Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by ninafromnorway » August 9th, 2010, 3:42 pm

Title: Remember Who
Genre: YA adventure/mystery
Word count: Prologue

I was sure my spine was going to break this time – like chains wrapped around my stomach being pulled by horses on each side, forcing me to hold my breath. I didn’t dare myself to move, for fear of making it worse - I only kept very still until the bulldozing pain had passed. It was centered like a ring around my stomach and back, and then I could feel how it rolled down like waves through my thighs towards my toes. “Just go with it Cerin, breathe” Ma said. But knowing I had hours of this ahead of me, didn’t encourage me to go with the flow. The labor was rolling in to its fifteenth hour, and now there was no turning back.

I am Cerin, I think. Somehow I felt a connection to that name once. And I may be 16, or so they say I am. Derrick was holding my hand, doing as much as he could there and then. He’s not the father by the way – he’s a great guy, but not the dad. The door to my delivery room opened and Steven entered. He was rushing to me with a glass of ice cubes, but suddenly they didn’t seem appealing to me anymore. Unfortunately he’s not the father either. I don’t know who I am, you’ve probably guessed that already. I have some clues: I speak English, so I could be from Great Britain, or so we have always thought. Until:

”Se og få denne forbanna ungen ut av meg !”

For a brief second the room went silent and everyone exchanged glances. Derrick leaned over to Steven and carefully asked him: “Did you know what language that was?”, and Steven replied “I have no idea!”

And that’s how my story starts.
Last edited by ninafromnorway on August 14th, 2010, 4:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by berinnrae » August 9th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Genre: Paranormal Romance

The guy’s aura betrayed him. Whatever he was up to was bad. Like tearing wings off butterflies bad. And he was walking directly toward her.
“Yeah, I got him,” she said to the small terrier pawing at her leg.
Her teeth clenched as she stood completely still under the shade of the wing, watching him continue toward her. The plane was the only thing that stood between her and the man no more than twenty feet away.
She grabbed her logbook and pretended to read it in one hand as she clicked off the safety on the gun she held in her other hand behind her back, never letting the guy out of her sight. Everything about his energy screamed foul. And that big ball of ugly was intently focused on Kerra and now only ten feet away and closing the distance.
“Hey! Can I help you?” she yelled out, waving the logbook in the air. She had jumping beans in her stomach, but if this guy thought she would just lie down and let him steal her plane, he would learn very quickly that she was the best student her sensei ever taught.
No response. Instead, he just kept walking right at her, unfazed.
The fool had to be an idiot to try to steal a plane with its pilot standing right next to it. Unless…
Oh shit.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by ARJules » August 9th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Title: (To be determined)
Genre: Popular fiction/paranormal
Word Count: 255

Being murdered once was bad enough. Three times in a row was pushing on the ridiculous.

Standing at the end of a long corridor, Nafrini just stood and stared at the massive wooden double doors, nearly ten feet in height and inscribed with glyphs. The path, or rather river, to the “afterlife” lay on the other side. She just stood there and glared at the doors, listening to nothing but the drip… drip… drip… of water leaking from the fabric of her clothes and the strands of her hair. She might have been there for what could have been five minutes or five hours before reaching out to the gold inlaid handle and jerked the wide, massive door aside.

That’s it! I have had it! The sound of her stomps across the warm colored polished stone floor might have had a sense of purpose to it, had it not been for the apparent squish that came with each step. She passed through was she had termed “the waiting room”, barely noticing that the men and women lounging in comfort seemed to have halted their conversations at her arrival. As her anger peaked, whether at their reluctance to greet her or by the situation in general, she pulled her heavy over-shirt over her head and threw it to the ground, which landed with a satisfying SPLAT! Without a backwards glance in the others’ direction, she passed through to the entrance to the river of the dead. It would take her to those who would choose her fate.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by st4rdog » August 9th, 2010, 5:11 pm

Title: The Game
Genre: Technothriller

Money, money, money, Louie thought. Why’s it all about money? He swiveled in his computer chair and looked at the awards shelf. Awards don’t mean shit. He imagined sweeping his hand across them all, knocking them down one by one. He laughed, spraying bits of saliva onto his keyboard.

“What’s so funny?”

“Spying on me, Matthew?” He wiggled his eyebrows and made a monocle shape using his fingers. A bit cheeky, but there was plenty of harmless banter to be had when your company consisted of just two employees.

“You finished unwrapping that model yet?”

Unwrapping was the process of flattening a 3D object. Just like making those polyhedral nets in primary school that when folded together would make a cool 3D cube. As the lead artist, this was all part of Louie’s job. Mind-numbing work, but he was good at it.

“Not only have I finished unwrapping it, Matthew,” Louie said, gesturing to a nicely-finished model of a sofa on the monitor, “I’ve hand-painted the texture, created the material, and imported them all into the engine.” The look on Matt’s face and was just ugh. “That bad?”

“No, no, no.” Matt forced a smile. “The model’s good, but it’ll all be for naught if we don’t find investment soon.”

“Nobody biting?”

“They’re not sure about the market, so they can’t invest that kind of money.” Matt sighed through gritted teeth then meandered back to his small partition.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Xiexie » August 9th, 2010, 9:13 pm

Title: So Very Unwicked
Genre: Paranormal Fiction

“Thrice, the brindled cat hath mewed…” Hestia began twirling about the room before her sister stopped her.
“Do give that a rest, Hestia!” Camilla barked, rolling her eyes at her sister’s display.
“Thrice and once the hedge-pig whines,” Tesira chimed, giggling along with Hestia. The two of them continued in unison, “Harpier cries, ‘‘Tis time! ‘Tis time!’”
“You fools. Why bring up that old nonsense?” Camilla opened another book and slapped it on the table. She pored over the ingredients and frowned.
“Nonsense?” Hestia responded indignantly. “I say, it wasn’t nonsense when we wrote it! It wasn’t nonsense when that cad-of-a-‘poet’, Shakespeare, stole it from us! It isn’t nonsense that that spell, our spell, has become almost a rubric for modern day, popular Western magical spells! If the laws then were what they are now, we’d be stupid-rich by syndication rights alone!”
Camilla couldn’t help but smile. “Syndication rights? Off your head, you are.” She fumbled down the list of ingredients again and pointed to a term. “Does that say dhole’s claw?”
Tesira rushed up next to her sister and smoothed her brown hair behind her ear. “Not just any dhole-claw, Milla.” She studied the symbol once more. “This brew calls for Great Sardinian Dhole’s claw.”
“Where are we to find a Great Dhole’s claw?” Hestia pondered, sliding her index finger through the air. Wispy tendrils of gray-green smoke followed along with her dancing hand before billowing into an image of the animal. Standing full-size in amongst them was something stuck between a wild fox and a hyena.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Sally Hepworth » August 9th, 2010, 10:55 pm

Title: A willing hostage
Genre: Commercial fiction
(218 words)

Chapter 1
There was blood on his face, but it was not his own. It was hers. Mae. The girl who held him at gunpoint and forced him into the yellow station-wagon. Strangely, he felt bad for her. It was difficult to watch a woman being hit. Even if she was the one holding him captive in a tool shed.
“What the fuck Mae? You just had to go, hand over the drugs, collect the money, return. How did you come back with no money, no drugs and a God damn hostage?” He hit her again. This time she fell across Davey’s knees, face down.
Davey wanted to pick her up, comfort her – an inherent instinct, obviously – but his hands were tied. Literally. She lay for a couple of seconds, then pushed herself up, faced her brother again. Or step-brother, from what Davey could ascertain.
“Well you’re going to have to kill him” he said. “This is your fuck up, so you can do it. I am not going to jail for murder because of you.’ He handed her the gun.
Davey was scared. Concurrently, he thought that she should turn the gun on him – Simon, was his name – after the beating he’d given her. Surely she must be considering it?
“Fine” Mae said, taking the gun. “I’ll do it.”

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Camden » August 10th, 2010, 12:01 am

Title: Pilgrims of the Southern Cross
Genre: soft science fiction
Words: 212

March 14th, 2337
The tall grasses whipped and bit against his legs as Caius ran flat out through the fields. It was the sort of run where all the anxiety and stress of a lifetime would melt down out of your chest and heart, and power your legs with the raw will to run. As if by beating his feet hard enough into the ground and digging deep enough into the soil, he could somehow crush all of life’s problems into dust and leave it a million strides behind him. Maybe running here, where running was still possible, could feel like he never died at all. Perhaps escapism would permit him that one simple indulgence of ignorant bliss if he would only give it his every effort.

Caius refused to let his body stop him. Pushing his muscles to the limit through the pain and fatigue gave him a peace, a high. The more he felt it, the more he yearned for a bigger taste. He trapped himself in the present, running from the past and from the future, from nowhere and to nowhere. An existence he felt would only endure as long as he strived to move as fast as a human could move, and then just a little harder still.
Last edited by Camden on August 16th, 2010, 5:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by JPerryK » August 10th, 2010, 1:22 am

The activist scrawled her motto on a roadside placard and kicked the metal signpost.

"The most dangerous truths are truths denied." Cassandra Shavano

The sign mocked her failure to raise eco-awareness: No Trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted. Beyond it, a gravel driveway arced up a canyon that groaned with mechanical thunder. She abused the post because writing graffiti felt pathetic, because she had crawled out of bed at four o'clock to bake blueberry muffins for her 'no-show' allies, because graffiti written with a yellow marker vanished on a yellow sign, but mostly because her protest had flopped.

Despite her creative visualization the previous night and burning a green candle, no celebrities, fellow activists, or reporters were in sight—only two ravens on a power pole, ponderosa pines along a county highway, and the virgin peaks she longed to defend. Spooked by the kick, the ravens flew off.

Cassandra gave the road a last hopeful look and gazed up the canyon. If she stayed to picket, it would just be her, her dog, and a bunch of angry miners. The next time she could try a weekend. She turned to leave and blanched.

“No!” she screamed at her beagle. “Don’t!”

Laced with cyanide, a torrent cascaded beside the drive—dead water that poisoned wildlife in valleys below her daily walks. Extending his tongue to lap the stream, her dog ignored her like everyone else.
Last edited by JPerryK on August 12th, 2010, 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by surlyjason » August 10th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Title: Psi-kick: Red Utopia
Genre: Sci-fi Crime Thriller

There is no sky in the New York Arcology. In this expensive neighborhood, a long orange plasma tube on the high ceiling substitutes for the sun. The foreign light is hard on my tired eyes even with my HUD sunglasses. The morphing lenses are currently tinted to “hangover dark”; inside a heads-up-display is scrolling local police bulletins. Most cops forego the glasses display in favor of a neural wirejob, but Psi-kicks don’t like to implant things in their heads, so I go with the spiffy shades.

Like most of the middle class, I sleep only eight hours a week, but for me it’s long overdue. There’s no rest for a Psi-cop when another young girl has vanished. Same Modus Operandi as two previous in the last 48 hours. En route I found the missing girl’s picture and provided it to the press; it’s already being broadcast on every news node, Worldweb domain, and holovid in North America, if not the civilized world. Not one burly thug sitting in a ghetto porn theater has escaped word that this fourteen year old girl has been kidnapped.

Nevertheless, as before no reliable calls, no promising tips. Nothing.

It’s best that Michelle and I got out of the Psi-kick dormitory. The rage that’s in me now would have everyone there on edge. As is, I feel a little sorry for Michelle. She too is Psi-kick, and trying real hard to hold in tears of frustration. My emotions on top of that aren’t doing her any good.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by StephanieG » August 10th, 2010, 8:10 pm

Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 242

Prologue –Ten Years Ago
D.L. Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe, CA

Every inch of Melody’s small body was covered in dirt. She didn’t belong here and she wanted to get out. Craning her neck upward, she fixed her eyes on the underside of the cracked rock that she and her younger sister Ellie had just fallen through. Whoa—that was high, impossible to climb. They would have to find another way out.

“Ellie—” Melody shifted, turning to her right, but her sister was already gone.

“Hey, stop!” Melody yelled, getting up from the ground as she watched Ellie carelessly skip down the tunnel that had trapped them. “We don’t even know where we are… we need to find a way back home!”

“Maybe this is the way home.” Ellie quickened her pace, shifting into a run. Man, her sister could be a brat.

“Well, at least slow down so I can catch up.” Melody began running too, but she wasn’t fast enough to catch Ellie before the tiny blond girl entered the cave at the end of the tunnel.

Melody started feeling queasy; she didn’t like that she could no longer see Ellie. Their mother always warned Melody not to let her sister out of her sight, and now they were lost and Ellie was gone.

Melody pushed herself to run faster, hurrying toward the cave and intending to force Ellie home when she found her, but something else happened instead.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by aef4now » August 11th, 2010, 12:44 am

Title: Blood Traitor
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
(222 words)

The smell hit Jerrod before he got out of the car.

He pulled up behind the two parked patrol cars, killed the engine, and scrubbed the fatigue from his face with his hands. His upper canine teeth elongated and sharpened at the rich coppery tang of blood.  He flicked his tongue over them to make sure they weren’t fully extended and hauled himself out of the car, the howling wind off the Bay slicing through his thin coat. Thank God he knew enough to eat before going to a crime scene.

A patrol officer hurried toward him as he slammed the car door. Jerrod flashed his badge and the officer pivoted back to help corral the restless crowd. Even in the middle of a cold night, death brought out the ghoulish. Jerrod shook his head. Some things never change no matter how long you live.

Jerrod paused at the dingy studio apartment’s threshold and peered inside. An Hispanic woman sprawled face down on the floor in front of a blood-sprayed bassinet. A motionless child, still partly covered by a pink blanket, lay awkwardly twisted in the pooling blood. Across the room, an Hispanic man sat on the floor, his brains splattered on the wall behind him, a shotgun propped between his legs pointing at what was left of his head.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Ruthie » August 11th, 2010, 3:51 am

Title: Beautiful Sweet
Genre: YA Fantasy-ish
Wordcount: 248

Lulu toiled for hours. Her old body struggled to bring her child to the world. And then, the small crowd outside their hut heard the last squeal of pain. Her miracle was here at last.

The midwife took the tiny infant, a triumphant smile spread across her lips. One look though, and her mouth pulled back, her eyes widened.

“What is it? What's wrong?” Lulu asked. She weakly raised her wet gray head from the grass mat.

The midwife's face was smooth and calm again. She silently handed the babe to her mother.

Lulu held the warm, moist baby to her bosom and looked at her daughter for the first time. She knew the reason for the midwife's horror.

Her baby was ugly.

The newborn looked up with eyes that were large dark circles. They were nothing like the beautiful almonds Lulu admired in her husband. Her nose was small and dainty. Not like the wide, round nose that she had. And her hair was abundant, but stuck straight up like the monkeys that chattered in the jungle nearby.

Lulu kissed the tiny nose. “Ama is here, dear little one.” She hummed a melody of love.

The midwife stood, her head tilted in wonderment. After a moment she left to fetch Asoka so he could meet his daughter.

He hesitantly peered around the doorway. His nose wrinkled from the sticky smell of the room. He sighted the aftermath.

“Come,” Lulu beckoned. “See your daughter.”
Last edited by Ruthie on October 4th, 2010, 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Jaligard » August 11th, 2010, 1:47 pm

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 245

For Vittoria Serafino, the first part of any proper assassination was the underwear. Taking someone else's form was no casual thing, and it helped to be thorough. She needed to be herself again, but what kind of person did she want herself to be? Confidence was in order and a certain amount of stylishness. A red lace thong. For the outfit, she ventured out of cast: a form-fitting white blazer and matching skirt. With over-sized sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, she stepped into Time Square as Vittoria once again.

Lunch was a table for three at Aureole. The crowd was thick but quiet. She strolled past the maître d' to find Marge Evenwood seated already, along with a young black woman.

Marge wore a pink blazer. She had the plumpness that came with age. The photo in her byline did not catch her friendly wrinkles or the rosy glow to her cheeks. Marge rose and offered a gloved hand. Vittoria shook it. She guessed Marge was a control-top panty hose type of girl.

"You must be Vittoria, a pleasure to meet you. I hope you don't mind if I brought an empath with me." Marge said, "This is Madison."

Madison was slim in a black wool overcoat. It was Target chic, probably with Hanes lace boy shorts underneath. Glasses perched on the edge of her nose. They matched her lips: narrow, but wide. Her handshake was little more than a brush.
Last edited by Jaligard on August 26th, 2014, 3:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by lookinglass » August 11th, 2010, 3:35 pm

Title: The Dragon's Pearl
Genre: YA urban fantasy
(246 wc)

The wall of the old Gangnam subway station was a museum for rusty signs: “No loitering,” “No smoking,” “No urinating,” “No magic,” and, for some reason, “No cameras.”

The homeless had set up camp against the wall as they stumbled about, stubbing out cigarettes or pissing in a corner.

Misha unzipped her bag. Four rolls of film and not one camera. She forgot to pack one this morning when she took the train downtown to buy more film.

Wish I had a cellphone.

Settling for less, she squared her thumbs and index fingers, then scanned left to right. First came the office workers, the schoolgirls, the taxpayers who waited listlessly by the edge of the platform. And at least three feet away, tucked safely against the wall, were the squatters.

From an early age, children were trained to ignore the homeless, to not point and ask, “Mommy, why’s that man missing a leg?” Misha still held onto her questions. She wondered where they came from, what their stories were. A soldier crippled by a fruitless war, a salesman who had gone bankrupt during the IMF, or even a demon in disguise, just wanting to feel the slightest bit human.

She lowered her hands. A teenage boy lingered by the exit, but he stepped aside to let a mother and her kid roll in, only to reach into the stroller’s knapsack and swipe a piece of candy. Two pieces, actually.

Stealing candy from a baby, the criminal.
Last edited by lookinglass on August 24th, 2010, 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Location: Vacaville, CA

Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by cali-k8 » August 12th, 2010, 12:40 am

Title: Flash Over
Genre: Fiction
244 words

Women are an easy land for me. It is the one thing I am good at. This realization first came to me when I was in the third grade. Suzie Baker stole my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my favorite by the way, out of my lunch box and replaced it with a tuna fish sandwich. Now, I hate tuna fish more than anything in this entire world. There is nothing you can bribe me with to get me to eat it. The smell alone makes me dry heave.

This was a problem I found myself faced with a lot growing up. Our high school cafeteria was in the basement of the building, which had horrible ventilation. It would get really warm in there because of all the ovens they had going. The heat was not always the worst part though; the awful stench of whatever mystery meat the lunch ladies were cooking was usually pretty bad too. Now, combined those two factors with teenage hormones and sweat glands working overtime, and you had a foul bouquet forming. But, to add to that smelly situation, someone would pull out a tuna fish sandwich from a brown paper bag and start to unwrap it.

My body had an advanced tuna fish detection system in it. It didn’t matter if that chicken of sea sandwich was on the other side of the room, I could smell it. When that stink hit my nostrils my stomach would churn.


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