Liferock re-printing (with new cover!)

My first novel is back in print, and to mark this event, I’ve worked with visual designer and artist Aura Castro to give it a new cover. I loved the original cover and will be eternally grateful to Crystal Larson for her art, but it was time for a change.

Here is the full print spread:

About Liferock

This novel is set in the Earthdawn fantasy world. Earthdawn is, as its name implies, a re-emergence of life into a world that has been destroyed by monstrous magic and creatures of inconceivable power. Most of them are gone now, and the sentient, magic-wielding races of Barsaive are venturing forth again.

Visit FASA Games for more about the Earthdawn universe. It’s a detailed, unique fantasy setting with many novels and role-playing game sourcebooks. If you like role-playing games, pick up the free quick start guide.

The adventure takes the reader across Barsaive, but it’s primary focus is the fascinating culture of the Obsidimen race. Quiet and strong, patient and brave, Obsidimen have a deep kinship with each other and the earth from whence they are born.

The novel is as thematically relevant today as it was when I wrote it in 1993. That was the year of the Waco siege that resulted in the fiery deaths of 76 Branch Davidian sect members, including 25 children. The toxic nature of fanaticism has not waned in the intervening years.

I wrote the book in the same year as my first child was born, and it’s not a coincidence that it explores themes of getting your crap in order to pave the way for a once-in-a-lifetime event. The main character has to clean up his family’s disfunction so that he can be Named. You might say the same thing happened to me… without the magic and death, but still.

Buy a copy: Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon | B&N

Read an excerpt.

Rainy streets mirror firefly lights

You’re like me — you crave deep and intimate connection. It’s a profound need. A desire. A passion. You’ll do a lot to get that feeling. Maybe even sacrifice a bit of yourself.

How much is too much to get what you crave?

Also, you’re an insect…

Because that makes perfect sense, right? Are you interested yet? Laughing?

* * *

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Morphosis came to me in a dream, fully formed like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. And I didn’t just dream the concept and the characters; I dreamed all the words.

This story has been published three times in small or niche anthologies, most recently in Geek Love — an awesome, kickstarter hardcover edited by Shanna Germain. I’m proud of this story; it deserves a bigger audience. So here it is for free.

Morphosis is about the forms we take to please our partners. It’s about identity and connection. And sex… and love. 

Go read it now.

You get it free. But if you enjoy it, subscribe by entering your email in the sidebar. There’s more to come.

Image credit: Knox Bar in Rainstorm (Montreal) by Jason ThibaultCreative Commons attribution 2.0.

Impressed with Nook Press

If you’ve been paying attention to publishing news, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the new platform that Barnes and Noble trotted out today. Nook Press is their latest attempt to move ahead of’s Kindle Desktop Publishing. At first glance it looks like it’s got a lot of features that might appeal to individual writers.

Frankly, when I got the email this morning with the “great news” that I was going to have to move the Per Aspera Press books from PubIt to Nook Press I was not looking forward to it. What a hassle, I figured. And this perception only deepened when I started looking at the news articles and watched the tutorial videos of creating a publisher account.

Nook Press logo

Yes, all this new functionality is cool. Yes, isn’t it great that I can now use their platform to actually write my manuscript? Actually it’s not. Even though they give me the option to invite collaborators to comment and review, I would never write a draft using a tool like this. Just doesn’t have all the functionality I need.

So I was dreading transitioning my books to this new platform. And that fear wasn’t assuaged by the site being down (or more likely overwhelmed) for much of the day. But when I actually did walk through the steps — not of setting up a new account — but of transitioning my PubIt account over. The process was …

Smooth. Easy. Almost perfect.

Seriously, I entered my old account information, and my new account information. Clicked once. Verified my email. Done.

All my books transitioned. All metadata. All my payment and company information. Seamless. Impressive.

This sort of experience is so rare that I took the time to blog this. Good job, Barnes and Noble. Please don’t let Nook die. We need you around.

Join me at Emerald City Comicon

For the first time, I will be attending Emerald City Comicon, which features some huge media stars like Patrick Stewart and Felicia Day and Wil Weaton and… and…

I have one panel on Saturday, March 2nd at 2:20. Show up early.



Room: HALL C (602-603)
Start: 2:20PM
End: 3:15PM

Join novelist Philip Athans as he joins Nina Hess (Editor-in-Chief, Wizards of the Coast) Fleetwood Robbins (Editor, Wizards of he Coast), Jak Koke (Managing Editor, Per Aspera Press), and James Sutter (Editor, Paizo) for a spirited Q&A for aspiring authors of fantasy and science fiction. They will cover such topics as query dos and don’ts, how to write better, how to submit your work, and how to build a career as a novelist.

Hope to see you there!

How Patrick Rothfuss Helps Me Do Dishes

(with help from Nick Podehl)

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Patrick Rothfuss’s two novels The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are masterpieces of storytelling. The characters are complex and richly developed, the writing is lyrical and meticulously crafted, and the plot is engaging. This is one of the best stories that I have read. Rothfuss’s writing is clever, and thoughtful… and even when not a lot is happening, I am drawn along because I care about the characters.

notw_coverSo when I had the opportunity to check out the audiobook from our incredible Seattle Public Library, I took it even though I had already read the book. I wanted to read it again anyway.

I got hooked on audiobooks when I was commuting to a day job, and had to spend 30 minutes in the car each morning and again at night. An intriguing audiobook would make otherwise dull and frustrating time pass quickly. I cannot recommend them enough… especially if you can get them from the library. Audiobooks are relatively expensive because the publisher has to pay the voice actor(s), sound engineer, and producer. A long novel can be upwards of 40 hours long, which adds a substantial cost to production above what the author gets. And yet, I would say that the experience of a well-produced and expertly-narrated audiobook is worth the money.

The Brilliance Audio productions of the Rothfuss books are worth it. Days and days of entertainment and distraction while you get stuff done. It’s a pretty great deal actually.

The narrator of both The Name of Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear is Nick Podehl. His reading is marvelously expressive. He does voices for all the characters as one would expect, and in my opinion he has got them down cold. To me, his voice is Kvothe’s voice.

I don’t have a twice a day commute anymore, but even so I seem to have less and less time to sit down and read. When I’m not writing or editing at the computer, I’m up and about doing something around the house. I find that listening to a good story is a perfect way to pass the time when I’m battling entropy around the house — washing dishes, cleaning a room, or working on a project that’s primarily physical like car repair or construction. I’ve gotten to where I even listen in the shower from time to time. This isn’t good for my hot water bill as I tend to take longer showers when I’m involved in a good story.

But I also get a lot more dishes washed. Thanks Pat and Nick!

Do you like audiobooks? Have you read or listened to any that you particularly love? Let me know in the comments.