2016 was a great year in many ways and a sad year in many ways, but it certainly was never a dull year. Here’s my annual look back at the now-past year.
In October, I released my first book — THE THROES OF CRIME, a collection of 26 short stories and six true-crime essays.
In May, Beth and I traveled to Wilmot, South Dakota, to present a check to the first winner of the James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship. It was an amazing trip, and we were overjoyed to both help remember the way my parents encouraged me and my sisters and to pass on a little bit of that encouragement.
Just one new published story: “It Bothers Me,” published in the March/April 2015 of the great THUGLIT magazine (available for Kindle and in paperback). I’ll always be stoked to say one of my stories is in THUGLIT.
Scott Detrow — who, amazingly, just keeps getting better — voiced seven great short stories by the likes of Paul Brazill, Rob Hart, Merry Jones, Jon McGoran, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, and Duane Swierczynski. Word Crimes also featured a fantastic story by S.W. Lauden, an interview with McGoran, and two episodes recorded live at NoirCon.
In December, we reached 5,000 total downloads, a number Scott and I are absolutely thrilled with. Thank you to everyone who’s listening!
If you’re not listening, check out Word Crimes on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here’s a sample to whet your appetite, Scott Detrow reading “Appetite” by Jon McGoran:
It’s ridiculously over-the-top, packed with action, and it features a one-armed Norwegian train conductor saving the U.S. from a Soviet nuclear attack in July 1947.
You can listen to “Death Train to Hell” here:
In the non-fiction realm, I was thrilled to write several true-crime essays for THE BLACK HOOD comic book (which itself is written by Duane Swierczynski and edited by Alex Segura). All the essays focused on Philadelphia, where the comic is set; they covered a tale of vast political corruption, a nearly unbelievable arsenic murder ring, and America’s first serial killer.
Seeing my work appear in comic books written by Duane, one of my absolute favorite writers, with art by the likes of Michael Gaydos and Howard Chaykin was amazing. Hopefully, it will happen again in 2016. (Actually, I know it will: Be sure to check out issue #8 of THE BLACK HOOD on January 13!)
Over at SHOTGUN HONEY, I continued serving as an editor up until 11:59 p.m. last night — although, truth be told, I spent much of 2015 leaning on my co-editors Jen Conley and Angel Colon, along with head honcho Ron Earl Phillips. I’ve been an editor at SH for more than two years, and it’s time to move on. The site is amazing, and I’m proud to call Ron, Jen and Angel (along with former co-editor Chris Irvin) my friends. Kent Gowran created a fantastic site, and Ron has taken it to new levels. Now that I’m out of the editing game, I’ll definitely be submitting to SH again.
All that said, the biggest — and, by far, the saddest — thing that happened to me personally in 2015 was losing my parents, Jim and Jeanne Arneson.
They were, no exaggeration, the greatest. Mom and Dad were unequivocally supportive of everything I tried, especially my writing. From the story I wrote in first grade about King Kong to the handwritten ATARI TIMES newsletter I published in fifth grade to working on my high school newspaper (THE OCTORARIAN) to writing for NOTEBORED magazine to my first published short story (“The Murder of Ernest Trapnell” in MARY HIGGINS CLARK MYSTERY MAGAZINE) to the last published short story before they passed away (“It Bothers Me” in THUGLIT), Mom and Dad were my biggest fans.
Hopefully this video gives a sense of how great they were.
Looking ahead to 2016, my one-word resolution is: WRITE.
Year-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.
The new stories were published by Out of the Gutter Online‘s Flash Fiction Offensive (two), BEAT to a PULP, Grift, and the Shotgun Honey anthology RELOADED. It’s an honor to have my work included alongside the many talented writers those outlets all featured in 2013.
Looking ahead to 2014, I have five short stories that are almost ready for submission and three more that are nearly ready to be given to Beth, my amazingly talented editor/wife, for her magic touch. I also plan to launch a podcast soon, working with the very talented Scott Detrow, and I’ve started work on what I expect will become my first novel.
More importantly, I made a bunch of new friends in the crime fiction community (online and off). You’re an incredibly talented group of people. I even got to thank Mary Higgins Clark herself for publishing that first story 14 years ago. She also offered me some advice, which she summed up in one word: “Royalties.” I can only hope to reach the point where that means something to me…
Best of all, I got to work with my wife Beth a lot. She happens to be the world’s greatest editor, and she’s remarkable in every way.