Guest Blogger: Stephen D. Rogers on "Shot to Death" (Mainly Murder Press, 2010)

Today, Pulp Serenade has a guest blogger: Stephen D. Rogers, author of the new collection of stories Shot to Death, just out from Mainly Murder Press. As part of his month-long blog tour, Stephen is stopping at different blogs and sharing the first line of one of his tales, and then giving us the back-story about it. He also includes information on how to win a free copy of the book, and will be dropping by to answer any questions you have in the comments section of this post.

Without further ado, I am handing over the Pulp Serenade reigns to Stephen D. Rogers!


"I was still three blowjobs short of rent when I was rousted and brought downtown." - ROUSTED

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.

Confession time. That opening throws me. My problem with it is that the line seems to bring the story to fruition. Her desire was to make rent and despite her best efforts she failed. What else is there to say?

Searching for that answer, I delve into her character. She's prostituting herself not because of a drug habit or a pimp but because she's trying to make rent. That need to make rentinstead of simply crashing somewhere leads me to think she has a child.

She's a working (the streets) mother who wants to protect her child from the trauma of losing their home. She's well spoken and thus probably educated. She's down on her luck but in there swinging. I'm in her corner.

She's rousted. For soliciting? Eh. Under the guise of being rousted, she's brought downtown for another reason altogether. She's a possible victim. She's a possible witness. She's a possible suspect.

How do those possibilities tie in to her given desire to pay the rent? To the deeper desire to protect her child?

Will she be a victim, witness, or suspect? Can she be all three? We often are. Especially if we're trying to do the best for someone we love.

All that remains is 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.


  1. That's another great opening line. How important are opening lines to you Stephen?

  2. To me, opening lines are everything. They not only inspire me to write a story, they give shape to that story.

  3. Hey Paul,

    Opening lines are very important to me. They not only inspire me to write a story, they give me the shape of that story. Or they do if they know what's good for them.


  4. Sorry about the double post. Having some trouble with the different ways to comment. An earlier comment still hasn't shown, although I suppose it might later.

    What I said earlier was that if the men in the Pulp Sernade graphic are detectives, the picture might serve as an illustration for the ROUSTED.


  5. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks again for dropping by Pulp Serenade this afternoon. After reading all the first lines for your collection, here is a question I've been meaning to ask:

    The first line to a story like "Rousted" seems to say a lot about the whole story. Was it the "first line" that you wrote, or did you consider other opening lines as well?

    In general, are "first lines" something you write at the beginning, or do they come later as part of the writing process?

    Thanks again!

  6. Hey Cullen,

    These first lines usually come as they appear.

    That said, this line from ROUSTED came to me as, "I was three blowjobs short of rent when the police rousted me." But then I fixed it when I set it down.

  7. A great opening but someone should tell her, not to talk with her mouth full.

  8. Hey Archavist,

    Nobody said she ever talked.


  9. Jedidiah,

    Or so she'd have us believe.


  10. Sorry for chiming in late here. The opening makes me want to find out more. It does seem to sum up the end result of what's happened, i.e. three bj's short, not making rent, getting busted. But it doesn't explain why, or what happens next, which for me, makes that opening an attention grabber. I think your probing questions are exactly what would go through the reader's mind. Though Jedidiah raises a good point, what makes us so certain from that opening sentence that the protagonist is female? Could be a male.

  11. Jason,

    I felt the speaker had to be a female because of the emphasis on making rent. That just struck me as "protecting the nest" to protect a young chick. I'm not sure how many male prostitutes are caring for children, but that's an interesting idea for another time.



"Test Tube Baby" by Sam Fuller (1936)

Test Tube Baby is the second novel from Samuel Fuller (here credited as “Sam Fuller”). Published in 1936 by Godwin, Publishers, it is among...