiar and Gmail terrifying? I mean, other than Google being Google…

Everyone’s personality is different, is the thing. Lots of people would rather write cover copy all day long than turn over control to someone else. More power to them. Meanwhile, if someone were to hand me money and say “we’re going to do all the work, just write the things”? Yes please, so long as it’s not a naked scam. I mean, I have read about how publishing contracts can be fully terrible, and I’m speaking out of frustration here; I know it’s complicated. But I have the kind of personality to which that appeals, generally. I just wanna do the easy part.

But that’s okay. If I had a publisher, I couldn’t write the stuff I write. It’s a mess and it doesn’t fit into a market segment and while I wish I could write a coherent plot to save my life, it’s evolved into its own weird little thing. Not better than commercially viable fiction, I don’t believe in that sort of stance; just its own thing.


Progress: Ebook edit round 1 is done; beta readers have the same draft; first draft of the book 2 synopsis for the start of book 3 is done. Gotta work on extras, decide on a title, talk to the cover designer, write the cover copy for 3, get the betas’ comments back, and do at least one more round of edits. But I think it’s coming together.

Things you’re supposed to do

For once, my natural procrastination and laziness dovetailed with something you’re actually supposed to do: to put down a draft when it’s done and let it drain out of your brain for a while before you edit. A couple of days ago I realized I had a batch of songs stuck in my head that I often listened to while working on the draft, and I decided to take that as a sign from my subconscious that it was time to start again. Was it? Probably not. But why not.

Besides, I’d developed a habit of practicing ukulele and then writing, and when I finished the latter I stopped doing the former. Which isn’t great. Kind of lost the calluses, mostly. But I can still play, so that’s nice.

I’m embarrassed about taking up an instrument when I did, i.e. late April 2020. It seems like a facile, grind-culture / productivity-hack thing to do, and that is absolutely not why I did it. But I can’t prove that, and it still looks bad from the outside. Which is unfortunate. It was interesting to learn a stringed instrument, and I really enjoy it. If, someday, I can actually play and sing “(Nothing But) Flowers” at the same time, I’ll feel like it was an endeavor worth not being embarrassed about. Not there yet. Someday.

Meanwhile, I spent most of my leisure hours on a new version of an old-school time-suck, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town on the Switch. Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons is an old favorite, and I’ve enjoyed this installment so far. It’s cute. The script is well translated. There’s enough to do, and no plot railroading the player along. Not perfect, of course; it’s Inventory Management: The Game, and the whole maker-machine thing is goofy. (Did I not just get tired of that mechanic in the first two-thirds of My Time at Portia? I believe I did.) And whyyyyy can I not clip through my farm animals COME ON. But it still has that advancement loop that sucks my brain in and wraps it up like a Thundershirt, much like all the other games of its ilk that I’ve played for coming up on 20 years. It works on me. It just does.

(Someday I might write myself a big long rant about farming sim games and the kind of pastoral fantasy they often end up espousing — “city bad country good”, etc. — and how it feels like my work can slip into that mode even though I don’t intend for it to, and my many issues with that kind of polarized thinking and why I Love Cities Actually… but not today.)

And now it’s time to scale back the games and get on with editing the draft of book 3, now that book 3 is no longer playing in a loop in the back of my head. The beta readers have it, and Godspeed to them; it’s at least shorter than the second one. We’ll see what they say, and in the meantime I’ll work on line edits, my favorite (zero sarcasm).

We’re still here. I’m glad of that. Back to it.

There’s a reason the tag is still “Book 3”

Progress!

Step 1a: fix formatting messiness like smart/flat quotes, tabs, headings, blahblah (trying out a Google Drive plug-in for some of this)

Step 1b: decide on a cover, buy it, hope the title designer still has any of those fonts from lo these many years ago; get that ball rolling -> Not yet, because I can’t commit to a title. However, I ought to at least shop for covers. There are dozens of very lovely “gauzy nature + writing implements” cover blanks out there, and I enjoy looking at them.

Step 2a: crack into my running list of Words I Use Too Often / though I think “smile” is still used too often. You’re supposed to torture your characters, oh no

Step 2b: describe more things, geez! / Tried!

Step 3a: reread everything, streamline sentences, look out for dropped plot threads and fix them

Step 3b: repeat (Note: Do not take 2 years for this step) -> About to do this, via exporting to my e-reader

Step 4a: turn over to beta readers -> DONE! <3

Step 4b: pivot to extras for Books 1 and 2 -> this is daunting! It should be fun, but it’s also daunting. Giving myself free rein to write bits outside the main narrative has resulted in a) spinning off into an entirely separate universe in a different genre b) an excessively dark Nessinian historical short about an assassin and c) a goofy flash-forward based on a fanfic prompt that turned out to be kind of useful in an indirect way.

(It’ll get done, I just need to think about it)

But hey. The draft is done. I don’t know what to do with my life from approximately 8-10 p.m. every day. All of *waves above* this, I suppose. Time to get to it.

Phase 2: Things exist, say something about them

We have passed the easy part of the edit where I search and destroy/replace some of my over-used words (but, moment, forehead) and have entered the part of the edit where I go through and try to describe more things, because my natural tendency is toward scenes that apparently take place in blank white voids, starring beings of pure energy. You want to fix that before you reach the final.

This part of the edit is slow going, but it’s important.

Pictured: one good boy, not helping. A nearly daily occurrence. I don’t make the rules.

An unimpressed tabby cat blocks 60% of a monitor that is covered in Meeples and paint-and-take minis, showing a blurry view of Google Docs

Back to it.