"Why?" Al asked.The fact that you used the word "why" followed by a question mark TELLS ME that Al asked, as opposed to stating or exclaiming. You don't need to say, as another writer did:
"Yes," he nodded.Either say he nodded, or put "Yes." (We know who said it, because someone else just asked him a question, unless the question was addressed to a crowd. Who else would be answering? A passing UFO?)
Furthermore, don't say "He nodded his head." What else was he going to nod?
Similarly, when we "glanced at Brown who was grinning all over his face," we wonder where else would he grin, and why there is no comma after "Brown." (See the section on DIALOGUE, above.)
(As a side note, Ms. Nitpicker just finished reading a SENTINEL fan fiction piece where heads nodded so often that she was holding her breath, waiting for them to topple off various necks. Jim, Blair, and Simon must have had severe muscle strain by the time that story was over. There were 27 nods and 17 head shakes in just sixteen single-spaced 10-font pages!)
"Starting a little early?" Joe smiled, looking at her drink.
Kira smiled a bit, "Oh yeah, nothing like a 'grown-up' Slushie to kick off my afternoon binge."
Joe nodded, trying to smile, "Heh, yeah. Ah, you ready to set up?"
"Soon, there's no hurry, right?"
Joe looked towards the phone, not hearing her. Kira tried to lighten the mood a bit.
"You need some time to recruit an audience?", she smirked a little.
(These people are smiling way too much. Ms. Nitpicker keeps picturing Howdy Doody.)
OTHER NITS TO PICK
I think I need more guidance. Send me to HOLY MOTHER GRAMMATICA'S GUIDE TO GOOD WRITING. Maybe I should visit BAD FANFIC! NO BISCUIT!.
I feel I have learned all I need to learn, and want to take MS. NITPICKER'S FAN FICTION TEST--HOW WELL CAN YOU WRITE?