Category Archives: games nerd corner

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.

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.

Friday the 13th roundup

  • One of the books I beta-read last year is approaching publication, and I want to plug it because I enjoyed it a lot: When We Walked in Memory by Charlotte Kersten. (If you are here from the cozy side of things, take note of content warnings first. Thanks!)
  • Almost done with the first draft of Therapist 5, The One That’s Basically Just a Fantasy Story Because The Isekai’d People Aren’t At the Center for Once. (not its actual title. Its actual title is The Sylvan Dragon’s Herald.)
  • Apparently The Healers’ Road has a vote in r/fantasy’s Top Self-Published Fantasy Novels, which is unexpected and fantastic. That sounds like sarcasm, but I promise it isn’t. As we close in on that book’s 10th anniversary, I am still awed and humbled that people have taken a chance on it.
    • I honestly don’t know what I’d vote, because I … don’t know what’s self-published and isn’t. I’d have to do some research. But I feel like I ought to have my own list, if only for plugging purposes.
  • Gaming: Currently 3 “years” into Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, a game I originally played on PS2 (it was originally on the Gamecube). It holds up fine, and I’m enjoying it – but I’m also reminded of how much Stardew Valley brought to the table in terms of giving the side characters depth. Like any depth. Hey, I know SDV built upon SoS:AWL’s foundation. It’s just interesting to reflect how far this genre has come.
  • Anime: We are watching Undead Unluck (my spouse’s choice) and will eventually watch After School Hanako-kun. I am weirdly tempted to try Crash Course in Naughtiness. (Not what it sounds like) However, I made the ill-timed decision to try to squeeze another previous season’s show in: Endo and Kobayashi Live! I truly don’t have time to explain this show’s premise. It’s entertaining a couple of episodes in, and it’s not very long. I continue to wander the earth looking for more comedy anime that works in translation. We recently burned through O Maidens in Your Savage Season, which… … … I’d recommend the first half? It’s funny. The second half, when it dives into drama, less so.

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.

Forward motion

Writing: As of last week, I reached 200 days working on some aspect of writing every day — either writing or editing. Lately I’ve been alternating between the second Therapist side story and the Healersverse prequel / side story. Trying to get my daily word count up, since there have been some really, REALLY minimal days — but as long as I keep working on something to the extent my focus and energy can manage, I’m all right with it. It’s something.

Meanwhile, the cover for the Therapist omnibus is in progress, and looking great. Looking forward to that. Book 4 is in the hands of one more beta reader and the cover is done, so we’re still more or less on track for an August release for that.

I also signed on to beta read two other people’s novels, and doing not as well with that than I had the last few times. By no fault of the writers at all; my focus is just shot lately. So there’s another goal. Get the word count up, and beta read more.

Entertainment corner: Still grinding away at Pokemon Violet. As I probably mentioned, I’ve always had the habit of leveling up my party evenly in games where you can swap party members in and out, e.g. Final Fantasy Tactics and the like. This habit is beginning to kick my ass in Pokemon. I have about 250 party members, and can only level up 6 at a time. It’s extremely slow going. But I have yet to change my strategy. Podcast on, game on mute, wander around, fight a bunch of things. Repeat repeat repeat.

The current anime season is… …existing.

In which I really start ranting about power fantasies as a concept

Write stuff, break reality, have fun

C.A. Moss’s author page on Amazon is finally up, because I was reminded that author pages exist. (S.E. Robertson’s has been up for ages.) So if that’s a thing you use, there they are.

(Also, there’s no way book 2 is the “most popular?” What does that even mean? Oh well.)

This came out of an interesting discussion with a friend of my spouse’s who wasn’t aware of the extent of the writing I’d thrown out there online. Which is in absolutely no way a bad thing; if anything, it reassures me that I’m not boring everyone around me with my constant nattering about my work. Hopefully.

But the gist of it is that you, YES YOU, can put writing out there if you want to. There is no meaningful barrier to entry, to the endless tooth-gnashing frustration of a lot of auteurs. If you feel like it would be the realization of a lifelong dream? Fucking go for it. Why not. Life is short.

Now, making large quantities of money with said writing is exceptionally difficult. That’s an entirely different topic. So is scoring appreciable amounts of recognition/fame/social capital. There are one million and one hucksters hawking hacks(tm) to beat the system(tm), and I am not one of them. I’m not saying you’ll become An Author or that people will recognize you on the street* or that you’ll earn enough money for a white chocolate macadamia cold brew.

But if you’ve always wanted to try it, and wonder if maybe other people, even in the single digits, would be interested in what you made? If that’s not a blow to your ego but a fascinating possibility?

I, for one, think it’s fun and that you should go for it. People whine all the time that there are too many books out there, but hey, what constitutes “too many”? People whine that a lot of them are bad, but a) who decides that and b) who cares? When it comes to painting or learning to play the guitar, we (“we”) are capable of recognizing that the process is gratifying just because humans love to create things and express themselves, but “we” completely throw that out the window when words are involved.

Writing is fun. Do it if you want to. Share it with people. Maybe no one will be interested. But maybe someone will. And at that point, you’ve already had your fun, so no harm done.

You have my permission as an internet rando, if you want it. Try it.

* I’ve never been recognized on the street. Shudder. But I did experience a moment of extreme internet weirdness today when I popped into a book rec thread to collect some book recs and found my book on the list. A “but doctor, I am Pagliacci” except with books about sad jerks who don’t slay dragons. My brain is still turning itself inside-out. I mean it’s an honor, but also *incoherent shrieking noises*.


Updates:

  • Therapist 4 is as edited as it’s going to get. Waiting on the finished cover now. 3 just came out, so I’m going to spend the next few weeks waffling around for no constructive reason before finally releasing it. There will be a lot of work after that point, formatting the omnibus etc., so maybe I ought to enjoy the break.
  • Of the four potential Therapist side stories, I have a first draft of one of them and a first draft of a second about a quarter to a third of the way along. Still moving ahead.
  • Currently playing Pokemon Violet. This is the first time I’ve played a mainline Pokemon game, actually. In games when you have a number of characters that you can swap into your active team, I always level them more or less evenly. This habit is going to be the death of me this time, I think.
  • Skip and Loafer still excellent. Witch from Mercury catch-up continues; still excellent. I am now distracted wondering what in the hell people in the otherworld eat in Restaurant to Another World, since they are constantly talking about how terrible their own food is. Guys. Is the drinking water full of lead in your world? Are you okay?

Greetings, (title here). Nothing to report.

Writing: Therapist book 3 seems to be stuck in limbo; I haven’t heard from the cover artist in three weeks. I’m going to reach out one more time before I try to commission someone else. Fingers crossed. [Edit: It worked! I feel kinda bad, but at least it’s concluded! So we’re one step closer.]

Otherwise, I’m noodling along on a) a side story for Therapist, which is almost finished at novella length; and b) a long-running side project in the Healers universe.

I honestly don’t know what to ~do~ with the side story, because I’d kind of rather drop a dictionary on my foot than venture into commissioning another cover artwork right now. I’ll probably stick it in a proverbial drawer for a while, and focus on getting the main series out there.

Also beta-read another novel draft, which makes 4 within the last year. I really enjoy that process. And if you’re thinking “yay, time to send SE my first chapter,” I love your enthusiasm, but hold up. I only want to read finished drafts, and even then, only in a couple of genres. Shoot me an email or a Reddit PM if you have a finished draft in light-ish/non-grimdark fantasy or science fiction that is NOT, I repeat, NOT a power fantasy aimed at teenage boys. There are plenty of other people who can help with that. Like…the entire rest of the internet. Good luck.

Gaming: Finished Cult of the Lamb and started Harvestella.

Come for the farming, realize it’s only about 20% of the game. But actually, I like it fine.

Unrelated notes, end of April 2023

Writing:
Therapist 3’s text is a wrap; waiting on the cover artist now. The actual release date depends on the cover timing, plus an attempt to space out 2 and 3 semi-similarly to 1 and 2. (i.e. a couple of months, contrary to every recommendation for indie publishing ever*) Book 4 is in the beta reading phase, after which we’ll move onto more edits and another cover commission.

After that, I plan to bundle them into a print edition (which will involve a more complex cover commission, so there’s time involved in that) as well as an ebook omnibus. Then, maybe a trial run on Kindle Unlimited instead of Gumroad. We’ll see.

* That said, Healers goes against every maxim of indie publishing [it’s long, it’s slow, the books were released far apart, it isn’t based on any genre rules, I have zero social media presence], and yet it’s still chugging along 8.5 years later. So either I hacked the Matrix, or the hard-and-fast rules aren’t hard or fast.


Ongoing background health stuff is resolved. Verdict is “it might get worse at any point, but until then, you’re worrying too much.” That does sound like me.


Gaming:
During a spate of (non-COVID) flu this past week, I started and got distressingly hooked on Cult of the Lamb. This is a video game that is a little like Don’t Starve‘s base-building combined with a rogue-lite, with a tongue-in-cheekishly over-the-top Lovecraft/metal tone (eldritch gods! ritual sacrifice! cannibalism!) starring cute little cartoon animals.

Let’s recall that I am bad at roguelikes — and basically any game with active combat — and yet I keep trying. My management style falls mostly on the “benevolent overlord” side, except that I took a perk that incentivizes a Logan’s Run-style culling of every critter that gets too old to work. That might have been a mistake. But it adds to the extremely dark humor, too.

MVP: Catherine, unless it’s Dedue

  1. As soon as the cover titles are done, Therapist book 2 will be ready to release. (No pressure, ha) The first draft of Book 4 is progressing fine. I don’t want to put a particular timeline out there because not everything is under my control, but I’m optimistic.
  2. Finished the Blue Lions / Azure Moon playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I think this game has eaten my brain mostly because of its focus on character interaction. Also, I’ve always liked tactical JRPGs. Two great tastes, etc.
FE3H Azure Moon spoilers

One… more… dollar

I bumped up the price of The Healers’ Road to $2.99 US from $1.99, where it’s been for … a while (couple of years?). So all three of the current Healers books are set at $2.99. It’s just based on Amazon’s floor for 70% royalties – at $1.99 I make 70 cents per ebook, and at $2.99 it’s about $2. I’m not a huge fan of the Zon overall, so I’m not saying their system is particularly fair or great, but I am too tired right now thanks to Mystery Not-Covid Cold or Whatever (with bonus day-job stress) to get into the whole wall of text.

Basically, ~$2 seemed nicer than 70 cents. And if you’re interested in reading the book and that dollar makes a difference, I will gladly send you a copy by email for zero dollars. I’ve always said that, and it continues.

Writing update: Therapist book 4 has passed 10k, which means it’s… a quarter to a third of the way done? This novella thing is wild. On a whim, I also skimmed through my Healers-verse side project the other day, and … I still really like it? Once Therapist is done, I might come back to that before deciding what to do with Agna and Kei. As long as I keep working on something, anything, really, it’s serving its psychological purpose here.

Gaming, which is all my brain has energy for today: Fire Emblem: Three Houses spoilers for about 2/3 of the way through Azure Moon.

Truly what the fuck, Dimitri