Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:26 pm

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

Post by TheresaMilstein » June 9th, 2010, 2:30 pm

Title: The Disappearances
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 244 Words

Walmart was the first to disappear.
I sat with my knees folded on the rickety olive recliner, with Adam sprawled at the foot of it. We were supposed to be finishing a boring book by reading alternating chapters and sharing them.
Adam stared out the window, when I snapped; “It’s not fair if I’m the only one reading. The report’s due tomorrow, remember?”
“Relax, Eve. We only have a few more pages to go and I’m sure whatever we turn in will be as good anyone else’s in the class.” He turned back to the window.
“You’re not even trying to finish!” I complained.
Adam got up and peered through the glass. “It’s so weird out there. Take a look.”
“What’s weird?” I asked as I joined him, but he didn’t have to answer. The fog crept in, wrapping itself around everything outside - houses, trees, cars, mailboxes. It was so thick; you’d believe that it would have substance if you touched it.
“Look up.” Adam nudged my arm. Stars sprinkled the sky and the moon shone like that sun. That wasn't the sky you'd normally get on a foggy night.
“What is it?” I felt my skin prick in the warm living room.
“Let’s find out.”
I didn’t complain about not completing the book or the report, because I knew something out of the ordinary was going on and Adam wanted to be a part of it.
We ran to the front door.

Susan B-K
Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:33 pm

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

Post by Susan B-K » June 9th, 2010, 2:36 pm

Title: Boundary Street
Genre: Memoir
273 words

Hong Kong, 1994

I tried the doorknob but it only jiggled. Perhaps my roommate Na Wei had returned and locked it from the inside. But after knocking loudly on the door several times, all I heard were crickets chirping outside the screened hall window.

Great. My key and wallet were inside my dorm room and I was locked out on a Saturday night, half a world from home, isolated on a mountain campus where I hardly knew anyone. Although I had studied at this university several years back, I had just returned a few weeks ago to start graduate school and recognized few faces on campus.

Moments earlier I had been on the hall phone with my friend Jean, who had also recently moved to Hong Kong. I knew I could stay at her apartment, a forty minute bus ride north. And I wouldn’t have thought twice about going outside in typical Hong Kong indoor attire: rubber slippers, an oversized t-shirt, and short gym shorts. This was no time for propriety, but it was a moot point. I didn’t even have fifty cents for the bus ride.

My watch read eleven o’clock, which meant Na Wei, a computer science PhD student from Beijing, wouldn’t return until the next morning. She spent most nights with her boyfriend, a gaunt engineering student from Fujian province, and never came back to our room this late. It was pointless to think about locating her. Even if I had known how to find her, I would have felt awkward barging in on them this late.

Then I remembered the guard at the reception desk downstairs kept spare keys.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:36 pm

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

Post by sarabee » June 9th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Title: To Jocelyn With Love
Genre: Young Adult
Word Count: 250

On the day everything changed, before I knew the truth about my mother, my biggest concern was the chemical spill site formerly known as my head. I’d let Greenly convince me that the solution to my boy problems–namely, that there were no boys–was to make myself stand out. Enter Salon Sensations #52 Black as Night.

We were supposed to do it together, but when the last day of winter break came around and Greenly was still stuck under eight feet of snow at her dad’s place in Montana, I decided to carry out the plan on my own. So there I stood, alone, dripping wet, hoping the frightening reflection in the mirror was an illusion. Closer inspection revealed the unfortunate truth: that scary thing in the mirror was me. It was the Sunday before the rest of my life, and I was a freak. I was also late for work.

I had barely settled in behind the hostess’ podium in the dim lobby when the entrance bells jangled. I tugged the hem of my red kimono uniform, like that would actually make it longer, and clamped my teeth together in what I hoped would pass for a smile.
A whoosh of cold greeted me, along with a tall, snow-dusted figure. Cliff Crawford. Joy. A little harassment from Neighbor Boy was just what I needed.

“Whoa, Jocelyn! Did you spend Christmas rescuing baby seals from an oil spill or something?” He laughed and circled around me, inspecting the damage.

Posts: 3
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Post by nicole » June 9th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Last edited by nicole on August 2nd, 2010, 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:11 pm

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

Post by lizfenwick » June 9th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Title: Penderown
Genre: Womens Fiction
Words: 250

The air was heavy with yet to fall rain. Demi could taste it as she took a deep breath. The new leaves on the trees glowed lime in the flat light. She paused and looked at the familiar houses on the street she had called home for so long. All was stillness; no kids on bikes, no game of kickball and no shouts of hide and seek. Nothing. She bit her tongue as the words ‘come out, come out wherever you are.’ hovered until a sudden breeze teased the leaves into motion. Only a thunderstorm would clear the atmosphere.

She walked on pushing memories away and by sheer luck she avoided a pile of dog mess. It would have plunged a so-so day into a crap one – pun intended. She smiled. Clear of it she looked back at her phone to read the message on Facebook again. Who was this Charles Lake who says he knew her mother? And if he knew her mother what the hell was he doing on Facebook?

Demi sighed. She missed her mother and appreciated all the letters of condolence, but as lovely as they were she was tired of replying to them. Nevertheless it was novel to receive one this way, but it wasn’t quite a condolence message.

Sorry to contact you in this manner but it is the only means I have. You don’t know me but I knew your mother Wenna very well and I think we have something to talk about.

Posts: 4
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:04 pm

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

Post by cheryl-murphy » June 9th, 2010, 2:45 pm

Last edited by cheryl-murphy on December 11th, 2012, 2:10 am, edited 12 times in total.

Posts: 2
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:44 pm

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

Post by vampyr14 » June 9th, 2010, 2:46 pm

Here goes.... My first 244 words.
Title: Assignment 9
Genre: YA- Mainstream


He’s going to call on me, I think. He’s going to call on me and I’ll probably puke. There are only twelve of us in this class. Seven boys and five girls. So it will not take too long before it is my turn to present my work in progress. Work in progress? So far I’ve made no progress on this so-called work. I have no idea how to start writing this. We were given the assignment almost three weeks ago and I have been putting it off ever since. Now my tutor is expecting something. A draft perhaps, or at least a detailed outline. But I have nothing. So here I am, sitting in class, working knots out of my long, red hair as I think about it. Above me a near-dead fluorescent tube hums and buzzes, disrupting my chain of thought. I have been thinking about it a lot, and the more I think, the more certain I am that the beginning was long before I ever imagined. Perhaps even before I was born.

I pray that the class will end before Ian reaches me. I even pray for Alice Wilkins to be called on before me. Alice, with her long-winded explanations and incessant questioning, her interminable need for assurance and approval. Usually it bugs me, the way it bugs almost everyone here, but today I would welcome it. It may be the only thing that saves me from humiliating myself.
Last edited by vampyr14 on June 9th, 2010, 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Melissa Murphy
Posts: 6
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 1:40 pm

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

Post by Melissa Murphy » June 9th, 2010, 2:48 pm

Title: Secrets from Beyond
Genre: Light Paranormal Romance

March 1855

The sound of pounding hoof beats eating up the ground behind him sent shivers of warning racing up his spine. He hunched forward over his stallion and dug in his heals, urging the horse to gallop faster. The powerful animal dropped down and with a burst of energy, shot forward. A shot rang out in the night and the rider dropped farther down over his mount, hugging its powerful neck, his fingers tightly clutching the horse’s course mane. The dark tree line, he could just make out ahead of him in the quickly fading light of dusk. If he could just reach the forest he had a chance. Here, out in the open, if they were decent shots, his enemies would have him sooner or later. He sent up a silent prayer his luck would hold a little longer.

It did not. The next shot found its mark.

The impact alone nearly knocked him from his horse. Instantly his left shoulder and arm became useless. It took but a second more for his adrenaline saturated brain to register pain. He clenched his teeth and gripped tighter still with his right hand to the animal’s thick black mane. Somehow he stayed on.

Just as he entered the Dark Forest, one last shot pierced the still night, echoing in the trees. For a split second he knew relief. They missed him that time. Then, with a shrill cry of shock and panic, his horse stumbled.

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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:43 pm

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

Post by jeremyjfogg » June 9th, 2010, 2:55 pm

Title: Max At...
Genre: Mainstream
Word Count: 217

At times silence can be as frightening as a sudden scream. This is one of those times. He sits in the small waiting room with her mother and father. Agitated, nervously biting his fingernails hoping that something, anything will happen and happen soon. Anything is better than sitting. He lifts his head as he gnaws on his thumb, a habit he had recently broken, so he thought. He catches eyes with his grandmother, his mother’s mother, a smoker for the last 40 or so years that looks like she could really use one now. And to think, when she found out her daughter that never smoked had lung cancer she vowed to never smoke again. He watches her search her purse frantically before quickly exiting the room.

Nearly 16, Maximilian feels as if this is too much for his young age. A father that sees him once in a blue and a mother that may or may not be on her death bed. He has never felt close to her parents. There always seems to be somewhat of a chasm between them, as if he was an unwanted addition to their family. He looks away from the door, picking up a popular science magazine depicting a far away galaxy with questions of life on other planets written under it.

Lisa Aldin
Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:46 pm

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

Post by Lisa Aldin » June 9th, 2010, 2:56 pm

Title: The Moon Dog Inn
Genre: YA Paranormal

Having learned the art of tolerating bull crap at a pretty young age, I could handle just about anything. High tolerance for the difficult guest took patience, patience, patience. More patience than flipping burgers. More patience than babysitting. More patience than working retail. Especially when said guests weren’t even human. But a pixie murder? Nothing could’ve prepared for me that.

The day started out normal. Well, as normal as things get for me. For example, when I was six, I had asked some freckled kid at the playground how many vampires he had seen (my record was already up to more than thirty, a number of which I was so proud of at the time). After that I was known as the weird girl sitting alone by the squeaky slide. The overprotective parents told my mother that I was “scaring the other children” and never ever again did she bring me to a public playground. But how was I supposed to know not everyone knew about the creatures I interacted with on a daily basis?

The afternoon I found the pixie, stiff as a vamp, I had gone into town to pick up a box of salt for the Merfolk Suite. I had just stepped out of the pet store, a box of salt cradled in my arms, a bag of VHS tapes dangling from my wrist, when the boy with the angel tattoos laced up and down his forearms approached me.

Posts: 2
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:58 pm

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

Post by foobard » June 9th, 2010, 3:03 pm

Title: The Second Bat Guano War
Genre: Hardboiled Thriller
WC: 250

Someone was calling my name. The sound was distorted, a foghorn of death and regret. Jackhammers shattered away from inside of my skull, a reminder of yesterday's excess.
There it was again. I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to dull the pain behind my eyes. Who was talking to me? I peered out at my class through grease-smeared lenses. My students avoided my gaze. Can't say that I blame them. They were criminals, all of them, the oozing pus of this chancre of a city. But who was I to judge them? Any of them? I'm no better than they are.
No. Worse.
"Horse, please!"
The voice was calling me again. Whoever it was, why couldn't they leave me alone? Couldn't they see I was trying to teach English?
"Oh my God, what is that?" Paco the pickpocket in the front row thrust a finger skyward at some plaster dripping from the ceiling. "Is that a UFO?"
"Excellent, Paco." A noise was coming from my face. Was that me talking?
"And then I steal them."
"Steal from them. Yes. Very good."
It was all Paco's fault. Without him I'd be dead in a gutter somewhere, and good riddance, too.
Teaching kept me alive, kept me going. Without it I'd have nothing left to hold onto. I would never admit it to them, but I loved them all for sitting there and listening to me talk, even as I gave them the tools to live like blood-engorged ticks off gringo tourists.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:21 pm

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

Post by tandmkirk » June 9th, 2010, 3:04 pm

Title: The T-Shirt
By Mandy Kirk
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Words: 250

Anne Bell rushed through the double doors that served as the main entrance to Spaulding’s Blends. Given that she was running late, she hadn’t had time to properly button up her grey pea coat…which had four button holes, and four buttons, but somehow Anne managed to only use three of the buttons, leaving her looking a bit unkempt. Her scarf was half tucked into her coat and half splayed down her front. Her grey hat was crookedly perched on her head, covering her long, soft brown hair. She had a mug of hot, milky coffee tucked in her left hand and her lunch pail and purse draped over her right wrist.
“Early again today, Anne?” The front desk receptionist, Marjorie, had a penchant for sarcasm.
“Always too much to do in the morning,” Anne replied. A lie. She just loved to sleep in and felt this was information that the office gossip could probably do without.
“Humph,” Marjorie mumbled.
Anne snuck past a row of bland cubicles and ducked into her office. She preferred to avoid the usual Monday morning banter that bounced around the cubes. The phony “how was your weekend?” Most people were already several paces away and deeply committed to their mobile device to really care what the response yielded.
As she tossed her bags onto her desktop, the stagnant smell of old pizza encircled her nose. She spied her “Piezano’s Pizzeria” box from Friday’s lunch still waiting to be fetched by the never eager janitorial staff.

Posts: 2
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:47 pm

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

Post by Jesk84 » June 9th, 2010, 3:21 pm

Title: The Guardians
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy
Words: 248
(I had to seriously cut this down to make it fit 250 words)

The older man felt his temper rising. With all the power, all the tactics he had used, he couldn’t get one piece of information out of this beaten, bloody ‘boy’. He had been so close. And yet again it had been snatched away just within reach. He calmed himself.

“Then I guess we’ll just have to move on to your friends.”

The young man tried to tell if he was bluffing. The aggressor saw the uncertainty in the sufferer’s eyes, and drew on it.

“Yes, I have them. Do you want them to suffer as you have?”

He had been so determined not to give up anything and now this evil man had changed the rules. It was easier for him to risk his own life. He knew this secret went beyond love, beyond friendship, beyond self-preservation. Closing his eyes he forced his voice to remain steady,

“Go ahead. They won’t tell you either. I’m not going to be the one to let them down.” He stared defiantly at the man of power, a tear escaping his eye. Not for his own life but that of his friends. Her face filled his mind’s eye as the older man moved towards him.

“Fine.” The older man pulled out a taser and hit the young man in the chest with it. The young man convulsed a few seconds then went limp. His raspy, uneven breathing stopped altogether. The man walked out of the room, not looking back to the body.
I aim to misbehave

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Posts: 21
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:14 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC

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

Post by rmorris » June 9th, 2010, 3:23 pm

Title: MOLT
Genre: Mystery
Words: 244

He told me I’d be safe in here.
He said this was the one place in the city that I could be if I wanted to stay the way I wanted to stay.
This was my only hope for a last chance.
He called it my last chance at death.
Whatever it was I thought he meant at the time, I’m sure I’d seen it the other way around. But as the air slowly diminishes and the darkness seems to turn back to light, I’m beginning to rethink my original point of view.
I feel around me again just to make sure there’s no crease of a door that I’ve missed. Or an overlooked latch. A loose floorboard to crawl under and make my escape. Maybe even an emergency axe or a doorknob.
But still I find nothing.
There’s a chill in the air that seems to become colder with every frightened breath I take. My left arm is killing me. There’s a pain in my lower back that I didn’t feel before. I want to check for a bruise, but I know it wouldn’t matter even if I could see anything.
This can’t be where I’m going to die. I haven’t lived all this life of mine only to have it come to a sudden, shadowy end.
Life? That’s a funny word for it, now that I think about it. An odd choice, since I feel as though I‘ve barely even lived yet.

Posts: 1
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 2:01 pm

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

Post by shadytales » June 9th, 2010, 3:27 pm

Title: The End is where I Begin
Genre: YA
Words: 229

David Reilly preferred Florida. In fact, until two days ago, he had thought by today he’d be relaxing in a deckchair under an umbrella next to his wife while sneaking a peak or two or many at the plethora of bikini-clad women wandering the capacious sandy marvel that was Siester Beach, only to discover she had changed their travel plans at the last minute.

‘Egypt. Pharaohs. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt,’ was Elle’s justification for what David considered an act of extreme rudeness. He had spent £300 at his local gym, sweating and enduring weeks of muscle-wrenching aerobics in preparation for their Florida trip. What on God’s green earth was Elle thinking? Forget being barbarous, the idiot woman certainly hadn’t regained full mental capacity since her car accident last year.

Stupid, stupid woman, David fumed. What about his mastery of flirting, which he had recently acquired after a year long gestation period? And his yellow sun-dotted shorts, the one that came with matching underpants – what about those? All wasted, thanks to his obtuse wife.

But like every clever man caged in a sixteen-year-old marriage, David hid these thoughts in a dark, dark place. There was no need to be flagrant about his frustrations, not while Elle’s professional boxer brother still hovered in their lives like an eerie, preternatural plague awaiting the opportune moment to descend upon him.


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