For this week’s Publisher’s Note, I turn you over to WMG Associate Publisher Gwyneth Gibby, who has prepared a comprehensive Year in Review for a very challenging year.

May your holidays be safe and merry and filled with as much joy as you can eke out of this weirdest of years.

Writing a review of a year like 2020 was—challenging. But the image that kept coming back to me was the immigrant ships that came to this country more than a hundred years ago, in the early part of the 20th century. My grandparents were on one of those ships in 1912, sailing from Liverpool after their short wedding ceremony in a village chapel in Wales. They traveled steerage, which was notoriously cramped, foul smelling, rife with disease, and generally nauseating.

And yet, it got them to the New World. So I began to think of our passage through the year 2020 as a similar journey from a familiar world into an unknown future, on a vessel that was sometimes cramped and foul smelling, and at times rife with disease. But with some good sense and some good luck and whole lot of grace, we now look forward to reaching port and a new life.

In the meantime, like the immigrants on those steamships who told each other stories, sang songs of the old country, and danced in spite of the tough conditions, we at WMG have not been idle!

I counted thirty titles that WMG published in 2020; there were novels, short story collections, anthologies, bundles, and on top of all that, our second annual WMG Holiday Spectacular Calendar of Stories, thirty-seven original holiday stories, is going strong as we speak.

We also ran six successful Kickstarter campaigns and held several workshop and lecture sales to help writers keep learning and writing during the pandemic lockdowns. And we started a newsletter called Grab a Book and Chill to keep writers and readers alike up to date on all of the resources WMG has to offer to get through this year and come out of it with something creative.

Let’s take a look back at the books WMG published this year, despite the pandemic:

Big news in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s award-winning Diving Series! After The Renegat, 2019’s magnum opus, Kris came back this year with not one novel but two. Squishy’s Teams came out in November, and to the delight of her fans, Boss returns in a major new novel, Thieves, this coming February.

On top of Boss’s return, Thieves has some big surprises and that will knock the socks off of fans in particular. And you can preorder it now!

Dean Wesley Smith’s Cold Poker Gang are up to their usual tricks in a new novel Ring Game that published in April. And true to the year’s cat theme, two of the Gang’s retired Las Vegas detectives rescue a family of cats and uncover a creepy and diabolical series of cold cases—with the help of cats. Next up in the series is Bottom Pair—which will be out next year!

Speaking of cats, our new series The Year of the Cat has lovers of the four-footed beasts purring and asking for more. The project started as a Kickstarter Make 100 Challenge and has blossomed into a feline favorite starring a wide variety of cats. There are books featuring cats of a different color and of disdainful looks as well as cats of perfect taste, heroic hearts, strange lands and more.

Book #8, A Cat of Roving Nature, drops tomorrow, leaving four more books in the series to come. 

More Make 100! We published one hundred of Dean’s short stories in three volumes, each of which contains more than 400 pages of Dean’s signature science fiction, fantasy, and uncategorizable original fiction. All three—The First Thirty-Three, The Second Thirty-Three and The Final Thirty-Four—are available in ebook and paperback. 

 

We released two new volumes of Fiction River. Doorways to Enchantment, edited by Dayle A. Dermatis, tapped into the longing we sometimes feel to find a passageway from the real world to an imaginary one. Does that ring a bell for anyone? The stories in the second volume, Stolen, edited by Leah R. Cutter, take on all aspects of theft, from the urge to steal a magical moment to the fear of being robbed. Sounds familiar?

We also published three volumes of Fiction River Presents, our series of reprinted favorites from Fiction River: one called Cats! (of course), followed by Mysterious Women with stories by Kate Wilhelm, Julie Hyzy and Kris Nelscott. Last came Time Travelers because we wish we could, right?

Pulphouse Fiction Magazine saw its ninth issue in 2020, which included a very special story cowritten by Pulphouse regular Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart, the well-known Rush drummer who passed away recently. Also this year, we published A Twist of a Knife: Mystery Stories from the Pages of Pulphouse Magazine. That will be followed in January by Aliens Among Us, sci-fistories from Pulphouse, and then in February Pulphouse #10 will arrive!

To inspire authors to keep learning and developing their careers even in these trying times, we bundled the seventeen most popular WMG Writer’s Guides together and created five books on writing and publishing. The bundles are on the topics of Business, Productivity, Craft, the Industry, and Marketing. They not only offer tons of information, expertise and advice, but each one is a terrific bargain!

There are thirty-seven stories the WMG Holiday Spectacular Calendar of Stories this year, which subscribers get in their inboxes every day. Sweet, mysterious, fantastical, the stories are a delight this year. We published the three anthologies from the 2019 Spectacular this fall, Joyous Christmas, Bloody Christmas, and Winter Holidays. Also available is the compilation of all stories with their introductions from the 2019 calendar in The Holiday Spectacular #1.

Whew! That’s our list for 2020. Tons of great fiction, lots of terrific nonfiction, lots of cats.

Which reminds me, our two chief feline staff members at WMG Promotion Central, Cheeps and Gavin, have stepped up to the plate and kicked into high gear, giving their jobs a thousand percent effort…OK, not really. But they do occasionally take a break from the serious business of napping and wander into Promotion Central. You can follow their—well not their antics exactly because that would be too energetic, so let’s just say their snacktivities on Facebook.

You know what? The year 2020 may have felt like steerage, but if anything, it has been a journey not into the heart of darkness, but out of the dark and into the light.

Gwyneth Gibby is associate publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, former Hollywood director, and an expert in narrative storytelling.