The First Two Pages: “A Manual for Success” by Sandra Benson

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.

It’s always a joy to celebrate a writer’s first publication—and today, we’re celebrating Sandra Benson, whose first story in print, “A Manual for Success,” appears in Hook, Line, and Sinker: The Seventh Guppy Anthology, the recently published seventh anthology from the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Edited by Emily P.W. Murphy, Hook, Line, and Sinker focuses on “grifters, con artists, and their marks” and features stories by N. Buchholz, Lida Bushloper, Susan Daly, Steve Shrott, Kait Carson, Judith Carlough, Sandra Benson, Sally Milliken, Wrona Gall, M. R. Dimond, Mary Dutta, Kim Keeline, Shannon Taft, Merrilee Robson, Lisa Anne Rothstein, KM Rockwood, Frances Stratford, Jane Limprecht, Vinnie Hansen, Ann Michelle Harris, A. W. Powers, Kate Fellowes, and M. A. Monnin.

We’ve already hosted Vinnie Hansen and Kate Fellowes at the First Two Pages in recent weeks—with, respectively, their stories “Perfect Partner” and “The Buddy System.” Sandra’s essay on her story rounds out this series devoted to the new collection.

Sandra Benson has come full circle a bit with her education and career. After earning a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria, she with a law degree from the University of British Columbia and a “detour” (her word) to Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. After practicing law, she’s coming back around to her first choice and first love—and hopefully building on the momentum of this story publication to finish her first novel as well, Last Chef Standing. You can find out more about Sandra at her website.

Do check out the Wolf’s Echo Press website for links to buy Hook, Line, and Sinker in both ebook and paperback.

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.


10 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “A Manual for Success” by Sandra Benson

  1. Kate Fellowed

    Thanks for sharing this. I love humor in any story and am looking forward to reading this on the weekend.

    1. Sandra Benson

      Mary, no one wants to open a granola bar hoping to find chocolate-covered toffee inside. It rarely ends well. It seemed only fair to the paranormal-loving reading community to let them down gently.

      Although in hindsight perhaps my story is more in the chocolate-covered toffee camp than the granola crowd. Whatever. You get my point!

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