Again, my apologies for the slow response; reason posted elsewhere.

Vicki, about "Stet" -- I feel it's missing a couple of ingredients. There should have been an earlier "establishing" scene for the hardboiled writer, appearing before the one in which he accompanies the editor to the morgue. But I was under a length restriction for that story, and there simply wasn't room for such a scene. So instead I had to introduce him through the editor's thoughts as she was editing his manuscript. By the same token, the murder victim appears in the story only as a corpse. She should have had at least two appearances, however brief, before she was bumped off. I think the story would have been better if I could have made it a little longer.

Vicki and Jon, by all means go ahead and open a SPOILER topic for "French Asparagus" if you like -- but I feel I should warn you that that story is pretty much WYSIWYG. Same reason as above. "French Asparagus" was written for Murderous Intent, and the editor of that magazine won't print any story over 4000 words. For me, 4000 words is just a good introduction; I'm in awe of writers who can tell a good yarn in so limited a space. So it seemed to me I had a choice. I could make the story all plot with a number of complications, all acted out by stick figures. Or I could keep the plot as simple as I could manage, to allow for a little byplay among the characters. It's difficult to strike an exact balance between plot and characters even in an 8000-word story; it's much easier in novels. But I think I'm through with writing 4000-word stories.