The Alibi – Chapter 2

The Alibi is presenting me with several learning opportunities. I wrote about Toing and Froing in Parts 1, 2 and 3. Today big learning is plotting (I’ll no doubt write about it later when I’ve learned enough worth sharing).

The individual chapters are short. Or at least shortish. To me, anyway, yet they seem to work fine.

Of course, I’m still in the rough draft mode. Who knows what I’ll do in the rewrites.
Read The Alibi‘s:

As always, let me know what you think.

The Alibi – Chapter 2

Rexall Shaul stood quietly at the top of the thirty flights of stairs from his AirCon corporate office to the garage. He waited, quietly, meditatively, listening to the pneumatic cylinder ease the door shut. The click of the latch would be the runner’s starting pistol.

He slowed his breathing and relaxed his gymnast lean body as he waited.

He hesitated. Lift his arm to check his Omega Dark Side of the Moon or not?

Lifting his arm would raise his pulse a beat, maybe two.

The hesitation alone raised his pulse a beat or two.

He feared he was losing his edge.

The sound of the pneumatic piston increased imperceptibly as it reached the last moments of its transit.

Quick glance at the Omega. The gun sounded.


He walked quickly but not hurriedly.

Steady pace. People wouldn’t think twice, let him pass. A burst of speed once in the garage if necessary and never necessary before.

Break a sweat and he revealed too much.

Keep it all inside. Maintained.

He opened the door to the garage, glanced at his watch.

Two-hundred-forty seconds. Eight seconds per flight. Not breathing hard. Didn’t break a sweat.


His best time made use of gravity and dropping down the stairwell, his hands working the railings like descending uneven bars.

He smiled and walked to his black Lotus Exige. Two parking spaces were assigned to him as part of his package. He parked over the center line of the two so the Exige had three feet on either side clear.

He walked around the Exige like a pilot inspecting his craft before takeoff and smiled, his personal mantra topmost on his mind; a risk anticipated is a risk avoided.

He retraced his steps back around the Exige.

Satisfied, he pulled out his phone and tapped a number.

The Exige rumbled to life, the driver’s door opened, the bomb went off, and Rexall Shaul was no more.

Read The Alibi – Chapter 3

The Alibi – Backstory and Chapter 1

I finished editing The Book of the Wounded Healers in early July (2022). After taking a few days off, I went through my files to find my next project. One short story, The Brick and originally written in Jan 2020, was close enough to finished I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t already sent it out. More than that, I completely forgot I wrote it. Ever have the joy of discovery when you find a new author? Compound that with discovering you’re the author you found.

A few first readers and an editor later and off it went.

The next item I hit was The Alibi (originally written on 25 Sept 1994). I couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs. It was okay. I’ve seen lots worse get published these days.

I’m being gracious.

It sucked.

I must have written it as part of a class assignment or by following instructions in some book. Reading through the first few paragraphs I could imagine myself ticking off a checklist:
main character described ✔
main setting described ✔
secondary character described ✔
situation described ✔
conflict identified ✔

Oy, it was painful to read.

But the core idea?

That I liked. So I decided to rewrite the core idea.

That’s when things went…different.

The Alibi wanted to be a novel. I wanted to write a short story. No, The Alibi wanted to be a novel. Or at least something recognizably longer than a short story (a short story being something one can read in less than an hour).

So again, a completely new work-in-progress, unedited (exciting, isn’t it?). Let me know what you think.

The Alibi – Chapter 1

Cranston entered the precinct offices and saw a small crowd hovering around his desk. Captain Marete called out, “There he is, Man of the Hour.” Everybody laughed and went back to work. He smiled and nodded until he saw what was so interesting. His workstation had been replaced by a throbbing, humming, blue, oversized shitake mushroomy thing. A too thin, early thirties man with poorly trimmed dark black beard and thick brown hair tied in a ponytail half way down his back sat at Cranston’s desk wearing dVids.

Or something like dVids. They looked like the things his daughter, Leddy, kept asking him for.

A green folder rested square on his desk with a slightly larger than normal, light blue business card stapled to it. The card showed a wizard sitting on a tree trunk, crescent moon over one shoulder, dragon at his feet, and a computer on a tree trunk in front of them. Opposite the wizard, in script, was RBFH, Inc., with some titles underneath.

Cranston reached for it and The Kid’s – Cranston didn’t know who he was and “The Kid” seemed to fit – hand snaked out and caught Cranston wrist. “Please don’t. Not yet. A few more minutes tuning.”

Cranston pulled his hand back and The Kid let go.

A moment later the dVids came off and The Kid blinked the bluest eyes Cranston had ever seen. He kept looking around, blinking and squinting, blinking and squinting. “Can I help you?”

“You’re sitting at my desk.”

The Kid kept looking around, blinking, squinting, and not focusing on anything.

“You alright?”

The Kid nodded. “Takes a minute for the eyes to adjust.” A few more blinks and he stood.

Definitely too thin.

His improperly knotted tie had a picture of a cat on it, his clothes off-the-rack office regular. He focused on Cranston and offered his hand. “Howdy. I’m John Rhinehold. Are you Detective William Cranston?”

“Bill. Yes. What’s all this about?”


Marete’s voice came up behind them. “This is about you getting the latest crime solving tech.”

“When was this decided?”

“You volunteered.”

“I don’t remember volunteering.”

“And you still volunteered. Get this to work for you, everybody’ll get one.”

“Why did I volunteer again?”

“Because you don’t even open your emails or check the schedule unless they’re printed out and handed to you.”

“I’m being punished for being a luddite?”

Rhinehold perked up and spit out words like a bright-eyed machine gun. “You’re a luddite? Wow. You’re the first one I’ve met. And you admit it, too. Amazing. This’ll be fun.”

Cranston and Marete kept their eyes on each other. Both said, “Shut up.”

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Mystery Writers of America “Mystery Writer’s Handbook”

Another book purchased years ago and finally read because a work-in-progress, Search, had mystery elements and I wanted to know ahead of time what I should be doing and what to look out for.

Mystery Writer’s Handbook, like most of the writing books I’ve reviewed on my website, is a worthy read for all authors, writers, and writer-wannabes. It’s focus is mystery and its view is broad. Romantic suspense novels fall into the mystery fold. I didn’t know there was such a genre, but I do now and surprise! my work-in-progress with mystery elements is more a romantic suspense novel than not.

Like all writing books, it discusses character, scene, POV, dialogue, description, and the like. Its real power is in both plot – because good plot tends to drive most mystery and the plot techniques are gems – and editing – the chapter on revising and editing is truly a standout. An extra bonus is a short section on contracts. Many of the books I’ve read mention contracts, Mystery Writer’s Handbook provides a roadmap of potholes and things to avoid.

Strongly recommended.

“Owen and Jessica” now on The Yard: Crime Blog

Subscribers may remember Owen and Jessica from previous posts. It’s a flash piece and always got laughs and applause when I read it publicly. I shopped it around, got lots of excellent comments from editors (who always asked to see more of my work) and no bites until this week.

Owen and Jessica was a fun, quick write that required little editing.

Blood gathered in the whorls of his thumb. He stared at it and chuckled before licking it clean.

It came out pretty much fully formed.

That’s an author’s way of saying “It only took twelve rewrites.” Most of the rewrites were for timing and tension; change a word here or there. One major (and important, me thinks) edit came late to the game; I added the third and fourth paragraphs from the bottom, from “He stood over…” to “…didn’t fit.”

Let me know what you think.

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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Aug 2020’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

This month’s great opening lines deal with two damsels in distress.

“I lay on a metal surface, unable to move, in a dark room except for a single light bulb swinging in a far corner.” – Steve Searls’ My Travels With a Dead Man
Kinesthetic and visual sensory information, a sense of isolation, and threat in twenty-four words. Bravo!
Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Aug 2020’s Great Opening Lines)”