Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Wrap Up

Not to start this on too much of a downer, but it's no secret that on a personal level, 2014 sucked. I don't want to even think about how many friends and loved ones we lost, and far too many people we know went through the same thing. Add in Livia's broken arm and some lingering health issues affecting several people in the family, and you've got a pretty lousy year.

But we're still here, still working, and why dwell on the negative when some good things happened, too?

Like the fact that I wrote more than a million words for the tenth year in a row. This is something I started thinking about several years ago, and I'm very glad that I made it despite the fact that it looked pretty doubtful for a while. Of course, it really doesn't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but it's a nice accomplishment anyway.

In case you're wondering, that million-plus words took the form of thirteen novels and four novellas. That's a good year's work, I think.

I also launched Rough Edges Press, my publishing imprint, this year, and brought out sixteen books and stories, a mixture of reprints and originals that I'm very proud of, and next year should be even better with the impending launch of the BLAZE! Adult Western series and more work from some of the best writers in the business.

Writing, editing, and publishing cut into my reading time, of course, but I still managed to read 116 books this year, and here are my ten favorites, in the order in which I read them:

JASON EVERS: HIS OWN STORY, Frank Roderus – one of the best Western noir novels I've ever read and a beautiful example of the unreliable narrator.

THE YEAR WHEN STARDUST FELL, Raymond F. Jones – from the classic line of science fiction juvenile novels published by Winston, and even though I didn't read it until this year, it's exactly the sort of book that made me a science fiction fan to start with.

HALF A KING, Joe Abercrombie – a gritty heroic fantasy novel with great narrative pace, from an author I really need to read more of.

LIGHTS IN THE DEEP, Brad R. Torgersen – a collection of, once again, the sort of classic science fiction that made me an SF fan.

CANNIBAL GOLD/BLOOD RED TIDE, Chuck Dixon – I have to put these first two volumes in Dixon's SF/adventure series BAD TIMES together, since it's becoming obvious that what he's doing here is writing one gigantic novel. And it's a superb one, too, full of action and interesting ideas.

THE CHAPLAIN'S WAR, Brad R. Torgersen – greatly expanded from two of the stories in LIGHTS IN THE DEEP, this is the rare "fix-up" novel that works spectacularly well.

DOC SAVAGE: THE ICE GENIUS, Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray and Lester Dent) – I've enjoyed all of the new Doc Savage novels I've read so far, but THE ICE GENIUS takes the series to a new level. It satisfies a long-time fan (more than fifty years reading Doc Savage for me!) while at the same time being a classic, sprawling adventure novel of epic scope.

McKENNA'S HOUSE, Robert J. Randisi – a fine private eye yarn and a novel with, as Bob puts it, "a lot of heart". Poignant, well-plotted, with one of the most likable protagonists you'll ever find, this is the best Randisi novel I've ever read.

FORBIDDEN RIVER, Frederick Nebel – a fantastic collection of Northerns from one of the best pulp writers, Frederick Nebel, and one of the best pulp reprint publishers, Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books. This one is pure adventure goodness from start to finish.

I read plenty of other really good books, too, and a lot of comic books and graphic novels I enjoyed. Speaking of comic books, most of the movies I liked wound up on the critics' Worst of the Year lists, but two films I loved that were almost universally well-received are CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. They really got it right. I've gotten away from posting about movies except for the Tuesday's Overlooked series, but I'm going to try to do better about that next year and at least mention most of the stuff we watch.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but another thing I'm going to try to do in 2015 is spend a little less time on-line and more time reading. I have a lot of books and pulps waiting for me to get to them.

This blog is more than ten years old now, and my sincere thanks to those of you who have been reading it from the first and everyone who has discovered it along the way. I'll close by saying that I hope 2014 wasn't too bad for you, and I really, really hope 2015 will be better for all of us. Happy New Year!


pattinase (abbott) said...

Have a Happy New Year, James

Scott Parker said...

Great year, James. What boggles my mind is not only the million words (x 10) is that you also read 110 books. And watched movies. And acted as a publisher. And slept. Wow. Your productivity is amazing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a truly wonderful year.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I think you gave productivity a whole new meaning, Mr. Reasoner. Congratulations! And a Happy New Year to you and Lana.

Keith West said...

Sounds like a pretty successful year to me. Just one question: when do you sleep?

Sai S said...

A book read on average every three days and one written every 3 and a half weeks. And a blog post every day. Your blog should have ads for energy drinks/coffee brands :-)

Cheers and hope the new year is happy for you and your loved ones.

michael said...

Happy New year Mr Reasoner and thanks for that list. Is there any chance of listing your 13 novels and 4 novellas of 2014, so we could look those out for reading? Thanks!

Cap'n Bob said...

If you had just read 116 books it would have impressed me as a productive year. But you pile on a million words written, your publishing empire, and coping with family and health issues on top of it. You need a hobby.

Carolina Steve said...

James,Rough Edges is my favorite blog and the only one I read daily. Thanks for your work on it!!

Ron Clinton said...

Happy New Year to you, James, and thanks for all the spot-on book recommendations and entertaining blog posts.

James Reasoner said...

I appreciate all the kind words, folks. They help inspire me to keep on keepin' on. Michael, I'd love to list all the books I wrote in 2014, but unfortunately, other than the few things I got out there with my name on them, I'm contractually obligated not to reveal the others. It's frustrating sometimes, but a fact of life in the ghost-writing business.