There’s no point in denying that 2022 was a rotten year in many ways, but there’s also no point in dwelling on that. So let’s turn our attention to more pleasant endeavors, such as writing, reading, editing, and publishing.
To take those things in reverse order, for most of this year I was the editor
of Rough Edges Press, the mystery/thriller/men’s adventure imprint of Wolfpack
Publishing. It was a wonderful job, as I got to work with Mike Bray, Jake Bray,
Patience Bramlett, and all the other great people at Wolfpack, in addition to
all the authors involved. While there, I was privileged to edit some really
excellent books, and I’m proud of what the line accomplished. However, I
stepped down at the end of October because I discovered that I couldn’t both
edit and write at the level I wanted to, and although I didn’t mind slowing
down some on my page production (more about that in the next paragraph) I just
wasn’t ready to stop writing full-time. There are still too many books in my
head clamoring to get out.
As I mentioned a few posts back, 2022 was the first year since 2004 that I didn’t write at least a million words of fiction. So the streak ends at 17 years, and while I might have preferred an even number (yes, I am a little OCD), I’m absolutely fine with that. I wrote approximately 900,000 words this year. That’s plenty. I think 750,000 would be a good total for 2023. I wrote at that level for many years before I started hitting a million, and I think I can continue producing at that level for a while yet. My plan for next year is to keep up with my regular ghost-writing job (I’m committed to approximately half a million words there) and devote the rest of the wordage to a few books of my own. We’ll see.
On the reading front, it was a good year, not at all rotten. I read 138 books. Here are my top ten favorites, in the order in which I read them:
A GUIDE TO THE GOOD LIFE: THE ANCIENT ART OF STOIC JOY, William B. Irvine
GUNS OF THE DAMNED, Stone Cody (Thomas E. Mount)
IN THE PULP FICTION TRENCHES, Len Levinson
STAND UP AND DIE!: THE LOST THRILLERS OF MICKEY SPILLANE, Mickey Spillane
THE SPIDER: SCOURGE OF THE SCORPION, Will Murray
GHOST OF THE HARDY BOYS, Leslie McFarlane
FROM THE FILES OF . . . MIKE HAMMER, Mickey Spillane
THE RANCH CAT (apa STRAIGHT FROM BOOT HILL), Willliam Hopson
JANE FURY, James Robert Daniels
CALICO, Lee Goldberg
I’m aware that’s a pretty odd mix. Two of them I edited (the Levinson memoir and the Spillane prose collection; the other Spillane book is a collection of the Mike Hammer comic strip I had nothing to do with). Two of them aren’t out yet because I read them in manuscript, JANE FURY and CALICO, but they’ll be out next year and you should remember those titles because they’re great. The pulp influence is there in GUNS OF THE DAMNED, the first novel in the Silver Trent series originally published in THE WESTERN RAIDER and STAR WESTERN, and in the Hopson novel because he got his start in the Western pulps, and in the new Spider novel by Will Murray since the Spider is one of the iconic pulp hero characters. My study of Stoic philosophy kind of petered out as the year went on, but the lessons I learned from it came in handy more than once and I still plan to get back to it.
There were at least two dozen other books right on the verge of making this list, including quite a few I edited, starting with Jamie Mason’s Father Barrett series and Ryan Fowler’s Father Tag Nolan series. Both of those feature priests/detectives and both are absolutely excellent, but beyond that, they couldn’t be more different. You should check them out if you haven’t already. Chuck Dixon’s Levon Cade series continued this year with several great entries. Brent Towns added another top-notch action/adventure series to his tireless output with TALON and also gave us some fine hardboiled private eye novels set in Australia. Nik Morton’s Leon Cazador books are fast-paced international thrillers with a great protagonist. Stephen Mertz’s latest Cody’s War novel demonstrates that he hasn’t lost a step and is still a legend in the action/adventure field. And these are just Rough Edges Press books. I also read some great pulp reprints from Altus Press/Steeger Books and several superb hardboiled/noir novels from Stark House/Black Gat Books/Staccato Crime. I swear, if you can’t find plenty of great books to read these days, you’re just not looking hard enough!
Finally, this blog suffered a bit in 2022 because I just didn’t have enough time to devote to it. As a result, there were fewer posts than any year since I started it in 2004—and since I started it in July, that was only half a year. I hope to post more in 2023, including more book reviews, the return of movie reviews, and maybe an occasional post about what else is going on in my life, although generally, that stuff is pretty boring. My thanks to all of you reading this, whether you’ve been a regular reader since 2004 or just found the blog. Like the WesternPulps email group (which will celebrate its 24th anniversary this spring), I intend to keep this going for a good long while yet.