Friday, November 11, 2016

On The Block #1 - BUGSY'S MOLL 9:00 AM EST

TITLE: Bugsy's Moll
GENRE: Adult Women's Historical Fiction

When Mob bosses off Bugsy Siegel for skimming cash, his mistress Virginia Hill assumes her journal saved her from the same fate. Hush money proves it, but then Bugsy’s wife requests a meeting. And it becomes clear the payoff wasn’t meant to keep Virginia quiet, but to silence her. Permanently.

August 1933 – December 1936, Chicago

 Even before the Chicago Outfit accepted me into its folds, the rackets were part of me. Always would be. Just like the loneliness that refused to budge from its perch on my shoulder. But my path didn’t become clear to me until I was seventeen, the day I served cannelloni to Greasy Thumb’s wife at the San Carlo Italian Village.

She looked like the sun in a yellow linen, wide-shouldered bolero jacket; her blond, frizzy hair a ring of light. As she sipped a coffee cup of Chardonnay, I waited pad in hand for her to order. But rather than study the menu, she gave me the once-over. Being eyed gave me the jitters, but it wouldn’t help my tip to raise a squawk. Instead I smoothed the ruffles of my apron, tugged the pink scalloped collar of my uniform, chewed the end of my pen.

Finally, “I’m Alma Guzik,” she announced. “Married to Jake Guzik. ‘Greasy Thumb.’ You’re familiar with him, right?” It came out like an accusation, as though just knowing Jake Guzik was a lowdown thing in itself. Perhaps it was. He was a chubby, pinstriped tough guy with a handkerchief exploding out of his pocket and wisecracks out of his mouth. Word around the restaurant was he ran a string of cathouses throughout Chicago.

“Yes, I suppose I’ve seen him around.”

She kicked out the chair opposite her with a yellow empire sandal and motioned for me to sit.


  1. I love how Alma is described without adjectives. "sipped a coffee cup of Chardonnay," and "kicked out the chair opposite her with a yellow empire sandal" give a more interesting, rich picture of her than a straight forward description.

  2. When I read "coffee cup of Chardonnay" it didn't seem to fit the time period. Is this scene from August 1933? It's confusing since you wrote "August 1833-December 1936. Chardonnay wasn't produced in the U.S. until Wente released the first vintage of Chardonnay in 1936. (I live in Sonoma County). Maybe change it to whiskey or rum. Also, I don't think you need Alma to refer to her husband as Greasy thumb. It's an echo from the first paragraph. Otherwise, you've set the scene well, I love the descriptions and language. Anonymous (Sherry S.)

  3. Love the voice. Love it. First paragraph drew me in right away, and you've certainly set the scene. Good sensory detail. I'm wondering if there's an error in the way the date is posted. Might want to check that.

  4. The visuals in this excerpt are astounding! I definitely want to read on, and honestly, the only thing I would love to see is a more powerful ending to this pretty powerful passage. After kicking out the chair, the last part of that sentence with "motioned for me to sit" just didn't match the force it started with. If that makes sense. Otherwise, LOVE IT.

  5. I enjoyed the voice of the character, and it seemed accurate to the time period without being stilted. "She looked like the sun..."is a vivid description. Great energy.

  6. I love your writing, but the pitch was a little confusing to me. The title is also reminiscent of "Bugsy Malone" and I'm not sure if you want that association.

    I love "Just like the loneliness that refused to budge from its perch on my shoulder. and "with a handkerchief exploding out of his pocket and wisecracks out of his mouth."

  7. The end of the logline confused me. August 1833-December 1936 confused me too. When are we when the story starts? I agree with Anon about the chardonnay, it added to my query about when in time we were.

    Despite that, I loved this. The voice is great and the writing tight.

  8. The logline had me confused. At first, I thought "Mob" was a character's name that was bossing off Bugsy. Do you need to say "Mob" there? Would, "When Bugsy Seagal gets offed, his ..."work?

    I also don't get the time/date stamp at the top and then I would get rid of the first paragraph and start right in with the very nice second paragraph. That information in the first paragraph could be layered in after the first page (although hinted at in the first page - which I think is there already).

    On the last line, would it work to just have her kick the chair our and then "Sit." - no motioning?

    Sounds like it could be a fun story.

  9. I loved this. Word choices are great and fit the time period. The opening scene is colorful, and you've shown us who Alma is in a really vivid way.

    My suggestions would be to lose the first parg. First, it's not story. You're explaing the situation to the reader, (who, as far as your characters go, shouldn't exist.) Second, she doesn't say why she's lonely or why the rackets always attracted her.

    And in the last parg, perhaps put a period after sandal, cut the rest, and take grcubsfan's suggestion. Have Alma say "Sit."

  10. I like this, especially the select slang from the time (because there's no shortage of it!). I don't think you need most of the first paragraph, though, since it only serves to *tell* us that this is how Virginia got caught up in the Mob. I want to see that, which I'm sure will happen by the end of this scene. I think I'd rather know a little more about how she knows about Greasy Thumb if she's not in the family yet. Does she eavesdrop? Has he spoken to her? Does she serve him and Alma booze or do they bring it themselves?

  11. "Just like the loneliness that refused to budge from its perch on my shoulder" - loneliness can be construed to reside many place (heart, head, soul) but I've never heard of it perching on a shoulder. And ... it doesn't work. Neither doesn't mentioning loneliness where you have. I've also never seen anyone look like the sun. In general, the jaunty tone and jargon seems a bit overdone here. I'd tighten all this, and tone it down a notch.

  12. I'm hooked. I love the "exploding handkerchief" visual. All other comments and concerns have been addressed before me. Good luck.