09 January 2024

A Wild Ride: 2023 in Review

This past year was a wild ride, both personally and professionally. The 14-month year began in November 2022 when Temple changed employment. The day after Christmas 2022, her father’s leukemia took a turn for the worse, and he died in January. At the end of April, I left my part-time job to return to full-time freelancing. Mid-year, Temple’s daughter was diagnosed with, and had surgery to remove, a brain tumor. All these events—both positive and negative—impacted our lives in ways we will be dealing with for a long time to come.

Rather than dwell on all that, here’s what happened last year in my writing/editing life:


Productivity was up in 2023, though nowhere near my best year (75 stories in 2009), with 14 original stories completed. This surpasses 2022 (9 stories) and 2021 (6 stories) and ties 2019.

The shortest story was 2,000 words and the longest 5,900 words, for an average length of 4,007 words. All were crime fiction of one sub-genre or another.


Although I only wrote 14 new stories, I placed 16 originals and 5 reprints.


Reprints were a significant portion of my publications in 2023, with 59 stories reprinted. Most of these appear in the collections All-American Male, Queer Bait, and Sporting Wood (all published by Deep Desires Press). Other reprints appeared in Black Cat Weekly and Illicit Motions.

Published in 2023 were 17 original stories—including a collaboration with Sandra Murphy in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and another with Stacy Woodson in Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 4. Additional original stories appeared in Happiness is a Warm GunKings River Life, Mystery Magazine, Prohibition Peepers, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Starlite Pulp Review, Tough, Unnerving Magazine, Weren’t Another Other Way to Be, and Yellow Mama.

Excluding the editors of my collections, only three editors are represented multiple times: Linda Landrigan published four original stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; Eddie Generous published an original in Unnerving Magazine and a reprint in Illicit Motions; and I published two of my own original stories, one each in Mickey Finn, vol. 4 (a collaboration with Stacy Woodson) and in Prohibition Peepers.


“Kissing Cousins” (Starlite Pulp Review, Winter 2022) was listed among the “Other Distinguished Mystery and Suspense of 2022” in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023 and among “The Best Mystery Stories 2023 Honor Roll” in The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2023.

“Sit. Stay. Die.” co-authored with Sandra Murphy (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July/August 2022), tied for 10th place in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award.

“When Sin Stops” was included in Weren’t Another Other Way to Be (Gutter Books, edited by Alec Cizak), which was named one of the “Best Indie Books of 2023” by The Independent Fiction Alliance.

“You Like Me Too Much” was included in Happiness is a Warm Gun (Down & Out Books, edited by Josh Pachter), which was named by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel as one of the three best crime-fiction anthologies of 2023.


Including those accepted this year and those accepted in previous years, I have stories forthcoming in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; Black Cat Mystery Magazine; Crimes Against Nature; Dark of the Day; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine; In Too Deep; Scattered, Smothered, Covered, and Chunked; Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine; Starlite Pulp Review; Storia.com; Tough; and Wish Upon a Crime.


I received 16 rejections, which is five fewer rejections than acceptances, and any year in which acceptances outnumber rejections is a good year.


Editing occupied a significant amount of time.

This year saw the release of two issues of Black Cat Mystery Magazine (issues 13 and 14). As Associate Editor of Black Cat Weekly, I acquired and edited 60 short stories, one for each weekly issue and an extra eight when covering for another editor. This year also saw the release of the last two volumes (7 and 8) of the serial novella anthology series Guns + Tacos (co-edited with Trey R. Barker); Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 4; More Groovy Gumshoes: Private Eyes in the Psychedelic Sixties; and Prohibition Peepers: Private Eyes During the Noble Experiment (all from Down & Out Books).

Outside the mystery world, I edited six issues of Texas Gardener, a bi-monthly consumer magazine, and 52 issues of Seeds, a weekly electronic newsletter for gardeners that, incidentally, published five short stories. Through the end of April, I also worked part-time as marketing director of a professional orchestra, creating, editing, and managing a variety of advertising, marketing, and promotional materials for print, radio, television, and social media.

Adding all the editing projects together, I had the honor of shepherding 140 short stories and novellas through to publication.


This year, several stories from projects I edited or co-edited were recognized:

“Home is the Hunter” by James A. Hearn, published in Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 3, was reprinted in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023.

“Ripen” by Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier, published in Black Cat Weekly, was reprinted in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023.

“Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday” by Sean McCluskey, published in Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 3, was reprinted in The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2023.

“House of Tigers” by William Burton McCormick, published in Black Cat Weekly, was included in “The Best Mystery Stories 2023 Honor Roll” in The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2023.

“Death Sentence” by Bev Vincent, published in Black Cat Weekly, was included in the list of “Other Distinguished Mystery and Suspense of 2022” in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023.

I had the honor of publishing several equally amazing stories in 2023 and hope to see many of them recognized during this year’s award season.


Earlier this month, “The Cadillac Job” by Stacy Woodson launched Chop Shop, my new serial novella anthology series. Later this year, Down & Out will release Private Dicks and Disco Balls and Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 5.

Also this year, Level Short, an imprint of Level Best Books, will release Murder, Neat, co-edited with Barb Goffman, and Wish Upon a Crime, co-edited with Stacy Woodson; White City Press will release Janie’s Got a Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Aerosmith; and Wildside Press will release Malice Domestic: Mystery Most Devious, co-edited with John Betancourt and Carla Coupe.

In addition to my own editing projects for various publishers, Stacy Woodson and I are co-editing Scattered, Smothered, Covered, and Chunked for Down & Out Books and additional anthologies for Level Short, some of which may appear in 2024.

In February, I’ll be reading submissions for Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 6 (Down & Out Books), and throughout the year I will be reading for The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year 2025 (Level Short). For information about submitting to either of these, visit https://www.crimefictionwriter.com/submissions.html.

Additionally, I will continue work on Black Cat Mystery Magazine and Black Cat Weekly, and, outside the crime fiction genre, will also continue editing the bi-monthly gardening magazine and weekly gardening newsletter.

I am entering my second year on the Board of the Mystery Writers of America, will attend the Edgar Awards, and will attend at least three mystery conventions this year (Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and Malice Domestic), so if you see me at any of these events, please stop and say howdy.


The new year began with a bang on January 1 with publication of “Cry”—a dark, dark bit of crime fiction—at Mystery Tribune, and my story “Family Business” appears in the January/February Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.


  1. Well, that's an impressive output, Michael. I'm extremely busy myself, but I don't think I could get that all managed in one year!

  2. Oh my, Michael, what a list. Amazing! I thought I worked a lot...little did I know, I'm a real slacker. Could be too many naps? Worn out...sooo tired. Before I doze off, a BIG congratulations to you for paving the way, showing us the right way to stay on track. I'll finish this note after a long snooze, then I'll get one submission out. Will do...

  3. Michael, I am truly awed by all you've accomplished - wow! And I struggle to meet deadlines for one novel a year... Congratulations! Proud to know you.

  4. Whoa, Michael, impressive job! I don't now how you manage to get SO much work done. Your accomplishments continue to be an inspiration to all of us.

    I did notice one glaring difference between your stats and mine, for this past year: I got a lot more rejections than you did.

    Keep up the great work!

  5. Yes, all that industry, creativity, and success does inspire lesser mortals with a desire for a nap. Glad to hear the work on Black Cat Mystery Magazine in particular goes on. And I hope you and Temple and daughter are going into 2024 on a better and healthier note. Life always has another curve ball left to throw, doesn't it? In comparison, writing, editing, rejection, and acceptance are simple. Happy New Year, Michael!

  6. I’ll add—“Ripen”, which you originally accepted for BCW in 2022, appeared in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023. Thank you again for taking a chance on that story, and congrats on an awesome year! Hoping 2024 exceeds your wildest dreams. —Ashley- Ruth M. Bernier

    1. I'm embarrassed that I forgot to include mention of "Ripen" in my post, Ashley-Ruth, so I've corrected/updated the post to include it.


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