Publisher’s Note: Ode to Joy

Sunday I spent a couple of hours talking to my oldest friend. She is exactly three months younger than I am and we’ve been like sisters our whole lives. We live on opposite coasts, so our main communication these days is very long phone conversations a few times a year.

Sunday, after catching up on life and family, old friends and books, we ended up talking about writing. Our fathers were English professors, so maybe it was natural that we both loved reading books and writing from the time we were little. We wrote stories and poems and plays, performed some of them, too. Because it was fun.

Mina went on to get an MA in English and teach professional writing for many years. I ran off to the theater, filmmaking, and journalism. Neither one of us writing fiction. Every ten years or so I’d painfully crank out a short story. Stash it in the proverbial drawer and go back to real life.

But if you work at WMG for Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith—among all the other wonderful writers who contribute to Fiction River and Pulphouse and participate in workshops—the joy of writing fiction kind of sneaks up on you, slips its little hand in yours and asks you to come out and play.

So I did. And do. For fun.

Kris blogged about her youthful writing adventures last week, and it rang a bell for me. Of course, she and Dean do much more than write for fun. Among other things, they have written a whole series of books on the profession of writing, the WMG Writer’s Guides, and Kris has a magnum opus called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. Countless people have turned to these books for guidance. And now, just in time for Kris’s Spring Writing Storybundle, we are publishing her latest, Writing With Chronic Illness.

Here’s the description:

In this WMG Writer’s Guide, award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch offers words of wisdom for writers who suffer from chronic illnesses and who want to keep working, to improve their craft and spread their creative wings.

A long-time sufferer herself, Rusch reports from the trenches. She tells us her own struggle with health issues and how they challenge her. But none of it actually derailed her career; she worked out ways to keep writing, and in the process became an international bestselling author with hundreds of books in print.

Rusch helps writers customize a plan of action based on the writer’s individual experience. She shows how to increase productivity by developing a positive, and realistic, outlook.

Importantly, Rusch points the way to reclaim the joy of writing, and celebrate success.

The bundle has LOTS more in it, too. Look out for it on Thursday; it includes Dean’s lecture on Carving out Time for Your Writing, Kevin J. Anderson’s The Million Dollar Writing Series Boxed Set, and Mark Leslie Lefebvre’s Killing it on Kobo, and six more wonderful books of information and advice for writers.

And now you see why I mentioned the importance of joy. Even if Dean and Kris didn’t talk, write, and lecture about joy often, anyone paying attention would surely detect that the enjoyment of writing is at the heart of what they do and why they do it. And I’m here to tell you it’s infectious.

My friend Mina said I had inspired her to have some fun writing, too. Maybe we can trade some stories before the next time we talk…see? Infectious.

Publisher’s Note: Traitors and Tradecraft

I love spies. I have since I was a kid. In the mid-1960s I loved equally the blunt and brainy Harriet the Spy and the coolly calculating John Drake, hero of the TV show Secret Agent (Danger Man in the UK). The person I really wished to emulate, though, was Emma Peel. And I tried. I found somewhere a pair of soft ankle-high, zip-up leather boots with rubber soles that I could pad around in to watch and listen without being heard.

But these spies were just the tip of the iceberg for me. I read every book by Alastair MacLean I could get my hands on: The Black Shrike, Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra. Graham Greene, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum and the classic spies of the Cold War era were meat and drink to me.

And then there was John le Carré.

One balmy summer’s evening in my twenties I sat down under an open window to read Smiley’s People. From six o’clock until eleven I didn’t look up,I was so deep in the treacherous world of George Smiley. The next day I found out there had been a fatal motorcycle accident in front of our house, not twenty feet from where I sat under the open window. I’d heard nothing: crash, police, ambulance—nothing.

Such is the power of the spy story for me.

Imagine my delight when Kristine Kathryn Rusch put together the latest Fiction River Special Edition, and it was called Spies. Did I wait until it was published to read these stories? Of course not! The delectable thing about this anthology for a spy fan like me is that every kind of spy story is here. It’s like a tray of all my favorite foods.

There is always a war going on, of some kind or other. Wars against slavery, racism, greed, power grabs, the Cold War, techno-wars, even a species war. And spies fight in those wars, sometimes with outright violence, but mostly with their brains and, yes, their hearts.

Here’s hoping that as my fellow espionage lovers consume this volume of choice morsels—some of them bitter—no vehicles crash outside your windows to disturb you. Or not.

Speaking of great stories, we at WMG want to send our hearty congratulations to Diana Deverell whose story “Mercy Find Me” from Fiction River: Justice, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has been chosen as a finalist for a Derringer Award. It is the poignant story of a woman who comes to terms with both retribution and mercy, as well as her own failings. Diana says the story came straight from her heart. It sure touched mine.

Pick up Justice, available as an ebook or paperback, read Diana’s story—and then keep reading!