Sunday Story Segment, writing

Asena; Chapter 1

Welcome to Sunday Segment. Each week, I will post another chapter from the ongoing novel. If you have an idea, story prompt, question, or direction you’d love to see the story go, either comment or send me a message using my contact page and I’ll see what I can do.

Today you’ll meet Asena, a 23 year old PI. Let me know what you think.

grayscale photography of person with knit pompom cap sits in front turned on light post at night
Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

The snow was cold, the wind biting, and the frostbite a little too close for comfort. I wiggled my fingers deeper into my pockets as I scanned the sidewalks around me. I desperately wanted to enter the coffee shop just a block away, heat and steam rushing out the door every time someone entered.
But, I knew that for a meeting to be clandestine, it couldn’t have a dozen nosy college students listening in to every word in a desperate attempt to avoid studying. Instead, I waited on the bench which opened into Milmones Park, a small patch of land in the middle of the city.
I hated winter in this business. Anyone who wanted to talk to you would want to meet outside where the wind would rip the words away before anyone might overhear. Or being forced to hunker down in a dozen blankets in the front seat of your car because you needed that photo but turning your car on would send up a literal smoke signal to the guy you were tailing.
The guy I was meeting was an informant for the most part, though he’d call himself a friend. He had sold pot to afford his schooling when I was at college and after I tipped him off that the cops were on to him, he’s owed me ever since. You’d think with studying Criminal Justice for four years, my morals would stop me from helping the criminal, but unfortunately, my dad’s lessons ran too deep.
I saw him long before he saw me. He had his head down, avoiding the light snow that was blowing. He walked down the street, busy with cars but barely another person in sight. His jacket was thick and reminded me of a gray Michelin Man. His face wasn’t covered, which I thought was ridiculous. My face was covered with a scarf all the way up to my eyeballs and a hat shoved down so nothing was exposed but my eyes, which I had covered with a pair of bulbous sunglasses to stop the glare coming off the snow.
He was handsome, stupid, and annoyingly good with information. People tended to tell him things, which he took to be part of his charm and I took to be part of the job. It’s a lot easier to get info from someone who’s stoned than someone who’s on their guard.
He stopped at the corner and looked around, his shaggy brown hair standing up as the wind got a hold of it. He saw me and I raised my mittened hand for just a second before he started hustling over.
“Damn, couldn’t we have met in there?” he said, gesturing with his head to the coffee shop.
“You really wanna talk about your clients in there?” I asked, pulling my scarf down to reveal my lips.
“Hey, the government’s making it so things are legal, Asena. I won’t need your protection much longer,” he said, rubbing his face.
“Well, Emmett,” I replied, “when you start telling the government about your business, we’ll talk. Until then, you should be a lot nicer to me.”
He laughed and his dimples showed. I gritted my teeth. “You sure are one feisty lady,” he said. “Bad guys don’t know what to think when you show up, do they?” His teasing annoyed me, since I knew that he was right. As a five foot four woman, most criminals didn’t think twice when I pulled up and explained they would be going to jail. It was beyond obvious I wasn’t a cop, from the ease which I picked locks to the way I had no problem breaking a guy’s finger if he tried to get fresh. But, I had a degree and a PI license which meant I was a problem, even if they didn’t know it yet.
“Shut up,” I snapped. “I need to know about the robbery on thirtieth street two days ago. Have you heard anything?”
“Well isn’t that vague.”
“C’mon, the Pembrook case. Thieves stole a couple hundred in cash, some family jewelry, it’s been all over the news,” I answered. I crossed my arms over my chest, but I knew it simply made me look cold rather than intimidating.
“Oh that one,” he said. “So what? Pretty straight forward, shouldn’t the cops be able to handle this without you?”
“One of those jewels was stolen fifteen years ago from an antiques dealer,” I replied. “Whoever took it seems to know a lot about my client.” His eyes widened.
“Well, I may have heard something,” he drawled. He stuck out his lip, giving me that perfected puppy dog pout.
“The cops have been watching eighth and Broadway, they think there’s been somebody making deals there,” I offered the information I had overheard last time I had been at the precinct. My dealing with the cops put Emmett in a precarious situation. He knew that the moment someone overdosed or got hurt from his dealings, I would become his worst nightmare. But until then, I was his best chance of staying out of jail. So he kept meeting me and letting me know what was going on in our city’s seedy underworld.
“I don’t think you want to get involved in this one,” he said, shrugging.
“I’m already hired,” I retorted. He gave a deep sigh as if to say ‘I warned you.’
“The guy’s name is Francis, I don’t know the last name. But he hangs around the Blue Benjo.” I narrowed my eyes at him. This was specific and very helpful, neither of which Emmett tended to be.
“Someone hired him and he made a good chunk of change off this. He’s tight-lipped about the who, but he showed up at the Benjo a few days ago, talking about this job he pulled and how he’s got a stack of unmarked bills now burning a hole in his pocket. Bit of a creep though, he kept feeling up his waitress. She finally smashed his hand with an empty bottle. Nothing broken, just some bruising but should help you spot him.” He smiled wolfishly and I could tell he was happy the guy had got what was coming to him. I knew he had a little sister and tended to get protective, a feeling I had for years done my best to dodge every time it was focused on me. “But, this guy he’s working for, he’s bad news. Francis won’t say a word. I thought he was just trying to keep the cash cow for himself, but he’s scared. And he’s too stupid to be scared by anything small.”
“So someone is pulling the strings?” I mused. “I hope Francis is as stupid as you say. I’d love to get this wrapped up before the holidays.”
“Asena, this isn’t a joke. This guy is dangerous,” he said, staring at me with a seriousness I hadn’t seen before.
“I’ll be fine,” I answered, smiling and patting his arm. “I’ve dealt with worse, trust me.”
“I’m not so sure. I’ve seen some scum around this city, but nothing that could scare someone like Francis this much. He was drunk and not saying a word.” He stood up, rubbing the tips of his ears to regain some warmth. “That’s all I know. Stay safe out there, Asena.” He gave me a roguish grin, but I could still see the edge of worry.
I watched him walk away, giving him a few minutes before I decided to walk into the coffee shop to unthaw and figure out how to best to become friends with Francis.

Tips and Tricks, writing

How to Write a Cold Weather Scene

Hi everyone. This post is for anyone who wants a realistic scene set in a cold climate. This is probably especially difficult for those coming from warm climates, so I’ll do my best. Here are five tips to your character (and readers).
(All temperatures in Fahrenheit)

  1. Shivering happens but don’t use that as your only way to convey the cold. Many people actually don’t shiver very much, while others tend to do the whole teeth chattering bit. It varies. Don’t make your character shiver every time you want to tell your reader its cold or it’s going to get boring and predictable.
  2. Some other physical reactions are a very red nose, cheeks that feel rubbed raw, a very warm mouth (since its the only part that will feel warm), fingers that move slowly, wet hair that actually freezes, burning earlobes, and burning toes. Though burning tends to feel like the opposite reaction to cold, often times when the cold gets to a point, it does truly feel like burning.
  3. DON”T simply tell us how your character feels though. If you want us to shiver along with them, tell us how the wind is whipping through the trees, creaking and groaning like an old rocking chair. Tell us how the snow sparkles with ice crystals, hardened so that the newly fallen snow bounces on the top every time a breeze stirs the air. Tell us how the snow seems to blaze in the sun, radiating a heat that tempts one to step outside yet saps the warmth the moment you do. Tell us how the snow falls, tiny little specs of ice floating down to land on a nose or a forehead, a single soldier in the army coming from the sky to cover the land in an icy grip.
  4. Clothing makes a difference. Wearing a big warm fluffy coat will help, but the key to staying warm (or freezing without) is layering. A character can survive even negative temperatures with a few pairs of socks, a few shirts, sweatshirts, and a regular coat. But remember, especially in the extreme cold, any uncovered part (nose, ears, cheeks) will get very cold, very quickly, even if the rest of you is warm. It’s an unpleasant feeling, trust me.
  5. Remember, not all cold is the same. Don’t just meld them all into the same thing. Some kinds of cold are :
  • Icy and clear/windy- this is a painful cold, but usually leads to a burning feeling. This is where frostbite happens. Wind is worse when the day is clear because there is no other resistance. You become the only thing for it to batter against. (Actual: negatives to single digits. Feels like: extreme negatives)
  • Icy and snowy- this is dangerous, but often times beautiful. When it’s extremely cold, snowflakes tend to be small, hard, and more like ice. This can be deceiving and can lead to extremely slippery conditions. (Negative to single digit)
  • Cold and clear-this is the most normal. It’s cold, but the sun is out or it’s not precipitating. If your character is going on a journey or traveling, this will be the best kind of day. You can even get warm while doing things in this kind of day. (Mid-teens to high twenties)
  • Cold and wet/snowing- This is the type of day where the temperatures are a little higher but because of that the snow is heavy, thick, and tends to be very wet. Despite not being very cold, this can be one of the most dangerous to be out in. You tend to get very wet in it and if you’re not properly prepared, this can lead to pneumonia or hypothermia. (High twenties to mid-thirties)
  • Cold and wet/rain- It’s cold, yet it’s raining. Occasionally it feels more like sleet coming down. This is miserable. It’s not extremely cold but the rain makes everything wet. This is can also lead to pneumonia. An especially dangerous aspect is the fact that when the sun goes down, the rain tends to turn to ice on the roads, sidewalks, and other surfaces making everything extremely slick. (Low thirties to high thirties)
  • There are many mixes of these and other types of cold depending on the climate you’re in.

Hope these tips help. Go out there and write some frigid scenes. If you have any other questions, you can comment here or shoot me a question on my contact page!