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Guest Post: Stephen D. Rogers

Stephen D. Rogers has been a repeat-contributor to both Thrilling Detective and The Lineup: Poems on Crime, so I'm pleased to help promote his newly-published collection of thirty-one short stories, Shot to Death.

Though Stephen asked each of his blog hosts to choose the first line of a story from Shot to Death, I was more swayed by story title.

"That will be a few minutes Sir."

So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.

When I first heard that sentence, there was no comma before the "Sir." That gave me the sense that the speaker didn't recognize "Sir" or the person being addressed by that title as anything separate and significant. "Sir" didn't represent respect. "Sir" represented an attitude of platitude. That sense of a plastic-tongued "Sir" put the speaker behind the counter of a fast food establishment.

But we're accustomed to boredom disguised as politeness, to bottom-line corporate policy disguised as human interaction. There's no conflict there until one of us snaps.

Unless the customer has been isolated from the development of politically correct customer service. He remembers when the word "Sir" meant something. He remembers when waitresses were people and not interchangeable corporate tokens. He remembers when....

He's been isolated from the changing world.

He's been in prison. He's been in prison for decades because of the person he's now tracking. This "restaurant" sits on the site where a diner once squatted.

He's here because he and that person met here in those diner days to plan the job. He's here because here he can watch for the person who put him behind bars. He's here because revenge never goes out of style.

He's released from prison to enter a dehumanized world that pretends to simulate. He's the real deal, however, dehumanized even before he was sent away.

All that remained was the writing.

For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to and submit your completed entry.

Then visit the schedule at to see how you can march along.

And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.

Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908) and more than six hundred stories and poems. He's the head writer at Crime Scene (where viewers solve interactive mysteries) and a popular writing instructor. For more information, you can visit his website,, where he tries to pull it all together.

SHOT TO DEATH contains thirty-one stories of murder and mayhem.

"Terse tales of cops and robbers, private eyes and bad guys, with an authentic New England setting."

- Linda Barnes, Anthony Award winner and author of the Carlotta Carlyle series

"Put yourself in the hands of a master as you travel this world of the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared. Rogers is the real deal--real writer, real story teller, real tour guide to the dark side."

- Kate Flora, author of the Edgar-nominated FINDING AMY and the Thea Kozak mysteries

"SHOT TO DEATH provides a riveting reminder that the short story form is the foundation of the mystery/thriller genre. There's something in this assemblage of New England noir to suit every aficionado. Highly recommended!"

- Richard Helms, editor and publisher, The Back Alley Webzine


Gerald So said…
Stephen, I find your work to be some of the most concise, even among short story writers and poets—a good thing, in my opinion.

I'm curious how far in advance you know an idea is going to be a short story. Do you have a target word count before you write? Finally, what, if anything, do you cut out of a story most often while revising?
Hey Gerald,

I'm not sure if this is a good answer, but any idea that sticks around long enough for me to get to it seems a strong enough idea to hold a story together.

I don't usually have a target word count unless I'm writing for a specific market with a stated word count. A few times I've started a story thinking it was going to run 5000 words, and then it doesn't, and I'm not sure what to do about that.

What I probably most commonly cut is a repetition of ideas or themes or similar words.

Hey Gerald,

In terms of cutting, I cut whatever I can fold into something that already exists. So if there's a scene that the purpose of which can be gotten across in a word or phrase elsewhere, I make the switch.


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