Red herring

The novelist Anne Simpson once gave me some good editing advice. Often the beginning (the first sentence, paragraph, chapter) is not really the beginning.

When we sit down to tell a story, it takes a while to warm up, to ease in. So then, in the edits, we must wade through and find the true beginning, the place where the story really starts, and lop off the rest.

I remember having this experience with an early draft of A Drawer Full of Guggums. Originally the story had an extra 500 words at the top. My main character got on a plane, flew half way around the world. Jet-lagged, she listened to her uncle snore in the next room. Bumbling around London, she struggled to find housing. And that was all great fun to write. It was quality time she and I spent together. But all along, I knew the story was about the main character and her quirky landlady. Which meant everything before their first meeting - all those hundreds of words - had to go.

Preludes and prologues, sometimes they are a red herring. Be brave.



We launched Racket one foggy Thursday night a couple of weeks ago at The Franklin. It was a blast and we were all having so much fun that we didn't bother to take many pictures. Here's our best attempt at a group shot with our editor James Langer and publicist Megan Coles. Breakwater made us matching t-shirts and they've got a combo deal on right now. For $30 you too can get your own t-shirt and a copy of the book.


Well, this is exciting! On September 14 Breakwater Books is publishing Racket, a collection of short stories written (mostly) by my writing group, The Port Authority, and edited by our champion and guru (oh captain, my captain!), Lisa Moore. This whole collection is her brain child, really. She had the idea, pitched it to Breakwater, and agreed to wrangle all our disparate pieces into something coherent.

Isn't the cover spiffy? It's a riff on the Purity Hard Bread packaging, which seems appropriate. Port Authorities, Sailor's Grub etc. There are eleven stories and mine is the last one. They let me have the last word. How about that?