Category Archives: Recs

Cozy the Day Away haul #1

I’m not much of a book stockpiler. I love reading, but I don’t get as much joy from collecting and keeping books, per se. However, I was excited about this sale, and ended up getting quite a few books in the end. Time will tell how long it will take me to read through them all, but I look forward to it. (I’m currently midway through I Ran Away to Evil, so I haven’t even started yet…)

I have to go in some kind of order, so let’s say alphabetical by title. Mind you, there were lots more books on the list that I’ve already read, didn’t get to, etc. Nothing against any of them.

Artura’s Quest by Tagg Vermette
Awakenings by Claudie Arseneault
Buried in Friendship by T.M. Mayfield
Carry On by Celia Lake
The Crone of Midnight Embers by Iris Beaglehole
Curses & Cocktails by S.L. Rowland
Doll Girl Meets Dead Guy by Lidiya Foxglove
Dusted in Snowflakes by T.M. Mayfield
The Fae’s Bride by R.L. Medina
Familiars and Foes by Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Feathers of Dawn by Jess Galaxie
The Good and the Green by Amy Yorke
Guarding Gus by Karryn Nagel [who also organized the sale, applause]
How to Get a Girlfriend (When You’re a Terrifying Monster) by Marie Cardno
Inspirational Wink and the Altogether Extraordinary Notebook by Delaney Evers
Lollipop Monster Shop by Coyote J.M. Edwards
Love and Lab Extractions by Mary Stephenson Su
Love at First Lance by Gryffin Murphy
The Nameless Restaurant by Tao Wong
The Poison Paradox by Hadley Field and Felix A. Green
The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin
A Second Story by J.A. Collignon
The Tenfold Tenants by E.V. Belknap
Tools of a Thief by D. Hale Rambo
A Touch of Wrath by Arizona Tape
The Urban Underworld Omnibus by Gwyneth Lesley
Vanilla Bean Vampire by Selina J. Eckert
The Winter Feast by Rose Johnson
Working Under the Warlord by Fiona West

[edit: And even after the sale, a few of the books were still on sale, so I got another couple. Edited the list]

Thanks again to everyone who organized the sale! If you happened to get my book (a person can dream) and have any questions or technical issues, the Discord has a section for that (I’m there @SERobertson, very creative), or my contact info is over on the About page.

Happy reading!

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.

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!

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.