Tag Archive for: short story

ITW 2021 Thriller Short Story Award Goes To . . .

by Paula Gail Benson

Alan Orloff

I remember meeting Alan Orloff at Malice
Domestic when his first novel, Diamonds for the Dead, was an Agatha
award finalist. Since that time, he has published nine additional novels and a
myriad of short stories that have appeared in Needle: A Magazine of
Noir, Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked & Loaded, Jewish Noir, Alfred
Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, Windward: Best New England Crime
Stories 2016, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, Noir at the Salad Bar, 50
Shades of Cabernet, Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies, Snowbound:
Best New England Crime Stories 2017, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, The Night of
the Flood, 
and Mystery Most Geographical.

Recently, Alan’s story, “Rent Due” (in Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir)
received the 2021 International Thriller Writers’ Thriller Award for Best Short


This follows the success of his novel Pray for the Innocent (Kindle Press)
which received the 2019 Thriller for Best E-Book Original.


“Rule Number One” (originally published
in Snowbound, from Level Best Books) was selected for the 2018
edition of 
The Best American Mystery
 anthology, edited by Louise Penny.


“Happy Birthday” (published on Shotgun
Honey) was a 2018
Derringer Award Finalist
 in the Flash Fiction category (an
award given by the members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society).


“Dying in Dokesville” (published in Mystery Most Geographicalwon the 2019
Derringer Award
 in the Short Story category.


Currently, his novel I Know Where You Sleep (Down & Out Books) is
2021 Shamus Award
 in the Best First P.I. Novel category.


Congratulations, Alan! May your writing
continue to thrive!


Moonlight & Misadventure

 by Bethany Maines

One of the best parts about the Stiletto Gang is the chance to meet and work with other mystery and romance writers. I have made many lasting friendships and learned a great deal from my fellow gang members. And last year, when Judy Penz Sheluk, a former Stiletto Gang member, posted about an opportunity to be a part of the Moonlight & Misadventure anthology, I quickly submitted my story – Tammy Loves Derek.

Tammy Loves Derek does indeed contain moonlight and more than a little misadventure, as well as some revenge and a heaping helping of just-desserts. I wrote the story intending to read it at the Seattle Noir at the Bar, but then COVID hit and so did about an extra 1500 words (it’s the COVID 15 of writing!).  So now I have a lovely little tale about, Tammy Lee Swanley, who has a med-spa job, a cheating boyfriend, and a plan—a five-step, sure-fire plan to wealth and happiness.

Moonlight & Misadventure will be available at retailers everywhere on June 18.  I’m thrilled that Tammy is in such good company and I can’t wait to read all the other stories!

Moonlight & Misadventure: 

Whether it’s vintage Hollywood, the Florida everglades, the
Atlantic City boardwalk, or a farmhouse in Western Canada, the twenty authors
represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the
overarching theme of “moonlight and misadventure” in their own inimitable style
where only one thing is assured: Waxing, waning, gibbous, or full, the moon is
always there, illuminating things better left in the dark.

Featuring stories by: K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W.
Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon,
Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John M.
Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S.
Walker, Robert Weibezahl, and Susan Jane Wright.

PRE-ORDER TODAY: https://books2read.com/Moonlight-Misadventure

Release Date: 06.18.21


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae MysteriesSan Juan Islands MysteriesShark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Partners in Crime: Operation Anthology (#giveaway!)


Partners in Crime: you’ve heard of Thelma and Louise, Bonnie and Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Today, we’d like to introduce a new type of criminal duo, Cathy Wiley and Karen Cantwell. Working together, they’re publishing the soon-to-be-released cozy short story anthology MURDER ON THE BEACH. Welcome to Stiletto Gang, Karen and Cathy!

We’d like to share with you the pros and cons of working with a writing and publishing partner.

First a little history: we originally met in an online forum sometime in 2010. Later, we were surprised to learn we were both members of the same chapter of Sisters in Crime, and therefore neighbors (well, Virginia and Maryland), after having stories accepted in the chapter anthology.  From there, we became fans of each other’s work, as well as good friends. In 2020, Karen had the bright idea of publishing a themed anthology of short stories, and Cathy was one of the first people she approached. After brainstorming ideas, we thought this would be an easier task if we worked as partners.


So, let’s get to those pros and cons…


We’re not going to state the obvious, like “you can share the workload.” Unless your partner is that slacker kid from your tenth-grade group project, that should be the case.

We soon learned there are other pros beyond shared workload. 



You have someone to bounce ideas off of. This might sound like another duh moment, but it’s amazing how creativity flourishes when two people share ideas. Even the theme and title, MURDER ON THE BEACH, as well as the concept of making it a series came from bouncing ideas back and forth.  


Working together is more fun than working alone; we meet at least once a week (virtually) and our meetings are often filled with laughter.



Money is involved for cover design, ads, etc. When it’s your own money, it’s your own risk. When you are working with someone else, (not just the two of us, but all eight authors in the anthology who will be sharing profits), it feels harder to take risks.

Finding the time to meet or discuss: Cathy is a night owl and Karen is an early bird. That sometimes made it hard to communicate, since Cathy would have a brainstorm at night, then have to wait until the next morning when she’d read Karen’s reply. Likewise, Karen would write an email early morning, then have to wait hours before Cathy would wake up (and get her coffee).


Things to watch out for if you are thinking of partnering with someone, whether it be for an anthology or co-authoring a novel:


It really helps to like the other person. You’re going to spend A LOT of time with each other, and like some couples found out during this pandemic, it helps if you enjoy that time together.


Whether you like them or not, you have to be able to be honest with each other and communicate well. This isn’t the time for white lies—like saying you enjoyed the ending of that first draft of the blog post when you really meant you were just happy that the blog post had ended.


You also have to trust the other person and know their vision, especially if other people are involved, like with this anthology. If one of the other authors asked a question, it would take forever if we had to consult with each other before answering. 


Finally, don’t take it too seriously. Is it a lot of work? Sure. Everything is. But ultimately, while working your buns off, have fun with the process, talk often, laugh more. You know—like life, it’s all what you put into it.


MURDER ON THE BEACH is the first in the new Destination Murders anthology series, coming out on May 28, 2021. It’s now available for a special pre-order price of 99 cents. 


In addition to stories by Karen and Cathy, there are also short stories from Ritter Ames, Lucy Carol, Barb Goffman, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Shari Randall, and Shawn Reilly Simmons.


Karen Cantwell grew up on heavy doses of I Love Lucy and The Carol Burnett Show. She loves to laugh as much as she loves bringing laughter to the world. A USA Today bestselling author, Karen writes the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery series, the Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance books, and currently has a new humorous series under construction. When she isn’t writing, Karen can be found wandering aimlessly, wondering why she isn’t writing. To learn more, visit KarenCantwell.com and If you are on Facebook, join her @KarenCantwellAuthor.


Cathy Wiley lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, with one spoiled cat and an equally spoiled husband. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. She’s written two mystery novels set in Baltimore, Maryland, and has had several short stories included in anthologies, one of which was a 2015 finalist for a Derringer Award.

She is currently working on a series featuring Jackie Norwood, a former celebrity chef trying to reboot her career. The first novel, CLAWS OF DEATH, will be published in the fall of this year. For more information about this series and her other books, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit www.cathywiley.com. You can also visit her author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CathyWileyAuthor


Ready for MURDER ON THE BEACH? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of this fun cozy mystery anthology. Just tell us, what’s your favorite kind of book to read on the beach?





Short Stories

 by Bethany Maines

Writing short stories is a unique art form, one that I used to pursue and then, like someone finding a new love, I dropped in favor of novels.  Because novels were dreamy and just so much cooooooler than those short stories. But in the past few years, I’ve found myself once again taking up the challenge of short form writing. Now that I’m a more experienced writer I see the structure of novels and short fiction differently and find that they present different challenges that require different skills. I think that previously I only had one set of skills that I applied to all writing. Which is a bit like trying to paint with only one brush.  Now that I have a few more brushes in the paintbox it’s been fun to tackle short stories.  

Interestingly, I’ve found that while previously my short stories were sci-fi or fantasy based, my current crop are all crime based. I may have been hanging out with my Noir at the Bar buddies too much, or maybe I just have become more criminal as I’ve gotten older, but I keep coming up with some dang good crimes to write about. But as I’ve collected more stories, I’ve started to think that perhaps I should put together an anthology. I would add another three or four to truly round out the group, but I think it might be fun.

Below is a rundown of my criminal little tales.  What do you think?  Should I pull them all together into one collection?

Mayhem & Mahalo –  Switchblade Magazine, 2019 – Hawaii—the land of sun, surf, and a giant pile of dead bodies. Paige Kaneko thought she had left the Kaneko family’s criminal ways behind her, but when a 3 a.m. text from her brother asks for one simple thing—help—Paige can’t say no. Now Paige must get her brother and herself out of a situation that includes six dead bodies, a backpack full of cash, and one slightly dented heroin addict.

Suzy Makes Cupcakes  Shotgun Honey V. 4, 2019 – Johnny Stills, a mid-level mobster, has a Tuesday routine:
pick up the pay-off money, swing by home to get a blow job from his wife Suzy,
and then deliver the money to his boss. But this Tuesday is a little different
– for one thing Suzy met him at the door with a gun. Now Johnny is realizing just how badly he may have underestimated his wife.

Tammy Loves Derek – Moonlight & Misadventure Anthology, June 2021 – Tammy Lee Swanley has a med-spa job, a cheating boyfriend, and a plan—a five-step, sure-fire plan to wealth and happiness. But what Tammy’s boyfriend doesn’t know is that Tammy’s plan doesn’t include him keeping him around.

Fireball Rolled a Seven –  Murderous Ink, Crimeucopia: Funny Ha Ha Anthology, Forthcoming – The pandemic is a drag, but with everyone in lockdown, that means the streets are empty and the Pandemic Drags are about to hit the fast lane. As Kendra, Doc, Mike, Jim, Stacy and Douchebag Carl all gather for illegal street races they soon discover that even at drag races, pandemic politics still apply. Masks become a tipping point and Kendra and Doc go from racing for money, to racing for their lives. If they can make it across the finish line they’ll be home free, but they have to get there first.

Every Single Funeral – On Submission – When greedy Bruce Stagg attempts to have his dying sister declared incompetent and steal her fortune, Lark Jeffers—live-in nurse, ex-stripper, and firm believer in pockets—knows something has to be done. The question is: can she pull the trigger?


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae MysteriesSan Juan Islands MysteriesShark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.


Sam, their son, threw a rock into the creek. “Kerplunk!” he said as he jumped up and down punching fists into the air. 

Cameron smiled and turned James, her husband, to share in the joy of a perfect child.

“He is fun,” James said in reply to her smile.

He put his arm around her shoulder and gave a quick squeeze as they watched their progeny run off the bridge to the hiking path to gather another rock in the perfect proportions to make the “kerplunk” sound. Cameron’s family had farmed and enjoyed the bridge, the path, the entire fifty-acre park on the small mountain in the hills of South Carolina since they’d arrived from Scotland in the 1700s. Now a thousand years later their small family enjoyed their land with the lingering ghosts of ancestors’ and former occupants’ past.

James checked his watch. Nodded at Cameron. Gave his wife a deep kiss and turned to walk back to the family cart.

Thirty minutes’ later Cameron and Sam had set up a picnic on the flat rocks that bordered the creek. A checked cloth covered the broad expanse of granite. They had set platters of fresh vegetables and fruit accompanied by clear tall bottles of water out. Sam jumped up and down, waiting in anticipation for the rest of the family to arrive. 

Within minutes James hurried to join them. He kissed Cameron. He gave Sam a ride on his shoulders and set him down on a small chair set up next to the make-shift table and then sat in the chair that sat empty waiting for him.

“How was work?” Cameron asked as she spooned the food onto his plate. 

“Good. It was a long shift. I told them I can’t do any more than twelve hours as it confuses our boy,” James smiled at his son. “James was late though…” he whispered this bit into Cameron’s ear.

“We’re together now. Is that enough?” She asked.

“I don’t know, is it?” he replied.

They finished their meal and took a family walk on the rest of the path to the top of the mountain. At the lookout point, they paused and took in the town’s view below. Lights glittered from various train head and taillights. Streetlights only glowed in the street to show the way when something triggered them and weren’t visible from above. The streets had become mobile and fluid and flowed with the rising earth and waters drove the commuter trains. Personal carts for families and individuals traveled less than fifty miles to the nearest train station and home after a short energy regeneration from the sun.

James turned to Cameron, “It will be okay. We are near the end. Only a few more months and we can retire and enjoy our time together on the farm.”

“Yes. Yes. I know.” Cameron leaned her head on James’ shoulder and took in his body warmth, his scent of cedar, and a slight hint of lavender. She called Sam to their side, and they walked down the mountain to the family cart.

She had less than twelve hours with this James and she wanted to make every moment count as the sunset over the horizon.

Half a day later the other James came home and planted a kiss on
her cheek to awaken her.

“I made coffee, and I whipped the eggs for breakfast. I will take a quick shower and join you.” He fluffed the pillow next to his wife to remove the indentions from the other husband and headed to the master bathroom.

Cameron rolled over, eyes filled with sleep, and ran her hand over the pillow still warm with James’ touch. She pictured him there, short inky
hair that curled over his ears if left too long between haircuts. His nose, not too short or long, in profile like a regal nose to her. Their hands touching, his long fingers encircling her small ones as they slept their limited time together. She sighed, edged herself to the side of the bed and set her feet on the floor. James had left a folded piece of paper on her bedside and she snatched it up and pressed it to her heart with both hands. 

The other James called from the shower reminded her that needed to hurry and awake Sam to go to school.

She padded over to their son’s room and opened the curtains to let in the natural light. She stood for a moment, still clutching the note to her chest with one hand as she used the other to play with the window lock, opening and closing it. Noticing that if it were open or closed, you could only tell the difference if you looked at it from the right angle. Which was it? Did it matter? Are you happy with it being open or shut? Are you safe with it either way? She turned it once more, ensuring it set in the open position and read her note.

“I love you. No matter what. No matter when. No matter how long.”

She allowed herself one small sigh. She tucked the note into the diaper bag. The bag that sat in the corner of her closet. No one else had opened the bag in over four years since Sam was a toddler and six years before new James arrived. She walked across the tile floor and kissed her child on the forehead. She urged him out of the bed and into school clothes before she headed down the stairs to the kitchen and the fresh day that awaited her.

James sat in one of the swivel chairs at the kitchen island and twirled their son around the one next to him. The boy giggled. The man spun the chair harder.

“You will make him sick,” Cameron said as she plated up the eggs, vegetarian bacon, and whole wheat bread onto three plates.

“Can Daddy take me into school today?” Sam pleaded.

Cameron glanced at James who gave her the “it’s our time” look and she shook her head at the child. “Not today, sweet cheeks, Daddy, and I have plans.”

The trip to the council would take a few hours and James had to get some sleep beforehand. 

Neither James’ seemed to be able to fall asleep without her being in their arms. Both James’ wanted to make love to her a few times a week. They seemed to know when the other had their turn and would never ask for one within twenty hours of the other. Cameron insisted that one night a week she took off. Time with them was getting short. The other James wouldn’t be here much longer. She needed to arrange a way to hide that she’d been with him so the other one wouldn’t know.

Later in the week, after a long, grueling meeting at the council, with the monies paid, with the “retirement” imminent, she had to get out of the house without either of them. Sam and she traveled to the path again and so he could play “kerplunk.” She rocked back and forth on a root from a rather ancient oak and begged her body and heart to comply with what her brain had agreed to do before the other James became approved, created, and showed up at their house.

Cameron played “kerplunk” a few times herself and as she leaned over a rock bed to pick up a new stone, she noticed her wedding ring had broken in half. Her diamonds had sliced into thin pieces that scattered in the sudden wind that had picked up in the valley. She silently screamed in horror. The pieces wouldn’t fit together. The diamonds had shattered to the point there was no way to repair them. 

Cameron saw their son fall to his knees and look at her with terror in his face. He called her for help, reached his arms out to her, but her feet didn’t move and her fingers desperately searched for the bits of
diamond in the sand. She tried to gather the pieces of diamond and gold band to meld them back into the oneness that had existed on her left ring finger to no avail. 

“James,” she whispered. Behind her came the sound of footfalls on dry leaves.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this short story. It came to me in a dream last year. I woke up and wrote it down. I hope to one day expand upon it and then you’ll find out what happened to James or James. 

Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.
You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga
The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

Meet The Queen of Christmas

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a secret project – a Christmas short story called “The Queen of Christmas.”
I’m a huge fan of short stories at this busy time of the year. What better to read when there are so many demands on our time but also an increased need to recharge our batteries by taking a few moments to enjoy some fun holiday reading? 
Several readers have asked me to do a holiday story with the characters from my Lobster Shack mystery series. I started wondering — what do Allie, Aunt Gully, Verity, and all the other characters from the Lazy Mermaid lobster shack do at Christmas?
A visit to a holiday show house tour last December sparked ideas. A Christmas crazy friend of my mom has collected ornaments and decorations for decades. Over time, her single decorated tree became two trees, then three, and after several years this lady had a decorated tree for every room in her house and crowds clamoring to visit. Her Fantasy of Trees was born.
What if I moved this festival of trees to Mystic Bay? What if a desperate criminal was determined to cause holiday mischief instead of holiday merriment?
Writing a short story comes with challenges. The story has to be tighter. Every word has to work harder. Which characters will be in the story? How to keep the story to a length that is perfect to enjoy during the holiday crush?
I hope you’ll check out my new mystery short story, “The Queen of Christmas.” I hope it will provide you with a fun escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The story also includes a recipe for hot toddy, because what’s nicer than curling up with a good story and a warm drink on a frosty winter night?
The story is available exclusively on Amazon for Kindle. Enjoy!

3 Firsts for Me!

By Kay Kendall

Here are my three firsts:                                                   

1) My first short story.
2) My first venture into
3) My first
self-published project.

The shortest way to
explain that list above is  – I seized an

A group of writers asked
me to come aboard an anthology of short stories written around a common theme—called
The Prometheus Saga. There were rules to what we could do with our alien
character who dropped to earth, plus rules for making our stories as Kindle
shorts available only on Amazon. Set price = 99 cents. Such a bargain.

On Monday, January 26,
twelve of us published thirteen stories in The Prometheus Saga. Settings
include pre-history, the American Revolution, and the sixties. That latter was mine, entitled “Strangers on a Plane.” The sixties is what I write
about, always.

Fans of the suspense
genre will recognize my title as an homage to the great Patricia Highsmith’s
sinister novel, Strangers on a Train.
But my story is not sinister. Instead, it shows my amateur sleuth Austin Starr
traveling across the North American continent, rushing to the rescue of her
dear friend, Larissa Klimenko. Readers who know my debut mystery DESOLATION ROW
will recognize these characters.

New is an odd elderly
woman who calls herself Promethea. Strange things happen. Then Austin and
Promethea disembark from the plane, never to see each other again. This short
story is a bridge to my next mystery, RAINY DAY WOMEN (due out this summer), and
the sci-fi touch is so light that I don’t bend the mystery genre—not too much.

Why did I seize this
opportunity? Advice to writers is to issue short stories in between major books
as a way to keep your readers interested. While some of my author pals crank
out more than one book a year, I don’t do that. Thus, this advice seemed wise.

Moreover, there was a
chapter I dearly loved that for various reasons my editor suggested I chop from
my next book. Here was a way to save it.

Finally, authors are
encouraged these days to become “hybrids.” That means that you mix up your
projects—some issued through publishers and others self-published. When I
checked, the wonderful Ken Coffman, owner of Stairway Press of Seattle, was
fine with my participating in The Prometheus Saga.

So, here’s the bottom line. If you ever felt a tiny urge to
read my fiction and never acted on it, you now can do so for only 99 cents. You
don’t even have to own a Kindle. There’s an app that lets you read “Strangers
on a Plane” on your tablet, cell phone, PC, or Mac. Return to the time of
America’s first moon landing, the week of the horrid Manson murders, and
endless bad news from the Vietnam War. August 9, 1969—with just a hint of the


13 stories make up The Prometheus Saga

Kay Kendall set her
DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving
her best friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in
Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s
what novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present
atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. Kay is also an
award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband,
three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves
them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 

Wearing Cinderella’s Slippers

is my first post for The Stiletto Gang. I feel fortunate to be asked to
join the group. Already, the other posters have sent me warm
welcoming messages, which I very much appreciate. A grand thing about the writing community is the support offered and received. Maybe there is an enabling factor that urges authors who work so much in
solitude to reach out to others who aspire to follow their path. An
overwhelming generosity of spirit flows from writers who have made
their mark to those toiling to achieve success.

looking at past posts, I see that I’ll be filling a spot long held by Evelyn
David, one of the founding members of the blog and a very prolific writing team
of Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett
I’m humbled by the opportunity and know I have large shoes to fill. And, I’m
grateful to my fellow posters for handing me Cinderella’s slippers.
I just hope I don’t lose one or, if I do, that it’s returned by a prince!
I considered my first message, I kept thinking about shoes. Shoes often seem to
have been used in literature to define women. Consider the epic battle that
ensues when Dorothy gets the witch’s ruby red slippers. Yet, eventually, those
shoes become the vehicle that transports Dorothy home, on her own power.
I was young, after school, I would wait in my mother’s classroom while she
attended teachers’ meetings. I would listen to the footsteps coming down the
hall and learned to recognize hers returning.
when I went out into the workplace, I saw women navigating the sidewalks in
high heels, their staccato tapping emphasizing their focus and determination as
well as their rushing to the next appointment. The sound of their steps signaled
a giddy assurance that they were in the right place and making important
contributions through their work.
I visited New York City, I walked along the streets, feeling a stronger
connection with the place as my sneakers trod its thoroughfares. I had read
that Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, who loved to travel, adored having
someone stop and ask her for directions in a location she was visiting, because
that made her feel as if she were part of the place. I remember my own thrill
when I advised a tourist on a New York street corner. A sense of belonging is
so reassuring.
guess my favorite shoe image comes from To
Kill a Mockingbird
, when young Scout realizes Atticus is correct in
telling her we never truly understand a person until we have a chance to walk
in his shoes. To me, the scene where Scout stands on Boo Radley’s porch envisioning
all that had happened in their town through his eyes is a truly powerful piece
of writing.

thank you, Stiletto Gang, for including me among your posters. Thanks for your
encouragement and for believing in me, a short story writer who strives to be a
novelist. And, thanks for providing this forum for those of us who love
mystery, romance, suspense, thrills, and good writing.

A legislative attorney and former law librarian,
Paula Gail Benson’s short stories have been published in Kings River Life, the Bethlehem
Writers Roundtable
, Mystery Times
Ten 2013
(Buddhapuss Ink), and A Tall
Ship, a Star, and Plunder
(Dark Oak Press and Media, 2014). Her next short
story, “Moving On,” will appear in A
Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman
, an anthology due to be
released by Mozark Press in November or December 2014. She regularly blogs with others about writing mysteries at
http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com. Her personal blog is http://littlesourcesofjoy.blogspot.com,
and her website is http://paulagailbenson.com.

So a Man Walks Into a Bar…

Look, it’s My New Short Story!
Bethany Maines

I have a theory that short stories are like jokes.  There’s the set-up that establishes
location and characters. A man walks into a bar with a duck on his head.  Then
there’s the action that moves the plot forward. The bartender says,
“Sorry, we don’t serve monkey’s in here.” And the man says, “It’s a duck.”
then there’s the ending. The bartender says, “I was talking to the
  There’s always more that can be added to the joke, such as
why the man had a duck on his head to begin with or who won the fight after the
ending, but the joke doesn’t really need it.  And there’s the challenge to the author – to figure out what
is the right amount of information and what is just an explanation of the why
the man is wearing a duck hat.
Tomorrow, I’ll be releasing my first e-short story,
Supporting the Girls, (available from Amazon, ibook, Barnes & Noble, and Vook) so you will be able to judge for yourselves whether or
not I selected the correct information. Supporting the Girls is a new adventure for Nikki Lanier and her covert
team of Carrie Mae make-up ladies. 
(If you haven’t read my novels Bulletproof Mascara and Compact With the Devil, you may need to understand that Carrie Mae is a
make-up corporation, specializing in at-home sales and make-up parties, that
also happens to run an organization of female operatives that help women

And I may have gotten a little carried away while I was working
on my story because I also made a video. 
But when you have a “great idea for a movie” (you have to say that part
like Jean Claude VanDamme), you know a videographer, and you’re friends with an
entire karate school of awesome people, suddenly an action movie doesn’t sound
like such a far-fetched venture.  Head over to youtube to check it out!
It’s possible of course that my joke isn’t that good, or
that possibly the joke is on me, but tomorrow you will have the opportunity to
judge for yourselves and I’m hoping I hear laughter.  But… um… you did read that part about how I’m friend with an
entire karate school, right?  Let’s
just say, I’d better hear laughter. 
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