A New Opportunity

I have not taught a class on campus since March 2020. (I don’t think I need to remind you all what was going on in the world then.) That is set to change in roughly four weeks.

I recently agreed to teach two senior writing classes (one prep) at a private, bilingual school not far from where I live. I’m excited about the opportunity for a variety of reasons, but, in particular, it will be nice to feel a little more involved in the Salvadoran community. (Working from home and not being fluent in Spanish, I often feel removed from it.) The part-time job, of course, also complements my writing and editing work.

I learned a lot teaching at UNLV and, especially, Escuela Americana, and I am looking forward to putting that experience to use.

‘Bakersfield Breeds Outlaws’

“Few writers have captured the feeling of the rising tide of years sweeping over a character as evocatively as this.”

Kind words from New Critique editor James Mcloughlin about my short story “Bakersfield Breeds Outlaws,” which is now live on the NC website. The story is about a man who learns that his estranged mother is dying of cancer while he is living in the underground flood channels of Las Vegas. Deciding to take the Greyhound bus back to his hometown of Bakersfield, California, he is forced to confront his colorful and sordid past. But, in essence, the story is a character study of one of the more interesting people I met in the drains.


Two Testimonials

My editing service, OES, continues to grow and evolve—and to receive positive feedback from clients. Here are two of my favorite testimonials from the past few months:

“I reached out to OES for help with my résumé and cover letter, since my goal was always to move to New York and grow my career there. New York is a very competitive city, and I’d not had luck applying for jobs there and I knew I was doing something wrong. Matt helped me simplify and streamline my résumé and cover letter and make the language stronger and more grammatically correct. (English is my second language.) He also emphasized strong points that I was not highlighting properly. Magically, with the new résumé and cover letter, I got the job in New York!”—Eliana M., architect and designer

“I think of Matt as a guide who has navigated diverse terrain: crossed its ridges, hiked its peaks, and breathed in its meadows. He recognizes the challenges writers face and the tools they’ll need as they embark on their creative journey. He not only carved a path for me as I stumbled through the wilderness, but carried my water through the toughest stretches. My boots are muddied, my shirt is sweaty, and my walking stick is scarred, but I owe the confidence I’ve gained as an author to Matt’s pathfinding. His compass is true north in the realm of writing.”—Juergen B., author and adventurer

To read more testimonials, please visit https://www.obrieneditingservices.com/testimonials.html.

If you have a book, bio, résumé, website, etc., that you need feedback on, or you’re interested in one-on-one online writing classes, contact me at https://www.obrieneditingservices.com/get-started.php.

Thanks again for your support!

‘The House of Cards Began to Quiver’

Yesterday afternoon, I finished the first draft of another story set on the streets of Las Vegas. Tentatively titled “The House of Cards Began to Quiver,” this is one of the longer and, I think, and potentially stronger stories in the collection. (I now have eleven vignettes, flash-fiction pieces, and short stories total.)

My fiancée and I celebrated last night by taking a walk in the neighborhood, resting at a juice stand, and sharing a sushi dinner. Instant review of Sushi King in Antiguo Cuscatlán: slow service, but solid sushi.

The Perch

A lot of you share my interest in homelessness, addiction, and recovery, so I thought you may be interested in the latest issue of The Perch, the Yale School of Medicine-affiliated arts journal with a focus on mental health. Titled Substance, the issue (volume 7) features poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, scholarly works, and art that present diverse perspectives on substance use and the recovery process.

I’m proud to have contributed a vignette to this smart and handsome collection. “Coming Clean” is about a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute who hits rock bottom at a seedy, downtown Las Vegas motel; it can be found on page 82 in the “During” section. (The issue is divided into the three main parts of the addiction process: Before, During, and After.)

If you have time today or this weekend, download the Substance PDF and take it for a spin. There is something in it for everyone with an interest in the topic.


Strong first quarter

O’Brien Editing Services had a strong first quarter of the year. Turns out that people of all ages do want fast, informed, affordable feedback and guidance from a living, breathing human being.

Thanks again for trusting me with your work and for the referrals, testimonials, likes, comments, etc.! Saludos desde San Salvador! (Regards from San Salvador!)

‘Cleopatra Wash’

This short story, “Cleopatra Wash,” is about a down-on-his-luck man who gets lost while hiking outside of Las Vegas. He encounters a drunk, homeless mountain man, who helps him find his way back to the main road and, to a certain extent, his way in life.

I leaned on my UNLV connects for feedback on this story: James Joseph Brown (MFA creative writing), Raluca Comanelea (MA literary studies), and Richard Wiley (author and professor emeritus). Special thanks to James for repeated reads and feedback! And shout-out to Devoid Magazine Editor-in-Chief Victoria Koelkebeck for accepting the story and presenting it professionally.

This one is personal, y’all. It’s based on an ill-fated hike I did many years ago, when I was feeling a certain way about a certain relationship. When time permits, I hope you’ll take it for a spin.


‘Coming To’

Another one of my Vegas stories has been published. “Coming To” is about a down-on-his-luck, longtime Las Vegas resident who finds some salvation at a strip-mall church.

Thanks to Krista Diamond and Brian Rouff for their feedback on the story, and to Argyle Founder and Editor-in-Chief David Estringel for accepting it!


The Lost Xplorers podcast

I have long admired Kris Saknussemm’s bibliography, heavily stamped passport, and bold cultural commentary (though I’m sure we do not agree on everything), so I was honored to be a guest on the podcast he co-hosts with J. David Osborne. The three of us chatted for a little more than an hour, touching on topics ranging from the expat life to finding love through a language barrier to my earliest memory.

Check it out, if you have time. Here is a rough guide of some of the topics and their time marks: expat life (5:30-17:30); finding love through a language barrier (17:30-25:40); homelessness in the US and the underground flood channels of Las Vegas (25:40-32); contrasting Las Vegas and San Salvador (32-37); earliest memories (44:10-50:30); and a lightning round (1:01-1:10).

And please subscribe to their podcast, Lost Xplorers, if it catches your interest.


Going back to Carrollton?

Since leaving my last class at West Georgia College in the spring of 1995, I have not set foot on campus or anywhere near the city of Carrollton. (I did not attend graduation.) It looks like that will be changing soon.

I have tentatively agreed to give a talk or presentation and a book-signing at my alma mater, now the University of West Georgia, early next year. It will, most likely, be a “From Carrollton to Central America”-type look at my writing career, of course hitting heavily on the Vegas years. (My interest in research and writing can be traced to West Georgia’s feisty, little history department.)

I will, of course, keep you all updated on the event as details become available. I’m already looking forward to it!

PS- The attached article, published in 2020 on the UWG website, hits on some of the key points that may come up in the conversation.