In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.
As I was editing and formatting Robert Weibezahl‘s essay below, I experienced a brief bit of deja vu. I distinctly remembered reading the story being discussed—and yet, I hadn’t read it in the anthology where it’s going to be published… later this week. How was that possible? I’ll admit, I felt briefly unmoored.
It took me only a few moments to realize where I’d read the story. “Just Like Peg Entwistle” was among the final round of stories I was considering when I edited last year’s Bouchercon anthology California Schemin’ —the final, final round, I should stress, and one of several stories I was sorry not to be able to include in the book itself. One of the downfalls of being an editor or judging a contest—too many stories that deserve attention.
After reading Robert’s fine essay on this fine story, I reached out to him to ask if I could share this anecdote. Certainly no writer wants to have reminders of a rejection, but the truth is rejection happens to all of us, no matter where we are in our careers, and I think it’s good to remind folks of that. It’s also good to remember that a rejection isn’t a dismissal of a work, since there can be many factors at play behind those decisions. And finally, it’s good to know that persistence pays off and that good stories will indeed find a home. Robert told me he’d made some more revisions and edits to “Just Like Peg Entwistle” between the Bouchercon submission and its appearance in Moonlight & Misadventure, changes under the guidance of that anthology’s editor Judy Penz Sheluk, and as strong as the story was when I read that earlier draft, I know it’s a knock-out in its final form.
That anthology, Moonlight & Misadventure, will be released later this week on June 18, and in addition to Robert’s story, the collection also features short fiction by K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W. Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John M. Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S. Walker, and Susan Jane Wright. And I was pleased to host M.H Callway at the First Two Pages last week, writing on her story “The Moon God of Broadmoor.”
Robert’s essay on “Just Like Peg Entwistle” is below, and be sure to check out his other work, which has a wide range, from short fiction to novels, plays, poetry, reviews, and book-length nonfiction too. Several highlights: two novels, The Wicked and the Dead and The Dead Don’t Forget; two non-fiction books, A Taste of Murder and A Second Helping of Murder, each of which earned both Agatha and Macavity nominations; a Derringer Award nomination for “Identity Theft”; and a regular book column, “Well Read,” for BookPage since 2002, in addition to reviews and criticism in other venues. For more information on Robert and his work, visit his webpage here. And enjoy the essay below!
Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.Weibezahl-Peg