Category Archives: Books

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?

Quick update: The thing is what it’s always been

As part of trying to study up on the meta/marketing?/etc. of it all, I finally bit the bullet and changed the name of the Balance Academy to The Healers. That’s what I’ve been calling it for nearly a decade; the series veered off its original intent as an anthology almost immediately; the BA name is misleading; the end.

I apologize if this is confusing at any point, but it has been annoying me for ages, and I wanted to finally make that switch. So I did.

Announcement over.

Knowing when to stop

I don’t think I’m ready to write the fourth Therapist sidestory novella. It’s about 5 chapters in, and I’m already reconsidering a) the path of the second act and b) whether I’ve done enough research to do justice to the psychological topics touched upon in it. I don’t think I have.

This isn’t a case of lacking confidence in myself, I think; I have gotten to a point where I feel fairly good about my skills. Just that the idea needs more background research and more consideration about how it’s going to resolve. All of which takes time.

So I’m going to focus on editing the first three for now. By the time those are finished and released, I’ll know whether it’s time for the fourth story or whether I want to save it for later. There’s another potential story in that universe I might still pursue someday, so there’s room for a wave 3. These three end on a nice note; there are threads we can still pull on, but I don’t think there are any cliffhangers.

About beta reading:
If you’re interested in beta reading, please let me know (email or Reddit PM; details on the About page). I’ll start badgering people outright when the drafts are closer to being ready — probably in late November or December.

The stories are all written to follow from plot seeds in the first four novellas, so I think coming in cold would be an interesting challenge at best. I do welcome the attempt if anyone is interested, however. The three stand alone from one another, so beta readers are definitely free to pick and choose.

All are about the same length as the Therapist volumes, about 40k words each. Working titles:

  • (book 5) The Sylvan Dragon’s Herald, about Morel’s quest to return the dragon hoard and Hazel’s struggles with her anxiety. Narrated by Hazel, witch of the Southern Forest. Vibes: meditative, witchy, hopeful. A smidge more downbeat than the main series in that the leads are struggling with heavy feelings, but it has a positive direction and a happy ending. Contains some extremely mild f/f romance. Also contains more dragons per ounce than anything I’ve ever written in my life.
  • (book 6) Starting Over in Another World with My Level 99 Self-Doubt, about Berry’s retirement from adventuring, establishing a life in a small town, and the goings-on at the Two Claws Inn after their expansion. Narrated by Berry, ex-adventurer and plant mage. Vibes: snarky, determined, found family / workplace dramedy. Some swearing.
  • (book 7) The Unconventional Courtship of the Mageknight and the Dark Lord, about what happens when two former edgelords fall for one another, but also about trying to be a better person; narrated by Sir Solan the Mageknight and Dark Lord Drekar Nightshade. Contains a LOT of swearing and a moderate amount of m/m sexual content (fades to black before it gets explicit, but there is a lot of making out and specific references to off-page activities or thoughts). Vibes: grumpy/sunshine, where the “sunshine” leads a Dread Army that is really just a dorky intentional community with a death metal aesthetic; dark humor; cynicism turning into optimism.

More detailed content notes will come along with the beta reading questionnaire; I’m still putting those together.

I feel good about this decision, which usually seems like a promising sign. Though it does scuttle my pseudo-NaNoWriMo plans. I guess I’m editing instead of writing for NaNo, then. Here we go.

Here’s to a year of wtf-ery

Still here. My goal right now is to finish the first draft of Therapist 5 so that I can start 8 as a NaNo project. [Not that I follow all the tenets of NaNo… but I sometimes take the zeitgeist as an opportunity to dive into a new project.]

I often have misgivings about sticking with this series, since it is a pure passion project that nobody asked for. But on the other hand, I’m not beholden to anyone, this isn’t how we pay the mortgage, and if the alternative is to continue being burnt-out on Healers and not write anything, I think a year’s worth of nonsense is worth the cost. …Probably a year and a half by the time these are all done, realistically.

Still. I’m working through an outline for Healers 4 in the back of my mind throughout this, and trying not to let myself get hung up on perfectionism this time. Also in the back of my mind is the Chuck Tingle quote about putting love into everything you make. I tell myself to trust the story. Don’t give up, and don’t start spiraling in circles. Just keep moving forward. We’ll get there when we get there.

Small updates.

  • The omnibus has been re-checked and updated. Nobody seems to have bought it in the Age of Lots of Backwards Quote Marks. Whew. It’s fine now.
  • The Therapist single novellas are now in Kindle Unlimited, so people can read them for free if they have a KU subscription. This also means that the Gumroad download option is off the table for now. We’ll see how it goes; I’m neither married to it nor expecting anything in particular. It’s more of an experiment. The term for this system is 3 months, so now through the end of the year(ish). Then we’ll reassess.

I’m quite tired of thinking about the nuts and bolts publishing stuff, so on to actually writing.

Edit to add, next day or so: OK, first novella is $0.99 and the others are $1.25 (USD). And I will stop thinking about this for now. Augh.

I don’t do cover reveals, except when I do

Okay, the omnibus edition of Therapist (books 1-4) is in its final processing for release. I have no idea whether anyone will want to buy the all-in-one or not, but hey, it’s done!

I also wanted to post a preview of this completely gorgeous cover and rave about it a bit:

The ebook cover of the Therapist omnibus: an illustration of a woman with blue hair who is taking notes with a quill pen. In the foreground is an elf, gesturing as though speaking. Both are seated in a cozy-looking room.

The omnibus cover art is by Franshawn Langley (franlangleyart.carrd.co), one of many talented artists who replied to my call for a commission on Reddit. I LOVED the use of light and color in her portfolio works, and I am really happy with this one. The back of the print cover is also gorgeous, just saying.

And a shoutout to my sister, who has done the cover text design on all my books since the Healers’ Road inkwell cover. If you’re in Pittsburgh or wish you were, maybe buy a shirt (or mug, etc.)! ;P

The step away from anime style and toward a more fantasy/illustrated style was another gut decision: I love the individual covers (hell, we have prints of them framed on our game room wall), but I wanted the omnibus to have a slightly different style that still reflected the series’ vibe. Was this driven by market research, no, but nothing I do is ever driven by market research, and here we are nevertheless.

Okay. Hooray. Whew. Right about this time last year, I started this project. There was a time not that long before when I thought I was running on fumes. That I didn’t have it in me to come up with any ideas outside Healersverse, since I’d been writing in that setting for too long. (I did try once, but it didn’t quite come together.)

One year later, and I’ve had a complete blast. I still love the Healers series and plan to go back to A&K’s story, but striking out into a completely different direction has been so energizing for my sense of creativity.

So that’s today’s news. Happy autumn indeed.

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

Fixed.

Incredibly minor thing, but the content/trivia links for Therapist 4 are fixed. They previously both went to Content. Which, honestly, is preferable to the reverse — the content lists are at least theoretically useful, and I don’t seriously expect anyone to read the trivia.

I just do those because that’s how my own brain works — when I am even moderately emotionally engaged in a piece of media, I feel the impulse to learn everything I can about how it was made. Obviously, most people are not like this. Though some are; <3 to all those minutiae obsessives on TVTropes and IMDB who feed my obsession.

That’s about all for now. It’s only been 4 days since the last release. If I were a real indie I’d be *checks imaginary watch* finishing the next draft by now. But luckily for my sleep patterns, I am not.


Gave up the “level up everything” strategy in Pokemon Violet at level 35. I just could not take it anymore. Instead, I separated my army into types and now level up all of the types needed for the next challenge. Ex., I am taking on the Psychic gym next, so I’m leveling up all of the Bug, Dark and Ghost types. I won’t end up using them all, but that’s how I’m compromising with my usual playstyle.

I also leveled up to the range where I can take advantage of Wholesale Chansey Slaughter Happy Fun Time outside the Fairy base, and that helps tremendously. Between that and Dugtrio Search and Destroy in the mountain pass area for slightly lower level groups, we should be set for a little while.

It’s happening?

Therapist Book 4 is processing on Amazon. What?? I could have waited another week, but I kind of wanted to stop worrying about it. It’s as finished as I’m going to make it, I think.

It’s July 22, 2023. I started writing book 1 in late September, 2022. I’ve expressed disbelief time and again about how fast this project came along, and here I am again. There’s a common bit of advice around self-publishing, “pick a popular genre that you actually like, write in it, and you’ll make lots of money” (something like that, I don’t pay much attention).

That hasn’t happened; this series isn’t selling. Probably because I can’t do anything normal, and this is yet another genre-mashing exercise instead of writing to market like everyone says you should. Maybe because I still haven’t done any advertising. But you know what? I’ve had a lot of fun, and I think it’s been good for me to switch gears for a while. I don’t think it’s ruined my touch with the Healersverse, at least based on the WIP I’ve been working on. It’s been refreshing just to do something different. I’ll go back to my serious(tm) universe and be happy to do so — I don’t think I’ll be free of that universe anytime soon, my brain still lives in it — but it’s been a fun vacation.

This sounds like it’s all over, but I’ve also been working on a set of side stories since I finished the second draft of book 4; if all goes well I’ll release them all in a kind of sidestory omnibus someday. (I cannot justify buying separate cover art for more novellas. It’s been really fun, but I have to be a little more practical.) I also intend to release the 4-novella set in ebook and print later this year.

But for now? Lavender’s story is soon to be out there at last, and I’m happy about it. That’s all.