Some ‘Light’ Reading

Some light reading for the weekend.

Actually, it’s kinda heavy. More trigger warnings—violence, racism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, etc.—than a Tarantino film.

This short story, which was recently published by Winged Penny Review, is based on conversations I had with a friend who lived in the underground flood channels of Vegas and worked the streets for many years. She gave me permission to use the material in any way I saw fit. This is her story, though abbreviated and, at times, altered for artistic effect. The title is intentionally provocative and somewhat satirical.

I’ve been working on vignettes, flash fiction, and short stories set on the streets of Las Vegas, and this is the third piece to be published or accepted for publication. Thanks to Rodney Lee and Erica Vital-Lazare for their feedback on the story!

Give the gift of editing!

This holiday season, skip the long lines at the big, brick-and-mortar stores and support a small, independent business owned and operated by someone you’re familiar with! Give a unique gift! Give the gift of editing!

Someone on your gift list needs to update their résumé, has a website or bio that could use a boost, seeks guidance on an academic paper or a chapter or book, could benefit from one-on-one, online writing classes or coaching, etc. Get them an O’Brien Editing Services gift card!

For more information about OES, please visit For more info about the gift card, including pricing, please email me here (via the “Contact” form) or fill out the “Get Started” form on the OES website.

Happy holidays!

A good day in the tropics

I woke to a soft chorus of birds, reviewed a chapter for a writing student of mine, took a 15-minute nap after lunch, read two sections of what promises to be a fine work of literature (The Lost City of Z), it was partly cloudy and the high was 80 F (27 C), another one of my short stories was accepted for publication, I made a few shots and my team stayed on the court in the pickup basketball games, fresh ceviche for dinner, and I fell asleep next to a kind and beautiful woman who I care about deeply.

Yesterday was a good day in the tropics.

Be on the lookout for …

As some of you know, I’ve been working on vignettes, flash fiction, and short stories set on the streets of Las Vegas. I’ve finished ten of the pieces, and hope to write a handful more, and one of them has already been published: the short story “All Eyes on Me” in the April/May 2022 issue of London-based Lay It Out Magazine. And I just found out that the flash-fiction piece “Coming Clean” has been accepted for publication in The Perch, a creative-arts journal associated with the Yale School of Medicine.

A hearty “thank you!” to Brittany Bronson, Scott Dickensheets, and Mike Masefield for their informed feedback on “All Eyes on Me.” And to John L. Smith, Kelle Schillaci Clarke, and Steve Lang for their thoughts on “Coming Clean.”

“All Eyes on Me” was published behind a paywall, but I plan to post a link to the fall issue of The Perch when it goes live. The theme of the issue is substance use, and “Coming Clean” is about a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute who hits rock bottom at a seedy, downtown motel. Can you guess what motel that is?

My Best Rated Book

Beneath the Neon is my most popular book, I suppose. The book, which details my experiences exploring the underground flood channels of Las Vegas, has sold the most copies, received the most media attention, etc. When someone says, “I really liked your book,” I assume they’re referring to that one.

But my best rated book is my latest, Dark Days, Bright Nights. An uncensored oral account of surviving the Vegas storm drains, it has a 4.5 rating on Amazon, 4.02 on Goodreads, and 4.8 on Audible. (Thanks to those who have reviewed or rated it!)

If you have not read Dark Days, Bright Nights, please consider flipping through its photo-laden pages. Twenty-five percent of the money I make off the book is donated to Shine a Light, a nonprofit organization that assists the people who live in the tunnels. To date, the book has raised roughly $1,500 for the organization.

One-on-one, online writing class

As an extension of my editing service, which continues to evolve and grow, I occasionally offer one-on-one, online writing classes tailored to the student’s specific interest: business writing, academic writing, creative nonfiction, fiction, etc. I brainstorm a prompt, provide simple instructions and a deadline, and then edit the piece, giving big-picture and micro feedback. I’m also available to discuss the piece via an audio or video call.

If you want to improve your writing, and a simple and pressure-free class like this suits your schedule and learning style, please reach out to me. I’m comfortable working with all levels of writers, from beginners to professionals, and I would love to discuss the possibilities of designing a class specifically for you! #OBrienEditingServices

Thanks for the continued support!

Every three months, my dad emails me to let me know that a royalty check for a few hundred dollars has arrived in the mail. And every time I receive that email, I’m surprised.

Beneath the Neon, which finds me exploring the underground flood channels of Las Vegas with a flashlight, tape recorder, and expandable baton for protection, was published in 2007 by Huntington Press. My Week at the Blue Angel—a collection of creative-nonfiction stories set in the seedier side of Vegas—was published in 2010 (also by HP).

The fact that I’m receiving royalties for two books that were released by a niche publisher more than ten years ago is a bit of an anomaly in the publishing industry. Thanks to everyone who has recommended the books to a friend or family member, has rated or reviewed them online, has covered them for a media outlet, etc., and continues to do so!

A Strong Start

Happy Friday, everyone!

I recently finished copy-editing a photo-essay book and providing developmental (big-picture) feedback on a grad-school thesis. Next up in the queue is a personal statement for a grad-school application.

As some of you know, I am focusing on my editing service this year, and I had a busy February, and March is off to a strong start. Thanks for your support!

May Cause Side Effects

I was honored to serve as lead editor of Brooke Siem’s memoir May Cause Side Effects, which is now available as an audiobook. Brooke is a gifted writer and thinker and she documents her fifteen-year struggle with antidepressants with humor and raw honesty and in rich detail. She’s also, as you may know, a former Chopped champion.

If you’re writing a memoir and looking for a model, or simply looking for something to read in the new year, please consider May Cause Side Effects. You can view the book’s trailer below. I’ve also included a link to the publisher’s (Central Recovery Press) page for the book.

Tim O’Grady’s latest book

My friend Timothy O’Grady, who some of you may know from his writing and teaching stint at UNLV, has finished another book. Titled Monaghan: A Letter to My Wife, the novel is scheduled to be released by Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher. In short, people pre-order the book, and Unbound uses the money to produce it.

If you are not familiar with Tim and his work, I can vouch for them both. He is smart and thoughtful, a talented and dedicated writer, and a good guy. If you are interested in learning more about Monaghan and Unbound, please click on the link below.

PS- Tim celebrated a birthday recently, so buying the book would make a wonderful gift!