Monday, December 31, 2018

The Wrap Up



This has been a year with a considerable amount of bad—the loss of friends and loved ones, ongoing health problems for me and many of those close to me—but also plenty of good, mostly due to the love of friends and family. We hang in there and keep going, and there are good times along the way. And a number of things to report in the areas which this blog addresses most of the time.

WRITING

I reached the million word level again this year for the 14th year in a row. When I started this streak, I just wanted to see if I could actually write a million words in a year. I had come close the year before, somewhere between 800,000 and 900,000, so it seemed at least possible. Then once I accomplished that, and once the years doing it began to pile up, I just kept going. Ten years seemed like a pretty good goal. When I passed that and made it to 13 years, I didn’t want to stop there. (Yes, I’m that superstitious.) So I had to try to make it again this year, and I did, with a little more than a week to spare. (Gone are the days when I’d hit a million words sometime in October!) Next year, who knows, maybe, maybe not, but I’m in the process of cutting back some on my commitments because there are still things I’d like to do besides sit and pound the keyboard. Although I still love writing, don’t get me wrong about that. Most of my work is published under other names, as has been the case for many years, but I was able to do a few short stories as myself that haven’t seen print yet but will next year. I’m still the luckiest guy I know, to be able to do what I really enjoy and make a living at it.

READING

I read 115 books this year, the usual mix of Westerns, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and assorted other stuff. Looking back, I read 116 books last year. I was surprised the total was that close. I’m consistent, if nothing else. More than ever, I’ve retreated into the safe havens of pulps, pulp reprints, and vintage paperbacks and hardbacks, the same sort of stuff I’ve been reading and enjoying for nearly 60 years now. Amazingly enough, I hardly ever reread anything. There’s still more good old stuff out there than I’ll ever get around to reading, but I’m going to try. I do still read new books, too, especially those by friends of mine. Below are the ten books I read this year that I liked the best, in the order in which I read them.

THE BLACK ICE SCORE, Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake)
TERROR INC., Lester Dent
SLEEP WITH THE DEVIL, Day Keene
THE PYTHON PIT, George F. Worts
MR. CALAMITY, Kenneth Robeson (Will Murray)
THE WIDOW, Orrie Hitt
RENEGADE, Ramsey Thorne (Lou Cameron)
THE DOOM LEGION, Will Murray
CASCA: THE ETERNAL MERCENARY, Barry Sadler
ASTOUNDING: JOHN W. CAMPBELL, ISAAC ASIMOV, ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, L. RON HUBBARD, AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION, Alec Nevala-Lee

You can see what I mean about pulps and vintage paperbacks. There are three new books on that list, the two by Will Murray that feature pulp characters, and the non-fiction volume by Alec Nevala-Lee that’s about a pulp, the man who edited it, and the authors who wrote for it. I believe that all ten books on this list are currently in print. I didn’t check on this, so bear with me if I’m wrong on one or two of them. But you can still find copies pretty easily if you want to check out any of them.

MOVIES

Honestly, it was a struggle to find time to watch many movies this year, which led to me participating only sporadically in the Overlooked Movies/TV posts. More next year, perhaps.

THE STATE OF THE BLOG

I started Rough Edges in the summer of 2004 because my friends Bill Crider and Ed Gorman had blogs, and I wanted to try my hand at one, too. In the early days it was mostly a report of mundane things that I did, but gradually book and movie reviews became more prominent, along with music posts and some posts about my work and writing in general.  As mentioned above, in the past year I haven’t written nearly as much about movies, and many weeks there were only Forgotten Books posts and my weekend series about pulps, along with the occasional and semi-autobiographical Monday Memories posts. (I’m already running out of things to write about in those, so expect them to appear less often.)

The really odd thing about this year is that in late October, literally from one day to the next, the daily traffic to the blog dropped by roughly two-thirds. I have no idea why this happened. I realize that with the rise of Facebook and other social media, blogs aren’t nearly as popular as they were a decade ago, but that sudden drop is both baffling and discouraging.

However, just in the past few months, several people have contacted me out of the proverbial blue to tell me how much they enjoy the blog. One fellow said, “I’ve learned a tremendous amount about pulps and genre fiction from reading Rough Edges and enjoyed every minute of it.” As long as I’m accomplishing that, I consider the time very well spent, and if it ever gets to the point where only a dozen people are reading it, as it was in the beginning, well, that’s okay, too, as long as they’re enjoying it. As I’ve said about the WesternPulps mailing list, which has been through E-Groups, One List, Yahoo Groups, and now Groups.io, “I started this group sending messages to myself, and I’ll keep it up until it reaches that point again.” My mother always said I was the most hard-headed person she had ever seen.

So to all of you still with me, thank you for your friendship and interest, and I’ll see you next year. May it be a good one for all of us!

21 comments:

Maurice said...

I hardly ever comment, but, I read and enjoy your blog very much.

Walker Martin said...

James, each morning after I get up I check in with your blog, Steve Lewis' MYSTERY FILE, and Sai Shanker's PULP FLAKES. I look at others throughout the week but maybe not every day. For instance I look at COMING ATTRACTIONS each Friday night, the PULPFEST website each Monday, MURANIA PRESS each week, BLACK GATE several times a week, etc.

I follow several discussion groups like your Western Pulps, PulpMags, Vintage Paperbacks, Rara Avis, and Fictionmags.

I appreciate the hard work you do and look forward to seeing more pulp covers and pulp reviews.

Richard said...

Congrats on another fine year of blogging, JR. I read and enjoy all of your posts through Feedly, but I don't think that would show up in your traffic reports. For longer posts, I click through to get the stuff below the fold. Anyway, thanks for all you do. Your blog is one of my favorites. Happy New Year!

Peter Brandvold said...

I'm addicted to your blog, James. It's the first one I go to every morning, to see what's going on in your world, which included the world of pulp. You've turned me on to so much great, mostly old pulp reading over the years, I can't even begin to thank you. Just keep on keeping on!

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Another excellent yea Yes, the loss of Bill and others weighs heavy, but we go on as best we can.

Happy New Year to all.

Scott D. Parker said...

James,

I've been with you and your blog since I discovered it in 2008. That's ten years for me. And when it comes to the importance of your blog, consider this: every time I discover a new-to-me author, I run a google search with "author's name" and "James Reasoner," with the reasonable assumption you've likely covered it. Thanks for all your years of reading so I can use it as a map by which to steer.

Onward to 2019!

Unknown said...

Gonna do one of these myself. Maybe today. who knows. Always good to see your take on things.

Rick said...

I still enjoy your blog and I'm amazed at the million word mark over so many years. Here's hoping for a Happy New Year and the continuation of your blog. Thank you for all the enjoyable reads you have offered.

Dennis Bedard said...

Happy New Year James. Keep on blogging. There are those of us in the metropolises of the world who read and enjoy the blog every day.

Ben Boulden said...

I really enjoy your blog, James. I hope your health problems ease in the new year and that you make a million words again, if you want to, that is. And if you choose not to write a million, that you do something else wonderful.

Ben

Edwin McBride said...

I rarely comment although I've been a regular visitor here for several years. I think I speak for many when I say thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge of pulps/writers and your insightful book reviews.

Gonzalo B said...

I've been reading your blog for over 10 years and also buying many of the books you write. I hope there are many more good times than bad times in 2019.

Neil Waring said...

I read and enjoyed every one of your posts this year - looking forward to more. I do not have anywhere near the blog readers you do, but I also noticed a significant downturn in readers this year.
Happy New Year.

Todd Mason said...

James, you remain an inspiration...I really should do more to get up past a thousand words a year in some sort of print I don't publish ("publish") myself.

I believe Google, which owns Blogspot, was pushing a number (perhaps nearly all the active?) blogs in various ways from late Spring until October...my traffic surged and then also dropped precipitously at that point. Not that it made much difference in the number of comments, etc., that I received. But citations of my posts in some Very out of the way places were less common in later months.

And thanks for helping keep Tuesday's A/V alive...fighting depression and other demands on my time to get back into gathering those (and my overweening desire to keep making it Bigger and Bigger) might have be back into doing the weekly roundup. And now to go get the Monthly Music up, including your post.

Rich said...

A fine look at a mixed-bag of a year. I always enjoy your posts, especially the Saturday pulps. Keep on truckin. pard!

Spike said...

Happy New Year all. James, thank you for all the books you have introduced me to.

Rick Robinson said...

Still here, look in every day, will continue to do so.

James Reasoner said...

I really appreciate all the kind words. It's good to know people enjoy the blog and find it useful. It's also interesting that blog traffic seems to be down across the board. There's always something new to compete for people's interest, I suppose.

Keith West said...

James, I'll keep reading your blog as long as you keep writing it. Thanks for some great posts.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

James, I have enjoyed your blog since the time I launched my own a decade ago. In fact, yours was one of the first blogs I visited, for tips and lessons, before starting my own. I look forward to reading "Rough Edges" more often than I have in the past couple of years. I have learned much from your regular reviews of pulp fiction and vintage paperbacks, a genre I enjoy reading (mostly online). Thank you.

Jerry East said...

You could set up a Facebook - Rough Edges page and post an update for each blog update. That way those that follow you on your blog could then follow you on your FB page and see a notification every time you have a new blog update.