The First Two Pages: “The Last Laugh” by Lori Roberts Herbst

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.

Last week, the First Two Pages hosted an essay by a writer celebrating her first fiction publication: Sarah Bresniker with her story “Book Drop” in The Fish That Got Away, the latest anthology from the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. This week’s essay is by another writers celebrating her first mystery short story—Lori Roberts Herbst with “The Last Laugh” from the same anthology—but in this case, Herbst has also had success with longer fiction too: her debut novel, Suitable for Framing, earned a first-place award at the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards, and Double Exposure, the second book in the Callie Cassidy Mystery Series, was released last month. You can find out more about Herbst and her work at her website—and get a taste of her style and wit in the essay and story excerpts below!

Edited by Linda M. Rodriguez, The Fish That Got Away features twenty stories in all, from a nice range of contributors, both first-time short story writers and veteran talents too: Marcia Adair, Mary Adler, Susan Alice Bickford, Sarah A. Bresniker, MB Dabney, E.B. Davis, P. A. De Voe, Mary Dutta, Gene Garrison, Lori Roberts Herbst, Victoria Kazarian, Melinda Loomis, Cheryl Marceau, Michele Bazan Reed, Cynthia Sabelhaus, C. M. Surrisi, Mark Thielman, Kari Wainwright, Joseph S. Walker, and C. M. West.

And don’t miss the first essay from contributors to the anthology: Victoria Kazarian on “Good Neighbors”!

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.