This is my usual end-of-the-year post where I talk about the books I've read and the writing I've done. No movie section this year, because, while I'm still watching quite a few movies, I've pretty much stopped blogging about them except for the Tuesday's Overlooked Movies series. But to touch on a few generalities . . . I watched and liked all the superhero movies. I watched and liked most of the crude comedies. I watched and liked most of the popular animated movies. (Was RANGO this year? I love RANGO, maybe as much as anything I saw all year.) As you've no doubt noted, I'm easy to please when it comes to movies. Ooh, pretty colors! People running and jumping! Boobs! Explosions! Swordfights! Needless to say, a connoisseur of the cinema, I ain't. So let's move on to something else.
I always wait until almost the last minute to come up with my list of favorite books I read during the year. Who knows, the last book you read in a year might be one of the very best. So here are my ten favorites from 2011 in the order in which I read them:
RUN, Blake Crouch
THE BASTARD HAND, Heath Lowrance
EVERY SHALLOW CUT, Tom Piccirilli
HOLLYWOOD OP, Terence Faherty
SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
HANK AND MUDDY, Stephen Mertz
THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC,
KIRBY: KING OF COMICS, Mark Evanier
FIGHT CARD: FELONY FISTS, Paul Bishop
Oh, hell, I read too many good books. Here's my second ten, and on any given day, some of them would be in the other list:
A HOST OF SHADOWS, Harry Shannon
GANG GIRL, Robert Silverberg
CAST IN DARK WATERS, Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli
THE HERETIC, Joseph Nasisse
JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE, Dave Zeltserman
IN THE BEGINNING, Robert Silverberg
A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF,
FIGHT CARD: THE CUTMAN, Mel Odom
HARD TRAIL TO SOCORRO, Wayne D. Dundee
ON CHURCH STREET, Jake Hinkson
I could list a lot more books that I thought were excellent. I had a lot to choose from, too, because I read 168 books in 2011, my best total in a number of years. But pick up any of the ones mentioned above and I guarantee that you'll have a good time. (Not a money-back guarantee, mind you. I'm not dumb, regardless of what you may have heard.)
I think it's worth noting that most of these books are either small press volumes or self-published e-books. That's an indication of just how much this business has changed in the past 12 to 18 months. I think it's a change for the better, too. There are some brilliant books out there that would have had a difficult time, at best, finding a home with a traditional publisher, and they're not only finding readers when they might not have otherwise, in some cases they're even making a living for their authors. This is an exciting time for both readers and writers.
Moving on to my own writing, it seems like every time I do one of these wrap-up posts, I find myself saying, "Well, I wrote more this year than I ever did before. I'll probably never write that much again." Then, the next year, I say, "Well, uh . . . I wrote more this year than I ever did before." And this year is no different in that respect. I blew past my previous best from last year about 300 pages ago and topped a million words for the seventh straight year. My output, which I think translates to somewhere between 1.3 and 1.4 million words (I don't keep exact word counts; old guys like me tend to think in terms of pages) encompasses 17 novels and seven short stories and novelettes. Yeah, that's crazy. You're not telling me anything I don't already know. But at least I've learned my lesson about trying to predict how much I'll write next year. I have no idea. At this point I know of ten novels I'm supposed to write in 2012. Beyond that we'll have to just wait and see.
What I do know is that sometime during the morning of New Year's Day, I'll climb the stairs to my office, open the blinds, turn the computer on, read the first cartoon on my GET FUZZY daily calendar for 2012, and then get to work. What else am I gonna do?
Have a great New Year, folks.