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 KatieBry » June 9th, 2010, 9:59 pm

Silent Betrayal / Suspense

As two o’clock in the morning approached, night settled in under a round, buxom moon. Ex-Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Dillon Caldwell wouldn’t have picked a night this bright on a bet, but since Sanchez was moving the money tomorrow he didn’t have much choice.
Lucky for him, slipping in and out of shadows was easy. However, slipping unnoticed into a Mexican drug lord’s villa might prove to be a little tricky.
While negotiating past guards, dogs, and high-tech security may be dicey, one thing in Dillon’s favor was the long-ass tunnel sweetly positioned smack in the middle of two hundred acres on Raphael Sanchez’s property. Dillon had the intel on it, and he’d bet a month’s salary that the tunnel, because it was so far out, wouldn’t be given more than minimal thought. It was the one weak link in Sanchez’s otherwise stellar security.
The fact that Sanchez ran a shorter crew after midnight helped. A little. He hoped.
This cartel-themed fun park was located on the periphery of delightfully idyllic, tastefully refined, and exceedingly hospitable Tijuana, Mexico. And yes, with the way the cartels were killing each other, he meant that in the nicest, most sarcastic of ways.
Crouched in the darkness, just outside a small, private hangar, Dillon released a ready breath as two uniformed security guards, chattering in Spanish, climbed into a golf cart and set off down a dirt airstrip. “Show time. We’ve got one hour before those overpaid goons swing back our way.” He set the timer on his watch. “Thirty minutes to the outer perimeter, thirty minutes back. Let’s get inside.”

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

Post by gpodolski » June 9th, 2010, 10:07 pm

Title: Androids, Ninjas, and Floss: A Memoir

Genre: Absurdist Humor

I was twelve when I was sold into slavery at a sweatshop that wrote and produced new James Patterson novels. That’s as good a place as any to begin the story of my life, I guess. It’s not as if the twelve years we’re skipping over are chock full of bestseller material or anything. Pretty maudlin stuff, actually. Still, if you’re the kind of person who needs a little background, hell, I’ve got the time.

Like most children, I was born in a small Quonset hut on the banks of the Ganges River. My mother was a missionary assigned to a remote region of the Amazon, tasked by her synagogue to bring the Message of the Lord to the indigenous people. As it turned out, that consisted entirely of a family from Iowa waiting out the statute of limitations on federal tax evasion. So she wound up having a lot of free time. My father was an accountant.

It was a happy childhood, best as I can recall. I spent my time doing what most toddlers do: Learning how to walk, how to talk, how to disembowel an anaconda from the inside using only a plastic He-Man knife and fork set. You know, normal kid stuff.

In my fifth year, my mother abandoned her missionary work (largely because the Iowa family had since been extradited to the States to await trial) and turned her attention towards my education.

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

Post by Janice » June 9th, 2010, 10:19 pm

Casualties of Pride

Ann Garner stood outside the American Red Cross in Manhattan and pretended to casually survey the interior through the plate glass window. It was the day before Christmas 1943, and the office appeared to be empty of visitors. That meant she would have the full attention of whoever was working in there, and that was a concern because there was a certain fact in the papers clasped in her hand which might not hold up under that much scrutiny.
She decided she must look ridiculous loitering outside in the snow and might as well go in, and she pushed on the door and stepped inside. There was no lobby or reception desk, only a poster featuring an apple-cheeked brunette in a dark green uniform with the caption, “You Are Needed Now. Join The Army Nurse Corps.” Ann gave the woman in the poster a half smile as if to say, “Wish me luck,” and looked around the room.
There were a few empty chairs lined against two of the walls and a flag on a standard in the far corner. A row of ten or more filing cabinets to the left of the flag led to a desk where a stout, middle-aged woman in a white uniform sat. The cabinets looked dusty in the dim light but Ann, knowing nurses were in charge, was confident they had been cleaned that morning.
The woman smiled. “Can I help you?”
Ann walked over to the desk. “Hello. My name is Ann Garner. I’m here to join the Nurse Corps.”
Last edited by Janice on February 17th, 2011, 8:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by JillianAudrey » June 9th, 2010, 10:20 pm

Title: Victory Garden
Genre: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
Word Count: 241

It all started with a question: “What do you think they’re like, Oma?” Adelaide asked. It was June 26, 1944 and the day started out much like any other day with little birdies rousing from their nests and the warm morning sunlight sneaking through tree branches and kissing the shoulders of Adelaide and her grandmother as they worked in the victory garden. Yet, the events that would follow this day would change the life of 11-year-old Adelaide Vonnegut in a way that she could not yet foresee.

Adelaide slid her fingers into the victory garden’s soft dirt and pulled up a stray weed. Kneeling at Adelaide’s side, Oma, plucked the season’s first tomatoes off of the vine and carefully settled them into a wicker basket.

“What do you think they’re like?” Adelaide asked again, thinking that her grandmother merely didn’t hear her question rather than that she was choosing to ignore it.

“Who do you mean?” Oma replied.

“You know, the German prisoners of war. Do you think they’ll look evil?”

Oma grumbled. “Don’t you worry yourself with things like that, Adelaide.”

But she found it so hard not to worry. 100 German soldiers captured in Europe were arriving in her hometown of Rochester, New York -- today! For the past two years Italian soldiers had been held at the Cobb’s Hill POW camp, but to Adelaide and everyone in Rochester, replacing them with Nazis was a different duck all together.
Last edited by JillianAudrey on July 5th, 2010, 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Adam Heine » June 9th, 2010, 10:21 pm

TITLE: Azrael's Curse
GENRE: Science Fantasy

“You've been here everyday for a week, mate,” the shopkeep said.

“Good stew.” Sam tugged his hood, keeping his face carefully shadowed. He had thought he could say it with a straight face.

“You waiting for someone?”

Sam said nothing, just slurped his stew.

The shopkeep eyed him warily. “You ain't a knocker are you?”

“Wouldn't be a smart question if I were, aye?” Sam met his gaze, like a wolf eyeing a rabbit. Sometimes it was best to let folks think you were dangerous, as showing them only caused trouble. Other times – and Sam could see by the fear in the man's eyes this was one of those times – it was best to play it friendly.

Sam smiled. “I'm just drumming you, baron. I ain't gonna kill anyone.”

“Course.” The shopkeep laughed nervously. “But you are waiting?”

Sam slurped again. The silence stretched to discomfort, and the shopkeep soon found he had other customers to tend to.

Sam waited. He waited until the post station across the street closed for the day, then went back to his ship. When the post opened the next morning, he waited some more. _That boy better show up soon_, he thought.

It wasn't that Sam was impatient. He'd waited four years for the stone; he could float a few days until this Hagai Wainwright picked up his post.

No, Sam was patient as the dead. Others less so: the Imperial Navy, Jacobin Savage...

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

Post by lana_lorett » June 9th, 2010, 10:29 pm

TITLE: Nuvelium Chase
GENRE: YA Science Fiction Adventure
Word Count: 250

Planet Karpathia
Kamiboo Military Prep Space Academy Lab

The signal that shimmered on Trompetina’s holo-display had to be alien, though one obvious detail screamed otherwise.

It’s location.

The distinct frequency emanated from the Niva solar system. The first system ever scanned by Karpathian observatories. Trompetina remembered having to study the characteristics of its planetary bodies in every science class she took. All articles on the subject ended with the same dull conclusion: Niva planets were barren.

Yet tonight, on Trompetina’s first lab shift, an artificial ping resonated from Niva.

Radio emission, narrowband frequency, repetitive polarized wave. It can’t be, she thought.

Trompetina refreshed her holo-display.

The image flickered once, twice, then reappeared.

ALIEN SIGNAL DETECTED, a computerized voice said.

Trompetina grabbed her earpiece.

A high-pitched undulating screech held for ten sini-ticks, stopped for two, held for ten, stopped. The sequence repeated, never faltering, and weaved its way through constant echoes of background noise.

Trompetina sat, with a hand over her chest.

She tapped the RECORD button, raised the volume.

For the first time in a long time, she smiled.

Forget about the fact that she was a new freshman at a new school, or that her lab partner, Marso, spoke only to command, or that she was now alone. The sound she imagined only in dreams was there.

For now.

Trompetina looked up from her console and scanned the steel-cold lab—each rounded-edged desk, buzzing computer holo-station, and star-watching window. She spotted Marso slouching on a chair.
Last edited by lana_lorett on April 6th, 2014, 5:23 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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

Post by coloradokid » June 9th, 2010, 10:29 pm

An Illusion of Justice
Part I
The first cut was not intended to kill.
But it was effective. Imagine the paper cut you get on your finger – but seven inches long and to the bone – across your forehead. And it’s the middle of the night and you’re bound and gagged. And you know there’s more coming . .

[Chapter 1]
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.
The closer he got, the better she looked. Driving southbound on US Highway 71 in the southern outskirts of Bossier City, Louisiana, Jim Shelton saw a blonde hitch-hiker walking north on the shoulder between the highway and the parallel railroad tracks. As soon as he could, he made a u-turn across the divided four-lane highway and approached her from behind. She looked as good from the rear. He pulled off the highway and stopped, letting the electric passenger-side window down. She looked fine up close.
“Hi, need a ride?”
“Yeah, thanks,” the girl replied as she opened the door and got in. It was hot outside, and the big Lincoln was cool inside.
“Where to?” Jim asked
“You know the Briar Patch?”
“Sure,” Jim answered, “Briar Patch it is.”
They drove a few miles further north on Highway 71, which within the city limits was named Barksdale Boulevard. They passed the West Gate of Barksdale Air Force Base to the right. A few blocks further, and a block past Airline Drive, was the Briar Patch Lounge, a non-descript, gloomy little bar with no windows. The only door was in back. Jim parked the green Lincoln in the rear parking lot, and they went in and took stools at the bar. Jim ordered a bourbon and water. The hitch-hiker didn’t order anything. Although about twice her age, Shelton was attracted to the young lady, who had introduced herself as Vicki Thomas.

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

Post by margogremmler » June 9th, 2010, 10:33 pm

Genre: YA, dystopian
Word Count: 250

When she’s not squealing in my ear, I love Michele like a sister.

“Ooooh, Ava, the cake! What’d you pick out?”

So, this is how secret lives start.

She cranes around my shoulder to catch a better glimpse through my second-floor window. Her hot, suffocating breath on my neck approaches the annoyance barrier, but today isn’t any day.

This is our last hangout, while I’m still a kid. A few weeks ago, Michele became a Leader at her Fifteen. Every day since, I’ve stared at the Whisper Rule in our dried-out book until unfocused eyes turn its lines to an undiscovered language.

Written on the Wind: At the start of one’s fifteenth year, the birthday candle alight for three minutes outside home’s doors marks one a Leader.

“Chocolate mousse from Cavin’s.” I pick at my ragged fingers, lining myself up for ten sure-fire hangnails.

Niiiiiice one.”

Our eyes track the burnt-caramel-colored cake as Dad carries it to the table in the backyard. Even from my window perch, I spy his sigh of relief as he sets it down for tonight’s ceremony.

Cavin’s is the best-known bakery around. They’re most famous for wedding cakes, but their next most popular occasion is a Fifteen. I guess the most nerve-wracking milestones deserve the very best in sugar highs.

We retreat to the bed’s edge, eyes still fixed outside.

This is really it. Maybe we should say something now, something final and heartfelt, but in my head I’m fast-forwarding to the relief of afterwards.
Last edited by margogremmler on August 10th, 2010, 1:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by Kilas » June 9th, 2010, 10:49 pm

Title: Guardians of Gaia
Genre: Fantasy
244 Words

River's mind churned with questions as she climbed to the top of the tallest crag overlooking the Gaian settlement of Moon Valley. Two days had passed since the Goddess of the Earth had issued her warning. Two days and still not one member of the settlement had replied. Even as she climbed, River feared she already knew why. With each step she prayed to Gaia she was wrong. She needed to be wrong. The Council of Elders couldn't be that stupid twice.

When River reached the top, a wolf with a marbled gray and white coat was lying in wait on his belly, head on his paws. December gave an exaggerated yawn even as he stared at her.

River shook her head. “Show-off.” Had she shifted into her wolf form she could have easily beaten him to the top of the mountain.

December got to his feet; tongue lolling, tail wagging.

River could have sworn the wolf was laughing at her. “Well, should we see what the others are doing?”

The wolf glanced at the edge of the cliff and chuffed disdainfully.

“That bad huh?”

December turned to her and whined.

River closed her eyes and sighed. Prepared for the worst, she walked over to December and gave him a scratch behind the ears before heading to the edge. The wolf accepted the caress but whined against her continuing on.

“Some things you just have to see for yourself.”

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

Post by lac582 » June 9th, 2010, 11:24 pm

Title: Apotheosis
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 257 (is there some margin? Didn't want to cut off mid-sentence)

There had always been people who mistrusted the doctors, avoided them, feared them. Men who had convinced themselves that taking care of oneself was a greater sign of weakness than a stubborn march into the advanced stages of disease. Women who kept the latest crops of shamans and snake oil salesmen fattened and well fertilized. Skepticism was healthy. But the prevailing attitudes were not skepticism and even now--after everything--Callie would not join them. Her rationality wouldn't allow it.

There was no reason to be nervous, but her heart beat a little faster just the same. They had even redressed the examination rooms to look more like a jaunt to the spa than the sterile cubicles she remembered from the time before. The walls were painted a passive, dusty shade of blue, and the overhead lights extinguished in favor of a warm yellow fixture supplementing the natural light that bled through the translucent window shades, pulled down, of course. No eye charts or complex anatomical diagrams, nor posters of waterfalls and other assorted platitudes.

Some things remained. One could be in a doctor's office anywhere in the world and it would always smell exactly the same--a mingled, stagnant wash of latex and antiseptic. The chill of air from an unseen vent finding its way into every gapping fold of an ill-fitted dressing gown. The crackling of paper announcing each small shift in weight as you attempt to maintain your sitting posture lest the doctor arrive at that very moment and judge you by your slouch.

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

Post by dmarie84 » June 9th, 2010, 11:32 pm

Title: The Scarlet Daughter
Genre: Historical Fiction

When I am weak, then I am strong.

Naomi recited Mama's favorite saying repeatedly in her mind, as if the words could ease the pain.
She stared through the frosted panes of her bedroom window at the muted blue of the March sky. The day was resplendent with sunshine, the rays reflecting off the snow-covered ground in the foreigner’s district of Tokyo. Even the heavens seemed to ignore her suffering today.

A soft knock on her bedroom door interrupted her thoughts.


She barely turned her head at the sound of her friend Anna Finley’s voice. Naomi felt her hand squeeze her shoulder.

“You disappeared without a word to anyone."

“I’ve no kind words to say,” Naomi said.

“Everyone has come to pay their respects to your mother and--”

“How very kind of them to show her such admiration after she’s dead.” Naomi interrupted, pushing Anna’s hand off her shoulder. “They’re only here out of some misplaced sense of duty to your family and I’ve no tolerance for their counterfeit sympathy.”

Anna sighed, folding her hands in her lap. “I know people have been less than kind to you and your mother over the years. But it’s courteous to--”

“I don’t give one whit about courtesy!” Naomi said. “How many times have I had to endure them calling me half caste and bastard, calling my mother a fallen woman, a whore—" At this, Anna cringed—“looking at me in church as if I was the devil’s child?”
The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.--Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Idleness

My blog: Tales from the Writing Front

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

Post by Unrepentant Escapist » June 9th, 2010, 11:39 pm

TITLE: Skin Farm
GENRE: Y.A. Post-Apocalyptic/Sci-Fi


I watched as they took the organs out of my torso one by one and put them in little white boxes filled with crushed ice. The orderlies treated them with care. After all, they were handling government property.

Despite their caution, my third liver managed to slip out of an apprentice’s blood-wet fingertips. It ricocheted off two white tile walls before falling to the floor with a wet splat. The blushing apprentice had to wash it off and sterilize it before she could pack it away.

I was already dead by then, of course. At least, officially. But the orderlies had forgotten to close my eyelids before the surgery. Shunts pumped oxygen through my brain and my limbs, massaging my blood flow so I wouldn’t get gangrene. Because of that, I was awake and aware of everything the doctors did to me, even though my heart had long ago stopped beating.

I could feel everything they did to me too, through a golden haze of anesthetic that left me slightly nauseated. There was no pain, not really. Just a dry tickle as they peeled the skin off my chest like pieces off an orange rind.

I watched as the doctors bent to take out my heart, which had been frozen mid-beat by the chemicals burning through my blood. White florescent lights flickered above me, almost in time with the pumps’ ghostly, whispering rhythm. Even in the Clinic, the center of Sweetberry Farms’ existence, the electricity wasn’t very stable.

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

Post by 495699 » June 10th, 2010, 12:04 am

Title: Family Times
Genre: Women's Fiction
Words: 243

The police officer found her in a ditch. Her beat up old Cadillac on its side. It was the time of night when the dew began to form on the grass, on a road where ladies did not visit after five; not in Newport News, Virginia anyhow. Some person—half Good Samaritan, half bystander—must have called in the accident.
The officer pulled her from the vehicle to the side of the road, “Ma’am”.
Conscious but shaken, Erlene stood bewildered on the side of the road in her pajamas. “Yes.”
“What’s your name?”
“What are you doing out here in the middle of the night, Erlene?”
“I don’t know.”
“We’re going to take you to Riverside Regional Medical Center to get you checked out, Ma’am. Do you have any relatives I can call?”
“My son.”

Erlene arrived at the hospital, checked in, and ended up stashed in some back room in a paper gown. She waited thirty minutes before a man with a full head of gray hair and glasses yet remarkably handsome opened the door and stood before her.
“Hello, I’m Doctor Stephen Alvarez. Mrs. Love?”
“Hello, doctor.”
“Let me wash my hands and take a look at you. You were in an accident tonight?”
“Yes. How long do you think this will take? I’ve been here for half an hour already.”
“I just want to look at you. Open your mouth.” He peers in with a light. “Does this hurt?”

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

Post by knight_tour » June 10th, 2010, 12:43 am

Title: The Shard
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 168 (because the next paragraph was too long)

Two white moons, the larger half full and the smaller just a sliver, shone through the bare branches of the willows, though the sun had not yet set. Miros sniffed and caught a hint of smoke in the crisp autumn air. He tightened his grip on the hilt of his sword and felt the first tingles of apprehension as he watched Dalthis slither forward another pace and gaze down into the rocky dell.

Five men-at-arms crouched nearby, along with old Sir Meldon, who had trained Miros and his younger brothers in the knightly arts for as long as Miros could remember. All wore the red and black checker pattern of Welby on their surcoats. Off to the right, Miros saw his father Midas glance over at him and wink. Miros smiled in return. The apprehension remained but was nearly overpowered by the pride that welled up in his breast. His father had never before included him in a dangerous undertaking. I’m fifteen now, he thought. It’s past time.

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

Post by doortoriver » June 10th, 2010, 1:22 am

Title: Kingmaker
Genre: Fantasy/Possible Edgy YA

Alex stared at his misshapen shadow. It was too big, broad out to the sides, confirmation of the things that had just burst from his body. As if responding to his fear, his brand-new wings wrapped around him in a soft, flexibly-feathery hug.

He startled backwards and was suddenly airborne.

The ground shrank away. He screamed, aching where the wings had torn through like new teeth, and they reacted to his panic by disappearing. He fell like a rock.

Alex landed badly, crashing through the bushes and down the hill, completely out of control until he slammed into a tree. Pain throbbed in his leg, in his ribs, pounded behind his eyes. He managed one hysterical laugh. Had that just happened? With wings? Really? There were no wings now.

But he could feel them. Furled inside somehow, quivering and ready. He laughed again, unsteadily. At least the leg would heal, probably in less than an hour. He'd always been a freak – but this was the first time it meant something he couldn't hide.


An hour later, he sneaked toward the hotel with plans to sneak through the kitchen. He'd healed, but he was still filthy. His shirt was in so many pieces he didn't know what to do with it besides ball it up and carry it in his fist.

He'd be in so much trouble if they caught him.

Exalted people were never supposed to be bruised. Never supposed to be dirty, and never supposed to be scarred.


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