A Call for Stories

I’m a contributing editor at The News Station (https://thenewsstation.com/), a national alt-weekly, and we are looking for flash fiction (under 1,500 words) and short stories (1,500 to 10,000 words) for our Lit arts journal. The stories must be unpublished and, ideally, would be edgy or quirky and national or international in scope (i.e., not overly local). They should have an alternative (unconventional) perspective. Pay is, generally, $50 for flash and $150 for short stories.

If you have a quality story that fits these specifications, please send it to me through my website’s contact page or email it to matthew@thenewsstation.com. I look forward to reading your work!

Editing Service Update

It was a busy week for O’Brien Editing Services—the busiest to date. I copy-edited and fact-checked a book review and news feature for a national U.S. publication. I edited four blogs for an international sales-management company. I punched up and fleshed out a long bio for a teacher friend who will begin a job search in the next few months.

I needed a break. A trip to El Balsamar beach in El Salvador with my girlfriend and two other friends provided it.

But I’ll be back at my desk early Monday morning, refreshed and ready to go. Do you have a website that is not generating the response you had hoped? A résumé that needs to be edited, updated, and reorganized? Trying to revive a short story or book?

Surf the OES site (www.obrieneditingservices.com). If you’d like a price quote, submit the Get Started form or email me via the contact form on this site.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported this venture in some form or fashion!

O’Brien Editing Services

I’ve started my own business!

OES is a boutique, English-language editing service. We specialize in fast, professional editing at an affordable price and offer a personal experience in an industry that has become faceless and automated. We’re diverse rather than niche. We edit résumés, cover letters, bios, academic papers, admissions essays, books, short stories, websites, social-media posts, and more.

Please surf the website (link below). If you’d like a price quote, submit the Get Started form or email me via the contact form on this site.

And, as always, thanks for your support!


RIP Bill Hughes

At a glance, it’s easy to dismiss Bill Hughes’ photography as mere journalism. But the longer you look at Bill’s images, the more artistic they become. The composition is unique, the lighting exquisite and there are always small details hidden in plain sight: a bird perched on a ledge, surreal cloud patterns, reflections in the window, etc. His photos remind me of Hemingway’s writing in that a lot’s going on beneath the surface.

If you were photographed by Bill or saw him at work, you’d start to understand how he created these simple, complex images. He was meticulous … in the most polite way possible. He was constantly tweaking the angle and lighting and perspective, snapping hundreds of shots over several minutes or hours, while engaging in a friendly (and, at times, profound) back-and-forth.

I could whine about the fact that Bill and I are not going to be able to have one last powwow on the patio of Sunrise Coffee, the planes buzzing us, the old newsroom just up the street. It’d be nice to reminisce about CityLife and get his perspective on the politics of the day. But instead, I’m going to focus on the time we did spend together—in the underground flood channels, at the Blue Angel Motel, the Diplomat apartments, the central sewage plant and many other unlikely locales—and on the vast, diverse and important portfolio he left behind.

Rest easy mi amigo! Y gracias por todo!

Mark and Erica, from My Week at the Blue Angel. Credit: Bill Hughes

And the Winner Is …

It has been four years since I announced that I was leaving Las Vegas and moving to San Salvador. Here are a few thoughts, in award-ceremony format, to update you on my experience:

Biggest Surprise- The warm and welcoming nature of the people of El Salvador

Best Trip- Oaxaca City, Mexico (other nominees in this competitive category include Antigua, Guatemala, and the Lake Atitlán area of Guatemala)

Significant Music Discovery- Maná

MVP- Arely Gramajo (runner-up: Hudak Hendrix)

What I Miss Most about Vegas- the desert Southwest (the Red Rock Canyon area, Valley of Fire, Zion, etc.)

Biggest Disappointment- I’m still not conversational in Spanish

What I Wish I Would’ve Known- How demanding and consuming it can be to teach at an international school (and, perhaps, any high school)

Teaching Highlight- An open mike-style poetry event that was hosted by one of my students, during which every member of the class got on stage and read an original poem. I read, too, as did my colleague Dr. Bud Navero. The poems were outstanding and presented with poise. All while being observed by the chair of the English department.

Biggest Bummer- Not being able to talk to my parents occasionally (I don’t have a U.S. cell number and they don’t use Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.)

Biggest Regret- There were no qualified nominees in this category

Lesson Learned- If you’re not content or if things feel stagnant, it’s never too late to make a significant change

Channel 3 Story

When I visited Las Vegas in early December, Shine a Light’s Paul Vautrinot and I gave veteran Channel 3 reporter Denise Rosch a tour of the underground flood channels. Her story, which focuses on the drains and people who made it out of them, as detailed in my book Dark Days, Bright Nights, aired last night at 11. Along with Paul (a.k.a. “Shaggy”), two other people from the book—Beth “Half Pint” Brower and Susan “One Shoe Sue” Otis—are featured in the story.


Thirty Years Ago

As some of you may recall, much of my youth was misspent on the outdoor basketball courts of Decatur and Atlanta, Georgia. I also played ball for Decatur High, Georgia State University and the University of West Georgia.

My sophomore year at State, we won our conference tournament and got an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney. That, remarkably, was 30 years ago.

To mark the anniversary, Dave Cohen, “The Voice of the Panthers,” is interviewing players and coaches from that team (and from the 2001 tourney team). I recently spoke to Dave about DHS hoops, my career at State, the ’91 team, my time in Las Vegas and my latest book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains.

PS- my audio is a little low and muffled; I did the interview from San Salvador via Zoom

PPS- with shout-outs to Melvin Howard, Darryl Gresham, Phillip Luckydo, Mark Thompson, Travis Williams and many others


Question of the Day

The Las Vegas Advisor’s Question of the Day is: “I see that Matt O’Brien has another book out about the storm tunnels of Las Vegas, but it was published by a different company. Why didn’t Huntington Press publish the sequel to Beneath the Neon?”

If you’re interested in the answer, from Huntington Press’ perspective (which I feel is fair and accurate), click on the link below.

PS- The Advisor and Huntington Press are part of the same company.