Publisher’s Note: Getting Down to Basics


We’ve started a new blog/newsletter called Every Day’s a Holiday on Substack, and we’ve had some fun with funky holidays, some of them quite whimsical, but who’s counting, right? We’ve celebrated Everything You Think is Wrong Day, and National Get Over It Day, among others. And later this week we’ll be celebrating National Tell a Story Day, of course!

But today is an actual National Holiday as declared by Congress, and it highlights one of my favorite facts of nature. Today is National DNA Day, celebrated on April 25 every year since 2003, to commemorate the day in 1953 when Nature magazine first published the findings of Francis Crick and James Watson describing the structure of DNA.

Mind you, there were numerous other scientists who contributed to the discovery, including Raymond Gosling and Rosalind Franklin, Linus Pauling and Robert Corey. But as with many scientific discoveries, popular history tends to boil down the process until we have a name or two associated with really big strides in our attempts to understand and describe the world around us.

But here’s the thing about DNA that I love: it is composed of the same four nucleobases—cytosines, guanine, adenine, and thymine—in every single living thing. Everything. Every organism, whether plant, microbe, or animal, has them, and every living thing uses those four nucleobases to replicate and eventually determine the structure and function of every part of the approximately 13 million species on our planet.

What an amazing and beautiful and efficient world we live in!

I spent most of my formal education in the humanities, learning about arts and letters, performing arts and media. Which is my excuse for why, when I finally got around to finishing a BA in my late twenties, I had to take some science classes, one of which was molecular biology, and I did not know this fact of nature. I’ll never forget how astounded I was the day our professor told us that DNA’s building blocks, its four nucleobases plus the sugar and phosphate molecules to which they are attached, were in every living thing.

I was gobsmacked.

You mean plants don’t have plant building blocks and fish don’t have fish building blocks?

Nope. All the same stuff.

It gets better. Not only are all living things constructed using the same nucleobases, even the famous double helixes those bases form (as described by Crick and Watson) are remarkably similar from one organism to the next.

In 2003, after the Human Genome Project had finished mapping the miles of human genes, which contain the DNA and RNA genetic material, they announced that all human beings share 99.9% of their genetic material, only a tiny proportion is different from one person to the next; and humans and chimpanzees share 96% of their genetic material, humans and bananas have 60% similarity in genetic material, and even 60% of the genetic material of fruit flies is the same as humans.

Which explains The Fly, among other things.

But I digress.

DNA belongs to all of us, or we belong to it, from the soaring eagle to the slug, and everything in between. We are the same.

When you get down to basics, we are vastly more similar than we are different, and here’s the best part: it seems to me that treating the small differences from one person to another as welcome variety, as nature’s way to entertain us, keep us on our toes, rather than as something to fear or deplore is unquestionably the way to go.

That meager .1 percent variation can account for some very entertaining novelties; I mean from Picasso to Banksy, from Shakespeare to Chinua Achebe to Ursula Le Guin, from Louis Armstrong to Hildegard of Bingen to Sting—there’s an awful lot to enjoy.

So, Happy DNA Day everyone! And don’t forget to check out our weekly Every Day’s a Holiday at WMG newsletter!

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

Publisher’s Note: Fun, Fun, Fun


Today, the old Beach Boys song keeps playing itself in my head, the one about having fun in a T-bird.

I have no intention of deconstructing the lyrics, (even though my eyebrows go up when “she” got her daddy’s car and the girls all hate her, and the guys try to chase her but they can’t catch her) because who cares? The tune itself, but also the rebel-girl quality of the lyrics, perfectly capture the carefree summers of my T-birdless youth. I spent those long empty July days not cruising California beaches, but riding my bike around the small Indiana town I grew up in, and out into the countryside thick with cornfields, smelling the clover and watching for fireflies in the gloaming. And yes it was fun and free and happy, even though I was no Indy-500 driver.

But the song came into my head today as I was making a video for WMG’s current Kickstarter campaign promoting editor and writer Dean Wesley Smith’s Pulphouse Fiction Magazine subscription drive. Why? Because I was having fun! The video is silly and fun and hopefully captures some of the Pulphouse spirit.

Watch the video, or just hop on over to the Kickstarter page and check out all the terrific bonus books and workshops you get when you subscribe to the magazine.

Get your subscription so you can still have fun, fun, fun, even if your dad takes your T-bird away.

Gwyneth Gibby is associate publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, a filmmaker, and former Hoosier.

Publisher’s Note: 2020 Year in Review


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.

Publisher’s Note: 2019 Wrap-up: A Helluva Year


How do you measure a year?

Sometimes it feels like the song from Rent, “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” and every one of them goes by at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Or, as in 2019, suddenly you realize that 525,600 minutes of life and work and growth have passed by in a blink! WMG has launched multiple big, new projects; published new novels in multiple series; released four volumes of our Fiction River anthology magazine and three of Fiction River Presents; published four issues and three books for Pulphouse Fiction Magazine; run four exciting, even groundbreaking, Kickstarter projects; held the annual Master Class, Anthology Workshop, and several writing workshops all now in Las Vegas; and introduced exciting new online workshops, lectures, and mentorships.

Whew!

And all that even though our intrepid publisher had a hell of a year and was on reduced (and for a couple of months, no capacity) for almost three-quarters of the year.

So, as 2019 draws to a close, let’s take a look back on what, despite the challenges, turned out to be a very productive year.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving Universe

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s new Diving Universe novel, The Renegat, published in September. But whoa Nelly, that’s not all there is to that story.

The Renegat is number eight in the series, a magnum opus, and we wanted to do something unique (for us) to the mark the occasion. We ran a Kickstarter campaign in June to get the new novel into the hands of superfans before the official launch date, and to raise the funds to publish the entire Diving series, eight novels and three novellas, as an elegant set of eleven hardback volumes. Creating this set was no small feat. Publisher Allyson Longueira, while recovering from (successful) brain surgery (yeah, at WMG we don’t even do health crises by halves), produced these beautiful books.

“Rusch’s Diving Universe series…is simply one of the coolest spacefaring and spaceship milieux I have read.” —Blackgate.com

Dean Wesley Smith’s Cold Poker Gang Mysteries

Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, and just in time for the holidays, fans of Dean Wesley Smith’s Cold Poker Gang series got what they’ve been waiting for. Dean’s new novel, Heads Up: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery, hit the shelves and the online stores. This series continues to be one of WMG’s most popular.

In the new mystery, a couple of new recruits, that is to say newly retired Las Vegas detectives, take on a cold missing-person case that is somehow connected to the abandoned old Hotel Nevada. Some clever detecting and a bit of romance make this a perfect holiday read.

Kristine Grayson’s Fantasy Romances

Looking back, you could say love was a major theme for 2019.

We released four omnibus editions of Kristine Grayson novels, a cornucopia of romantic fantasy: The Charming Trilogy, Vols. 1 & 2; The Daughters of Zeus; and The Fates Trilogy.

To the delight of the many Grayson fans, there were also two new Grayson novels this year: a new Charming novel, Hidden Charm; and just in time for the holidays, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, the latest in the Santa Series.

Fiction River: An Original Anthology Magazine

Fiction River also started the year with love, with Fiction River: Feel the Love, editor Mark Leslie’s anthology of stories about every kind of love.

The theme heated up with Fiction River Special Edition: Summer Sizzles, in which Kristine Grayson invited readers to indulge in a feast of romantic suspense, capped by a gothic romance novella.

Buy what season of love is complete without spies, cloaks and daggers, and secret missions? Award-winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch used her magic touch to put together Fiction River Special Edition: Spies.

Finally, Mark Leslie returned with Fiction River: Superstitious to set us up for a spooky Halloween.

Also in the spring and summer came three new Fiction River Presents volumes, Fiction River’s line of reprint anthologies by series editor Allyson Longueira. These volumes reprinted some of our favorite science fiction and steampunk stories from previous years.

Pulphouse Fiction Magazine

Pulphouse Fiction Magazine rounded out its second year with its Fall 2019 issue, which was just released in December. In addition to four regular issues, we published three books of stories from the magazine: You Really Liked That?, No Way, and Snot-nosed Aliens.

It’s been a banner year for Pulphouse!

Kris Nelscott’s Smokey Dalton Series

In another first for WMG, Kris Nelscott’s award-winning novel A Dangerous Road, the first in the Smokey Dalton Mystery series, got a new edition this year designed for reading groups.

Storybundles

WMG had books in ten Storybundles in 2019, eight of which either Kris or Dean curated. Fantasy Detectives, Saving the World, Space Travelers and, Historical Mystery are just a few of the themes from this year. The bundles are a great way for readers to be introduced to new writers in their favorite genres and to get the books they might have missed from their favorite writers.

Dean Wesley Smith’s Make 100 Challenge

In 2019, Dean launched into a Kickstarter campaign with his Make 100 challenge. For that challenge he is publishing one hundred paperback books. Yes, that number is one hundred, aka 100, one with two zeros, a century, five score. A new paperback book every 3.65 days. Watch for these come to fruition in early 2020.

New Nonfiction

Speaking of challenges, 2019 was not our first challenging health year, and there is something very human about facing those challenges head on and moving on to better days. Kris wrote a book about doing exactly that called Writing with Chronic Illness: Improve Outlook and Productivity, that WMG published in April 2019. In it Kris relates how she herself has dealt with chronic illness and still managed to stay productive, creative, and looking forward!

WMG Holiday Spectacular 2019

To cap off the year publishing-wise, WMG launched a revolutionary new project. A long-time dream of Kris’s, we are offering a Holiday Calendar of Stories, thirty-five original stories in all, in three genres. Here’s the description:

Every day, starting on November 28, 2019, and running through January 1, 2020, subscribers get an original short story sent to them (or the recipient of their choice) via email.

Each story is accompanied by an introduction in which award-winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells you which kind of story you have, be it a Joyous Christmas story or a darker Bloody Christmas mystery or a Winter Holiday tale.

Subscribers get each story in ebook format (epub and mobi), so they can read them daily on their own devices anywhere, anytime. Or they can store them up and binge on a weekend.

We have big plans for future projects like this one, so stay tuned!

Workshops and Lectures

We had a bumper crop of wonderful stories for Fiction River, Pulphouse, and The WMG Holiday Spectacular 2019 in this year’s Anthology Workshop. Writers are already hard at work writing for the upcoming workshop in February 2020.

The Business Master Class was a huge success this year in Las Vegas, where we had a record number of attendees. Industry experts covered a wide range of topics, including book production and distribution, writing productivity, audiobooks, overseas sales, contracts, bundles, licensing, and much more.

The 2020 Master Class will be the last in this format (it is already fully booked, but you can be added to the waiting list by clicking here), so keep your eyes and ears open as we announce new directions in 2020.

Kris taught four in-person craft workshops in 2019. These were intensive five-day workshops on writing mystery, romance, series, and memorable characters. The topics change from year to year, and science fiction, fantasy, and short story writing are coming in 2020. For information on these 2020 workshops, click here.

In addition to the in-person Vegas workshops, WMG also offers a plethora of online workshops and lectures through Teachable. Dean creates new online workshops every year and comes up with new ideas for the Pop-Up Series that pop into his super-creative brain whenever he thinks it will be fun. This year was no exception. And looking forward, workshops will offer insight into how to plan the decade ahead, writing in shared worlds, as well as the long list of classic workshops that are always in demand.

Plus, WMG launched three new challenges this year: The Short Story Challenge, The Novel Challenge, and just last week, The Great Publishing Challenge. Writers have seen great success in the earlier challenges already. For example, more than a dozen writers in the short story challenge completed more than 26 stories in a row, so they each received $900 in workshop credit. Plus, they each have more than 26 new stories to market! How awesome is that?

And if you are busy making your New Year Resolutions, The Great Publishing Challenge and The Decade Ahead yearlong class that will focus on finding a balance between life, publishing, and writing are excellent places to start!

So, off we go into 2020. It’s going to be exciting. We can’t wait!

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

Publisher’s Note: Saving the Universe


Have you ever found yourself walking across a supermarket parking lot on a sunny day, mentally ticking through your shopping list, minding your own business, and been stopped dead in your tracks by the sound of a dog barking in a nearby car? Not much can catapult me from a pleasant frame of mind to anxious confusion faster than that sound.

Because it must be investigated.

Having been a journalist, I have reported stories of dogs trapped in hot cars, people trapped in their vehicles on flooded roads, houses burned down leaving badly injured survivors, or worse. So, OK, I have a mind alert to potential catastrophe. But I am ill-equipped to deal with ambiguous calls for help. Is that dog roasting and desperate? Or is he just impatient to get the treats his owner always brings him when they go to the store? (Good boy!)

I am convinced that the main power superheroes have is freedom from doubt. Self-doubt mostly, but also freedom from the gnawing dread that maybe there isn’t a solution to every person’s suffering. But superheroes aren’t the only ones who tackle dangers great and small. And frankly, my admiration is much greater for the mere heroes and heroines who jump right in to save their worlds, carrying their burdens of self-doubt and dread along with them.

What better way to savor the saviors than indulge in Dean Wesley Smith’s new Storybundle, Saving the World. Dean’s goal in curating this bundle was to find as many ways as he could to save as many worlds as writers could come up with. He offers the reader eight novels and two short-story collections. In addition to Dean’s book from the Thunder Mountain series, The Taft Ranch, you will find Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving novel Searching for the Fleet, and four novels by some of the most entertaining and original authors writing about worlds that need saving in a multitude of genres. There are sci-fi, time travel, space opera, thriller, magic and more.

It’s that time of year when the days get shorter and the evenings longer, and the world can seem a darker place in more ways than one. These stories dispel doubt and dread (admittedly after conjuring it), and if you treat yourself to them, and you’re good, they will leave you feeling as satisfied and happy as a puppy.

https://storybundle.com/action

Gwyneth Gibby is Associate Publisher of WMG Publishing.