Monday, 7 November 2022


 Hi everyone, Denise and Renee here again!

MARY AALGAARD won the October THRILLER challenge with her very short #flashfiction, Murder Moon.

Badge courtesy of Olga Godim

Our judge Nick Wilford said,    "This was very enticing in creating an intriguing setup in very few words and leaving the reader wanting more. Really skillfully done."

Here is an excerpt from the ending:

The tide was rolling in and the traces of footprints would wash away, leaving one body lying on the sand, under the water, the other moving into the shadowy bushes and back up the steps of the bungalow.

And now for Mary with:



Quote of the Day: The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. Agatha Christie

Since I began blogging in 2008, I’ve included a Quote of the Day and a Journaling Prompt in almost every post, even the ones that are theater reviews. I thought I’d use the blog as an extension on teaching journaling, or inspiring it, and as a motivation to keep writing and honing my craft. It’s been a great way to connect with other authors and readers. And, it’s given me the opportunity to become a theater reviewer.

The writing journey is like any other that you’re on in life. Some things you plan, but sometimes it takes you places you never expected. I’ve always loved the theater, attending and participating. I was in plays in high school and a few community theater productions, and I’m a piano player and teacher. So, when I saw that the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN was looking for theater blog reviewers, I signed up. I live outside of the city limits, so I wasn’t sure if they’d pick me, but they did. I figured out how to drive in the cities, and with the help of GPS, found my way to various theaters. Now, I’m offered tickets for reviews for everything from a local production of Brighton Beach Memoirs to the touring show of the hit musical Six. Both of which I reviewed in the past week on my website Play off the Page.

I’m a fan of mysteries and suspense stories. I read Nancy Drew Mysteries when I was young. A mystery with horses involved would have been the best! I’ve read or watched numerous Agatha Christie murder mysteries. My favorite author is Sue Grafton (RIP) and her alphabet mysteries with the skilled female detective Kinsey Millhone. I never thought I could write a mystery or suspense story until I answered the challenge for the IWSG Anthology. My story One More Minute is in the Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime anthology.  

During the lockdown of the pandemic, I signed up for a zoom writing class with Candace Simar. It was one of the things that got me through the isolation, and I looked forward to our weekly meetings. One day, she asked us to write a description of setting and mood, but to leave out any mention of characters. I wrote my paragraph for Murder Moon that day, which won the October Thriller Challenge here at WEP, and it inspired me to write a story from that opening scene.

I’m currently writing a stage adaptation of a cozy murder mystery by a MN author. My love of theater and all the hours I’ve spent studying the artform as a reviewer are coming together with my love of mysteries in this exciting project.

Mary Higgins Clark talks to the aspiring author in her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, “When writers ask me what they should write, I tell them to look at their bookshelves and write something that they like to read.”

I didn’t know I had it in me to go to the dark side and create the kind of atmospheric book that keeps me turning pages and staying up past my bedtime. I also never expected to be a theater reviewer, quoted by theaters for promotions, and having this wealth of opportunity. You never know what you can do until you try!

Thank you for choosing Murder Moon as the winner for the Thriller Challenge!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What opportunities have crossed your path that you never expected? 


Thank you, Mary

Mary Aalgaard is a writer and piano/theater teacher in the heart of Minnesota. She writes theater reviews and supports the arts through her blog Play off the Page. She teaches youth theater workshops and works with both seniors and youth in multi-generational programs. Go. Create. Inspire!

 Her website is  
You can follow her on her Play off the Page Facebook page
@MaryAalgaard on Twitter, 
& email her at

You can enjoy more of her work in the IWSG Anthology - Tick-Tock a Stitch in Time. Her contribution: One More Minute


Thank you so much Mary for your heartfelt post, and congratulations once again for your winning flash!

Please tweet this post or share it to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

#WEPWINNER #Thriller #guestpost by Mary Aalgaard @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim @jemifraser #amwriting #writingchallenge

#WEP Thriller #WEPwinner  #guestpost @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim @jemifraser #amwriting #writingchallenge #MaryAalgaard


Our next challenge will be here before we know it!

We hope many of you will consider joining us for our DECEMBER Challenge:

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."

Because of the holiday season, Posting begins on December 1st through the 15th.

The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face) is a folk song written by Scottish musician and political activist Ewan MacColl in 1957 for Peggy Seeger, a relative of Pete Seeger and MacColl's lover at the time and wife later on. It was performed through the 60's around Britain. The track became a major breakout hit in 1969 for Roberta Flack, who sang a much slower version than the original MacColl had composed. It exploded in popularity when Clint Eastwood used it to score a love scene in his directorial debut Play Misty for Me, reaching no 1 in the US Billboards and winning the Record of the Year in 1972. Many covers exist - Peter, Paul & Mary, George Michael, Celine Dion,  Leona Lewis, etc. Read more about this song here.

Roberta herself said about the song -  I think it's the kind of song that has two unique & distinct qualities: it tells a story, and it has lyrics that mean something....Because of [its meaningful lyrics] the [song] can be interpreted by a lot of people in a lot of different ways: the love of a mother for a child, for example, or [that of] two lovers. 

Yup, she nailed it - it is meaningful, and it can be many things to many people. What's going to be your take? How are you going to interpret this title? What will happen the first time your MC sees the face?

Will it be a romantic love like Ewan wrote for Peggy?...Or will your MC recoil in fear, anger or unease? ...Will some light-hearted mischief be hatched leading to a lifelong friendship?... Maybe it will be a job interview and the employer will know that the face will bring nothing but trouble?...Or might a stressed, lonely soul find his Man Friday? 

The possibilities are only bounded by your imagination - the sky's the us the heights you want to reach, we're standing by to take off with you.


Here is an early TWEET! Help us promote December!

Write...Edit...Publish -- Online Writing Community: #WEP #December2022 #flashfiction challenge based on #song below. December 1 thru the 15th #1,000words or less! #nonfiction #poetry #poetrycommunity Get #feedback from professionals and peers. #romance?

See you in December!

Denise and Renee for the team...

Monday, 31 October 2022


Hello friends!

 What an amazing group of entries for Michael Jackson's Thriller challenge. All entertaining, some dazzled, some broke our hearts, some challenged our concept of horror. This prompt took us in all directions. Thanks to all the superbly talented writers who participated. The WEP challenges are such fun, but so very hard to judge.

Thank you, everyone, for your outstanding entries:

Thanks to Jemi, here's a round-up of the taglines for all entries posted:

Yolanda Renée - One Foggy Halloween - The power of a kiss

Denise Covey - Run, Sadie, Run - Was Mom right again?

Olga Godim - Thriller - Finding a stolen relic takes guts!

Bernadette Braganza - Halloween Pursuit - A tale of pursuit during Halloween

Hilary Melton Butcher - The Thriller - A bucalling blob slurping its way into the thrill of life itself … a time line of bubbling burping life …

Ornery Owl - Thriller - Sometimes the thing that thrills you most is a mask for what you'd rather not see.

Pat Garcia - Thriller - Behind the big red barn

Jemi Fraser - Hey Thrillers! - A legend of a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

JQ Rose - Frederick and The Princess - Nearly paralyzed with fright, Frederick struggles to face a situation that is not of his making

Beth Camp - Irreconcilable Differences - The Hunter’s Moon signal’s change

Roland R Clarke - Thriller - In Ukraine, Night Witches gamble their lives against Fate 

Nilanjana Bose - A Different Route To Return - In the end, everything returns via a different route and in different forms

LG Keltner - Only A Prank - Pranks can have unforeseen consequences

J Lenni Dorner - Review To Live - Not reviewing really kills you

Lenny Lee - A Night On The Town - A newbie vampire’s first night out. Will it be feast or famine?

Susan Rouchard - The Trunk - The lights are up, the music begins, but someone is missing

Tanya Miranda - Justice - Crime doesn’t pay

Sally Stackhouse - Waiting - Keeping the power

Mary Aalgaard - Murder Moon - Something evil’s lurking in the dark

Michelle Wallace -Thriller - A flickering street lamp views a tale times three


So many great entries. We had such trouble whittling down our choices. This is our full list, but only 3 could win!


Bernadette Braganza

Beth Camp

Pat Garcia

Mary Aalgaard

Susan Rouchard

Lenny Lee

Tanya Miranda

Ornery Owl

The shortlist was reached without too much discussion. We are very aware of personal taste. There are so many not on the above list which we thoroughly enjoyed, but we felt failed to fulfil the guidelines of the prompt. Even though interpretations can be broad, they should reflect the prompt in some way. It is always hard when the writing is brilliant, but the interpretation of the prompt doesn't make the cut.

We all agreed that this was one superb challenge. And now, just one challenge left before WEP begins again with fresh challenges in 2023! Stay tuned!

Don't be disheartened if your name isn't there this round. Maybe next time. Keep writing! Who knows? You could be the winner of the next challenge. Just be careful to write to the prompt!

FINAL SHORTLIST (with some team comments)

Pat Garcia - "...took my breath away!"
Mary Aalgaard - "Brilliant."
Bernadette Braganza - "Cute."
Lenny Lee - "Amusing."
Beth Camp - "A great story idea, beautifully told."


Thank you to all those who comment widely, especially those who read and comment even when they do not have an entry in the ring or are unwell. Commenting is super important to us both as feedback towards the improvement of writing craft and as a communication channel for community building.

Sadly, this month as in months past we've had commenting issues. No one's quite sure what is going on, but it is not just a WordPress/Blogger issue. Please check the comments on the WEP post or the C-Box where we posted comments that wouldn't take on blogs. 

Please note that due to incessant spamming issues, we have had to keep comment moderation on. So your comment may not show up right away, but we will get to it soonest possible. We value your comments, please keep them coming. 

Critique Prize

The winner of each Challenge wins a critique prize from professional editors/published writers – our sidebar displays the prizes for 2022. If the winner has no manuscript/WIP ready for critiquing, then the prize is passed on to the runners-up. Therefore, it’s important that the winner(s) let us know immediately if they do not have work ready to be critiqued, so that we may get in touch with the next in line. Also important to submit work for critique within three months of winning so that editors can plan their work schedule. They are busy people and work to definite, often urgent deadlines. So thank you for your cooperation on this matter.

 This month the winner gets a 10,000-word critique from our very own much-published author of crime fiction, YOLANDA RENEE. 

YOLANDA is offering 10,000-word critique, content edit, or full novel BETA read.

The winner also gets a guest post here at WEP on a topic of their own choice.  


Along with the generous offer from Yolanda above, we're offering Amazon Gift Cards to the three winners! We know our writers aren't seeking financial rewards, but please accept your gift if you're one of the three winners!

WINNER - gift card of $20 US
RUNNER UP - gift card $15 US






MURDER MOON is a most thrilling entry.

Nick said - "This was very enticing in creating an intriguing setup in very few words and leaving the reader wanting more. Really skillfully done."

MARY, please post this badge and link it to your winning entry. Enjoy the critique prize or pass it on if you’d prefer. Make good use of the Amazon Gift Card. We look forward to a guest post here on a topic of your choice soon.



Thank you for the reading pleasure of A NIGHT ON THE TOWN.

Nick said, "This is a lot of fun. Very visual with an old-school comedy vibe. Great puns!"

Lenny, Please take this badge and link it to your winning entry on your blog. Enjoy your Amazon Gift Card.



Thank you for a true Halloween Treat of THE CABBAGE PATCH!

Nick said, Short and sharp again, leaving us all with a ghoulish image. It could be expanded but leaving the reader to fill in the backstory is the strength of a piece like this.”

PAT,  please take this badge and link it to your entry on your blog. And do enjoy your Amazon Gift Card.

Thank you to all our amazing participants for your entries. We read so many magnificent and magnificently varied takes on this month’s prompt!  

We announce our WEP OCTOBER 2022 THRILLER winners @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim @jemifraser #amwriting #writingcontest #flashfiction #wepwinners

#WEPFF OCTOBER 2022 THRILLER winners announced @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim @jemifraser #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners #writingcontest

Come congratulate our OCTOBER THRILLER winners! #WEPFF Challenge @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @OlgaGodim @LGKeltner @jemifraser #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners #writingcontest

Please join us in DECEMBER for our final challenge for the Year of Music Prompts -

Renee and Denise for