500 and Counting ~ A short story readers help write.

Each week I use readers’ suggestions and write exactly five hundred words based on their feedback.

And just to make this interesting, I offer up one of my novels free to the commenter whose suggestion I use.

Okay…let’s write a story.

(If you haven't read the first scenes, please click on the link. Otherwise, the story won't make sense. Don’t worry; there's a link, which will bring you right back.)

Scene 8

He recognized the man’s face immediately. But the strange thing was…Smitty wasn’t looking at the camera. The scraggly looking teen was looking off to the left, toward a few girls standing in a loose circle.

Gino stood up and walked toward the single overhead light bulb on the roof. He held the picture up to the light. Yep! He knew one of the young girls looked familiar. Even stranger, his grandmother was also not looking at the cheerleaders in front of her, but her eyes were looking to the right. Gino searched the picture for his grandfather. He was in the front row with a large, toothy grin. He’d always been a happy man. Always had a joke to share.

“What d’ya find?”

Gino gasped as Sheila’s voice broke into his thoughts at the same time her head popped up through the attic opening. “Oh my God! You almost gave me a heart attack, woman!” He whooshed out a breath, feeling his heart beat double time against his chest.

She huffed out a breath through her nose at the same time that she laughed. “How in the world did you search buildings, as jumpy as you are at home?” She shook her head. “Come on down before you fall through the ceiling. That’s all we need.”

Gino folded the picture and stuck it in his pocket, then stepped carefully toward the stairs.

Was his grandmother having an affair? She couldn’t have. Smitty wasn’t even a good-looking guy. His grandfather, on the other hand, was a catch. His grandmother had always joked around about how he’d swept her off her feet, right after he plowed into her off the football field. But she’d said the moment he picked her up off the ground and stared into her eyes, she knew. She’d said it was love at first sight, and she’d never be able to see another man in that way again.

Gino couldn’t imagine that she’d have cheated on him, especially in the fifties. Who did that?

He stepped off the stairs and bumped right into his wife, causing him to jump again. “Stop sneaking up on me,” he demanded, smiling.

“Gino, what’s going on?” Sheila crossed her arms in front of her, accentuating her chest. All of the sudden, he didn’t care about pictures and grandparents anymore. It was time to forget about all this crazy stuff.

“Let’s go to bed early.” He grinned. “It’s been a long day, and I really didn’t sleep much last night.”

Tomorrow, he’d make the connections. He always thought better after an early night with his wife. It’d make him sleep deeper, so his mind could connect the dots he missed in the daylight hours.

His wife took his hand and walked off toward their bedroom.

“Sheila,” he started, not sure how to ask this stupid question, but his wife was extremely close with his grandmother. “Did Gran ever mention someone named Smitty?”

She turned around. “No, but she’d mentioned him in her diary.”

Okay, friends, what happens next? If you’ve been following along, we now have a suspect. Heck, some might say we have two. Is Smitty involved? Did Grandma have an affair? Hmm…Can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for us. J

Please feel free to jump in by leaving your comments below.

About me:
While I do not write "Christian" books, I do share my characters' Christian beliefs. My characters are real people who come with real flaws; no perfect people allowed.
I characterize my stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of my novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.
Both of my published novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. My third novel, Entangled Dreams, releases this month.
I love talking about all things books, so please connect with me via one of the links below.
Books available:
When two strangers have nothing left but their dreams, they must forge a relationship in Nantahala, North Carolina, a small town known as Land of the Noonday Sun.
After secrets and a mysterious background leave a wife’s life hanging by a thread, a husband must look for answers in the only place he knows—the past.
Now available at:
And coming soon, Entangled Dreams


  1. LOL, way to distract readers with the 'walk to the bedroom', then slap them back with the Smitty in Grams diary remark!

    Hmm....could it be that Smitty had a high school crush on Gram, the head cheerleader? She may have even liked him as well, but as she said, the moment the Toothy Grinning Grandpa knocked her off her feet, she feel for him instead. That kind of betrayal would never leave a man like Smitty, who'd had his heart set on marrying her. He'd pretend to be the bigger man, stand by and let his football buddy take what he thought of as his, and secretly harbor resentment in his heart, all the while smiling at both of them. Then, years later at the 50th high school reunion and after the death of Smitty's wife, he found himself falling for her all over again. Dispite the fact that they'd parted ways as friends over the years. When she says she can't be with him...well, that's the straw that breaks the camels back.

  2. Yes...but... why did the other couple end up dead? LOL!

    Hmmm...intersting. I was filling in the blanks for the directions readers pointed me last week, but I can change. We'll have to see what the others suggest. There are more comments on Goodreads and Facebook, so I have to track them all down before I write next week's post.

    We have about four weeks left to bring this mystery and hopefully the paranormal aspect home and laid to rest. :)

    As always, thanks for contributing, MJ.

  3. "Diary, when did you read her diary? I didn't even know that she had a diary," Gino replied, quite thrown off by this revelation.
    Sheila seemed hesitant to answer after blurting out about the diary, but Gino persisted in getting a reply.
    "I found it after she came to me in a dream."

    1. Splendid, Marie! AhHa...they've both been feeling the paranormal aspect. Gotta jump back into that, but I was also working on your prvious comments of daugher of last deceased couple. Hmmmm...the muse(s) are speaking. Thanks, ladies. :)

    2. This is so much fun. Can't wait until the next part of your story