Category Archives: Books

Introducing “Betting the Kitchen Sink” (Trio 2, Story 5)

Have You Ever Thought Your Numbers Came Up, if Only for a Second?This story was inspired by various cases in the British media of people winning the lottery–and then being denied their claim. Some were legitimate, some less so.

Here the focus is on a couple who live in my home town of Warrington, mid-way between Manchester and Liverpool. He plays the lottery, she doesn’t. They hit the big time. What happens to their relationship?

Money taints, and big money taints big. The question is two-fold in the story. Do they get the money, and what does it do to them? It’s not all bad, though, since the struggle to successfully claim can bring people closer together…but for how long? Can they repair their differences, and redeem their relationship?

Betting the Kitchen Sink” is an amalgam of real-life news. The media loves lottery stories, of course, since they revolve around huge wins and huge losses, putting everything into question, including identity, social values, pride, guilt, friendship and love. Together they often lead to that most valued of human feelings: schadenfreude, the pleasure we get from other people’s misfortunes.

Here’s a taster of recent ones ripped from the headlines. These two stories from the UK: Man Denied Lottery Winning Because Winning Ticket Was Printed Just Seven Seconds Too Late and We Did Win 254m Lottery Jackpot, and this story from the US: Man Misses Out on 14m Jackpot.

Good luck if you win!

Introducing “A Slice of the Adirondacks” (Trio 2, Story 4)

Have You Ever Left Your Kids With Babysitters and Worried?This story was inspired by a family visit to upstate New York and the enormous Adirondack State Park. The statistics on the park size are astonishing: it covers more land area than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. I guess New York state is kinda big.

On such a vast backdrop, I wanted to write a small story. An old man, Walter, goes swimming every morning, but one day is disturbed by some kids. It turns out bad weather puts their lives at risk, and the old fella is there to act as their savior. But not before they are forced to spend a night on an island in the middle of the lake…not far from shore, but too far to risk using the boat to get back. Has he really saved them?

The effect is a kind of cross between Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons or C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and a story of brooding horror. If Jonathan Swift got hold of it, Walter as the traveling anti-hero would be the Brobdingnagian giant to the kids’ Lilliputians. You just can’t trust big people.

The story might be seen as sinister and creepy and I’m fine with that. 🙂 Ultimately, I wanted it to be a story about irresponsibility (the absentee parents and absentee babysitters) and accusation (of the old man). An old man left alone with some kids must be up to no good, and yet events might prove otherwise. To accompany the story, there is also Video 4, Have You Ever Left Your Kids With Babysitters and Worried?

A Slice of the Adirondacks” is Story 4 in my writing sequence, and will appear in Trio 2, A Slice of the Adirondacks and Other Capers.

 

 

“The Last Page of Friendship” – why is friendship a combat sport?

friend-best-friendEveryone knows the scenario. You make a new friend, or you have an old friend you want to hold onto, but how to keep in touch? What happens when someone drops the ball? Is it your turn to make contact, or theirs? Who’s the bad person?

Friendship is one of the greatest loves, Platonic. It’s free of the often volatility of romantic love, whose intensity that can breed suspicion. Friendship is known as a calmer, more rewarding, often more long-term affair. Your best friends can be with you for life, longer than many relationships, even longer than your family. The demands are few, the support long-term; plus you picked your friends, so presumably you enjoy their personality, their humor, their giving emotional support. They’re just fun to be around.

But throw in a little business, a little competitive spirit, and what have you got? Yup, a mixed metaphor, a ticking time bomb and recipe for absolute disaster. Such is it in the third story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

In “The Last Page of Friendship,” Judy and Soo are successful middle-aged women living the American Dream (big homes, families, money to spare). They live on the beautiful Bainbridge Island near Seattle. But they have reached a level where dissatisfaction creeps in, with only coffee mornings to complain how drab and predictable their lives have become. To gain attention, meaning, maybe a little fame, why not become writers?

Aside from the incredible difficulty of this pursuit, of making the world sit up and care, they don’t dwell too long on how it might affect their being pals. But it does…and badly. Check out my website to read the first page of “The Last Page of Friendship,” a horror story to put you off being a writer for life (and that’s a good thing).

Judy and Soo made the mistake of picking the same dream. That’s what makes friendship a combat sport — it works best when your circles intersect, but don’t completely overlap. Instead, their friendship turns inward, self-consuming, nasty. Toxic, as the Americans say. Who will get the upper hand? Write the best story? Resist not plagiarizing her friend’s story? Try and be the one to stay above ground a little longer? BFNs: best friends for never.

Who needs friends when you have best friends?

“(He) Said, (She) Said” – why is getting the last word so important?

he-said-she-saidWhat is it about getting the last word? Sometimes people don’t care if they are right or wrong, or how much they hurt each other or themselves. Ending a conversation, or hurtful action, on a dismissive note  is all they need. That’s why getting the last word is so important: it reinforces who you are, that you matter, and that your vision of the world is the true one. (To hell with someone else!)

Such is the case with the two characters, young professionals Danny and Meredith, in the second story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. As the title suggests, who do you believe? It’s a ‘he said, she said’ situation. But doesn’t the person with the last word often get to re-write what happened? Isn’t history written by the victors, and the quieter, smaller voice, gets erased?

Danny and Meredith, old school fiends who lost touch during ‘the university years,’ meet up for a drink in a London pub. They were never romantically linked, but outside of the friendship circles of their younger days, dressed formally and working, and with a little alcohol in their bellies, perhaps now is good as time as ever. But do sparks fly, or signals get misread? Are they being friendly, too friendly, or just plain abusive?

And who do you trust? Who encourages whom? Who gets seduced, and who goes along for the ride? Everything looks so much worse in the morning, when explanations are needed, and self-justifications. Social shame can be a powerful force, not to mention having to text with the same person the morning after about the night before. Who wants that?

To see how far Danny and Meredith go in the battle of the sexes (and of whose story is to be believed), my website has the first page of “(He) Said, (She) Said.”

More importantly, will they talk again after the fact?

“The Man in the Gray Tie” – what’s behind the tie?

auction-houseWhat is it about a man in a gray tie? The blandness, the dullness, the downright boring person behind the clothing item? Well, yes, but also the mystery, the possibility that they are not who they seem.

Such is it with the title story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. The man in question is Dr. Sidney Holton, a chiropractor with a peculiar hobby behind his demure dress sense…he likes to provoke people. But not directly. He likes to visit auction houses and push up the prices, for fun, to make people buy things at elevated prices. It gives him a devious thrill.

There are consequences, of course, and escalation. First he meets a mysterious woman, Valerie Eden. She chats to him at the drinks table during a break in the bidding. She’s seductive, middle-aged like him, and very soon she’s sitting near to him as the auction restarts. Except she’s a distraction. What will happen to his hobby? Will he buy her something he can’t afford? Will he get stung by the auction house? Will she seduce him? To check out how deep Sidney gets into hot water, the first page of “The Man in the Gray Tie” is available on my website.

I see Sidney as one of life’s daredevils who has no conception that there are professional fraudsters and conmen out there, hiding in plain sight. He thinks he can roll up to any business or individual and have his fun, a selfish thrill that actually causes a little harm: that’s how he gets his pleasure.

But when the tables are turned, it’s not quite so much fun, is it?

Check out what happens to Sidney when he gets ‘backroomed.’ The boss of an auction house can be worse than the boss of a casino!

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? What makes a good title?

rose-by-any-ther-nameWhat’s in a title is like asking what’s in a name? As the Bard famously told us, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” It would, Willy Shakespeare, but it wouldn’t sound the same.

Titles are a lot of fun to create, and play with, turn upside down and inside out, but sooner or later, you have to settle on one. This is a challenging process. Did you make the right choice? What about that other title you still like?

There are many famous examples of novels that seem unimaginable under alternative titles. Here’s a great list by Lynn Shepherd. Given all the focus on vampire fiction these days, it seems fitting that Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in its original contract, was referred to as The Un-Dead. One of the most infamous (and head-scratching) is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, such a simple and sleek title, was possibly going to be called Trimalchio in West Egg. Hardly rolls off the tongue.

Ultimately, that’s the point. Choosing a title is about simplicity over complexity, brevity over length. Clarity and concision, with a hint of rhyme, even better. Think of some of those other titles in Lynn’s list: War and Peace, The Good Soldier and Jude the Obscure. Confident, elegant, and memorable.

Isn’t that what you’d want from a title?

Press Release, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (publishing November 5, 2015)

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (cover)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Matt Fullerty’s ‘Trio 1’ of criminally-minded short stories is publishing on Bonfire Night!

ISBN 978-1-937056-55-1

THE MAN IN THE GRAY TIE AND OTHER CRIMES

BY MATT FULLERTY

The Brits and Americans are as crazy as each other!

In three stories about fraud, sexual indecency and, of all things, plagiarism, Matt Fullerty has crafted three modern tales of danger, duplicity and escalating violence.

Will Doctor Sidney Holton escape a criminal gang running a secluded auction house in the English countryside? Will young city professionals Danny and Meredith agree to disagree about what happened on a fateful London night after drinking too many in the pub? Will middle-aged Seattle best buds Judy and Soo help each other get into print with the Great American Short Story—or will they just rip their typing nails into each other’s throats?

You guessed it. Sometimes, in British lives too, there are no second acts.

Matt Fullerty’s story collection The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (144 pp, $5.95/£3.95/€4.95) is released on November 5, 2015 by Parkgate Press / Dionysus Books. It forms Trio 1 of his nine story collection, Rising Apes, Falling Angels.

Patrick Willers, University of Michigan and Maxwell School, Syracuse University, says:

“‘The Man in the Gray Tie’ captures the anxiety of losing everything for a thrill. The whole premise is discomforting: the doctor despises his wife and gets his sensual thrills from bidding-up at random auctions, but just can’t curb his cunning fun. Story two, ‘(He) Said, (She) Said,’ conveys the awkwardly optimistic anticipation between two friends who meet for a drink—that game of Red-Light/Green-Light, that discomfort of ‘not knowing’ and being trapped in the ‘friend-zone.’ Finally, in a nod to Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Rope, ‘The Last Page of Friendship’ explores betrayal between best ‘frenemies,’ wannabe writers who try to control each other’s story, with horrific consequences.”

Dr. Dean Lawson, East Carolina University and the University of Alabama, says:

“The title story is reminiscent of an O. Henry story with the unexpected twists, also of the Roger Moore Bond movie Octopussy where Bond bumped up the price of a bogus Fabergé egg. The second story is a human sexual roller-coaster exploring the paradoxes of missed social cues, the characters hitting all the wrong notes in a story of guilt and shame. The third is my favorite, setting up a poisonous literary rivalry between old West Coast friends, and should be read with the lights off.”

Matt Fullerty lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and expanding family. The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is Trio 1 of the criminally-minded short story collection Rising Apes, Falling Angels. Matt’s novels include The Knight of New Orleans about American chess prodigy Paul Morphy and The Murderess and the Hangman about hard-drinking Kate Webster who murdered her London landlady. His website is mattfullerty.com.

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is available to purchase at Buy Books.

ISBN 978-1-937056-55-1

To place orders for The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, contact:

Editor, Parkgate Press / Dionysus Books                                                               7796 Marshall Heights Court
Falls Church, Virginia 22043
Email: editor@parkgatepress.com                                                                                             Website: www.parkgatepress.com

To arrange a book signing or interview, contact  editor@parkgatepress.com.

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Publish with Kindle, NOOK and iBooks

Amazon KindleApple iBooksNOOK by Barnes and NobleIn addition to your traditional publisher, it’s important to get your book out there as widely as possible. Why not take advantage of all three major ebook formats? These companies are in competition, so will push your title harder for knowing customers can acquire the title elsewhere.

To get started, in no particular order:

  1. Visit Amazon’s Kindle at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
  2. To publish on Apple’s iBook, go to iBook Author.
  3. Barnes and Noble’s nook (or styled NOOK) can be found at NOOK Press.

Ironically, the largest company (Apple) has the least market share of books at this point, but for how long? Most likely this occurred because Apple’s main focus has been music through iTunes, while Amazon and Barnes and Noble got into the ebook market early.  Amazon’s Kindle, of course, remains the biggest player in devices.

Finally, each company uses slightly different formats for its ebook, but the process is much more streamlined today. Why consider your book done until the ‘big three’ ebooks are available?

Check ’em out!