Shawn decided to release two new Christmas-themed short stories this year. Christmas Town is the second.
Now, working with Shawn is a little different than working with most writers. A Falstaffian figure and somewhat of a mad-literary-scientist idea generator, he has a great deal of self-confidence. He also likes marketing, and does it very well. His storytelling skill is catching up to both of those important qualities. It is beginning to feel very much like working with baseball great Bill Veeck–and those who know me very well, and who don’t throw up at the mention of sports, will know what a compliment that is. Like Veeck, Shawn knows that it’s all about the public. Veeck didn’t watch baseball games from box seats or owner’s luxury seats. He used to sit shirtless in the bleachers with the fans who had bought cheap tickets. He would drink beer with them, talk baseball and boo the umpires. If Shawn drank (which he does not), and if he owned a baseball team, I suspect he’d do the same.
As an editor, I tend to evaluate a writer by how s/he reacts when you tell him or her of a serious flaw. The less confident and successful writers aren’t sure whether to cry and give it up, or fire me and seek someone to tell them how great they are in all areas. If I tell Shawn that something just doesn’t work, he fixes it. Sometimes I don’t know how to fix it, but he will figure it out. This is why he is making major strides as an author.
His newest release is a winner because, in addition to a good story, Shawn is developing an excellent sense of the moment–and how to handle it. With every new work, there is more show and less tell. Endings become much more difficult to predict. My job is getting more involved, because most of the low-hanging editorial fruit is going away. The task before me grows more invigorating. With most of Shawn’s books and short stories, my initial feedback is qualified praise. Not this time. Christmas Town came to me with great fundamental merit and no tremendous issues to resolve. I trust I helped a bit in resolving the minor ones, but I had good material to work with. If you have a dollar to spend on a very worthwhile Christmas story, this is an excellent choice.