Here’s how GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, my suspense novel being released on July 4th, began. A young woman watched her elderly mother, who was living in a memory loss center, sign a legal document with a name that wasn’t hers. “Sheila Fairclough. Who the hell was Sheila Fairclough?” laments Olivia Rose Taylor, who has been searching to find the origins of her family while her mother refused to disclose them, claiming her safety would be at risk.

            It was as simple as that. An idea popped into my head, and I was off and running. I thought it might be fun to have readers and writers join us in an exercise where I start with a premise, and you take it from there with just one additional paragraph to continue the story. Come on, you can do it.  This will show you it’s not that hard. I’m going to start you with a few sentences. Here we go!

            Why had he pretended he didn’t have the keys to their storage space? Mark knew she needed to get into it to retrieve the kids’ summer clothes. When Tara found them in his golf bag in the trunk of his car, she knew he had hidden them intentionally. He had been secretive lately about other things like why he was coming home late and kept his cell phone in his pocket, but why hide the keys to a place which was filled with Christmas decorations, off-season clothing, and stuff they should have thrown away. She pulled the keys out of her purse, stuck one into the lock, and tugged the lock open. Tara yanked the handle at the bottom of the roll-up door and watched it rise like a curtain in a theater and gasped. Now she knew why Mark had been hiding the keys.

            That’s it, kids. You can do it. Write a short paragraph that will follow mine. Don’t worry about finishing the “mystery.” Just write a decent next paragraph with anything that you think would work and have fun doing it. The only purpose of this exercise is to whet your imagination and show you can do it. I’ll pick a response by July 4th and send the winner a copy of GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.


C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Her latest novel, Gone But Not Forgotten will be published by Severn House on July 4, 2023. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.  


  1. GREAT premise! So intriguing. I love family history mysteries–and have a few of my own. Have solved some of them.
    Good luck with the launch! And I love the exercise.

  2. Good luck with the new book! Such an interesting premise.

    How about this;

    Tara stared at gorgeous antique trunk that stood on a pallet. The thought of a funeral bier rose in her mind, and she realized that image was due to the horrific odor that permeated the storage space. She took a step closer, scrutinizing the trunk’s tarnished brass and worn leather for signs of identification, as the nauseating odor intensified.

    Tara knew then why Mark had kept her away from this space. There was a decomposing body in that trunk. Her mind conjured up the Dorothy Sayers’s book: Whose body? And more importantly for Tara, what did Mark have to do with it?

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