This is the exercise where I give three great authors the same photo, and each writes whatever comes to them in 150 words or less. Their different views are terrific!
Marla pushed back the guilt at draping over a stranger's crypt and pretending to be overcome with grief. Luring her stalker into the cemetery provided the privacy needed for a showdown. Footsteps rustled the dry leaves, indicating his nearness. Each crackle sent icy shards of fear up and down her spine. She tightened her grip on the carnation, wishing she held a weapon instead of the limp flower. The desire to whirl and confront him was almost overwhelming. But she waited until she sensed him standing behind her.
Focusing on the sound of his heavy breathing and the rapid thump of her heart, she gathered all her strength and prepared to strike out. She straightened, whirled, and delivered a crippling blow to his Adam's apple.
Staggering backward, the old caretaker's gnarled fingers clutched his throat. Marla's jaw dropped. Oh. My. God. What had she done?
It was supposed to be a bit of a thrill, meeting up after dark in Kensal Green cemetery, having sex on top of a crypt. Creepy to some, but it fit my wild side and would show Kev I was up for anything.
Kev wanted to do it on Harold Pinter, but I insisted on Wilkie Collins, the king of gothic novels. That had a kind of resonance to it. Instead of The Woman in White I was always The Goth in Black.
He surprised me with the red carnation, I’ll give him that. “To match the red streaks in your hair,” he said, caressing my face with one hand. I turned into it and licked his palm as it passed over my mouth.
He groaned and threw me up on the hard cement, then roughly yanked up my skirt. “Not like this,” I whispered, as the coldness seeped into my spine.
The heroine of my forthcoming debut novel is coping with grief. The story starts with Nora waking to find her policeman husband dead. So when I look at this photo, I see Nora. My book is set during an Adirondack winter, but there is grass in this picture. The ground is not green in the Adirondacks until May, so it must be five months after my story opens, and spring has come to the fictional town of Wedeskyull. Nora is at Brendan’s gravesite. In some ways she’s moved on, but is temporarily overcome by all she has lost. In other ways though, she is shorn. Literally: the woman in this photo has short hair, while Nora’s long locks present a revelation in the mystery. Maybe Nora cuts her hair after laying rest to the secrets and danger that took Brendan’s life. Until I saw this photo, I didn’t know that.
A student of creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.
But the characters went with her, insisting she share their dark, sexy stories with others. She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other. If they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.
Jerrie lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines.
Marni Graff is the author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in the UK. The Blue Virgin (Oxford) introduces the American children’s book writer, preparing to move from Oxford to the Lake District, when Nora swings into action to clear her best friend, Val Rogan, of murdering her partner. In The Green Remains (Cumbria) Nora’s morning walk takes an unexpected turn when she stumbles over the body of the heir to Clarendon Hall. She finds herself snooping again when her illustrator, Simon Ramsey, is implicated as a murder suspect. Available: www.bridlepathpress.com, Amazon.com and Kindle.
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Jenny Milchman is a suspense novelist from New Jersey whose short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Adirondack Mysteries II, and in an e-published volume called Lunch Reads. Her first novel, Cover of Snow, will be released by Ballantine in January.
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