It’s late already for our regular Tuesday get-together, and all sorts of ideas for posts have been stacking up, but it’s been a while since I’ve done a sort of round-up of all the things that are going on with lil ol me, so let’s see what’s happening in Phil’s World . . .

I’m currently finishing up two ghostwriting projects, one running very late. Neither of these books will ever bear my name and you will never have any idea I had anything to do with them, but I’m rather proud of being involved with both of them, so that (and the money) will have to be good enough for me.

Why do we do this? Ghostwriting? For me it’s really not about the money (though, prospective publishers, you will need some of that). If I approached any part of my life from that standpoint I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Instead I’d be busy moving other people’s money around for somebody like Goldman Sachs. So yes, I get paid, and use that money for wild flights of fancy like shelter, electricity, and food. But what those ghostwriting projects (and another that I’ll be starting in on before the end of the year) provide is an opportunity to do something completely different from what I normally do. I can’t tell you what these books are but one is fiction, the other non-fiction and neither of them have anything whatsoever to do with science fiction or fantasy, or writing, or anything else you’ve previously seen my name attached to. Both are completely different from the other and I adore them both and sincerely am delighted to have a hand in them. These two books are two of the Three Really Pressing Overdue Projects I’m currently busting my butt to finish.

The third of those three is a comprehensive edit of a fantasy novel, the author of which may or may not ever acknowledge my part in and I will leave that to said author to decide. It’s a terrific book and the author has a very tight, very readable style with a few issues I hope to help out with.

There’s an anthology I’m working on just as a copy editor that’s also great fun and lots more directly in my established wheelhouse. That’ll get finished in the next month.

Hook up with me via Writer’s Digest

Hook up with me via Writer’s Digest

I’ve also been doing these individual story coaching sessions with authors via Writer’s Digest, with another one on deck for the coming week. I approach those less as an editor and more as an educator—a role I’ve really been drawn to in the past few years.

To that end, I’m most of the way through my eight-week Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction class at Bellevue College, with another round of Worldbuilding coming up in the next term (starting January). At the same time I have a four-week online Worldbuilding class via Writer’s Digest University, which is open to all. I hope they invite me back for a third go-around of that in the next few months. It’s another unique new experience, teaching online classes like that.

And there’s a new online tutorial from me, this one called Writing Scary that anyone who wants to establish a sense of suspense or terror in their writing could benefit from. This is another Writer’s Digest production—always delighted to work with them.

Buy It Now!

Buy It Now!

Writing Monsters is out there and selling and if you haven’t bought that yet, shame on you! Monsters are awesome and should be in everything everyone writes always.

There. I said it.

What else?

Oh, I should be writing a Traveller novel, and should be editing two finished Traveller novels and need to get to those immediately after finally clearing the Log Jam That Would Not Be Cleared (a lesser known Lovecraftian horror). I love Traveller and I don’t care who knows it.

I should also be writing five more jungle pulp stories for Tommy Hancock at Pro Se Productions so he can, y’know, publish them and stuff.

And then there’s the fantasy novel work-in-progress that I’ve been using as an example of my fantasy novel work-in-progress so long it’s become that instead of, y’know, a fantasy novel, full stop.

Hm. What else?

I’m judging a contest but I won’t tell you which one. That’s actually really fun. Don’t tell anyone I said that.

I’ve started reading A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge along with a group on GoodReads and have already mined it for examples for what I hope might be a follow-up to Writing Monsters that concentrates on sentient species. I might be ready to put that proposal together by the end of the year.

I’ve made the unilateral decision to take some time off by the end of this year, so for the record, Athans & Associates Creative Consulting will be closed, for the first time ever, for Thanksgiving and the Friday after and all of December 24th through to the first Monday in January. In all honesty there’s very little chance that more than one of those days will actually be completely free of work, but one can hope and plan. If I end up with a day off that will be quite a change for the better there, having not actually taken a proper day off, let alone anything resembling a vacation, in about four years.

They say that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life except it’s a bit more like if you love what you do you’ll never take a day off in your life and that’s kind of a double-edged sword.

I went to the doctor today and she was steadfastly against writing me a prescription for crystal meth or some other drug that could prevent me sleeping at all for the next three weeks. That’s more or less what will need to happen to get me to that “time off” with any hope of taking time off, and even then, with some projects (like that Traveller book or that fantasy novel) not actually having been started, well, frankly, if I’m writing my own work that counts as “time off.” Also, this doctor also maintains that the constant sleeping I’ve been doing (upwards of eight hours at a go) is actually “healthy,” which is kind of a laugh expecting someone to be unconscious for a third of a very limited time in which to accomplish everything . . . we’ll see what I can do on my own to get back to a more productive four to five hours. Willing to try exercise at this point, or maybe those horrible energy drinks. Anyone know if Five Hour Energy comes in pill form so I don’t have to choke down that syrupy fake cherry crap? I guess that’s how it works—it’s difficult to fall asleep while vomiting.

Have I gone off topic?

Oh, yeah, and galley review of the new R.A. Salvatore Forgotten Realms book for Wizards of the Coast.

And my doctor also gave me a referral for another doctor who will be able to tell me whether or not I have Adult ADD, which may finally be a chance for me to get those drugs that will keep me awake and working. So, wish me luck on that.

So now you’re all caught up with Phil. Stay tuned. If these posts suddenly stop in the next couple of months it won’t be because I forgot it will mean that I have literally exploded in a shower of sparks, leaving, like one former Spinal Tap drummer, a little green globule as the only evidence that I once existed.

I am!

I was!


—Philip Athans






About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
This entry was posted in Books, creative team, Dungeons & Dragons, horror novels, how to write fiction, indie publishing, monsters, NaNoWriMo, Publishing Business, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels, SF and Fantasy Authors, transmedia, Traveller, Writing, writing advice, writing horror, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sean Durity says:

    Busy man. Glad you are forging a way through forests you love (mostly)…

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