Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Wrap Up

I can't say that I'm sorry to see 2013 go. Livia's mom passed away during the summer, and that loss cast a shadow over much of the rest of the year. But it was also the year we got into the publishing business in a much bigger way, and we bought property down on the Gulf Coast that we hope will someday be a second home for us. Right after Christmas a new dog came to live with us, a big, enthusiastic, affectionate Pyrenees/Shepherd mix we've named Sammy. Mostly it was a year in which there was just never enough time in the day.

So here's a look at how writing and reading went for me this year.

Writing

I topped a million words again this year (good) but my output dropped again for the third or fourth year in a row (frustrating). I finished the year with 5312 pages, which is down about a thousand pages from my best year ever. I'm still shooting for a million words again next year to make it ten years in a row, but if I don't make it...well, three-quarters of a million, or whatever it turns out to be, will just have to be enough. This year's output was all novels, 13 of them, no short stories for a change. Two of those novels (WEST OF THE BIG RIVER: THE LAWMAN and DANCING WITH DEAD MEN) even had my name on them, and both were well received, which is very gratifying.

Reading

Here are my ten favorites from the books I've read this year, in the order in which I read them:

MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY, Sean Howe (as a Marvel fan for more than 50 years, this was great fun, as well as telling me a lot of things I didn't know)

THE LAST RIDE and THE VULTURES OF WHAPETON, Robert E. Howard (I reread these two Howard collections before I wrote the introduction to WESTERN TALES, published by the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press)

SGT. PIGGY'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB COMIC, Stephan Pastis (a massive collection of one of my favorite comic strips, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE)

I TRAVEL BY NIGHT, Robert R. McCammon (a new historical horror yarn by an old favorite, and a lot of fun)

WEST OF THE BIG RIVER: THE ARTIST, Jackson Lowry (Robert E. Vardeman) (all the WEST OF THE BIG RIVER books have been good, but this tale of Charles M. Russell before he was a famous artist is the best of the bunch)

THE MASKED INVASION, Curtis Steele (Frederick C. Davis) (the first novel in the Operator #5 pulp series; man, I had a good time reading this one)

CONAN AND THE EMERALD LOTUS, John C. Hocking (the best Conan story by anybody other than Robert E. Howard I've ever read, hands down)

SADDLES, SIXGUNS & SHOOTOUTS, Charles Beckman Jr. (Charles Boeckman) (a great collection of stories from the Western pulps by one of the few surviving genuine pulp authors)

THE BURGLAR WHO COUNTED THE SPOONS, Lawrence Block (Bernie Rhodenbarr is back, and one of the best writers ever is at the top of his game)

As a bonus, here are three books not even out yet that you need to remember so you can grab them later on:

BULLETS IN THE BLACK, Walt Coburn (I got to read it ahead of time because I wrote the intro; it includes some of Coburn's best work)

THE SOUL OF A REGIMENT, Talbot Mundy (another collection that's in the works for which I wrote the introduction)

MIDNIGHT ROAD, Jada Davis (another almost lost hardboiled masterpiece from Davis, and a fine coming-of-age novel at the same time)

I read 128 books this year, up a little from last year, but it's worth noting that the total includes 30 books I edited and/or proofread for Rough Edges Press, Western Fictioneers, and Prairie Rose Publications. That might have something to do with my own writing output going down, even though I tried to do all the editorial work after I'd gotten my own pages for the day. It does take some mental energy, though.

I have no idea how many movies we watched. Quite a few, although I didn't blog about many of them except the ones featured in the Tuesday's Overlooked Movies series. Maybe one of these years I'll at least keep a list of them. Or maybe not.

I hope all of you enjoy whatever celebrating you do tonight and that 2014 is happy, healthy, and prosperous for everyone reading this.

8 comments:

Jerry House said...

James, best wishes to you and Livia for a healthy, happy, and productive 2014

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a lot of positives. I was sorry to hear about Livia's mother. I don't keep up much with the movies I watched either. I could do a best of in reading, though. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

Creature said...

Hello James:
Another million word year. That is amazing! I managed about 85,000 words (oh well). I always look forward to your posts. I hope you guys have a Wonderful New Year!!!
John (aka, The "Creature")

Keith West said...

Congratulations on hitting a million words again. And here's hoping 2014 turns out to be a better year both personally and professionally.

Cap'n Bob said...

I knew I was a lazy bum, but you showed me just how lazy a bum I am. Those milestones are incredible. Amazing. Astonishing.

Here's wishing you, Livia, and the girls a great 2014.

RJR said...

James, you make me feel like a piker. Best to you and Livia for 2014.

RJR

Brian Earl Brown said...

Congratulations on a productive 2013 and best wishes for an even better 2014. And I'd like to thank you for the number of times you proofread mss for Beb Books.

Johnboy said...

Nice to see you are a comics history fan and a Pearls fan like myself. I always enjoy your posts in groups where I see them, and pick up your books when I see your name or your pen names. Sorry about your loss last year. God bless.