Looking Back at 2014

Fortune - CoverYear-end reports have become a sort of tradition for me, at least if three consecutive years can be called a “tradition.” (Here are my looks back at 2013 and 2012.)

So how was 2014?

Tremendously fun, so… win!

New short stories were published by Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder (“Sugartime”), Out of the Gutter Online’s Flash Fiction Offensive (“Not My Gun”), and NEEDLE Magazine (“Alive”). And I had a new story accepted by The Big Adios (“A Decent Hand”), which should be published in early 2015.

I also made good progress on some book-length projects. Hopefully, you’ll hear about one or more of those over the next 12 months.

But, looking back, what stands out about 2014 for me were the many collaborations with friends.

WORD CRIMES PODCAST

Word Crimes Podcast LogoPublic radio veteran Scott Detrow and I released our first Title 18: Word Crimes podcast on January 6. (Just so the record’s clear: Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Word Crimes” didn’t come out until July 15, 2014.)

The first episode of Word Crimes featured Scott reading my short story “For the Honesty.” Since then, we’ve put out 19 more episodes, including shows with Scott reading great stories by Joe Clifford, Jen Conley, David Cranmer, Chris Holm, Chris Irvin, Tom Pitts, and Steve Weddle.

We hit 1,000 downloads in early September and crossed the 2,000 mark in mid-December. That’s not quite at the level of Serial (which reportedly averaged 2.2 million downloads per show), but Scott and I are thrilled.

In December, we turned 14 stories from the podcast into an audiobook: CRIMINAL WORDS, which you can download for free from NoiseTrade.

Our plans for 2015 include stories by Paul Brazill, Merry Jones, Jon McGoran, Johnny Shaw, Duane Swierczynski, and many more. (Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get podcasts so you don’t miss an episode.)

AN ARTIST & A COMIC BOOK

All AloneI also got to work with the immensely talented Dillon Samuelson several times in 2014. First, he allowed me to use a couple pieces of his art to illustrate my short story “Not My Gun”.

Then, we went to work on creating the comic book FORTUNE. We released FORTUNE on NoiseTrade as a free download. It peaked at #1 on NoiseTrade’s Mysteries & Thrillers list, #2 on Comics & Graphic Novels, and #6 overall.

Many authors we respect greatly were generous enough to give Dillon and I kind blurbs for the comic, such as Duane Swierczynski saying it’s “like a fat, juicy slider from some greasy spoon at 2 a.m.” At least I think that’s a compliment.

Dillon also created the amazing cover art for my short story ALL ALONE (also available free at NoiseTrade), paying homage to the classic pulp magazine Black Mask.

PUBLIC READINGS

Before 2014, I had never read my fiction in public. This year, it was great — i.e., AWESOME — to take part in readings at Noir at the Bar Philadelphia, NoirCon, and Bouchercon.

You can listen to the entire Philly Noir at the Bar (a total of 12 authors!) via the Word Crimes podcast: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I’m working on converting NoirCon’s Three Minutes of Terror panel to podcast format. Look for that in January or February.

The Bouchercon reading — which featured me, Rob Hart, Seth Harwood, and Jess Lourey — is also available on Word Crimes.

And mark your calendar for the first-ever Noir at the Bar event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday, April 13, 2015. More details to come!

Shotgun Honey LogoSHOTGUN HONEY

Working with our boss Ron Earl Phillips, the team of Jen Conley, Christopher Irvin, and I read through hundreds of submissions for the flash fiction website Shotgun Honey. We published the best of them, and had a great time doing it. Ron, Jen, and Chris have become great friends, and I’m honored to be their colleague at SH.

We’re now hard at work editing the next Shotgun Honey anthology, scheduled to come out in early 2015.

ALANTHOLOGY

I edited a limited-edition collection of stories (ALANTHOLOGY: Stories Inspired by the Life and Games of Alan R. Moon) for the 25th anniversary of The Gathering of Friends, an annual boardgame event hosted by Alan. Beth and I love the Gathering and have made many great friends attending it through the years. Dave Bernazzani, E.R. Burgess, Joe Casadonte, and Susan Wimmer all contributed great stories for ALANTHOLOGY, while Frank Wimmer turned in a truly perfect cover.

MORE SPANISH TRANSLATIONS

It’s always great to work with Carolina Maria Russo-Holding, who has translated many of my short stories into Spanish. She did more in 2014, including some I haven’t had time to post yet — so look for even more in 2015.

VISITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

WordPress does a good job providing statistics to bloggers. So I can report that the vast majority of readers of this blog live in the United States. After that, in order, readers came from: Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Japan, and France.

MOST POPULAR POSTS

The most popular posts on this blog in 2014 were: The Ghosts of Cold Springs Resorts, Deader Than Four O’Clock, Four Questions With… Chris Holm, Four Questions With… Owen Laukkanen, and Four Questions With… Dennis Tafoya.

THE BEST EDITOR

The best part of 2014 was being able to continue working with my super-talented wife/editor Elizabeth every step of the way. Beth’s editing skills continue to amaze me. Not to mention her all-around awesomeness. (I should mention she didn’t edit this post. So any mistakes are mine and mine alone.)

Yeah. 2014 was a LOT of fun.

Here’s to an even better 2015!

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