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.

Neat sales news

Just a quick post to confirm/celebrate that The Healers’ Road will be part of the Cozy the Day Away Sale on April 26. This should be a lot of fun; it’s a group promotion for cozy (and *cough* cozy-adjacent) fantasy with an emphasis on diversity in both story and authorship. For more on the sale generally, check out Promise Press. (I know I’m going to fill out my “books I’ve been meaning to get eventually” list.)

Specifically, all three Healers ebooks will be 0.99 in the US and UK from April 25-30. I apologize to all the other parts of the world; Amazon’s sales tools are pretty limited.

I’m working on getting a book-newsletter type ad in the same timeframe. Fingers crossed.

On the topic of diversity, something I care a lot about, let’s not get this twisted: I listed THR’s diversity categories (Kei is the patron saint of damaged bisexual cinnamon rolls and I am not taking any questions at this time or ever), but did not list myself as a diverse author. This isn’t out of any kind of shame or secrecy, but more because I’m uncomfortable justifying/defending/proving my own categories. I have a whole history of grappling with the Not Nonbinary Enough demons and the How Can You Possibly Be Bi and Ace at the Same Time firing squad, as well as acknowledging the touchy optics of being a female-passing person in a long-term relationship with a cis man. I don’t want to take up space in the queer universe, even as I promote it constantly. It’s complicated.

So there’s that. But. I am excited to be a part of this event.

Back and forth, once again

Honestly, this is not really a surprise at this point: I gain and lose motivation over time. I’ve gotten better at consistency in spite of it, but the underlying oomph still very much goes in waves.

It’s been a rough year in a death-by-a-thousand-cuts sort of way, though of course, that’s all relative to one’s frame of reference. We’re still alive and we have a home, but life is stressful right now. In particular, a long-running, background health concern turned into a foreground concern, as a body part I don’t actually need decided to riot / melt down / freak out. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, although it will take a string of tests running up to the procedure and some recuperation afterward. In the meantime, I’m tired, stressed, and holding on until the next round of tests. Because there is a chance it’s something even more scary than a rogue body part, and until I get that all-clear, I’m going to worry. It’s what I do. [edit from the future: I got the all-clear. Not Cancer(tm)! Woohoo!]

Lately I have been pushing myself to write The Serious Fiction, because those readers have had to wait long enough, and there are more of them than for The Silly Fiction. But while it’s going (slowly), I don’t think I can spare the energy to pour into pushing myself. As long as something (anything) gets written, that might have to be good enough.

All of which is to say that I’ve started writing Therapist again, specifically the Bard College story featuring Greta, Henry, and Burleigh from book 3. Will it end up being finished as quickly as the others? Heck if I know. But it’s something. And I’m deciding that “something” is good enough.

Amazon has started a beta trial of AI-voiced audiobooks. First, fuck you, pay narrators; second, I care about my readership enough not to charge them for bullshit robot voices when you can use bullshit robot Read Aloud features for free. Third, fuck you, pay narrators. 🙂

The screening process has pointed out that some of the table of contents in my catalog are effed up, so I will use it to troubleshoot that. And then not take the greed-bait.

Therapist book 6 (Berry’s, Starting Over in Another World with My Level 99 Self-Doubt) is still in cover limbo. 🙂 Hey, the title designer is doing me a favor here.

Book 7 came back from the beta readers (thank you!!!), so it’s in the pipeline. After an evening hammering away at a thesaurus, the working title has morphed into The Salty Mageknight and the Sweet Dark Lord. For a minute it was The Spicy Courtship of the Salty Mageknight and the Sweet Dark Lord, but I don’t need agita from the type of reader who would take “spicy” literally. It’s not spicy even by TikTok standards.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Both are still coming. Eventually. Fate willing, so is Healers 4, someday. I will do my goddamn utmost, because this is what I love to do.

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!