Thanks so much for your comments–I’m learning from them!  🙂  
I think I’m going to post at least a couple of other scenes, at least until I’ve introduced all the major characters.  If you’ve taken my fiction classes, you know that in the beginning (prior to the inciting incident, which hasn’t happened yet), I strive to do these things: 
  • introduce the protagonist and reveal her admirable qualities
  • reveal the genre. This isn’t exactly a mystery–detective chases bad guy–nor is it strictly a thriller (showdown between good protagonist and villain).  It’s a bit of a hybrid. 
  • give the protagonist (Briley) an obvious problem 
  • reveal the protagonist’s hidden need 
  • introduce the other main characters.  
Believe it or not, your comments are helping me know if I’m hitting my marks or not.  🙂  And yes, Jackie, it’s present tense.  I’ve written my last several novels in present tense, and I love its immediacy. Plus, when you write in present tense, the reader is with the character in present story time, so you’re never quite sure if the character is going to survive or not.  (In past tense, it’s a given that the character survived long enough to tell the story. A couple of film exceptions: SUNSET BLVD, THE BUCKET LIST.)  
Anyway, here’s the third scene.  One more tomorrow, and I think that’ll be it.  🙂


In the waiting room outside the morgue at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, Erin Tomassi shivers beneath a thin blanket and rubs her hands over her arms. Her brain buzzes with the faint beginnings of a headache while disjointed memories of the morning jostle in her mind. Impossible to believe that she’s sitting in a public place in her pajamas. Impossible to believe that Jeffrey lies in the room beyond, lifeless and blue. 

She stares at her hand and counts off five fingertips, one for each year of their marriage. Jeffrey is thirty-five years old; men of that age do not die in their sleep. But dead is what he is, or so the EMTs insist. They have to be mistaken, because Jeffrey Tomassi is king of whatever hill he’s climbing. When it comes, Death will have to wait for an appointment like everyone else. 

An older man in a lab coat steps into the small room and offers a sad smile. “Coffee?” he says, gesturing toward a pot on a counter. “It’s not very good, but it’s hot.” 

She shakes her head. “I’m fine.” 

He moves toward the counter and takes a foam cup from a slanted stack. As he pours the steaming liquid, he glances in her direction. “Do you need me to call someone to pick you up?” 

“The—my father in law is on his way.” 

The man pours two sugar packets into his cup, then stirs the brew with a ball point pen from his pocket. “Never a spoon around when you need one,” he says, tossing her a vague smile. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cup of coffee?” 

“Never learned to like it.” She bites her lip, horrified that the words have sprung so easily to her lips in Jeffrey’s absence. If he were here, he’d tell her to take the coffee, drink it, and be glad for it, because one never offended voters by refusing acts of kindness. 

She lowers her eyes, afraid the man might see a trace of the emotions warring in her breast. Jeffrey might be dead . . . and if he is, she is free. Free to refuse cups of coffee, to sleep past seven, to stay in her room and ignore the clamoring world. If she can trust what the EMTs told her, Jeffrey is gone and she will finally be able to put on her nightclothes and go to bed with a sense of relief instead of dread. 

But Jeffrey can’t be dead. Because the city is still running, the sun still shining, and the planet still turning. Most telling, she is still breathing . . . and Jeffrey always said she’d die before he did. 

He’d make sure of it. 


  1. Jackie Colburn

    I like the present tense. Any possibility the “past” fiction culture may change? hehe I find the first person present just pulls the reader right into the story. Psychic distance is nearly zero.

    Do you know if editors or agents will readily accept present tense fron a newby?

    Off to my day job……….

  2. sara

    okay, that was gripping and I found myself, again, wanting more…is Jeffrey the diabetic? Is he really dead? Are you really sure you will only give us one more?!

  3. Angela

    I think past tense will always be preferred–after all, it has its advantages, too, especially in historical fiction, frame stories, memoirs, etc. It’s definitely the standard, and it may remain so.

    I think editors and agents will be enthusiastic over any story as long as it’s well-written and intriguing. And some genres call for present tense–chick lit, for instance, is usually done in present tense, first person.


  4. Accidental Poet

    well that rocks, Mrs Hunt 🙂

    so she killed him but she doesn’t know she killed him, is how I’m reading it.

    Looking forward to it!

  5. Mocha with Linda


    And I love the tense. Present tense as well as how tense I feel when I read it! LOL

    Soooo, did she forget she killed him (unlikely) or is she in denial or did she think he would somehow manage to rise above the insulin overdose? Or did he just mess with her mind so much that she doesn’t know which way is up any more?

    Feel free to give us more than one more day!!

  6. Kay

    Nowhere in chapter one does it say that it’s the wife who killed him. We infer that. But, it is a mystery after all…

    hmmm, I am intrigued. that’s for sure.

  7. Kay

    I guess it is pretty strong inferred. Darn it. I thought I was on to something.

  8. Anonymous

    Is it possible that Jeffrey is quite another gunky husband who “needed killin'” (as they say in the South)? Well, Dr. Hunt, guess you have to whip this one off in a hurry, ‘cuz all of us are dying (figuratively) to read the whole thing! Can’t wait till tomorrow. Clyde

  9. Anonymous

    I personally don’t like present tense. For some reason it always makes me more aware that I’m reading a STORY; the writing always stays very . . . present . . . in my mind as I read. That being said, I always like your books very much despite the tense issue, because they are so well written. I can’t wait to read this one when it’s finished.

  10. Kerry Krycho

    Very intriguing, Angie!

    I too, thought the husband had messed with her head so she couldn’t remember doing him in. Now I wonder… could it be a mistress? Is it even the same guy?

    I’m hooked! 🙂

  11. Smilingsal

    It is difficult for me to read a bit and stop–for how long? Talk about torture!

    Now for my in-put:
    Emotional abuse is quite scary. I am a tad fearful for Erin’s past.

    BTW: it should be “father-in-law” with the hyphens. 🙂


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