Publisher’s Note: One Steamy Summer


We’re having a particularly humid summer here on the Oregon Coast. In an average year, July is our driest month, at about 63 percent humidity. We spent much of July this year at more than 90 percent humidity. We don’t normally hit that even in the winter. Our max average is just above 80 percent humidity.

And although our temperatures have been about average (in the 60s), that humidity still takes a toll. (I know, I know, those of you living in places like the Southeast, Midwest, and other regions or countries with hot, humid climates just rolled your eyes, but hear me out.) We’re not used to this here on the Oregon Coast. I’m used to having to bundle up in layers to walk to work because of the cooler temperatures and strong winds, but when you have to wear a jacket and it’s still warmish and humid: you sweat when you move. And now that I’m on that walking streak, that means even though I can now drive, I often don’t. I still prefer to walk as many places as I can…while I can. If I wanted to get all sweaty just because I stepped outside, I’d live in the Southeast near my family.

I know I shouldn’t complain. We’re far better off here than a lot of you are in other areas of the Northern Hemisphere right now, weather-wise. So, I’ll stop whining about it.

Besides, I have a much more interesting kind of steam-related topic to talk about. Steampunk. And sorcery. Because this Wednesday marks the launch of our latest Storybundle, Sorcery & Steam, curated by Dean Wesley Smith. And although most of you know the drill on Storybundles already, this one is different for us.

For the first time since we’ve been doing Storybundles, the three books in this bundle are exclusive to the Storybundle. We’ll release them wide once the Storybundle ends, but until then, this bundle is the only way to get them as soon as possible.

Those books are: Killing the Angel of Death by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Luck Be Ladies: A Poker Boy Collection by Dean Wesley Smith, and Fiction River Presents: Sorcery & Steam, edited by Gwyneth Gibby.

Here are the synopses for each book:

Killing the Angel of Death

When Roderigo and Izzy form a group to stop the Angel of Death from taking more innocent lives, they realize they need help. One by one, Roderigo recruits people who see the creatures, who know their evil magic, who suffer from the damage the angels wreak.

When Roderigo enlists the newest recruit—a war-damaged sniper—he achieves the formula for the group’s ultimate success. But he might have just doomed the group to the ultimate failure.

A gut-wrenching story about love, loss, and the powerful inevitability of grief.

Luck Be Ladies

Superhero Poker Boy works for Stan, the God of Poker. But sometimes Poker Boy and his team come to the aid of Lady Luck, the most powerful God of them all. And the boss of everything.

In these five Poker Boy stories, meet three of Lady Luck’s four daughters. In the novella, “For the Balance of a Heart,” Lady Luck asks Poker Boy to find her missing daughter, the Queen of Hearts. In “That Lost Riddle,” Poker Boy helps the Queen of Diamonds solve an ancient riddle. And in “The Rules of the Game,” Poker Boy assists Lady Luck with her warrior daughter, the Queen of Clubs.

But Poker Boy also gets to save Lady Luck in “Luck Be a Lady” and rescue Lady Luck’s one great love in “You Forgive the Night’s Scream.”

Enjoy the crazy world of Poker Boy, one of the newest and most puzzling superheroes you might ever meet.

Fiction River Presents: Sorcery & Steam

Steampunk and sorcery offer fantastic flights of imagination in this latest volume of Fiction River Presents. From the merciless march of Lovecraftian prose to the echoes of Russell Hoban’s Ridley Walker, these nine authors create convincing and compelling worlds that feel like familiar places from some past life or dream. With engaging characters often caught in agonizing situations, this spellbinding volume proves why Adventures Fantastic says the Fiction River series “is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

Includes:
“Murmuration of a Darkening Sea” by Lee Allred
“Heart” by Leslie Claire Walker
“The Whirring Dreams of Aberrant Blood” by Cindie Geddes
“The Clunkety” by Brenda Carre
“Skinwalker” by Valerie Brook
“Dead Men Walking” by Annie Reed
“The Airship Adventures of Captain Jane Fury” by Anthea Sharp
“Trouble Aboard the Flying Scotsman” by Alistair Kimble
“The Scottish Play” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The bundle releases Wednesday, July 24, and can be found here once it’s live. With one exception: Fiction River Presents subscribers will receive this new volume the same day the Storybundle launches, per their subscription terms.

For more information on Fiction River Presents subscriptions, click here.

I can’t think of a better distraction from the steamy weather outside than sitting someplace cool and reading great books.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Proximity is Everything


One of the most annoying things about my brain surgery recovery is that I’m not allowed to drive. That will end at some point, but I have no idea yet when. So, for the most part, I must get where I need to go on foot.

This is a mixed blessing. The brain tumor itself had weakened my body to the point that doctors were surprised I could still walk when they finally discovered it. Now that the tumor is gone, walking is actually the best thing I can do for my recovery.

But I need to rebuild my muscles and stamina as I go, so I can only walk so far.

As a result, I need to confine my walking to a limited radius from my house so I don’t wind up accidently stranded somewhere or way overdo it getting myself home.

As I was figuring out where I could and could not go, I realized something that having ready access to a car had robbed me of: my house, which I bought 13 years ago, is in the best possible location one could ask for. Who knew?

From here, I’m within 2,000 steps of the following (and this is not an all-inclusive list):

  • My office
  • A grocery store
  • A natural foods store
  • My doctor’s office
  • My salon
  • Urgent care
  • A dentist’s office
  • The police station
  • A fire station
  • A pharmacy
  • The post office
  • City Hall
  • The local library
  • An outlet mall
  • The cultural center
  • My daughter’s karate dojo
  • Beach access
  • Lake access

Oh, and add to that a good dozen restaurants, including a coffee shop, pizza place, two Thai food places, Mexican food, high-end seafood place, a fish ‘n chips place, barbecue place, ice cream shop, two fast-food places and more.

Plus, the two nonprofit boards I’m on hold their board meetings within that same radius.

Ironically, I can also walk to the car wash, but, you know, not so useful…

I had no idea until I needed it how very close I am to just about everything.

And if I truly needed it, I’m just a block away from a bus stop.

That proximity to so many things has made what could feel like a very restrictive part of my recovery into something kinda cool.

And once I started back to working in the office, I pretty much walk everywhere. I’m on a streak now. I’ve hit at least 5,000 steps every day since June 8. And I’ll make sure I have enough rain gear so that doesn’t have to stop once the weather turns all Oregon Coast again this fall.

It’s amazing what close proximity will do for you.

But sometimes, proximity (albeit of a different variety) is not your friend. I discovered that recently, too, when we were alerted to a problem with our newest release’s books cover.

We mostly use stock art for our book covers. We’re not alone. The big trads do this a lot, too. But sometimes you wind up in a situation where another cover looks far too similar to your own. This happened with Hidden Charm. A reader alerted us to this fact. I had conducted a search prior to using that particular art, but Amazon shows different things to different people, so the cover at issue did not come up for me at that time. This is not unusual.

Normally, I wouldn’t stress out about another cover having the same art. This is a known quantity when it comes to using stock art for cover design. But in this case, the topic of the book (also an alternative take on the Rapunzel fairy tale) was too close for comfort. The other author released her book first, so we redid ours. It’s more about common courtesy than anything else, frankly.

So, here’s the redesigned cover of Hidden Charm. I used the same model but she’s in a different pose. This was important because we’d already launched the book, and done a lot of sales and marketing, and we didn’t want to confuse the readers who had already bought the book. That would be even worse than an unfortunate coincidence.

This is not the first time we’ve run into another book using the same art on the cover as ours (although it’s not common). But it was the first one where we decided we had to redo ours. This time, it exceeded the proximity threshold.

Oh, and one final note about proximity: You’re running out of time to buy the Space Travelers Storybundle, curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Click here to learn more about this bundle—which includes WMG books Duplicate Effort, A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kris, Sector Justice: A Seeders Universe Novel by Dean Wesley Smith, and Fiction River Presents: Space Travelers.

As for me, I’m off to the post office—on foot, of course.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Sizzling Release to Mark the Start of Summer

Here on the Oregon Coast, we mark the start of summer not at Memorial Day weekend (as is the custom everywhere else I have lived) but with the Fourth of July, because that’s when the tourist season really heats up in this little coastal town.

And I can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer than with our latest Fiction River volume. It’s a special edition edited by Kristine Grayson called Summer Sizzles. And wow, does it.

Here’s the synopsis:

In this fourth Fiction River Special Edition, bestselling romance author and editor Kristine Grayson takes readers into the world of romantic suspense. These nine breathtaking stories—from military romance to love in the criminal underworld, from a highly unusual shipboard romance to a modern gothic novella set on an idyllic island—make a perfect beginning to summer reading. The heat of attraction, the sparks of passion, and the frisson of suspense all thread their way through every story in this spectacular volume.

Table of Contents:
“Night Moves” by Katie Pressa
“Safe Like Cedar” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Flying Above the Hindu Kush” by M.L. Buchman
“Love on the Run” by Kelly Washington
“Need to Know” by Sabrina Chase
“Bribing Ghosts” by Leah Cutter
“Come Summer, Come Winter, I’ll Come for You” by Rei Rosenquist
“Totality” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“That Summer on Blue Heron Island” by Dayle A. Dermatis

This scintillating volume is available in ebook and paperback here. And don’t forget about the subscription option so you never miss a volume. Learn more here.

So, once the Fourth of July fireworks have faded (or if fireworks just aren’t your jam in the first place), grab a copy of this latest Fiction River and watch sparks fly on the page instead.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: When You Need a Little Space


While I was out on medical leave, some very cool space news happened. Astronomers announced on April 10 that they had finally captured a picture of something most people thought we’d never see: a black hole. This was very early on in my recovery, but even I recognized how monumental that little news notification on my iPhone was.

If you haven’t heard about that yet or read about it, click here.

I had to read about it in pieces, but I read everything I could find over the next few days. (Of course, the fact that a woman is the face of this discovery was also very cool!)

Space has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I was even in Young Astronauts in junior high and seriously considered studying aerospace engineering in college.

Although I obviously did choose that path, I still find myself staring up at the night sky and wondering what all is out there.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I have this (and many other things) in common. In fact space, particularly space travel, is the inspiration for not only a new Fiction River Presents, which she edited, but also a new Storybundle, which she curated.

About the Space Travelers Storybundle, she says:

When most people think of science fiction, they think of space, that final frontier. They think of traveling in space or living in space or being in space. Eventually, they come back to Earth and think about things like time travel or futuristic gadgets, but ask the normal person what they imagine when someone says “science fiction,” and they respond “space.”

I know my love for sf came from my love for space. I discovered both at the same time. I watched the Apollo program throughout my childhood, and the same year I discovered Star Trek, I also watched human beings land on the Moon. That fired my imagination so firmly that I think nothing can shake those two things apart. Space is something, for me, to look forward to.

Space is hope.

Space isn’t always hope, not for the people (and creatures) involved in this Space Traveler bundle. Sometimes space is adventure. Sometimes space is scary. And often space is fascinating—like nothing we’ve seen before.

Click here to learn more about this bundle—which includes WMG books Duplicate Effort, A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kris, Sector Justice: A Seeders Universe Novel by Dean Wesley Smith, and Fiction River Presents: Space Travelers.

The latter, which also released as a standalone product last week, is the latest in the Fiction River Presents magazine line, which features reprints of some of our favorite Fiction River stories. (To read more about Fiction River and its subscription options click here.)

Here’s the synopsis for Fiction River Presents: Space Travelers:

Pulling from the list of her favorite stories for this volume of Fiction River Presents, editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch takes readers on a thrilling journey. From little rovers exploring the planets where humans cannot yet go, to human explorers flung into realms of space/time beyond their knowledge and experience, to aliens who drop in for a visit to Earth for purposes only they can fathom—these travelers entertain, sometimes terrify, and always fascinate.

With this tantalizing volume, Rusch asks the reader, “Wanna go for a ride?”

Table of Contents:
“Tendrils” by Leigh Saunders
“Moonfall” by Lisa Silverthorne
“The Rock of Kansas” by Eric Kent Edstrom
“Hot Jupiters” by Steven Mohan, Jr.
“Embedded” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Ice Dogs” by Kris Austen Radcliffe
“Closing the Big Bang” by Michéle Laframboise
“Time, Expressed as an Entrée” by Robert T. Jeschonek

Click here to buy the new volume on its own.

And in other space news, Kris’ latest Diving Universe novel, The Renegat, is now available for ebook preorder.

Here’s the synopsis:

As a young recruit, brilliant engineer Nadim Crowe accidentally destroys an entire Boneyard full of ships. Now, decades later, he ends up on the crew of the Renegat, the only ship in the Fleet ever sent on a mission backwards to investigate an ancient Boneyard.

Something invaded that Boneyard and the Fleet wants to know what. Or who.

The Renegat: The only ship the Fleet dares risk. The Renegat: A ship of misfits and screw-ups sent on an impossible mission. All alone in deep space.

A thrilling new addition to the Diving Universe.

Click here for more information on that.

So much space. So little time.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: I’m Back!


You haven’t heard from me for 12 weeks, and I am very glad to be back at the helm of WMG. But so much has happened since the last blog I wrote was published, I don’t quite know where to begin.

On that date—March 25, 2019—I spent the morning working from home on the Kristine Grayson website before checking in as an outpatient at the local hospital for a scheduled MRI.

But first, let me explain how we got to the MRI in the first place.

For what I now know is about two years, my health was in decline. I didn’t start to really notice until last fall when I began having problems communicating. I would be speaking and all of a sudden, I would stop being able to make words. Not for long. Just a minute or two. Still, it freaked me out. But it would pass, and like lots of other busy, successful women past 40, I brushed it off as just a sign that I was getting older. I had people counting on me in my personal, professional, and civic lives, and I wasn’t going to let a few bumps in the road slow me down. Just like I hadn’t let the joint issues and fatigue I’d been experiencing for at least a year slow me down.

Then, just as 2018 was drawing to a close, the weirdest thing happened. I was in a restaurant with my husband, mom, and stepfather, and my right hand suddenly went numb. The numbness slowly spread up my arm in an eight-inch block until it crossed my back and hit my spine and then it was gone. I’ve never felt anything like it, and it scared the hell out of me. But still, I brushed it off as another issue with my spine or tendons like so many issues I’ve had before. You do that when you’re a chronic pain sufferer, as I have been since the age of 16. You just suck it up and continue on.

And so I did. Until the next time it happened. Similar, but different. At this point, I realized I should go see my primary care physician to at least discuss what was going on and get an actual medical opinion. My fear was multiple sclerosis. It runs in my family.

It took a while to get the appointment, but by the time I did, I was ready. I’d been Googling symptoms (not recommended if you don’t know what you’re doing…you’ll be convinced you’re dying no matter what it is), and I had a list of things I couldn’t explain dating back about two years. That list might have saved my life.

My doctor used that list to fight with my insurance company to get the MRI approved. She suspected a brain tumor. I had ruled that out in my research because I wasn’t having seizures. At least not the kind I’d heard about, like grand mal seizures. But while she checked for a whole host of other possibilities, she wasn’t willing to drop the MRI. And my list helped her win that battle.

Thank goodness she did. (I would have paid for it out-of-pocket if they had, but it would have taken longer to schedule…time it turns out I didn’t have.)

So, on the Monday of Spring Break, I went in for my MRI. I asked my husband to drive me, which is weird because I am very independent and usually handle all of this stuff on my own. And there’s no reason you can’t drive after an MRI. Plus, the hospital is less than five miles from my house. But ask him I did. He must have sensed something, too, because he waited in the parking lot for me to text him that the test was over.

They did the test. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. And when the tech pulled me out of the machine, he asked me one question before my world tilted on its axis: How are you feeling? Fine, I said.

Then, he told me that the doctor had been reading my scans in real time and had asked the tech to walk me straight to the ER to be admitted. I didn’t even have a chance to change out of the scrubs they had me wear for the test. I stopped only long enough to text my husband. This is the message he received: “Being admitted to ER. Please come.”

He was there almost instantly. I can only imagine what that text did to him.

Upon being admitted to the ER, I got the news from an ER doc I’ve known for a long time (it’s a small town): I had a very large tumor (4.8 cm by 4.5 cm) on the left side of my brain. They suspected benign meningioma, but I would need to be transferred to a hospital in the Valley. I would need to have a craniotomy within days to remove the tumor. The size made it very serious. And when they did the neuro exam in the ER, I realized for the first time how much I had been ignoring. The doctor asked me to hop on one foot—and I couldn’t remember how to do that.

I was transferred to the ICU to await a bed at OHSU (my preferred hospital as it has a dedicated brain center and renowned neurology department). Thankfully, it was also in-network.

On Tuesday, I was admitted to OHSU in Portland. Once there, I found out that the scariest symptoms I’d been having were actually partial (focal) seizures—the very thing I thought I wasn’t having, which made me rule out brain tumor. The weird numbness thing: a partial (meaning only affecting one area of the brain…you are very aware of what’s happening to you) seizure called a Jacksonian march seizure. The speech issues were another type of seizure. I was started on anticonvulsants immediately.

I spent Wednesday getting my affairs in order, just in case. Thursday, I underwent an angiogram to see if they could preempt significant blood loss during the craniotomy (they couldn’t, as it turns out).

Friday, March 29, the neurosurgeon cut open my skull and removed the tumor. On Monday, April 1, they sent me home to continue the long recovery process.

I have so much more to say about that, but not now. This is already longer than the longest blog I’d written to date.

But I will say this much more: one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my recovery is regaining the use of my right hand (which I couldn’t move or feel at all after the surgery). Because of the brain trauma, I was on head injury protocol for the first six weeks of recovery. My screen time was very limited. I couldn’t watch TV for weeks. Even reading was hard. I couldn’t handle noise or movement or even talking on the phone.

I still have months of recovery ahead of me, but I’m at least 80 percent back now. I’m typing this blog at close to my pre-tumor speed, so that tells you something about the progress I’ve made toward regaining that right hand function. I’m walking more than I have in two years. My brain is still not where it once was, but that was expected to be the slowest of all to recover.

I still can’t drive. I had two seizures after my surgery that required an increase of my anticonvulsants. I will be on those for at least one more month and perhaps for the rest of my life. We don’t know yet.

And my tumor wasn’t benign, but it wasn’t cancer either, thankfully. It was atypical, a form of WHO Grade II meningioma called clear cell, which is more common in people my age but is very rare overall, and much more aggressive than other types, so it has a much higher chance of regrowing, even with a gross total resection, as I had. So, I will have two more MRIs this year and at least one per year for the rest of my life. I might need to have another craniotomy in the future. I might need to have radiation at that point as well. Or it might never recur. I’m going to focus my energy on the latter.

So, I’m back in the saddle again. And I’m so very glad to be here.

I didn’t stop working completely during my recovery, of course, because I’m me (and yes, I was working from my hospital bed in the days leading up to the surgery). But while the amazing WMG staff was taking on the yeoman’s task of doing my job on top of theirs, I helped where I could.

My most significant contribution was to the Grayson novels and omnibuses we had scheduled for release before I abruptly left for my tour in tumorville. I had already set the design template for the new Grayson look, so I was able to continue working on those covers during my recovery. It was very helpful for my mental state to feel like I could still contribute something. And while I believed I had found the art for the newest Grayson novel, Hidden Charm, I felt like I should read at least some of the book to make sure.

Before I knew it, I had read the whole thing. And reading was still hard. So, if I read it that fast post-brain surgery, you will understand how incredibly good it is.

Here’s the synopsis:

When a Charming Prince named Sonny rescues Rapunzel from her tower prison, she rides off with him and gets on with her life—her real life in the Greater World. They set up a home in Los Angeles, and she begins to discover the strength of her magic.

But when Sonny disappears, Rapunzel needs help finding him.

Enter Henry, the Frog Prince, who works the front desk of the Archetype Place. Only Henry can help Rapunzel find her husband because of the vast power it took to conquer Sonny. But Henry wants nothing to do with Rapunzel or her problem. He fights enough of his own.

A typically fun Grayson romp through the world of magic and love.

Hidden Charm is available for preorder now, and it officially releases Tuesday, June 18. Click here for more details.

Also releasing on June 18, as Gwyneth mentioned in this blog last week, is the fourth omnibus of the Grayson novels, this one containing Wickedly Charming, Charming Blue, and Hidden Charm. That’s the way to go if you like ebooks and want to read (or reread) the other two novels that came before this latest one. Click here for more details.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for their patience and support during this trying time. We’re a small staff with big jobs, so when one of us goes down, it’s a big impact. And I received so many cards and emails at home while I was recovering wishing me well that what I mostly felt during my recovery, and still feel today, is grateful. I am a very lucky woman, and I’m thankful that my story, too, had a happy ending.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: June is bustin’ out all over


You know that scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair’s head spins around while Max von Sydow throws out the Devil in the name of the Father? (I only know about the scene because it became famous apart from the movie; I don’t go to scary movies, as a rule, because I am so easily fooled and I scream in the movie theater, which is embarrassing, and then have nightmares later, which is annoying.) Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling lately. Not because I am possessed, although you never know, but because WMG is producing so many terrific books I can’t keep track of them all!

June is chock-a-bloc with romance and science fiction. Kristine Grayson’s fourth omnibus, The Charming Trilogy Vol. 2, comes out June 18. And later this month we’re publishing a Fiction River Special Edition edited by Kristine Grayson called Summer Sizzles, and boy does it in this volume. Sizzle, I mean. Nine tales of romantic suspense set in the sweltering, lurid kind of summer when inhibitions are thrown aside like a cheap dress and passion burns so hot it makes the night air billow with steam.

Then the Diving series latest magnum opus, The Renegat, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch,will be available for preorder—unless you happen to be one of the lucky people who supported the Diving Kickstarter, in which case you’ll get the ebook at the end of the month.

There’s a new science fiction Storybundle coming called Space Travelers; WMG will have several works in that. Both Kris and Dean Wesley Smith are in it and you won’t want to miss it.

Because, in case you hadn’t noticed, no one writes science fiction like Dean Wesley Smith. And if you don’t believe me look no further than the Earth Protection League series about a couple of elderly people living in a nursing home who periodically get zapped across the galaxy to protect Earth from danger. The novel, The Life of a Dream, and four short stories in the series will charm and delight you and leave you begging for more.

And if that doesn’t convince you, some of the weirdest, most intriguing of Dean’s sci-fi stories are in Alien Vibrations: Five Strange Science Fiction Short Stories. Here’s the description:

From two androids falling in lust on an alien planet to a story that spans generations, Dean’s science fiction reads like no other. Here he takes you along on an alien first contact to a movie, then jumps you a thousand years into the future to take a peak at a basic university class. The collection ends with a multi-generational story of looking for a lost gold mine and what finding it really means.

Funny, sexy, and just plain strange, these stories keep the reader turning pages.

And I’m not even going to mention Buckey the Space Pirate and Poker Boy, two characters who are so wacky, so resistant to the normal rules of even fictional behavior, they have no counterparts anywhere in the Known Universe. Fact.

While I’m at it, I’d like to mention my favorite stories of Dean’s; the Bryant Street stories. They are kind of science fiction, and they’re kind of surreal; they take the reader into a dimension of their own that can be odd, or strange, or even kind of tender. Try out a few. A collection of the strangest will be coming soon. At least I hope so.

And now it’s time for me to say my prayers and hope my head doesn’t twist off like Linda Blair’s and go spinning into space. Of course, if it did, Dean would just write a story about it landing somewhere on Bryant Street…