The First Two Pages: “Living on Borrowed Time” by Melissa H. Blaine

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

The new anthology Crime Travel boasts not only one of the most intriguing themes that I remember—”Stories of Crime and Time Travel,” as the subtitle explains—but also a great line-up of authors, a mix that includes some of the great short story writers working in the genre today and some newer talents on the scene; the full list of contributors includes James Blakey, Melissa H. Blaine, Michael Bracken, Anna Castle, Brendan DuBois, David Dean, John M. Floyd, Barb Goffman, Heidi Hunter, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Adam Meyer, Barbara Monajem, Korina Moss, and Cathy Wiley—and I’m proud to have my own story, “Hard Return,” included as well. The collection also boasts a great editor, Barb Goffman, who first came up with this idea, and a killer cover, as you can see in the photo above—and who says you can’t judge a book by that, right?

Crime Travel officially releases this coming Sunday—on December 8, Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (no lie!)—and the Barnes and Noble in Fairfax, VA, is hosting a launch for the anthology that afternoon. I’m pleased to help celebrate the collection as well by welcoming a series of contributors here at the First Two Pages to offer insights on the craft choices they made in their stories. First up is Melissa H. Blaine on her story “Living on Borrowed Time,” and over the next two weeks, Heidi Hunter and Adam Meyer will also be appearing. Stay tuned for those posts! …unless you’re a time traveler yourself and have already read them elsewhere, I mean.

“Living on Borrowed Time” is only the second published short story by Melissa H. Blaine, though she’s been plenty busy as both a writer and a coach, having ghostwritten more than 20 nonfiction texts and helped develop many more and having coached other creative folks to (in her words) “delete the doubt” (I love that phrase). She’s also nicely reflective on the writing process in her essay, as you’ll see below.

You can find out more about Melissa and her work at her website——or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.


8 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Living on Borrowed Time” by Melissa H. Blaine

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “The Fourteenth Floor” by Adam Meyer – Art Taylor

  2. Patricia Dusenbury

    What a fabulous beginning–based on a very intriguing premise. I want to read the rest of the story, and if this is any indication of the quality in the anthology, al of the others. Crime Travel is being added to my Christmas list.

  3. Barb Goffman

    Love this post, Melissa. You approach writing stories differently than I do, and now you’ve got me thinking. Plus I love your description of “the time tourism train” meeting “moral dilemma mountain.”

    1. Melissa H Blaine

      Thanks, Barb. To be fair, this makes it sound like I have more of a plan than I ever do . Mostly, questions and ideas swirl around for a while and then find each other 😉

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