Looking Back at 2015

2015 was a quiet year for me, fiction-wise.

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.

Word Crimes Podcast Logo2015 was much busier over on the TITLE 18: WORD CRIMES podcast.

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:

Naval Ensign of the USSRIn other audio story news, I voiced one myself: “Death Train to Hell.”

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:

BlackHood4ArticleIn 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!)

I read my fiction four times in 2015.

NoirAtTheBarHarrisburgOn April 13, I hosted the first-ever Noir at the Bar to take place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We had an incredible lineup and a lot of fun!

On May 24, the scene was Tumulty’s Pub in New Brunsiwick, New Jersey, at a N@B event hosted by the terrific Jen Conley.

On August 29, Jen hosted again at Tumulty’s. She knows how to put together a good show.

Finally, N@B made its way back to its hometown, Philadelphia, on October 29. At this one, I think I managed to make some of the audience pretty nervous for the first few minutes. One of my proudest moments as a reader!

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.

Fortune - CoverUnder the category of old news, FORTUNE, the comic book that Dillon Samuelson and I collaborated on in 2014, received some very nice reviews in 2015. If you don’t have a copy, it’s still available. (You can even get a free PDF copy via NoiseTrade.)

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.

Jeanne Scoggins Arneson

Lambeau FieldJeanne (nee Scoggins) Arneson, 77, died on July 12, 2015, less than three months after the passing of her devoted husband of 46 years, James Craig Arneson. Jeanne had suffered a relatively mild stroke on April 22, but there’s no doubt the cause of death was a broken heart.

Jeanne was a force to be reckoned with. No one who met her will ever forget her. She was fiercely loyal to her husband, children, and grandchildren, to whom she exhibited a deep and inexhaustible love.

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, on September 17, 1937, Jeanne grew up in the small town of Barnardsville. As a young girl, she loved to sit on the porch swing and play with her dolls. She attended Barnardsville Baptist Church and played sports in school. She was especially fond of basketball. After her family moved to Greensboro, Jeanne graduated from Greensboro Senior High School. She graduated from Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina.

She worked for Pilot Life Insurance Company, Duke University Hospital, and Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem (now Wake Forest Baptist Health). After meeting Jim and moving to Pennsylvania, she worked for St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church in Devon, Levin Luminais Eye Associates in Thorndale, and Harrison House in Christiana. Eventually, she returned to school to earn a nursing degree and held several nursing jobs through the years.

Like her father, Hubert, Jeanne was a voracious reader and always one of the local library’s best customers. She also loved crossword puzzles. She was an enthusiastic sports fan, particularly of ACC college basketball. She adopted Jim’s love of the Green Bay Packers and especially favored Clay Matthews. She was also a part-owner of the team.

Jeanne is survived by three daughters, Robin Gattis, Sherri Arneson, and Lisa Williamson; a son, Erik Arneson; five grandchildren, Linsey Wheeler, Craig Gattis, Payton Willamson, Keltie Williamson, and Kayden Williamson; and a brother, Jack Scoggins. They all miss her desperately but look forward to being reunited with her in heaven.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to your local SPCA (Jim and Jeanne rescued many dogs through the years), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Leukemia Foundation, or the charity of your choice.

Mom was awesome.

James Craig Arneson

James Craig Arneson and Erik Arneson at Lambeau FieldJames Craig Arneson, 80, was called to Valhalla on April 24, 2015, far too early.

Jim, as he was known by his many friends, had a great sense of humor, an infectious smile, and an infinite love for his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. He was the best husband, the best father, and the best grandfather anyone could hope for.

Like his father Einar, who immigrated to the United States from Norway, and his grandfather Martinus, Jim loved and worked for the railroad. As a young man, he helped lay track for the Soo Line. Later, after serving in the Army and successful stints with companies such as Yardley of London, Kellogg’s, Chun King (a division of R.J. Reynolds), and Blue Bell / Wrangler, he worked as an accountant for Amtrak for many years, spending most of his time in the offices at Philadelphia’s beautiful 30th Street Station.

Born in Superior, Wisconsin, on August 18, 1934, Jim graduated from Superior Central High School and the University of Wisconsin. He was a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and a part-owner of the team. He loved to read, especially detective novels and thrillers, and was always the best person to go to when you needed a crossword puzzle answer.

Jim is survived by his devoted wife of 46 years, Jeanne (nee Scoggins); three daughters, Robin Gattis, Sherri Arneson, and Lisa Williamson; a son, Erik Arneson; and five grandchildren, Linsey Wheeler, Craig Gattis, Payton Willamson, Keltie Williamson, and Kayden Williamson. They all miss him desperately but look forward to being reunited with him in heaven.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to your local SPCA (Jim and Jeanne rescued many dogs through the years), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the Leukemia Foundation, or the charity of your choice.

Dad was awesome.