Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mr. Rogers' Dangerous Neighborhood

Stephen D. Rogers is a short story writing maniac. As soon as your output goes into triple digits, my eyes cross. I bow to the numbers and humbly submit that maybe I aint shit. He's been published in places like Mouth Full of Bullets, Pulp Pusher, Spinetingler Magazine, Powder Burn Flash, Thrilling Detective, Beat to a Pulp and uh, Chicken Soup for the Mothers of Preschooler's Soul as well as many others.

To promote his new book of short stories, Shot to Death, Mr. Rogers is on what? a month long blog crawl posting on the first lines of the stories contained therein. In March he'll be posting at HBW friends' spots like those of Cullen Gallagher, Paul Brazill, Patti Abbott and Patrick Shawn Bagley. Incidentally, S2D has been collecting some kudos from folks like Linda Barnes, Kate Flora and Richard Helms. Not bad.

Take it away, neighbor.

I must have been strangling this asshole for twenty minutes
when somebody shot him dead.


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.

This first line came to me out of a response to rereading
Raymond Chandler on writing: "When in doubt, have a man come
through a door with a gun in his hand."

Why wait until I'm in doubt? Why not have the man with the
gun come through the door in the first sentence? And so I

The strangling-for-twenty-minutes bit told me the story was
going to be lighthearted, even if the sentence did end with
"dead." I also knew that there was going to be competition
involved, as two people seemed determined to kill the

There's another type of competition happening. The narrator
is using a hands-on approach, which is taking a long time
and doesn't seem to be working. The competing mechanical
approach not only works quickly, it allows the bullet to
appear before the man who pulls the trigger.

While the sentence does require that second man to appear,
it does not tell me anything about him other than he knows
how to shoot. Well, that's not true. The sentence tells
me about the narrator, and as the shooter has been set up
as the narrator's opposite, I can and will develop him with
that in mind.

All that remains is the writing.

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

Then visit the schedule 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.


jedidiah ayres said...

So, Stephen - Out of your hundreds of stories, how'd you choose 31?

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Gee thanks, I'd just managed to erase that memory. The process was a challenge. In fact, after the collection had been accepted by the publisher, I sent not one rearrangment but two. And if I was putting it together again, I'd do it differently.

When I first saw the cover, my first thought was of a story I didn't include. Whenever I talk to someone about the book, I think of a story I didn't include.

Maybe there needs to be an extended dance version.

Paul D. Brazill said...

You see that is a brilliant intro and I love the idea of outdoing Chandler. Top work.

Stephen D. Rogers said...


Well I don't think there's any chance I'm going to outdo Chandler. In fact, I don't imagine writers as in competition with each other. I consider us all one big happy family. And that's why I've poisoned the soup.


jedidiah ayres said...

Oh, I see the competition. If Chandler is sending somebody in with a gun, I'm making it a stripper with nun-chauks, Paul might make it drinks in each hand, Keith Rawson's gonna make it monkeys, Frank Bill's going get somebody raped, Greg Bardsley's going to whip out a samurai sword and poop in an inapropriate place, Kieran Shea's sick Koko on you...

Kent said...

Just ordered my copy of SHOT TO DEATH this morning and got shipping confirmation a few minutes ago. Looking forward to reading it.

jedidiah ayres said...

When in doubt Kent sends a goatman through the door

Kent said...

It's no fun until a goatman arrives.

Keith Rawson said...

Stephen--I've always been impressed with your level of productivity and the wide variety of themes you've covered in your stories. What is your writing schedule like? and How do you avoid repeating ideas/themes you've covered in the past?

Also, have you ever considered writing a novel?

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Kent,

I hope you enjoy the book. If you don't, blame Jedidiah.


Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Keith,

My schedule is upended at the moment, but basically I've got two hours scheduled on Thu evening and whatever else I can fit into the cracks.

I guess I don't repeat myself (at least I hope I don't repeat myself) by focusing on the characters. People are all so different.

There is a novel circulating.


Greg Bardsley said...

Hey, I like monkeys, too...

Stephen, I am amazed by the productivity. ...pieces have been the most gratifying? The award-winners? The ones that sparked reader comments? The ones that were the most fun to write (and read during revision)?

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Greg,

Definitely, the most gratifying stories are the ones that were fun (in one way or another) to write.

I couldn't tell you which stories were award winners. Reader feedback certainly makes a story pop for me because it's so interactive. But the writing? There are dozens of stories that were so ... exhilarating that I don't think I'll ever forget the process of writing them: word choices, crafting a particular sentence, where I was, what I might have been eating and/or drinking, whatever music or movie may have been playing in the background.

It's all about the writing.


Kieran Shea said...


You, sir, were the class act on that B'con panel in Baltimore...stealthy.


Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Kieran,

Thanks for your kind words.

B'con was a lot of fun.