NEW - Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 2
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 9:52 pm

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

Post by KatieBry » August 1st, 2019, 5:09 pm

I'll Marry You In Dog Years
Genre: Rom/com

Instead of accepting the date that was probably going to ruin my life, I should have run a singles ad. Or just run. Like to another state. Anyway, my ad would probably be snarky because dating is pretty much the last thing I’m looking at right now.

But if I did run an ad, I’d keep it short and to the point. Like:

I have no idea what my spirit animal is, but it’s probably a drunk penguin binge watching Netflix while scarfing down tacos. If we do actually date, please understand I’m mostly there for the tacos. Probably I’d love tacos more than I’d love you. As in, I’m the kind of person that if I’d been held captive underground for 67 years and finally escaped, the first thing I’d do is bypass my family to find the mothership of taco trucks and stand there for hours shoveling tacos into my face. So, tacos, yes. You, maybe. Note; just because I’m Italian doesn’t mean I have hairier legs than a highland cow. Also, I have no idea where Zanzibar is.

But I didn’t run a singles ad, I did accept the date, and while I couldn’t commit murder in real life, I could foreshadow it in my script. Yes, I write screenplays for a living and, because I love my family, I also work for my parents in the hospitality industry. It’s a toss-up as to what job I hate more.

Posts: 3
Joined: August 18th, 2019, 8:01 pm

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

Post by Axolotl » August 18th, 2019, 8:21 pm

Title: Discover
Genre: YA Fantasy

Astral was one tail-flick past the boundary, one metre beyond safety. By now most Mers would have drifted into the rooms they were meant to be in, and only rushing servants and nobles too proud to bolt would remain in the Castle’s sprawling corridors. He listened for the sounds of guards: the scrape of weapons against fish-hide and metal, a bored laugh, the swoosh of their assured tail sweeps. It was either sound that could alert him or the invisible, silent messages Mers created when they swam and moved the water. More accurate, but it did not allow him to ‘see’ as far as sound permitted.

Haughty muttering sounded out two passageways behind him, accompanied with aggressive sweeps of a membrane-ridged tail. They must be a Royal; only they could manage to curse through their gills and still retain that precise air of superiority. What are you doing out so late? He swam to one side and pressed himself against the chilled marble surface of the Castle’s halls, shivering when the cold bit into his skin. Even with a layered jacket and floors heated by magma tunnels, the chill of winter still numbed him.

Astral placed one of his two sensors, a long and skinny strand of muscle ending in a leaf-like shape that grew from the side of his tail, on the corner so it could sense the nearly imperceptible movements of the water made by the approaching Mer.

Posts: 30
Joined: January 9th, 2010, 9:03 pm

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

Post by lac582 » September 7th, 2019, 5:11 pm

Title: The Conjurers
Genre: Sci-Fi

Reggie Kaplan had finally gotten her son down for a nap not ten minutes earlier and was eight clues deep into the daily crossword when the inspectors knocked. Same as always--three booms with the fist followed by a cheery knuckle rap--a command glossed with entreaty. She expelled a string of expletives that would have made her husband and his shipyard buddies blush and thudded her makeshift lunch (a bowl of mini-wheats, not even frosted) down on the table as she rose. Twisted the deadlock, and pulled the door open until the chain was as taut as her lips. “Elijah is sleeping,” she whispered past an upheld finger.

Shut, slide, unhook, pull. Professor Kahn and his student wedged past Reggie into the kitchen, as the university-provided apartment was too modest for a real entryway. They had full view of stacks of crusted dishes and clouded, oversoaked sippy cups. Pointedly, she did not make apologies for the mess. They should be glad she was dressed, thanks to an earlier jaunt to the playground and the fact that she had to do a shift at the bio-baths in a couple of hours.

“It hasn’t even been two weeks,” she noted, spooning another quick mouthful of cereal. “Can’t you make your random, unannounced visits a little more convenient to my schedule?” The professor granted her a middling smile and conciliatory shrug. “You’re home. We’ll do our best to be quiet.”

In truth, Reggie got along with Naveed Kahn just fine.

Posts: 1
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 2:38 pm

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

Post by josepheshaw » September 12th, 2019, 2:41 pm

Title: Two More
Genre: Fantasy

Jim Becker spent the final moments of the second-to-last day of his life on a stool at The Friendly Stop Bar & Grille. He was drunk, and he spoke loud to no one in particular.

“The last thing I need,” he said, “is another woman.”

Sean, The Friendly Stop’s bartender, had already locked the door, wiped down the tables, and put up the chairs for the night. He looked at Jim and checked his watch. With anyone else, he’d have gone to his You Don’t Have To Ho Home, But You Can’t Stay Here routine, but Jim was a regular, and you don’t do that to regulars. That was rule #1 in the Universal Bartender’s Guide to Making Money and Staying Employed. Rule #2 was “Don’t sleep with your customers, or you’ll lose all that money you just made.” Sean, having been a stickler for both of those rules over the years, had built quite a successful career as a result.

“How’s about we call it a night?” Sean said. “We can pick up where we left off tomorrow.”

“Just one more?” Jim asked.

They stared at each other, two nearly middle aged men with hints of grey peeking out at their temples. Sean liked Jim. He never caused trouble, always tipped well, and, most importantly, had an infectious humor that helped spread a proclivity for fiduciary friendliness to those around him.

Natasha Rocha
Posts: 1
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 4:29 pm

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

Post by Natasha Rocha » September 12th, 2019, 4:42 pm

Name of Novel : Storms of Change, the Legend of Dido
Genre: Historical Fiction - Phoenicia 820BC

The cerulean blue waters lapped the hull of The Dido while tired oarsman pushed her badly damaged, creaking and moaning body into the lagoon. The waters were clear and bright and they licked the sandy flat beaches that sparkled with promise. The coastline was covered in dense, rich green vegetation populated with screaming monkeys and numerous colorful birds; it was like a paradise island. I raised my eyes to see a hill, its peak hidden behind a veil of mist. Like a bride waiting to be revealed.
I could not believe that we survived, well some of us at least, for the gods had indeed claimed their sacrifices during the dreadful night before. I walked around the deck, it was scattered with debris and injured bodies. I looked to see where I could assist. A priest was tending to the broken leg of a young man. The tibia had torn through the flesh and was protruding from his shin. The lad was pale; trying to show a brave face, but when the priest forced it back into position his agonizing cry could not be contained and mercifully passed out. For the remainder of the crew, injuries were numerous but fortunately, none were fatal; some had broken fingers, bleeding gashes that could be mended, bumps and bruising, sadly others were sitting quietly crying for their lost ones. I tried to console them. When I had seen to everyone, I walked to the bow and stood there with my torn and tattered dress flapping softly against my legs whilst taking in the site of the beautiful land before me.

Posts: 1
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 6:18 pm

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

Post by jfriar » September 12th, 2019, 6:39 pm

Title: The Journals of L'Ours Blanc
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

I wandered alone in a wilderness of ice and snow. A vast white plain stretched out on all sides, interrupted only by vague mounds in the distance, white on white, a boundless disheveled bed sheet offering no comfort, nor sanctuary.

I cried out, “Mother! Father!”

No voice responded, not even an echo for company. I was doing my best to be brave, but the day was fast waning, bringing a brisk freezing wind. Light snowfall had turned into a curtain of thick flakes that reduced visibility, creating a confined sense of aloneness. Aloneness accompanied and amplified by a foreboding that rose from the unseen, the unknown.

I attempted to return to camp by following my outbound trail. Anxiety mounted and hope sank as I saw my boot prints filled by falling snow, leaving no path as a guide, no way home.

I was so tired, lifting my legs as if out of thick mud, each step more lethargic. My stride shortened to a stumble as my ebbing energy drained into the frozen ground. I stopped, eyelids fluttered, closed. I swayed, sat, wanting to rest, to lie on the soft comforter, to sleep…

But I couldn’t. I had to keep going. Even at twelve years old, I knew to stop was to die.

I forced my eyelids open, stood and looked around to orient myself, seeking any sign to indicate one direction being better than another.

A shift in the wind revealed a shape moving in the distance ahead of me. Blurred through the veil of blowing snow the figured reared and, in one unobstructed moment, indistinct contours resolved into a long and massive torso with thick limbs, a large ovoid head. Some rough beast, tall and pale.

Posts: 2
Joined: September 12th, 2019, 7:41 pm

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

Post by MCM » September 12th, 2019, 9:25 pm

Title: Shadow Relics
Genre: YA Fantasy

Alec’s gut clenched. Challenging a two-hundred-pound jaguar to single combat wasn’t the worst idea he’d ever had. But the jaguar was his uncle, and this terrified him. He suppressed his reservations, determined to prove himself, and strode into the vaults beneath the mansion.

The silence entombed him, deafening and absolute, like every one of his uncle’s rules. He wasn’t surprised to find him kneeling amid candles, his eyes closed in meditation as his morning routine demanded.

Alec frowned. The man in front of him wasn’t only his uncle and mentor, but also his personal jailer. Lawrence was as rigid as a concrete edifice, and Alec was sick of bashing his head against his walls. He inhaled, dankness clinging to his throat, and his uncle’s lips twitched in response.

“I don’t have to remind you, yet again, that the tryouts are dangerous,” Lawrence said, eyes unopened. “You could die if your shapeshifting powers are discovered.”

Alec sighed. No, he didn’t have to be reminded. But nothing his uncle said, nothing anyone said, would change his mind. He was seventeen now, eligible to compete in the tryouts for the Warreth Tournaments. It was Condle’s biggest event of the year, and he had been dreaming of qualifying for his school’s team since childhood. He wouldn’t let anything deter him from entering.

“I can control my powers,” Alec said.

His uncle’s silver eyes opened, two full moons shining from bottomless pits. Curling his toes and rocking back on his heels, he stood. “Show me.”

Kevin Kwasa
Posts: 1
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 3:07 am

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

Post by Kevin Kwasa » September 13th, 2019, 3:14 am

Working TItle: The Book of Kaya

Genre: Fantasy/African Modern Folklore

A resident's biggest joy is to name the local kiosk. Huma estate deep in Nairobi West is no different. And at the corner of Twiga Lane and Gadaffi Street dwelt quite an extraordinary kiosk.

If you grew up on Twiga you would know its name. If you moved in at any age you would come to know it eventually. It was not just a structure of wood and nails. No, it was much more. Everyone on Twiga and Gadaffi would come to know this.

And everyone on Twiga and Gadaffi knew the shopkeeper.

He kept the shop well. He had been there for so long no one could really tell his age anymore. He was there early in the morning till late at night, lurking in the thick darkness of this mysterious hollow. Talking to occasional visitors from within the dark recess of the kiosk. His face was barely visible, seemingly only drizzled with light. Definitely male, and always vaguely familiar. His face would triger transient connections to memories in your mind and an impression of a familiarity as intangible as smoke.

He did not sell anything special. A packet of milk, some margarine. A few shifty boxes of condoms and an array of pastry-like snacks of all shapes and sizes, hard and soft, shapeless, abstract and untested, like Maasai's presence.

There WAS a rumour that made Twiga and Gaddaffi alive to this strange being living amongst them. It did not spread as far as it should have, as happens to all absurd and abnormal ideas.

Posts: 5
Joined: August 16th, 2019, 7:08 pm

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

Post by Roger » September 16th, 2019, 7:49 pm

Page Critique

Title: The Witches of Eastlaund Forest

Genre: Medieval Adult Fantasy Novelette

Words: 250 (To be honest about 260-265)

I am Madoc. A name given me by Darnald, the man who raised me though he claimed no kinship. Our village, Clovenshire,  stood neglected on the eastern edge of the kingdom. Few who called it home could name the king or cared to whom they owed obedience. We lived in a fine cottage with two spacious rooms and a wood floor. Despite personal fortune, Darnald did nothing to hide a disdain for the people or place. As a result, tongues wagged and rumors savaged the man who neither tended animals nor tilled the earth. Minds changed on a spring day in my ninth year. 

Though many years past, the events never stray far from my thoughts. Near the end of its daily trek across the sky, the sun paused, as it has for millennia, over Eastlaund Forest. Four armed men approached from the west, their long shadows spread a malaise across the village. Peasants up before sunrise to turn soil and plant seed retreated to mud thatched homes or watched at a distance. After estimating the worth of the villagers, the men split into pairs. Two headed in our direction, one a giant, his arms thick as the limbs of an ancient oak. Hobbled by an uneven gait, he planted the butt of a heavy spear with each stride. The second dragged a broadsword across rocky ground, he smiled like a man arrived to court a pretty woman. Jon Dore and his child bride, Felice, ran to their tiny hut, drawing unwanted attention.

Outside the Dore’s home the men exchanged whispers and grinned. With the point of his spear the giant ripped away a hide stretched over the threshold and peered inside. Satisfied no ambush awaited, they entered, the giant crouched from  practice. A heartbeat later, Jon Dore burst through the entrance, stumbled across a rutted pathway and sprawled in a patch of muck. Pushing upright, he charged the pair. Shoved back and forth for sport, the smaller man pommeled Jon above an eye. Blood painted Jon’s wide face, he staggered a few steps and fell. Felice screamed and rushed to her husband. Snagged around her narrow waist, the smiling man spun Felice to her knees, lifted her brown skirt and pressed against alabaster flesh. The giant’s huge hands, darkened by years of dirt and blood, tore away the girl’s shirt. Her eyes implored Darnald. “Come boy,” he said. I followed to our cottage, crying at the cruel spectacle. As their depravity took form, the smiling man yelled after Darnald. “We’re coming for you old man. Your friends say you have coin for us.”


Posts: 1
Joined: September 19th, 2019, 3:32 pm

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

Post by winreed » September 19th, 2019, 5:06 pm

Title: Crazy 101
Genre: Dramatized Biography


Phoenix Police HQ
620 West Washington

A knowing smile crept over Officer Errol Cooper’s face as he stood in the breakroom pouring himself a freshly-brewed mug of coffee. It wasn’t the alluring coffee aroma caressing his nasal passages that made him smile, nor was it the comforting fold of the morning newspaper tucked under his armpit. No, it was neither the coffee nor the paper—both essential to his morning work routine—that made his mouth curl upward: It was the slow, meandering hand that was, at this moment, playing down the length of his spine, starting from the top of his starched collar, fluttering softly downward until stopping, mercifully, at the hard edge of his leather belt.

It was an unmistakably feminine hand, delicate in touch yet brazen in motive.

Officer Cooper’s smile, however, was not an acknowledgment of the scintillating pleasure the hand offered (although it did feel damn good) but, rather, of the predictability of its occurrence.

The hand, now playfully tugging on Cooper’s belt, began a slow slide along his beltline, around to his right-hand side, eventually coming to rest atop the thumb strap of the clip-on holster that held his police-issued revolver.

Cooper need not have turned around; He had no doubt whose hand it was that teased him in just this way, every goddamned morning, at the coffee station.

“Good morning, Daisy,” Cooper said, the words oozing out of his mouth in the lazy, unfazed drawl characteristic of his West Texas upbringing.
Last edited by winreed on September 22nd, 2019, 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 3
Joined: August 26th, 2014, 9:18 pm

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

Post by vldixon » September 19th, 2019, 6:11 pm


Chapter 1

Inside the Peach Orchard Inn, Lord Liu Jie expected to be murdered. He appreciated that he had a choice in how it might happen.
As to why it might happen, he reread the imperial notice posted behind the bar:
"The Son of Heaven requires the aid of all men as sons might come to their father. Yellow Turban rebels assault the people and threaten the capital. All districts report." A crimson imperial chop blazed in a corner.
He and his family had traveled for months and thousands of li to avoid this exact situation. He'd hoped to advise Emperor Xian, his nephew. Xian listened to corrupt officials. Everyone knew it. If Jie could convince the emperor to abandon his tax plan, people need not starve. Too late. They'd stopped at this inn and found the notice.
In a single moment, his mission had changed from one of protecting the people, to attacking them.
I've got over twenty men from home, plus Tong Zhang. Zhang is worth ten fighters, but still, it's not enough. If Jie did not recruit extra men to answer his emperor's call, he doomed himself, Zhang and men he'd known for years.
And if I recruit?
He looked over the inn's packed lower level. There were at least two hundred men to persuad. They needed the right incentive.
He sweated, considering his options. If they find out I daydream conversations with my dead children, they'll kill me.

Posts: 6
Joined: September 23rd, 2019, 3:02 pm

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

Post by Princesisto » September 23rd, 2019, 10:36 pm

MOON KID (2016-2020)

Little Mary E was a happy baby, not greeting everyone as most babies do. She was always smiling, gurgling and, even from a young age, doing something like singing. Her cooing had a kind of melody to it. She giggled all the time, especially when one picked her up or talked to her. As she was happy, it made us happy and looking after her, even the nasty bits common to all babies, didn’t seem so difficult.
She did everything more quickly than the average baby. Mary E said her first word, “aye”, at seven months. Perhaps that was my “fault”, as she was always around me and almost no one else. Bob was always working or networking and rarely at home. But I’ll admit, especially as she looked just like Bob, I was happy that Mary E’s first word was Scottish: it convinced me that I was not just looking after Bob’s child.
She could crawl at five months, stand at seven months and walk at nine months, even without holding on to anything. By the summer of 2017, after her first birthday on 31 May, Mary E was running around, eating what we ate, had a full crop of platinum blonde hair like her father’s, was putting words together, even singing them a cappella. I remember her first song:
Mummy piano
Mummy play
Mummy piano
Mummy play

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