A Brief Recap of 2015 and a Look Ahead to 2016

Normally I do a long post discussing my favorite books and publishers of the year, but I’m going to pass on that.  Besides the thought of writing that kind of post simply making me tired, there were too many things I missed.  I’ll mention a few favorites, but that’s all I’m going to do.  Mostly this will be a recap of the year’s highlights and set some goals for next year.

Reviewing and general blogging kept me busy.  I was accepted into the Ace/Roc review program, which means about once a quarter I get a package of around 6-8 books, plus the odd individual title showing up here and there.  These range from ARC’s to copies of current releases.  Pyr published a lot of interesting things that I didn’t get to.

Twelve Kings in SharakhaiThe highlights of the year for me were Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Anniversary Day Saga, which saw six titles published from January to June, in addition to two previous titles.  This was a big, sprawling science fiction/mystery/thriller that I absolutely loved.  On the fantasy side of things, the two highlights for me were Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.  Finally, Trace Conger’s The Shadow Broker and Scar Tissue were the standouts in noir/detective fiction.

I’ve started to feel like I’ve drowning in things to review.  There were a number of books I didn’t get to that I wanted to read, many of it older stuff, because I was reading something I’d been sent (and often personally asked to review).  There are half a dozen books I’ve not finished just on my ereader, never mind print, that I need to complete. It’s not that I wasn’ enjoying the book (with one exception), but that I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book when I started them.  They’re all things I would normally enjoy and want to finish.

Time constraints contributed to the overload/not finished situation.  My son is in middle school and involved in band, robotics, diving, and chess when he can fit it in.  He’s done well in all these, which has resulted in out of town travel to higher level competitions and so forth.  This is not a complaint; far from it.  I’m extremely proud of my son and the things he’s accomplished.

So, I’m going to cut back on what I review at other people’s requests.  Most of the Ace/Roc titles in the last bundle were either things I’d already read or had no interest in reading.  The exception is the new Jack McDeviit, which I’ll start over the weekend.Thunderbird

That’s not to say I won’t try to post regularly; I will.  But not as many reviews.  And many of the reviews will be older works.  While I’ve enjoyed most of the titles to some degree, a lot weren’t really my cup of tea.  I want to reread some classic authors and read some things I never got to. I want to reboot Dispatches From the Lone Star Front.

Over the last year I’ve gotten to where I want to read more history.  When I started Dispatches, I wanted to focus on regional history and culture.  The mistake I made was in planning to visit most of the places I wrote about.  Clearly that didn’t happen.  I’m still going to do some site visits, but there will be more posts that look at people and events without any travel.

Weird Menace 1 aFinally, my fiction writing.  I placed two stories in anthologies, plus received an invitation to participate in a third.  (I wish all editors were that enlightened.)  I submitted to three more anthologies at the end of the year.  Two of those I’m still waiting to hear from.  The third submission made it to the final round.  The editors said it didn’t fit the tone of the other stories.  Fair enough, I can respect that.  I’ll submit it somewhere else after the first of the year.

I’ve got several works in progress, and I’m hoping to finish them over the first few weeks and months of the new year.  I’ll send them out, and any that don’t sell I’ll eventually publish myself.

In order to get more writing done, I’m going to have to cut back on the reviewing.  So expect to see fewer reviews of new realeases, more emphasis on older works and short fiction, and hopefully more fiction.

9 thoughts on “A Brief Recap of 2015 and a Look Ahead to 2016

  1. Paul McNamee

    Power to all the reviews you do manage to post. I understand wanting back off of obliged reviews. They get tiresome when they eat into other things you want to read, especially if they’re not to taste or current mood.

    I, too, want to read more pulp classic stuff.

    Cheers for 2016!

    1. Keith West Post author

      Hmm, I’m blogging on New Year’s Eve, and you’re commenting. We’re a fun pair. 🙂

      Some stuff you don’t know if you’re going to like or not until you read it. And everything I reviewed (there were things I didn’t review), I at least enjoyed enough to finish the book, even if it was something exactly to my taste. I think part of my problem is that I’m still trying to read as many things as I did when I was in junior high and high school and had more time and fewer responsibilities. I can’t keep that up if I want to get any writing done.

  2. Jason Thummel

    Well, you two do indeed look like a ‘fun’ lot to throw in with. Happy New Year to you both.

    Best of luck in this new year with re-prioritizing things, and with placing some additional tales.

  3. Woelf Dietrich

    Keith, thanks for all your reviews, and I agree with you. Your reviews of older work keep them from disappearing into obscurity. Plus, it allows us to discover new (old) writers, albeit belatedly.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks, Woelf. I’m defniitely going to be focusing more on older works this year. There was more emphasis of story first in the old days than there seems to be today.

  4. David J. West

    Good stuff Keith! I hear you about obligated reviews, I had to start refusing people a while ago and I like clearing the pallet and rereading old favorites.

    I appreciate all your work – even if I don’t always comment. Your review of my latest was much appreciated – especially since I wasn’t even expecting it!.

    I bought Weird Menace and will try to post about it soon.

  5. Fletcher A. Vredenburgh

    Happy New Years, and congratulations on all the writing success! It’s incredibly encouraging. Now I need to get Tales from the Otherverse.

    I’m looking forward to more reviews from you in the coming year. It’s good to see someone else trying to keep a candle lit for the best older work.

    I keep telling myself I’m not going to take anymore requests for reviews and then I get one from someone I like and give in.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Happy New Year to you, Fletcher, and thank you. I think you’ll like Tales From the Otherverse, and not because I’ve got a story in it (although I hope you enjoy mine). There are some really good writers in the book, and I’m honored to be included with them.

      I’m also looking forward to reading more of your work this year. Your tastes are close enough to mine that anything you recommend, I’m going to take a serious look at if I haven’t already read it.

      I hear what you’re saying about giving in to review requests. I hate to say no to anyone who contacts me directly. But I’d rather do that than agree to review a book and then never get to it. Not that I’ve ever done that. *crosses fingers behind back while typing that last sentence.*


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