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...


  1. Huge congratulations. Both on you WEP win and for stretching (and stretching) your boundaries.

  2. Thank you, E. And, thanks again for selecting Murder Moon as the winning entry and for all your encouraging feedback. I'm so glad that I rose to the challenge of these prompts!

    1. Congratulations, Mary!
      As I've said before, I can't wait to read your first Mystery Novel! Murder Moon was truly brilliant! And reading about your journey is inspiring! Go for it, take that chance - advice we can all use. Love it!

      Thank you, everyone, for making the "Thriller" Challenge a unique Halloween treat!

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. And congratulations once again on your win!

  4. I like your story about becoming a theater reviewer. My journalistic career also unfolded from an unexpected little event. Since then, for the past 15 years, I have been regularly writing about art and artists. Before that, I didn't even dream about such an outlet for my writing. We never know.

  5. Congratulations again, Mary. Murder Moon is outstanding. I really hope you will extend it into a novel. Has the elements within already. And you never know where writing opportunities will arise. You're now doing something you love.

  6. Hi Mary - many congratulations on your WEP Win ... while it sounds like you've made your own success - well done ... and what a great career path ... lots of opportunities along the way ... and now as Denise mentions - perhaps a novel on the way too ... cheers and all the best - Hilary


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