Friday, January 18, 2013


Hi, Everyone. Happy Friday.

Now that the weekend is nearly here, what have you got planned? Writing, editing, reading, family outings? For me, I will be editing my first novel AND reading the Romantic Friday Writers' excerpts. Yes, there is another prompt for the new year! Denise and Donna came up with a fun challenge for us. AND there is still time if you'd like to join us. Drop by the RFW to sign up.

This months prompt is New Year! New Love! Write up to a thousand word excerpt about "Out with the old and in with the new." Write about your guy or girl's new plan for attacking the dating scene. It could be something from a present WIP or something you whip out from your imaginations.

My excerpt today is a new segment from my current WIP, a 1940's film noir novella. Please let me know what you think. Since I am sort a rebel when it comes to romantic writing... especially since I honesty don't think of myself as the typical romantic writer, I put a very different spin on this prompt. I am a descriptive writer, and painting a scene with words is very important to the atmosphere of this genre ... I hope you enjoy it. And don't forget to drop by the RFW to read the other entries.

Sheets of ice frost the city streets on this frigid Chicago morning. Hot steam billows from the subway grates on State St. as scuffed wing-tipped shoes pounds the pavement. Clad in a stained, tan trench coat, he turns onto Maple St. and heads toward Dearborn St. “Two more blocks ... damn him anyway,” he spouts, pulling his coat tighter against his body.

A gust of wind flips the brim of his hat and rips it off the bald man’s head, skipping across the street. He races after it, dodging a Ford model A as “AWOOGA” screams past him. Cursing, he shakes his fist at the driver, picks up his hat and plops it back onto his head. He takes one step toward the sidewalk and slips on a patch of black ice, landing on his considerable backside. “I’ll kill the bastard, if he ain’t already dead.” 
Easing himself back onto his feet, he continues his journey muttering to himself. He turns the corner onto Dearborn St. and stops in front of a rundown Greystone. The gate creaks open and he climbs the stairs of the front stoop. A stiff finger pushes the buzzer several times and is immediately followed by a clenched fist banging on the door.
“Hold your horses. I’m coming,” shouts a raspy female voice. The door opens. “It’s about time you got here. He’s in a real state. What a way to start the new year,” she said, as an ash drops from her dangling cigarette onto the cracked mosaic tile floor. 

“What happened?” He steps into the foyer. “I gotta call from him late last night, but I barely understood one blast dang word he said.”

“Above my pay grade to find out.” She reaches into her robe pocket and pulls out a skeleton key. “Knock first, then let yourself in. I’m not shlepping up them stairs again. His door’s at the top.”

He heads up the stairs, jingling the keys. Heavy breaths huff and wheeze from his throat by the second floor; sweat drips off his bulbous nose by the third; and as he reaches the final floor he collapses, struggling to catch a single breath. 

Crawling to the once glossy, black paneled door, he uses the handle and heaves himself off the threadbare carpet. He knocks. No answer. He knocks again. Something inside crashes.

“You okay in there?”

A loud thud hits hard and vibrates the hardwood under his feet. “Hold on. I’m commin in.” Fumbling with the key, he unlocks the door. From the overwhelming stench of stale cigarettes and scotch, he coughs. His eyes water as the only stream of sunlight fights its way through the haze of lingering smoke. Waving a frostbitten hand, he steps toward the faint light, kicking the remains of a broken dish, and opens the window. An arctic blast sweeps the room in a matter of seconds. 

As the air clears, hunched broad shoulders and bare, muscular arms lay across a rickety wooden table. A mass of raven tousled hair hides most of the man’s unshaven face. An empty scotch bottle sits dangerously at the edge next to an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts. 

“Damn, Cal. How may bottles of that giggle water did ya drink?” He nudges him. A glass slips out of Cal’s hand and shatters on the floor. “What the hell’s wrong wit cha, you big lug. I thought ya was hardboiled. Snap out of it.” 

Cal grunts; shifts, lifting his body a few inches, and plunges back onto the table.

“Come on, Cal. Get up. Ya gotta get to the precinct before ya lose your job.” He grabs a handful of Cal’s hair and peels him away from the table. “Did ya hear me?”

Cal flutters his eyes open. A grin etches into his face. “Hi ya, Clancy.” His eye lids drop.

“Sorry Cal, but ya got this commin to ya. ” Smack.

Cal jolts upright and stares at Clancy. “Now what did you do that for?” His body trembles and slumps back into the chair. He shakes his head. “What are you doing here?”

“Good. You’re up. Ya need a pot of joe.” Clancy steps into the kitchen and rummages around. Finds a coffee pot, fills it with water, and sets it aside. “Your landlady called the precinct,” he said, scooping in the coffee. He pulls a book of matches from his pocket and turns on the gas. “She’s a real peach, ain’t she?” He smirks, strikes a match, and lights the stove.

“But why?” Cal rubs his eyes and attempts to stand, but loses his balance and flops into the chair.

“Why? You’re kiddin me, right? Because you’ve been drunk for three days and it stinks to high heaven in here. So she called us.” He faces Cal. “Ya look like the dickens. Why the three day bender anyways?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Cal croaked.

“It’s that dame, ain’t it?”

Cal shakes his head, stumbles over to the sink, and splashes water onto his face.

“Only a dame could do this to a bloke,” Clancy said, folding his arms.

“She wasn’t a dame ... she was —” Cal slicks back his hair, pushes Clancy out of the way, grabs hold of the chair, and sinks into it.

Clancy pours hot coffee into a cup and bangs it on the table in front of Cal. “Drink this. Ya gotta get dressed. The captain’s waitin for ya.”

Cal slurps the coffee and turns his bloodshot eyes up. “Thanks, Clancy. It’s over. She’s gone. I’m through with young girls.” He raises a thick brow. “It’s women for me from now on.” 

A toothy smile plasters across Clancy’s face. “That a boy, now getta a move on.”

938 words.

Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. Excellent! The feel of the times, the atmosphere - all there.
    And yeah dude, stick to women.

  2. Great piece. Like Alex said- really depicts the times well and you feel like you're right there in it.

    only one thing I noticed and thought I may as well mention, in para 2 there may be an 'it' missing between rips and off?'...
    " and rips off the bald man’s head"

    Fab piece! Off to take a gander at the others too
    Laura xxx

  3. Cool piece. Love the descriptions and the tone. Great job!

  4. Seriously? Seriously.

    You have the gift of reaching a hand through the screen, grabbing the reader by the neck and immersing them into the scene. Really great work here, Michael. All the dialogue was spot on and like always, I was able to "see" everything so perfectly. I love your descriptions!

    And I'm totally laughing with the "AWOOGA" !!! Hahahaha... totally the way cars sounded, LOL! I was SO meant to live in this time period. Now I want to go watch an old classic... hmmm... which one?

    You were meant to write film noir. It's your destiny! :D

  5. Excellent, just excellent as always!

    Morgan is right, your were meant to write noir!

  6. I love the setting you've built in so few words. Interesting way of incorporating the challenge, too!

  7. Great piece, sweetie. I LOVE the old lady, what a character. :)

    I agree with every word Morgan said.

  8. The dialog is really strong in this piece. You really captured the '40s slang and noire vibe. Great writing. I'm going to have to check out the RFW.

  9. Love the atmosphere, and the description. You really do paint a vivid setting. These are awesome characters, and I love the varied attitudes. And no, I don't think you were a "rebel" at all; this is definitely a new beginning to something, lol.

    Any time a guy swears off one type of "babe" for another you can be sure there is gonna be lots of trouble in the near future. Oh baby yeah!

    You're seriously hooking me on this story Michael.

    Thanks for participating with RFW this month :)

    And good luck with your revisions this weekend. Happy writing, stay warm.


  10. Yes, Michael, i agree with Melissa-your characters are so well-fleshed out, even for a short piece. Loved the description of him heaving, wheezing and dripping up the stairs. The noir feel for setting was spot on.
    I wondered whether you meant "drooped" rather than "dropped"?
    Whatever...all kinds of wonderful Michael...and i think you're finding your voice...and it is noir...

  11. Like a great movie director, you placed us directly into the atmosphere, mood, feel of the times. Great job. Roland

  12. Very Good!

    Looks AND brains. Winning combo.

  13. Nice word paintings there, Michael. :-D

  14. Saturday, January 19th, 2013

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging comments about my New Year's story.

    I think your film noir novella has great potential. And it is getting better all the time. I really like this snippet. It really captures a wintry Chicago in the 1940's with so many wonderful and very right details without slowing down the pace. Great setting and characterization! (I am learning about these things by reading 'how-to' books. I am not taking a writing course. I will be trying to get a teaching certificate though, but not for creative writing, but for art and Swedish for school children.)

    I love the model T Ford that screams “AWOOGA”.

    I feel cold in the icy Chicago-wind with the protagonist, as he slips and falls on black ice. My fingers are numbed with him as he fumbles to unlock the door to the apartment on the fourth floor. And when he opens the door and smells the bad air, I was expecting him to find a dead body. But instead, he finds another cop, a colleague who drank too much over a 'dame'. (Love the word 'dame'!) [Perfect for the theme 'New Year, New Love']

    Your text is beautiful and economical in its descriptions because they serve a purpose. No dead wood here. Your texts have enough description to put us there, but not so much to slow the pace; just enough of what is needed.

    I don't know whether or not writing film noir texts is your 'destiny'. I think you could write several different ways. But I think you should definitely finish this story and take it where it wants to go.

    You are so gifted, Michael, in so many ways. I think you could write in whatever style/genre you wish; whatever suits your purpose. I am happy for you that you seem to be getting wind in your sails as a writer right now. I hope you find a publisher who understands your potential.

    Best wishes,

  15. Your description is always like a painting, my eyes stay glued to them for long... Wonderfully written Michael!

  16. Fun excerpt - makes me want to know what happened, and what will happen next.

  17. Big fan of noirish tales here; very nice work! Do you have a publisher in mind? Check out Musa Publishing when you get a chance. Their Urania imprint is publishing my future noir novella in June, and they're always looking for great stories!

  18. I love noirish stories so this is right up my alley. Loved it from the start, you do such an amazing job of creating the atmosphere. I felt like I was right there on the streets of a very cold Chicago. Fantastic work! :)

  19. Fun read! I loved the AWOOGA and other lines/phrases, like "giggle water" and peeling Cal away from the table. :) Have a great Sunday!

  20. I like the man's "raven tousled hair2!

    I was wondering - where's the romance?!!? LOL!!! As I got to the end, I went - ah!! That's the romance and he's through with it. Now for some lust! :-)

    Take care

  21. Well done. Good dialog and atmospherics. Very much enjoyed this piece. It feels real.

  22. Great dialog! The lingo, alone, definitely transported me to the 1940's! I can't wait to read more. :)

  23. What a saucy addition to the Blogosphere, and excellent story, Michael. I love that time period, and I say you captured it well. :)

  24. very cinematic, and yes, we do love us a bit, or bit more, of romance in life and in writing...

  25. I love how the entire scene played out in my mind in black in white. Fluid dialogue. Very believable. I really enjoyed it. :D

  26. Nice! Love the atmosphere and the voice in this piece :)

  27. It transports me there, love it! And it's nice to get a sneak peek at your writing again!

  28. Hi, Michael,
    I think you did a great job conveying the period in which this was set. I felt like I was in scene, from the cold outside to the poisonous air inside that room. All the stuff for the 'period' fit. Well done and yes, you did get the starting over them pegged.

  29. Hi Michael! I LOVE film noir type stories. It reminded me that I wrote one years ago ~ I might just have to dig it up and see about dusting it off!

    Loved the whole "young lovers are hazardous" angle of your piece. Great job!

  30. Hi Michael, what a great story, very descriptive, reading it I could see those old black and white movies. You captured the era exactly. I look forward to reading more of your pieces.

  31. Great piece, Michael. You're just full of suprises, aren't you.

  32. LOVE this! It has a VERY film noir feel to it! I can almost hear the detective reading the opening lines... :D

    Hope you're having a lovely, chilly! week, BB~ <3 *hugs*

  33. what a cool excerpt! Sounds like the beginnings of a great novel :)

  34. The genre is right, the writing is terrific, and it got me thinking of the past. I still am.

  35. Very well crafted as usual. I enjoy the detailing in your stories always, and this one is no exception. My apologies for getting here so late.