Monday, March 21, 2011

Issue No. 4 postponed

Dear Matchbook Story Writers,

First off, apologies to the writers who have recently submitted and have not received a timely response from me. This email will explain.

Issue No. 4 has been postponed. When I first started Matchbook Story over a year ago, I aimed to publish four times a year. Between selecting a story, formatting the matchbook, and planning the release party, I quickly found the quarterly pace too demanding and reduced the publishing schedule to three times a year for 2011. Then I got pregnant, or, rather, my wife got pregnant, and, alas, the publishing schedule has changed once again.

I wanted to get Issue No. 4 out sometime this month, but it just ain't gonna happen, friends. Last Wednesday night, our birthing class teacher brought a 2 hour-fresh placenta to class for show-'n-tell. She said, "I especially want the partners to see this. It tends to be a real wake-up call for you guys." Well, she was right. There's nothing like a large, meaty organ to snap you into focus (!!!!). I'll be a father soon... I mean, already.

So, you see, between work, birthing classes, and impending parenthood, Matchbook Story is taking a brief hiatus. I AM STILL ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS, and will still do my best to respond to them in 2-3 weeks. I don't know when I'll get Issue No. 4 together. The baby is due mid-May. I'm told I won't sleep much after that. I'm thinking Fall 2011 for Issue No. 4. I hear laughter in the background. Why are you laughing?

Truth is, I still haven't found the story for Issue No. 4. yet. Some strong submissions have landed on my desk, but nothing has floored me, uncapped my head, or made me whisper, "Hot damn." I've hung my nose over a still-warm placenta, folks. There is no more goofing around.

Of course, I'll let you all know when Issue No. 4 is published, when and where the release party will be, and any other pertinent info. I'm sorry if this message has been too "pertinent" for your taste. I felt it important to provide an explanation, however personal and detailed, so you knew that Matchbook Story was still around. Again, keep submitting, give me only the best, and stay tuned for Issue No. 4.

Your committed editor,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pick of the Week - January 2011

A Waterfall

A waterfall, radiant, pulsing with light, heavenly. I want to step through the frame and dive in. "Bottoms up." My aged friend breaks the spell. "Next round's you." The smell - ashtrays, beer, urinal mints - brings me fully back. I see my own face, among bottles, in the mirror behind the bar.

--John Peck, Oakland, CA



There is something compelling about my beard. My fiancee scratches at it like the whiskers on a feline. “Why don’t we get a cat?” I say to her. “I’m allergic,” she says. Now I have a rash on my neck from her overstimulating of the follicles. “Let me see,” she says. “Are you allergic to something?”

--Justin J. Murphy, Topanga, CA



Three miles from her house is a dairy. In the morning the smell wakes her. After breakfast she is sick. By lunch, accustomed. By dinner, sore. After days, she goes to watch the cows, their bulging udders. How they produce again and again. How they keep going back for more. How she will not manage.

--Marcus Corder, Spokane, WA


Things His Wife Did Not Know

His grandchildren taught him to use a cell phone and internet. He wanted to hear her voice and arrange bingo dates at the senior center, where they had met. Email to write passionate letters during the afternoons that his wife napped. He was 84. He had given up on marriage, but not on love.

--Lindsey Morrone, San Jose, CA

Monday, January 31, 2011

Less is More

This blog is not a platform for my own writing. That said, and in the interest of championing the 300-character short story form, I'm proud to announce that I recently won a fiction-to-film contest with my matchbook story, One Way Out.

The contest was hosted by the Storymatic, a writing prompt/teaching tool/parlor game/toy that provides two sets of cards--one Characters, the other Situations--with which to generate stories. Submissions were judged by Chochkey Productions, an indie film company out of Bethlehem, PA, making movies, commercials and webcasts for the last handful of years. The rules were simple: use the Storymatic to write some sort of narrative (short story, script, novel excerpt, whatever), and the winning story will be made into a film. I submitted three matchbook stories. One Way Out won.

For the last year-plus, I've been using the Storymatic to write matchbook stories--lots of them!--to explore the limits, nay, the possibilities of 300-character narratives. On my own, I am grossly inept at generating new people and predicaments for each and every tale, but with the Storymatic, the characters and situations are endless. I always "play the hand I am dealt," blindly drawing two Character cards and two Situation cards to direct my story. Some stories come out flat, others cryptic or too reaching. But occasionally I hit pay dirt: the pieces click together, and, viola! a story. No matter the outcome, I love the challenge of "fitting" the Character/Situation cards into 300 little boxes (I use graph paper to compose my ditties). I now have nearly a 100 matchbook stories under my belt, one of which is presently being made into a movie (WTF?!).

When Eric Leadbetter, mastermind of Chochkey Productions, called to tell me that I'd won, I hooted 'n hollered and then asked, "Are you serious?" In a fiction-to-film contest, I didn't think my 300'ers stood a chance against a short story or a script or any other form that would likely provide more imagery than 300 characters could muster. I told him so, but Eric disagreed: "We think there's a real gem here. You've told a story while suggesting an entire world behind it. We like that. It gives us some license to fill in the blanks." Ah-ha, I thought. The super-short, very-suggestive story form worked to my advantage. Eric confirmed: "We got a lot of submissions: short stories, vignettes, full-length scripts, treatments, novel excerpts... We like yours because it tells a story, but it doesn't tell us how it should look. We think we'd have a lot of fun fleshing out the bones of this story." "Sounds good to me!" I said. What's more, with a $25o prize, I became the most highly paid writer ever at nearly $1 per character! Who says you can't make it at this game?

Here's my point: matchbook stories are stories: you can, and should, submit them anywhere. Of course, you should submit them first to Matchbook Story where they'll be understood and cherished more than anywhere else. There is room in the world for 300 characters. God knows more have been used for much less. For what it's worth, here's that story:

One Way Out

The hunter fell down the mine shaft. The miner found him. The hunter yelled up, "Help! I broke my leg!" The miner called down, "What's your name, boy?" It was his son's lover, JT. "Listen, JT. I have one condition. If you want out, you come out. What do you say?" The shot briefly lit the boy's face.