“For the Honesty” at The Flash Fiction Offensive

TFFO LogoI’m thrilled to have a second story up at Out of the Gutter Online’s The Flash Fiction Offensive today.

“For the Honesty” is about the loving relationship between Bruce Burton and his wife Amber, how Bruce gives Amber a gold bracelet with a diamond charm, and so on. (That all happens in just the first sentence.)

With setup like that, “For the Honesty” must have a happy ending, right? Whether it does or not, I’d love to hear what you think. TFFO makes it easy to leave comments on the story.

Fall On Your WorldMy first story at TFFO was “Sole Operator,” which stole its title from a song by the band Poole. “For the Honesty” takes its title from a song by The Throes (both bands feature several of the same members), from the album Fall On Your World.

The editors at TFFO are Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts, who also happen to be great writers (notwithstanding their shared poor taste in football teams). I highly recommend Joe’s collection of short stories, Choice Cuts, and Tom’s novel, Piggyback. Check out their websites for more info.

Great Short Stories from 2012

Most recent update: 28 February 2013 at ~8:00 a.m.

I read a lot of great short stories in 2012, but was not nearly as good at keeping track of the best as some other people were. Thankfully, a few of those other people have posted “best of” lists — allowing me to rediscover some of my favorites, and discover many new ones as well.

Here are links to the lists of “best crime fiction short stories in 2012” that I’ve found; as I come across more, I’ll add them here. (If you know of any I missed, please leave a comment below or email me: erikarneson4 {at} gmail {dot} com.)

I’m a bit of a stats geek, so I couldn’t help but do a calculation… The lists above include a total of 106 stories. Of those…

Forty-one other outlets had one story each, and one story was unpublished.

“Blow Out the Candles” at Shotgun Honey

Shotgun Honey LogoThe good people at Shotgun Honey posted my story “Blow Out the Candles” yesterday. It’s about a detective investigating the death of a 17-year-old girl.

Shotgun Honey editor Ron Earl Phillips described the very short story on Twitter as “a literary amuse-bouche.” (I had to ask Beth what an amuse-bouche is, but now that I know I love the description.)

A few notes for those who may be interested: “Blow Out the Candles” is set in my home county, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Detective Peter Eckert, the only character who speaks in the story, first appeared in “The Murder of Ernest Trapnell,” which was published in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine in 1998. And the song “Blow Out the Candle” appeared on The Throes’ 1993 album Fall On Your World.

I hope you enjoy “Blow Out the Candles”!

Off the Record 2 for Just $0.99

Off the Record 2 Now AvailableThe crime fiction anthology Off the Record 2: At the Movies is now available for just $0.99 on your Kindle at Amazon.com and just £0.99 at Amazon.co.uk. (I don’t know my currency conversion data well enough to know if that’s a better deal for Americans or Brits, but it’s a great deal either way.)

OTR2 is packed with 47 short stories, all based on classic film titles — and yes, “Weekend at Bernie’s” counts as a classic. I’ve written more about OTR2, including a bit on my contribution, “American Beauty,” here and here.

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to two children’s literacy charities, the Children’s Literacy Initiative in the U.S. and the National Literacy Trust in the U.K.

Off the Record 2, NEEDLE & a Big Snubnose Sale

Off the Record 2 Now AvailableThe charity anthology Off the Record 2: At the Movies, which includes my story “American Beauty,” has earned some (very deserved) good press.

Crime Fiction Lover calls it “almost 400 pages of top-notch writing” and includes the very first bit of a review ever directed toward my fiction (very kindly putting me between two far more accomplished writers):

“Noir comes courtesy of a raft of amazing American writers. Eric Beetner’s version of The Graduate sees a young man taking an alternate route to maturity and finding the path very painful, and in Erik Arneson’s American Beauty a washed up ex-wrestler is violently brought to book for past misdeeds. Special mention to Jaws by Chris Rhatigan for taking us somewhere not often explored; inside the mind of corporate psychopath, which a seriously unpleasant place to be.”

Over at Z-7’s Headquarters, they gush in a similar vein: “It would take me more space than I can devote to praise all of these tales.”

You can get Off the Record 2: At the Movies at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords (where a reviewer called it “a fantastic read and a terrific cause”), or Lulu.com.

Related, sort of: Luca Veste, editor of OTR2, has been posting a quite enjoyable series of “top 5 books of 2012” lists at his blog. So far, lists have come in from AJ Hayes, Patti Abbott, Thomas Pluck, James Everington, Maxim Jakubowski and Paul D. Brazill.

Needle: A Magazine of NoirIn other news, I sold a copy of NEEDLE: A Magazine of Noir to a co-worker yesterday. Later, he emailed to say that he enjoyed my story (“Mess With Me”), and although he was “not a huge fan of the ending,” “the rest of the story was brilliance. The pithy, almost rhythmic style and humorous interjections between the quotes were really well done.”

I’m considering hiring him as a publicist, if we can come to agreement on the brilliance of the ending.

Finally, I spent part of yesterday evening browsing this list of Snubnose Press ebooks which are on sale for $0.99 and buying a few books from it. There’s a lot of great stuff on that list, but I strongly recommend the short story collections by Eric Beetner (Bouquet of Bullets) and Dan O’Shea (Old School), along with the novels by Andrew Nette (Ghost Money) and Chad Rohrbacher (Karma Backlash).

“Sole Operator” at The Flash Fiction Offensive

The Flash Fiction OffensiveSeveral months ago, my friend Harry Evans (drummer for The Throes and lead singer of Poole) challenged me to “write a story called ‘Sole Operator.’ 1, 2, 3… Go!”

So I did.

And much to my delight, the good people at Out of the Gutter Online’s Flash Fiction Offensive decided to publish the result, my first story to appear there. (The email I received saying they accepted the story said, “You are a twisted muther.” I hope “Sole Operator” lives up to that high praise…)

SPOILER-TYPE DETAILS BELOW. Read the story here before continuing.

Among Whom We ShineSince “Sole Operator” is about a rock band and is set in 1996, I thought it would be fun to include a few references to bands and artists who were popular around that time. So tucked into the story are nods (some larger than others) to Sade, Robert Palmer, the Cranberries, and Vanilla Ice. (I’m inordinately proud of the Vanilla Ice reference.)

The story’s title, “Sole Operator,” comes from a song on Poole’s album Among Whom We Shine. I borrowed a few lyrics from that song as well.

NoteboredThe “influential indie rock mag” Notebored is also appropriated from real-life: I worked at a magazine called Notebored in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Editor Brent Hershey, publisher George Metzler, art director Ned Bustard and I (thinking back, I’m not sure I ever had a real title) had a lot of great times putting that mag together in our office on the top floor of a barn in Atglen, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a video from Poole, “Supermerica,” from the album Alaska Days: http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/7946342 (That’s Harry on lead vocals.)

“Mess With Me” in NEEDLE

NEEDLE: A Magazine of NoirIf you’re a fan of crime fiction short stories, every issue of NEEDLE: A Magazine of Noir is an absolute must-buy. My only complaint is that it doesn’t come out often enough.

Naturally, seeing my story “Mess With Me” in the latest issue of NEEDLE has me on cloud nine. “Mess With Me” is about what happens when a Congressman visits a legislative staffer who’s responsible for drawing redistricting maps.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I’ve consulted with outside counsel, and it has been (rather strongly) recommended that I emphasize this point — Like the main character in “Mess With Me,” I’m a legislative staffer, I work for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, I drew redistricting maps, and I was visited by members of Congress. However, “Mess With Me” is in no way autobiographical. Not even a little bit. Nope.

Of course, maybe you’ll disagree. Maybe you’ll think “Mess With Me” reveals my innermost thoughts. That’s your right. Buy the Fall-Winter 2012 issue of NEEDLE today (it’s a huge double issue for just $10.75) and make up your own mind.

Even if you dislike my story, I bet you’ll like the stories from the many terrific hardboiled writers whose work is featured: Matthew C. Funk, Rob W. Hart, John Kenyon, Ed Kurtz, Kenneth Loosli, Court Merrigan, Dan O’Shea, Thomas Pluck, Chris Rhatigan, and many others.

12 Before 9Worst-case scenario, you can get that sweet cover framed and hang it on your wall.

On another note, like some of my other stories (e.g., “12 Before 9” and “Fortune”), “Mess With Me” steals its title from a song by one of my favorite bands, The Throes (from the album 12 Before 9).

One my goals in life is to twist so many of The Throes’ song titles into crime fiction stories that lead singer Bill Campbell regrets this tweet:

Wait. What? Surely that Email Isn’t for Me.

Yesterday, I checked my email and saw one from Otto Penzler, the owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and book publisher The Mysterious Press, and the editor of many tremendous anthologies, including the series of The Best American Mystery Stories. The email’s subject line was “Kwik Krimes.” My first thought: Excellent, a new anthology I’ll be able to read!

When I opened the email and saw what it actually said, I was ecstatic — truly, “ecstatic” doesn’t begin to describe the feeling — to see that Mr. Penzler wanted to include one of my stories in his upcoming Kwik Krimes anthology. (I read the email several times before I decided that I wasn’t confused. Then I called Beth to the computer to confirm that I wasn’t confused.)

A large part of me remains convinced that I must have received his email in error. But I replied with “yes” and he replied to that with an email that included the words “your story will be in the collection.” And today I’m sending in a contract. So I think it’s too late for the mistake to be corrected.

Thus, my story “Fortune”, which would never have been written if it weren’t for the many hours I spent working as a short-order cook at The Corn Crib in Christiana, Pennsylvania, and the Gap Diner in Gap, Pennsylvania, will appear in Kwik Krimes.

All of the stories in Kwik Krimes will be less than 1,000 words long, and based on Mr. Penzler’s Facebook post about the collection, it should be out in Spring 2013. I’ll definitely let you know.

Tweeting Under the Influence on Shotgun Honey

Shotgun Honey LogoI’m thrilled to have a new story on Shotgun Honey today, “Twitter and Coke”.

Featuring Congressman Douglas Carr, his chief of staff Cooper Walden, their communications consultants XDR Public Relations, freelance reporter Melissa Kasten, and someone known only as Monster Dude, perhaps “Twitter and Coke” can serve as a sort of public service announcement about the dangers of a growing problem: TUI (Tweeting Under the Influence).

For some reason, I feel compelled to note here that all characters appearing in “Twitter and Coke” are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

I hope you enjoy the story!