Posted tagged ‘one-match fire’

One-Match Fire publication day!

October 18, 2022

Today is official publication day for One-Match Fire! It is being published by Blue Cedar Press.

Long-time readers of this humble blog will remember that this novel had it’s beginnings as a single short story. I had no idea at the time, ten years ago, that my one-off story would blossom into a novel.

I found that I liked the characters in that story (which is now the prologue of the novel) and decided to visit with them again. That resulted in several new stories, which spawned more, and after a while I wondered if I had enuf mass for what I thought might be a story cycle. A writer friend insisted it was not a cycle but a novel and that I should approach it as such.

I’m glad he said that. As the novel came together, I referred to it as my Fathers and Sons stories, but a poet friend suggested I call it One-Match Fire (noting that it did need the hyphen) since building one-match fires is part of the lore the fathers pass down to their sons in the stories. (Skinny dipping is another bit of family experience in the novel, but I’m not sure it would have been the right title.)

The novel is narrated in the third person, but between each chapter I let most of the characters speak in the first person for a page. It’s sort of their way to take back their stories from the narrator.

I hope you like it.

on being an author (rather than a writer)

October 3, 2022

I heard a writer (on a podcast, of course) make a clear distinction between being a writer and being an author. A writer is anyone who writes. So while I was drafting One-Match Fire (and my other stories, and even back to the ancient days when I was writing feature articles), I was a writer. But now that OMF is published (in two weeks, but still), I have become an author.

Being an author is being in the business end of this calling. It’s the promotion and hustle and glad-handing and seeking interviews and giving interviews and meeting people and doing readings and all manner of things that are anathema to an introvert who would rather be sitting at his laptop in his quiet room.

Among the things I’ve found I must now do is have a dedicated webpage. A mere blog is no longer a sufficient presence in the digital world once you’re an author. And so now I have a webpage. You can have a look at it right here. This is a work in progress, and I and my crack technical team will refine and hone it to a glittering sharpness in the weeks and months to come. But the webpage does link back here, and If I can get my creaky wheels turning, I’ll figure out a way to make the blog link to it too.

You’ll see that the URL is paullambwriter. I realize the “writer” part might seem pretentious. But it turns out that another Paul Lamb in the universe took the simple paullamb before I could. A British blues harmonica player has that URL.

I’m also finding that there are other Paul Lamb writers (and presumably authors) out there. I am currently linked to eleven books on my Goodreads page though only two truly belong to me. (I’m working on getting that fixed.)

And there’s even another One Match Fire novel out there, though the title lacks the hyphen mine has. (And I guess this is a good time to point out that Moby-Dick is the name of the novel but Moby Dick is the name of the whale.)


One-Match Fire (with the hyphen) is currently available for pre-order, notably at Barnes & Noble, though any bookstore can order it for you as well. The official launch date is October 18, 2022.

big news on the little blog ~ One-Match Fire

September 29, 2022

I’ve mentioned here a few times that 2022 has been a good year for my writing life. To date, I’ve had six short stories accepted in lit mags (but reduce that to five since one of the magazines failed to come to life and my story was returned — still, five in one year is my high).

But I’ve been sitting on a secret that is even bigger news.

Last June I learned that my novel, One-Match Fire, was accepted for publication by Blue Cedar Press, and it’s due to come out next month as a paperback and a little later as an ebook!

Long-time readers will remember that I have been writing the individual stories — I originally called them my Fathers and Sons stories and then later said they were part of my One-Match Fire universe — for ten years. I wrote the original story, “where late the sweet birds sang,” in 2012. It was about a little cabin in the woods and a son’s struggle with whether to keep it or sell it to pay medical bills affecting his family. I had intended the story to be a one-off, and I vaguely intended it to be a guide for what my own children might do with my little cabin in the woods when the time came. That story eventually became the prologue for One-Match Fire the novel.

I found, after completing that story, that I wanted to stay with the characters I had created and tell more stories about them. They came easily: I knew the characters well, and I certainly knew the setting well (the picture on the cover of the novel may or may not be of my own little cabin taken nine years ago). And so I wrote another story about them. And then another. And another. At first I was just writing the stories that came to me, based on likely situations the characters would face in their lives. But at some point I realized that there was a whole greater than the sum of its parts in what I was doing. I thought maybe I had the beginnings of a story cycle, but a friend told me that no, I was writing a novel. And so I was.

One-Match Fire came into its final form sometime in 2019, and I began shopping it around to likely agents and then more likely publishers, but I wasn’t getting any bites. Still, ten of the 24 chapters had been published in lit mags, and I was proud of that achievement. Maybe that was enuf. In fact, I was considering serializing One-Match Fire on Substack. It was in December of 2021, when I was researching likely publishers for Obelus (still circulating) that I came upon a listing for Blue Cedar Press in Wichita, Kansas that published “excellent and courageous literature.” That sounded like a good fit for One-Match Fire, so I sent in the manuscript.

And then I heard nothing for five months, which isn’t out of the ordinary for such a submission. It was in May of this year that I got an email from an editor at Blue Cedar Press asking me if the novel was still available. I wrote back instantly saying that it was, and the editor responded that in that case, she would continue reading the manuscript but that she liked what she’d read so far.

In June I was invited to join a Zoom call — and given about a half hour’s notice — where I and four members of the board at the press chatted and rambled for about an hour, never quite coming to the big point. They finally asked me if I had any questions and so I asked. Yes, they answered, they did want to published One-Match Fire! Was it still available?

The weeks and months since then have been a whirlwind. I have read the manuscript a half dozen times, going through the line edits and sending proposed changes and responses back and forth. I worked up proposed covers (or rather, my talented daughter did) and we settled on the one above. I solicited blurbs. I began what appears to be an unending job of trying to get profile and publicity for the forthcoming novel (getting on podcasts, finding book review blogs that might be interested, finding the few remaining newspapers that still do book reviews, finding the scant radio programs that might discuss books, learning how libraries select books for their circulating collections, finding bookstores that might be interested in a reading, even getting my alumni record updated to show the publication). It’s a full-time job!

One-Match Fire has an official publication date of October 18, 2022, though it will likely be available before then. It is already available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble and IndieBound (and even one Australian book ordering site). I hope to see it soon on Bookshop, and it will also be on Blue Cedar Press’s catalog page. (It won’t be on Amazon, at least for the present, but that’s another story.) And it’s up on Goodreads (though navigating that space as the author is challenging).

I will undoubtedly deluge you with news and updates about the life of One-Match Fire in the weeks and months ahead. It’s kind of a big deal to me.


Your careful eye likely noticed that the title of my novel has a hyphen in it: One-Match Fire. There is a hyphen-less novel One Match Fire by Lissa Linden that works a different angle on that title. And it seems that there are several authors with the name Paul Lamb.

“Memento Mori” is now up at Cape Magazine

August 31, 2022

My story “Memento Mori” is now up at Cape Magazine (go to page 60), a British publication that’s been around for more than a decade. I had submitted my piece to the magazine’s “This Is the End” themed call, and they liked it. I hope you do too.

If you read the piece you’ll notice a similarity to Hemingway’s story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” I take a different direction with my story.

This story takes place in my One-Match Fire universe, though it includes none of those characters and makes no reference to it even indirectly. I have a companion story, called “First, Do No Harm” that connects to this story, and the characters in that are from my OMF stories. They become involved in what happens in “Memento Mori.” I’m still shopping that other story around, so I can’t link you to it to see the connection.


I am in St. Louis this week, looking after Small Paul while his daddy is in Nebraska (I know, it sounds like a made-up place, but it’s real — I’ve been there) and his momma is attending/teaching classes at the university where I got my undergrad degree. So far, we’re getting along well.

I picked up my daughter-in-law from school yesterday, and I barely recognized the place. It’s been a few decades, so even the “new” buildings there looked old to me. But it was busy and vibrant, with lots of students intent on getting an education.

“Hush Arbor” is in fron//tera

July 27, 2021

The copy of fron//tera containing my story “Hush Arbor” arrived yesterday. It’s a lovely edition containing stories and poems in both English and Spanish as well as color photos, artwork, and even graphic stories. One of the stories (not by me) is even set not very far from my home in the the Kansas City suburbs.

“Hush Arbor” is a story with two characters from my One-Match Fire universe. It may even have a supernatural element. I’m sorry there’s no online edition I can link you to.

here and there

November 18, 2019

Where have I been that I haven’t made a post for two weeks? Well, here and there, but mostly here, without a lot of motivation.

Two weekends ago — a four-day weekend for me — my wife and I went to Paducah, Kentucky to see my mother. She is not doing well, and all of my (many) siblings are making their farewell visits. She is resigned to what’s coming, and she’s well cared for; her sister and my sister, both nurses, live in town. Still . . .

The drive home from Paducah to Kansas City was harrowing. An early season sleet and snow storm, and ridiculous temperatures for early November in the lower Midwest, meant our drive was pretty much white knuckles the whole way. (My drive, that is. My wife sat in the passenger seat and did the navigating and running commentary on the weather, the road conditions, the wiper blade conditions, the nearness of semis, and whatever else came to mind when she lifted her eyes from the book she was reading (about arrowna fish, of all things!).)

The photo above is what a wheel cover on my truck looked like the next day. The freezing rain had fallen on it, was spun out, and froze like this. The rest of the truck was about the same. All better now, but yikes!

This same sort of thing happened last year when we went down for a film festival and had to come back in a wicked storm.


On our way down to Paducah, because we were passing only six miles from the cabin, we detoured and made a quick visit. We spent less time there than the detour took to get there and then back to the highway, but it was a nice little chance to see the cabin. (On our way back, we passed again within six miles, but we did not choose to detour off the highway. All we wanted was to fetch the dogs from “camp” and get our tired selves home.)


However, last weekend, we did make a trip to the cabin. The weather was dry and the sun was out and the temps climbed into the 50s. Plus we had grandson Emmett for an overnight, and we asked him if we wanted to see our cabin. His enthusiasm for this prospect warmed my black and shriveled heart. So we moved his car seat into my truck, packed a day’s worth of gear, squeezed the two dogs in with us, and drove to the cabin.

Emmett had a grand time, in part because Grandma bought him a monster truck to play with when we got there. That’s Emmett you see at the top of the photo, pushing his monster truck up the gravel pile, which proved to be the most interesting feature of the whole place. That’s also another successful one-match fire I made to burn our hot dogs over. (I don’t think I ever need to eat another hot dog in my life.)


Emmett also found some of the many, many marbles I have scattered in the gravel around the cabin. He collected a few of these and then buried them in the gravel pile, only to “discover” them later.

I’m okay with this. The marbles in the gravel are for whimsey and color, and I hope that as the grands visit the cabin, they will find them and delight in them, just as Emmett did. If they sneak some away in their pockets after a visit, that’s fine with me. (I have plenty more.) Emmett brought these three to me as I sat in the comfy chair on the shady porch overlooking the sparkling lake. Before we left for the day, I returned them to the gravel, but we have a traditional Black Friday visit to the off-the-grid cabin coming up — I refuse to be a Consumer Culture Casualty — and Emmett may “find” them again.


Yesterday I spent two hours preparing a submission of One-Match Fire for a potential publisher and, due to some unholy state of sin on the part of Submittable, I lost all of the work I did! Microsoft teased me by saying the document was in auto-recovery, but I couldn’t access it, so I just re-did all of the work. I eventually made the submission successfully though I have no idea what my prospects are. I’ve submitted OMF to six publishers/contests, and so far I’ve received two rejections. One must have a thick skin for this business.

silent rejection

May 31, 2019

So last fall I had submitted one of the One-Match Fire chapters to a publication that was looking for stories with the theme of “initiation” to use in their issue 7. I thought at the time that my chapter/story might align well with that.

Not long after I received an email from an individual at the publication saying my story was short listed, which was nice.

Then, nothing. Nada. Crickets.

I wrote to the publication twice asking for updates and got no response at all. My guess was that the magazine had folded, and whenever I visited the site the most recent issue available was always number 6. I’ve certainly had a few close calls like that, so it didn’t surprise me.

I wasn’t too heartbroken about this since it is a One-Match Fire story and I’m now no longer going to try to get any more chapters published as I try to get the whole thing published instead.

But for some reason earlier this week, I checked the publication online again and found issue 7 now available. Of course I had to look to see if my story was present, and it wasn’t.

I understand that many publications will use a tacit rejection of no response at all unless they are interested. But this outfit did seem interested last fall when they told me the story was short listed. So it seems reasonable to me that such a status would merit a final rejection letter.

On balance, I’m not upset. Getting the story accepted could be problematic for my efforts to get the novel published. But it would be nice to have received a response given the earlier status.

various thoughts on submitting a novel

May 29, 2019

I’ve begun submitting queries to potential agents for One-Match Fire. I dithered and hesitated for a long time, thinking the wording of the cover letter had to be perfect. But I knew I would never recognize when perfection was achieved, and I also knew I was mostly just stalling.

I’ve put my basic query together, and I refer to OMF as a novel-in-stories, and I continue to tinker with it, but it’s now a working document that I customize for each submission.

I’m using the new-ish agent function at Duotrope’s Digest. It’s still considered beta, but I’ve found that it seems to be more current than what’s at AgentQuery. I don’t know if the former “polices” its entries better, but I have seen some outdated information about agents at the latter. Duotrope also keeps a log of my queries so I don’t have to.

What’s common I’ve found at most of the agents I’ve submitted to is a statement something like “we will only respond if we are interested.” I guess that’s easier for them. And maybe it’s easier on the hapless submitter not getting dozens of soul-killing rejections. But like the promised letter or postcard that never comes, you wonder.

Some agent webpages have detailed guidelines while others are sparse. Some want an attachment to the submission email, some will delete any emails with attachments. Some ask for the first three chapters while others want only ten pages.

I dipped into the OMF manuscript and removed all unnecessary line breaks so that the text I can fit into a page-limit submission will be a little greater. You never know if the added sentence or two might be the persuasive eloquence that will win the day.

I’m trying to target my submissions now. So far I’ve only submitted to agents that are interested in story collections. (I’m still not certain how lethal or benign having some of the chapter already published is. I’ve been told that a story collection often needs to have 40 percent of its stories previously published to be considered marketable. This is also why I’m calling it a novel-in-stories, which I guess is more palatable than a story cycle, which is what I had originally conceived it to be. Still, if an agent doesn’t respond because the published chapters were the deal breaker, I’ll never know that.)

But I expect that I’ll soon move into a mere numbers game once I exhaust the list of story-collection agents I can find. And maybe after that I’ll begin submitting directly to publishers who are open to queries.

And I hope that taking this action, which “means” OMF is finished, will free my mind to working more earnestly on other work.

too much or just enuf?

May 8, 2019

So I’ve been having this mental struggle lately, and I’ve tried getting a solid answer to my dilemma, but so far nothing.

One-Match Fire has 23 chapters (and 22 inter-chapter vignettes). Of those chapters, I’ve had ten published as stand-alone pieces in various lit journals. I’m happy about that. But I’ve begun to worry that this may have been too many.

My guess is that having some of a novel published early will help its chances to find representation and a publisher. Certainly I’ve seen paragraphs in the end pages of many novels that state that parts of the novel had appeared in print in slightly different form. So getting several chapters published would suggest that the parts are worthy and perhaps so is the whole.

But how much is enuf and how much is too much? I’ve had nearly half of the novel before readers’ eyes already. Would a potential agent think that so many parts of the work have already been out that there isn’t enuf of the whole left to make it worth pursuing? Is there a certain maximum percentage to these things?

I’ve talked to several of my writer friends. I’ve posted my question on a couple of forums. I’ve even written directly to agents to ask (though I don’t ever expect a response from them).

My gut (and a friend) tells me that I shouldn’t try to get any more of the novel published. There are two chapters that I think might be worthy, but I’m not going to shop them around any longer. (There are also three that are currently in circulation, so they may still appear in print.)

But another part of me thinks that if the novel itself were never published, these last few chapters that might be worth publication will languish and never be seen.

I don’t know.


Here’s another random photo from the archives.

That’s from eight years ago, so Flike must not have been even a year old in the photo. That’s the corner of the cabin to the right, of course. And that area behind Flike is where I’ve been slinging gravel lately to make things a bit more level and to perhaps deepen the rock enuf to prevent at least some of the weeds from coming up through it.

“Forest Succession” finds a home

April 2, 2019

Can I trust an email I received on April Fool’s Day? The email told me that my story “Forest Succession” was accepted for publication later this month in Heartwood Literary Magazine. When the issue goes live, I’ll be sure to post a link here.

Heartwood Literary Magazine says that it likes Appalachian voices but is not restricted to them. I set my story in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, so I think there must have been enuf similarity to capture their interest.

“Forest Succession” is not part of the One-Match Fire novel, but it does involve one of the characters, and I think of it as the very last story in the chronology for those characters.

I have submitted this story to three other publications that haven’t yet responded, and I’ll need to withdraw it from those, but it has had the honor of being rejected by fifteen other publications and one that never responded after 279 days.