Sad news to report. Last week, Anthony Neil Smith announced that Plots With Guns will finally go dark tomorrow.

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.



  1. Guyot

    I think all the current sites you mention owe a big thanks to PWG.

    I think Smith and Gischler should be interviewed here at the Rati.

    Who wants to do the honors?

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wow, that’s some list of contributors. I never knew about PWG – now I feel like I missed out on something really great. Would love to have Smith and Gischler in to talk. Sounds to me like Paul and Mike should team tag them.

  3. pari noskin taichert

    Mike,I went to PWG’s explanation of why they stopped the zine in 2004 and probably deserved that flipping finger.

    It’s so frustrating that are all these incredible resources out there for good fiction and they’re all competing for the little time any of us have to read, to explore.

    I’ve met Victor, Anthony and Sean and still didn’t realize they were 3/4 of such an incredible venture.


  4. Elaine Flinn

    Welcome Mike!

    How great that you’ve chosen to debut with your thanks to a pair of terrific pioneers.

    Let me add my cheers and thanks to the chorus about PWG. And yes – I think both Smith & Gischler should be interview guests here at Murderati. How’s about our short story members here doing the honors?

  5. Mike MacLean

    Thanks Alex.

    Links for both “Luck and a Gun” and “The Revenge of Carlo Pulaski” can be found at my site. Until tomorrow that is when the links to PWG go dead. Now I have to put them somewhere else.

  6. Victor Gischler

    I’m glad PWG is getting some final kudos here at Murderati before it goes dark. I’ve often been credited as “co-founder” or “co-creater” of the webzine but it’s just not quite true. I alwasy sort of hung out and helped chew over new ideas, etc., but the backbone of the operation has always been Anthony Neil Smith. Some people mentioned interviews. I strongly suggest talking to Neil. He’s the honcho.



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