Smith and co-creator Victor Gischler, now both acclaimed novelists, pulled the plug on the ground-breaking crime webzine in 2004 to fry bigger fish. Yet they left the archive up–a virtual noir library of great short fiction. Unfortunately, that library is now closing its doors.
If you think the marketplace for short crime fiction is slim now, in 1999 it was downright anorexic. These days, sites are all over the web dishing out healthy servings of grime, blood, and bullets (Thug Lit, Hardluck Stories, Demolition, and Thrilling Detective, just to name a few). Not to mention a slew of anthologies on the shelves. But back then, if you wanted your stories down and dirty your choices were few and far between.
Thank God for Plots with Guns.
Somehow, I stumbled upon PWG, and knew I had to be a part of it. Here was a place that gave new writers a chance to express themselves. It was crude and rude and beautiful, like a sassy punk-rock girl with a Masters Degree in Literature. I was working on a mystery novel at the time, but the only short stories I’d published were science fiction. I quickly gave up any sci-fi aspirations for hardboiled dreams.
PWG published the first crime fiction story I’d ever written (“Luck and a Gun”) in January of 2001. Seeing my work on screen, I was immediately hooked. I submitted a few more stories to them, which were promptly and politely… rejected.
My first reaction was to say “Screw you pals." Then I had a moment of clarity. PWG rejected my work for one simple reason–it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter that they were a website and not a print publication. It didn’t matter that they weren’t a paying market. If I wanted to be included on their site, I had to send my best.
Eventually, PWG accepted “The Revenge of Carlo Pulaski.” Since then, I’ve been able to sell a few stories, hear a few congratulations, but those two PWG shorts are still among my most satisfying accomplishments.
So, a big thank you goes out to Mr. Smith and Gischler, Mr. Maviano and to all the contributors for such great stories. And for such a great place to hang for a while.
Now go take one last peek at the corpse before they shut the coffin.