Thursday, December 16, 2010


Good Morning All,

I just wanted to share with my blog friends that I made it as a finalist in OPEN CITY magazine's short story contest. I submitted THROUGH SHADES OF GRAY in early October. I hadn't heard anything until this afternoon. They had already picked the winner. It would have been much more exciting if they had informed the finalists first and then announced the winner. At least I didn't have to sweat it out and be disappointed.

This was my first favorable acknowledgement from a publication in almost a year. So I am thrilled.

Here is the first 500 of my 5000 word entry.

Through Shades of Gray
Leaving the cold, dank winter behind, I start my car and begin to drive down the skeletal tree-lined street. Turning left at the edge of the park, I motor toward the highway, ready for my escape. The sunlight so present in the south has abandoned the north for what seems like years. Gray skies persist, day after day, and month after month. It has taken its toll on me. 

I have only one thought as I continue the long drive from Chicago to Florida: the sun. How much I took it for granted when I moved to Chicago four years ago from the very place I’m so desperate to return. Then, I could’t wait to move back north. I had missed the four seasons. Little did I know how much the north has changed. No longer did the bright summer days last forever. Overcast skies dominated, covering the little light that broke through the mass of clouds. When the green summer leaves turned brown, I ached for the crisp, sunny days I remembered from long ago.

This year disappointed me just like the others had. The winds turned icy as the trees in the park withered. I looked forward to the first snow. The white powder clinging to the branches and edging the windowsills of buildings, frosted the city with an iridescent glimmer. 

Snow began to fall by late November. The magic was over before it began. The sun hadn’t shone for weeks. One day melted into another. What day is it? I kept asking myself. Is it Christmas yet? Not yet, but soon.

I recall how I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over. For most, it’s a joyous time. It had been for me too, once, but lately Christmas seemed too much of a hassle. Honestly, I don’t know how I lived through it. New Year’s Eve culminated the end of yet another uneventful year.

Traffic halts as several Mack trucks enter from the on ramp. I change lanes, avoiding the caravan. Despite the congestion, I’m glad to leave the gloominess of winter.

The email I had received from Gabrielle a month ago surprised me. She would be working overseas for the next four months and wondered if I’d house sit for her. We were tight once, but that was in college. She split after graduation. She had heard of my dismal prospects from a mutual friend and thought a change of scenery might be good for me. Hmm, a townhouse on the beach; I’d be a fool to refuse. 

“You can really use a tan. You look like a vampire,” she so subtly pointed out after viewing pics of me on Facebook.  

It’s been years since I’ve had one. The veins in my biceps read like a roadmap running down my arms. And my mass of dark hair and pitch-black eyes do contrast too heavily with my stark, white skin. So here I am, weaving in and out of traffic on my way to the sun and sea.


  1. I can see why you are a finalist! Well done and congrats!

  2. oh good job Mike and next time you'll clinch it fer sure

  3. Michael, What a engrossing narrative that draws the reader in with description and mood. Bravo. And like Joanna said, it is only a matter of time before you win.

  4. Thanks, Renae. Very sweet of you to say.

    Joanna, thanks for your support.

    Roland, that means so much coming from you, the master of engrossing narrative.

  5. Congrats on being a finalist! That's awesome. You are pretty great at description and pulling the reader in.

  6. Congratulations!!! That's huge! I loved it. Nice job!

  7. You are, indeed, a talented writer and congratulations on your finalist status in the competition - it is never easy to compete with others of talent or to be seen above the crowd, so even if it isn't first prize it is still a big deal! I shall follow your course with interest (found you on Crystal's blog).
    I am at

  8. Congratulations, Michael! Fabulous to have some of your work recognized! (and nice detail for your query letter if you win!)

  9. NY Magazine! That's HUGE. You are a NY Magazine finalist - yahoo!!!

    Thank you for sharing this fantastic segment. I agree wholeheartedly with everything Roland said. And, um, not to be greedy, but...we will get to read more of it, yes?

  10. Hey, that's awesome!! Now you can say I'm a finalist in New York's Open City magazine. That is so cool!

  11. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing part of your piece!

  12. This is fantastic! Congrats on being a finalist! You deserve it.

  13. Bravo Michael. Congratulations on being a finalist. Great stuff I can feel his yearning for the sun. :O)

  14. Go you! That's so awesome Michael :)


  15. This is really fantastic Michael. I love the imagery and there's such a pensive feeling, but still hope too. I just loved it. :) And congratulations!! Very well deserved.