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

Post by Melisssgissy » May 6th, 2021, 9:49 pm

Title: I’m Sober... So Now What? A Journey of Hope and Healing

Genre: Non-Fiction

First 250 words-

Chapter 1 My Name is Melissa and I am an alcoholic

My dance in and out of the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) rooms started with attending meetings with a boyfriend over two decades ago. He was ready to admit that he was powerless over alcohol and that his life had become unmanageable. I was smitten with him but I had no intentions of joining his journey. I was just there to be with him and support him. I wasn’t powerless over alcohol, not in my mind anyway. “I have Italian and Irish genes; we just like to drink”, I would always say.

I came from a family that had several functional alcoholics. Alcohol was served at just about any gathering I attended, including church, and most of my friends and coworkers throughout my life drank heavily. Most social events would start with “pre-gaming” as we would call it and carried all the way through until I was usually puking or passing out. Then the next day we would all put the pieces together of the night before and have a good laugh at our shenanigans, usually while partaking in “the hair of the dog that bit us”. If a dinner had ended and someone was leaving the table with alcohol remaining in their glass, I would down it and say something clever like “waste not, want not” or “let me help you get your money’s worth” or “it’s five o’clock somewhere”.

That level of drinking was normal to me. In my mind I wasn’t in trouble like the boyfriend was.

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

Post by pabrown » June 19th, 2021, 2:18 pm

Title: Gabriel's Fire
M/M Romantic suspense

Some people just deserve to die. Gabe found that out early in life that god made mistakes.
His mother lit into him before he even finished his late breakfast.
Gabriel Rios refused to look up from his cold cereal, when she curtly told him, “You’ll get a real breakfast when you get out of bed before noon.”
Never mind he’d been studying until two for an exam on Monday. Instead, he kept his gaze down on the pages of his current textbook, Quantum Field Theory.
“I like Cheerios,” he muttered. “Though sometimes it would be nice to have Captain Crunch.”
“Sometimes I don’t think you want to be part of this family anymore.” Relentlessly stirring the pot of champurrado simmering on the stove top, she frowned at him. The cloying smell of cinnamon and chocolate filled the kitchen. “It’s Thanksgiving. I’d think you’d want to spend today at home with your family instead of out cavorting with your friends. What would your father say?”
“They’re not friends,” he finally said. “They’re classmates and we’re studying for Fischer’s exam.” He wanted to say the guy was a ball breaker, but that would get him grounded for the next decade, even though he was twenty. Instead, he muttered, “And father would say he wanted me to go to college and have a better life than he had.”
“There is nothing wrong with the life we gave you!”
“Don’t you dare talk about my papa that way!” Maggie, his bratty fourteen-year-old sister had to chime in.
Last edited by pabrown on September 9th, 2021, 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by MaryDuquette » June 24th, 2021, 4:39 pm

Chapter One
July 15, 1967

Dear Violet,

This is what I remember:

1. The gray field.
2. The wind.
3. The rain.
4. The river.
5. Nothing at all.

Here’s the thing. The clincher. I may or may not remember any of it. Maybe it’s just a dream I had, a hazy wish, fingers crossed in the middle of the night, whispering words on a shooting star. A longing to be exceptional. Maybe I just pretend I remember. Okay, I was only a baby. It’s a long shot.

So, what I imagine happened is this: The wind pelted the earth with rain and marble-sized hail. It skittered across my face like a caress. The rain - first a sprinkle, then a torrent, then a drizzling spit, adhered to my skin in a glaze, the soak of it in my pores creating a union, breathing into me and making me the essence of it so that any kind of violent inclination would have been almost cannibalistic.

Of course, I was too young to contemplate such a thing, too soft to retain it. But the grass held me, and the wind rocked me, and I was saved. Not in any religiousy kind of way. God wasn’t involved in this one, at all. If there is a God. You could say I was reclaimed. Somebody standing over me, saw the whole thing. Or hearing my cries, wandered over. Or maybe it was a group of them, rescuers in their shells, protective suits and helmets floating around on their bodies like hermit crabs - moving sideways to get a look at this little wet bulb of a baby, this aberration. Picked me up and carried me to wherever home was. I don’t know where home was. You see, I don’t remember.

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

Post by RachelT » June 28th, 2021, 11:02 am

Dear Favorite Agent -

Eighteen-year-old, California girl, Sasha Clems runs along the beach each morning in the hopes of earning a cross-country scholarship and then heads off to the first of four jobs. (Because she probably won’t get the scholarship anyway and she will be the first person in her family to go to college). Then one morning, her run leads her to a beached sea-dragon. With its dying breath, it gives her its magic in the form of a basketball-sized jewel.

The last time this happened, the jewel was auctioned off in the high nine figures. After, that was, a kidnapping, three deaths, and an international manhunt by the magic-handling families. Sasha’s jewel is only the answer to all her problems if she can hold onto it.

She doesn’t come from a long line of paranoid con-artists for nothing.

Sasha reenacts/videos finding the sea-dragon’s body sans dying-breath-moment. She reports the body to the magic-handlers’ website and posts the video online, using the upload time to pinpoint her location as she ditches her phone just long enough to hide the jewel. (Everyone knows the magic-handlers totally have the cell system bugged.)

When the magic-handlers show up on her family’s doorstep, she plays them perfectly. So perfectly that the ransacking of her family’s house comes as a complete surprise. As does a way-too-vivid dream of a hot magic-handling boy with dire warnings about other dragons. And then a series of notes begin floating down from her bedroom ceiling; the old guy who found/sold the last dragon jewel wants to help her. (Well, maybe he does…)

An attack on her grandfather and the arrival of a caravan of black government vans make her decide to retrieve the jewel and run for it. The floating notes provide her with GPS coordinates in Newfoundland, Canada, and with no better offers of assistance, she heads northeast. It’s a cross continent race to see if she can make it while still in possession of the sea-dragon’s magic (and decide who she’s going to trust along the way).

Sasha vs. the Whole-Wide-World (and Dragons) is an 80k contemporary YA fantasy. (No vampires, werewolves or fated-soulmates included (but an obnoxiously ethical, seriously gorgeous love interest, yes!))

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1970s Historical Fiction

Post by sharondotson » July 9th, 2021, 5:31 am

Jack Dare waited until after five o’clock. That way the secretaries would be gone. No reason they should suffer through this. He glanced at his watch. Five-ten. The price of time was far exceeding the cost of working there even one more minute. If-only-I-had, if-only-I-had.

“Those are the saddest words in the world,” his father used to say. “Don’t wait for an invitation to get off your ass and do what needs to be done.”

Jack tossed his coat over his arm, hoisted his briefcase and headed for the records room where his law partner Warren Guillory stood before a bank of file cabinets riffling through documents. Guillory didn’t look up.

“Hey-uh. Well, how was Houston? Why’d Ed drag you all the way down there this close to Thanksgiving?”

Jack opened his mouth to respond, but Guillory rolled right on by.

“How’s ol’ Ed doing these days? Bet the poor bastard’s gone bald by now.” Guillory, who liked to brag his hair was as thick as pea soup had never met a bald head he didn’t take the time to insult.

“He's fine. Houston agrees with him.”

Guillory eyed Jack over his shoulder. “That so?” He pulled out a document, glanced at it, then stuffed it back in the drawer. “Greenhaven was never good enough for that prick. He wanted out of here as fast as he could go.”

Inventing facts was Guillory’s M.O., but Jack couldn’t give him a pass on this one. “Ed practiced law here for fourteen years, Warren. That’s not exactly hightailing it out of town.”

“Shit, you know what I mean. Ed’s was the poster child for unbridled ambition. President of this. Winner of that. Always on the make.”

Jack rolled his eyes, a gesture he would have skipped had Guillory been looking straight at him.

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

Post by JRTomlin » July 16th, 2021, 4:54 pm

The Noblest Knight
Historical Fiction

When Thomas Randolph stepped through the side door into the refectory of Cambuskenneth Abbey, the place was already abuzz. The scent of the building, the tang of cold stone, mixing with the sweet scent of beeswax polished wood and candles, tickled his nose. At the far end beneath a high crucifix, a dais had been erected, covered with rugs, and on it sat an elaborately carved abbot's chair that would serve as a throne. A pity it was not gilt, but they had had little time to prepare for the arrival of the Pope's emissaries. A throng of colorfully clad nobles surrounded the dais quietly engaged in speculating in a hum of murmurs.
James Douglas, joined him. "What do you think?"
"We are ready," Thomas said. He turned back to the open door and nodded.
The King flicked his purple, fur-lined cloak hemmed with gold thread to settle it better around his shoulder and strode into the room. Behind him, Robert de Keith, Marischal of Scotland, a good man who had broken the English archers at Bannockburn, carried the huge sword of state to stand behind the King as a symbol of his protection.
The herald intoned, "Lord Robert, King of the Scots."
Everyone bowed deeply as the King sat, his polished and gold etched plate armor gleaming.
Beams from the windows lit the gold circlet on his uncle's hair though Thomas saw strands of white mixed into his it. He went to stand next to the throne, and his heart sped up as he signaled to the herald.

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

Post by Vivienne Sang » August 21st, 2021, 1:29 pm

by V.M.Sang
250 words

Kimi woke to hear sounds of horses whinneying. A gate creaked and she heard galloping hooves. Leaping from her bed she ran to the window of her small bedroom. There, in the darkness, she could just make out a herd of horses disappearing across the plains, with horsemen driving them westward. Her hand flew to her mouth.
Her window overlooked the corral where the family kept their best horses. These animals were now disappearing over the horizon. She rushed to her parent's bedroom. “The horses have been stolen.” She turned to her brothers' bedroom to wake them, too.
“Are you sure, Kimi?” her father called as she woke her two brothers. He came out of his bedroom pulling on a pair of the leather trousers the Horselords wore.
The girl came out of her brothers’ room, followed by the young men, Yeldin and Olias. The boys were older than their sister, Yeldin being the elder at almost twenty, and Olias was eighteen. Kimi would be seventeen at her next birthday in two months' time.
“Of course I'm sure, I heard the gate creak, then the sound of hoofbeats. I looked and saw them galloping off over the plains.”
Olias looked at his sister. “Are you sure they didn't just jump the gate, or otherwise break it themselves. Did you see anyone?”
Kimi looked at her brother and sighed. “I'm not an imbecile, Oli. Unless the horses have now developed a way of opening the gate, someone did it for them.”

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

Post by lizy2shoes » September 3rd, 2021, 7:00 pm

Title: Carousel
Genre: Sci-Fi

First 250 words:

For me, today was sixteen years ago. This time I’m going to get things right.

Atop a snarling yellow horse on the merry-go-round, a small child waves to her guardian on the sidelines; the tinny, mechanical carousel refrains of My Darling Clementine weaving in and out of the horses and children as she circles round and round.

Yes, I remember that kid, that song. This is the day.

I sit on a nearby park bench and take in the setting, scanning and searching my memory.

The kid, the song, the merry-go-round in the park. I had been wearing that sweater my grandma had made, the purple one. It was itchy. I didn’t like it, but that day had been brisk and I hadn’t owned many sweaters back then.

What had I, the adult me, been wearing? I try to remember… I remember thinking I was tall, very tall, and I had a patchy, scraggly beard.

I avoided shaving this month for just that reason.

But what if I had shaved this morning? Would this still be the day?

What if I’ve made a mistake? Chose a different path somewhere in all these years…will today still be the day?

A small panic somersaults in my chest. My God, this is insane. I’m insane! I’ve lived my entire life anticipating an event that very well may have been a dream! I’ve wasted decades waiting for a metaphysical scene that might never happen!

And then, there he is: the wool sweater weaving through the scrubby brush and elm trees that surround the merry-go-round, the color of the yarn intensified by the clouds that suddenly roll in.

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Joined: September 4th, 2021, 6:15 pm

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

Post by giffmacshane » September 4th, 2021, 6:47 pm

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Working Title: Twelve Trees

Alicia Beaufort bounced like the kangaroos she’d seen the last time her father dragged her to his Zoological Society meeting. Up and down, up again on the stagecoach seat, until her bones had turned to jelly. Dirt and dust trickled around the canvas window coverings, creating an atmosphere almost too thick to breathe. The shades were meant to keep out the heat as they lurched through the desert, but to Alicia it seemed hotter than any hell ever preached at her. Even the veil she’d wrapped twice around her face didn’t prevent the sand from settling in her nose, her hair, her eyelashes.

Another bump and she slid forward, would have landed on the floor if a strong hand had not held her in place. She smiled grimly at her benefactor.

“Thank you.” She tried to sound sincere as she jerked her arm away. For the past two days that man had been touching her at every opportunity, and she was heartily sick of him. Safe in the knowledge that the noise of the wheels would mask her words, she turned away and added, “I know your type, you smarmy bastard.”

Alicia allowed herself a small smile. Cursing improved her mood. It was a newly-acquired skill and she hadn’t found many opportunities to use it. Her grin widened at the memory of Geoffrey Blandings standing with his mouth agape as she’d cursed at him ferociously. Looking back, it was even more comical—she’d learned most of the words from him.

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

Post by SMStevens » September 7th, 2021, 9:42 am

Title: Beautiful and Terrible Things
Genre: General Fiction

First 250 Words:

Charley jerked her head away too late. The scramble of bloody fur on the asphalt imprinted itself on her brain as a shudder coursed through her body. She stopped jogging at the edge of the two-lane thoroughfare slicing through the heart of Founders Park. Resisting the urge to flee past the carcass, eyes averted, she inched toward it, feeling an obligation to acknowledge the damage and her potential role in it.

The squirrel lay on its back, mouth agape in what Charley imagined to be a silent scream. A spot of red blossomed across the white canvas of its belly. A passing breeze fluttered the wispy tail, startling her. She shuddered again and embraced her torso, the internal heat from her morning run entirely dissipated.

“I’m so sorry, squirrel. I hope you don’t have babies at home who need you.”

At a loss for anything else to say or do, she moved on, crossing the street and continuing down the park trail. She broke into a fast jog, not to outrun the shower that had begun plunking generous droplets on the trail, but to hasten her trip home so she could bury the roadkill image behind her rigid morning regimen.

Back in her bare apartment above the bookstore, she stopped in the bathroom to turn on the shower—number one, then hung her sweaty jogging shorts and tank top off the sides of the laundry basket in her bedroom—number two. Number three, while the water warmed, she pulled out black jeans and a short-sleeved top.

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

Post by pabrown » September 9th, 2021, 11:24 pm

Title: Here Be Dragons
First 250

Six-year-old Catherine went into the sea on the ship's third day. Her stoic mother and brothers succumbed soon after. Each linen-covered corpse, delivered to the gray waves, brought renewed weeping from the steerage class passengers.
Johnny Dorlan joined in the grief, but not the crying. Culyan men didn't cry.

The wee bairn, Sarah, lingered beyond her family's deaths. Even knowing she was alone in the family's third-class cabin, her cries went unanswered. Everyone, empty of tears, empty of hope, only wanted their journey to end. For sure, no one would enter the cabin to tend the babe, or find out if she was ill, or just hungry.

The following day, Johnny waited for the crew to take action, but no one stepped forward even as the baby's howl overpowered the screeching sea birds. By day's end the baby's cries weakened. Cold relief swept over the ship. No one pretended to care anymore.

The shrieks, interspersed with soft infant sounds, took Johnny back to the Guardia barracks where the explosives they'd been trying to set had gone off prematurely. Seamus, his brother, lay on the blackened, rubble-strewn floor, holding his stomach as his guts spilled. His screams brought no more help then than the baby's did now.

With an oath he left the rail, pushing others out of his way. He plunged down the ladder to the second-class family cabin level. The door to the O'Neil's cabin remained open in the crew's haste to remove the bodies.
GK Parker

History like you've never seen

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

Post by Blanche2021 » October 12th, 2021, 12:41 pm

Title: 'Journey To Love'
First Page

‘I should be in a convent?’ Virginia Warner spun her head around to face her friend, Dorothy
Baxter. That’s a strange thing to say, what do you mean?’
‘Remember how you couldn’t wait to leave home, your eyes glued to the calendar, willing the days away to your escape?’
‘Yes, I remember,’ Virginia lifted her eyes. A deep groan escaped from her throat.
‘And I’m very happy to be here. A smile lit up’ her face.
‘But what’s the point if you’re not going to have fun. I can’t believe that you intend going through three long years of nurse training without a fella, and cloistered in this nurses’ home.
You might as well be a nun. Good looks are wasted on you. Men would stumble over
themselves for you.’
‘Thanks for the compliment, and I do intend having fun, going to lots of parties and all the places I couldn’t go when I was at home, but I don’t want to get involved with anyone until I’ve completed my training. I want to be the best nurse at St. Faith’s.’
‘Well if that’s the sacrifice we have to make, you can count me out.’
‘Not a sacrifice really. Truth is...I’m saving myself until I meet the right person.’
‘Ooh,’ Dorothy raised an eyebrow and looked askance at her friend. ‘I am impressed.
You’re not called Virgin--ia for nothing. But why do I hear your father’s words echoing in your head. Mind while you’re so busy saving yourself, you don’t let Mr. Right pass you by and you end up an old maid like Home Sister and matron. This is nineteen sixty-six. The age
of women’s liberation and free love. You can loosen your chastity belt, but beware an uninvited visit from the white stork. If you know what I mean.’

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