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 oldhousejunkie » June 10th, 2010, 11:13 am

Title: The Enemy Within
Genre: Historical Fiction

June 1862
Woodford County, Kentucky

The rolling hills of my beloved Brookfield had been cloaked in shadows for some hours. It must have been well past midnight as the servants had gone to bed, leaving the house devoid of activity.

As I lay in the large canopied bed in my room, I listened to the crickets humming from the edges of the thicket. A gentle breeze spilled into my open windows, stirring the long gossamer curtains into an unfamiliar dance.

But then the calm of the night was shattered by the cacophony of thundering horses. Shouts sounded from the woods surrounding the house. I bolted from my bed, my heart racing. Moving to my windows, I watched in terror as mounted men issued from the trees and undergrowth. Some carried torches while others brandished weapons. The brass buttons on their uniforms reflected in the hellish light.

“Yankees,” I said angrily. “How dare they come here!”

I halted, remembering that my father lay in the bedroom next to mine. He was a well-known Confederate colonel, convalescing from wounds received in battle. Surely these marauders were not here to capture him?

I raced to my bedside table, my fingers fumbling for the matches. A weak light flooded my room as the kerosene lamp sprang to life. As I moved into the corridor outside my room, I heard the front door crashing in.

They had come.

I found my father standing the doorway of his own room. In the lamplight, the steel of his saber glinted, while his other hand clutched his revolver.

“Julienne—get back to your room and bolt the door.”
Last edited by oldhousejunkie on October 29th, 2010, 1:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by r louis scott » June 10th, 2010, 11:59 am

TITLE: Kaeso
GENRE: Historical Fiction

I left the Roman road while the sun was still low in the east and warming my back. Flat and smooth, it had served me well and allowed me to put distance between myself and my pursuers. Its sightlines gave me time to hide at the first sign of another traveler, so that I could sink into a ditch or shelter beneath a bush and watch as they passed, ignorant of my presence. Whether or not they were the men seeking me did not matter. An innocent question to a wagon driver would be all that was needed to reveal my direction of travel, for there was not enough traffic to cover the passage of a limping, disfigured man.

Two days of such movement, however, and two nights without a fire, were taking their toll. My left arm and leg were only recently healed enough for an extended journey and I cursed again the Saxon bastard that had cost me the full use of my limbs without cutting the feeling from them too. They throbbed and ached and I knew I would need a fire and some time to rest. Perhaps I could find a small stream from which to take a fish, or some roots or tubers to cook. There was not much bread left in my pack and this early in the spring, with the trees just beginning to attain a halo of the lightest green, the pickings to be had in the forest would be slim.

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

Post by BasilZyllion » June 10th, 2010, 12:04 pm

What would it take to get your librarian, in her natural surroundings, to yell at you...again? It wasn’t hard for Serena.
In the compact library of Jenkintown, a suburb of Philadelphia, there was always some degree of mischief whenever that thirteen year old girl appeared.
"Why? Why? Why?" asked the librarian behind the counter, "Don't you know how dangerous The Book is?"
"Yvonne...It's for a book report," Serena lied. It was really a deep sense of rebellion
and a calling for adventure. Besides, irritating Yvonne wasn’t a bad perk.
"It's interesting OK? Everybody wants it. I'll be the only one who actually has a copy since the rest have been destroyed," said Serena. She never could keep her mouth shut in this library. There was no doubt; it was because of her loud relationship with Yvonne. Strangely enough, Serena was never kicked out.
The librarian's blue eyes darkened and Serena knew that look. It was that same look of pity she got from everyone who knew she was an orphan.
But the pity was short lived.
"Serena," said Yvonne through gritted teeth, "I won't have you getting involved in this... this cult."
"It's not a cult. Cults kill each other and themselves," she said, "it's not. AND it should not be considered illegal to read this one..."
"Well it is. Isn't it?" asked Yvonne.
"Did you read the prologue? The warning? That's why it's banned- it's like a drug.
"You figured it out, Yvonne. The ink is laced with CRACK," said Serena as she raised a stitched eyebrow that paralleled her crooked smirk, "You.. Are... RIDICULOUS."
"Oh, you think that's funny, Serena? It's addictive. People change," said Yvonne, strands of blonde hair sticking to the right corner of her mouth. " They start chain e-mailing. They find it hard to put the book down...In fact they do behave like crack addicts."
"It's a book... I promise not to walk and read at the same time. What's the worst that can happen? I'm fourteen." Serena lied about her age. "I can take care of myself."
Yvonne's eyes looked away, as if reaching into the back of her head for a memory, "What about the time you almost got kidnapped? Inside that guys car? And, I had to call the cops?"

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

Post by ddelano » June 10th, 2010, 12:15 pm

Title: Letters from Hong Kong
Genre: Literary Fiction
(word count: 250)

Chapter 1
South China Sea

I woke to the swell of the sea. The small, dank cabin was cold and full of Mother’s troubled tossing, Father’s steady breaths. I longed for air. Crisp, clean air after a new fallen snow. But there was only the stale mildew of the cabin, tinged with salt. The chill of the night swept through me and I sat up and pulled my shawl tight.

There was no porthole to give a gleam of moonlight. My hands found their way to the oil lamp, and lit the wick. On the desk sat my half finished letter to Edward, too full of yearning and self pity. So I sat down to write another, the rocking of the ship once again vexing me, making my hand unsteady.

Dearest Edward:

We have been ninety days at sea thus far, and it seems it will never end.

Father is still cross with me. I act the part well, pretend to be contrite and dutiful. But I shall never forgive him for forcing me away from you.

I have kept our secret safe. It is only Marie, who has witnessed our unions and who has held her tongue as a mute, that I trust to see my tears, which I save up during the day when watchful eyes are upon me, and let flow only in the solitude of a stolen moment alone.

You must send me a poem. I have the last you wrote clutched close to my heart always.

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

Post by Erica75 » June 10th, 2010, 12:23 pm

Title: A New Day
Genre: YA comtemporary romance

I slammed the car door and shouldered my way past the men scattered around the front yard. I spotted my mother and just about growled at her while waving my hands at the moving van. "This is ridiculous. Get my stuff out of there!" I tried not to stomp my foot, but apparently my desperation caused my body parts to take control over my brain.

"Child-like antics really don't suit you, Kenz," my mother replied with a voice that left no doubt that she was sick of me. "You have two nights left to mope around. They're only here for the big furniture this time."

"Fine, I'll sit on lawn chairs and sleep on the floor then. You need to give up this moving idea and stay here with me, because I'm not going anywhere."

"This life isn't for us anymore. We're going home." One finger went up as she saw my mouth open for another protest. "Spend tonight with your friends. Tomorrow's going to be busy and we leave first thing Sunday morning."

I did my best to throw the moving van workers an intimidating glare as I walked past again, but it just made them grin wider. The reference to home bothered me more than I wanted my mom to know.

The two months after my mom announced we were moving made me feel like I was losing my mind. Vespa, Wisconsin was the last place on earth I wanted to live. It was her home, not mine.
we blog - erica and christy -

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

Post by Danimal98367 » June 10th, 2010, 12:54 pm

Title: According to the Prince
Genre: Young Teen Fantasy

Chapter One

By lantern light Prince Andrew, his riding clothes ruffled and dusty, brushed Herbert’s flanks. It could be argued Herbert was the model for princely stallions; tall, strong, and white (except for the almost V-shaped black spot at his forehead). Even with his nose buried in an oat bag Herbert was a magnificent horse to look at. Bred and broken in the distant prairies Herbert came from a long line of regal horses raised special for royalty; bred to be stronger and faster than normal horses. Herbert was unique, even compared to his brothers, with an intelligent hint to his deep brown eyes that Prince Andrew had come to trust.

Tall himself, Andrew couldn’t look Herbert directly in the eye unless the mighty horse dipped his head; a dip that was never a bow. Herbert and Andrew viewed each other as equals and the stable boys treated the two as such.

“Do you know what night it is?” Andrew asked as if it was completely normal to speak to a horse conversationally.

Herbert flicked an ear, chewing.

“Yeah,” Andrew chuckled to himself, “the sixth night. I used to lose track, especially in the winter when days are short and blend together in the library. Not anymore.”

Herbert turned to Andrew and swallowed oats noisily.

“Don’t tease me.” Andrew groaned. “I’m certain I do and tonight I’m going to actually say it to her. We’ve been walking and talking and adventuring together in the dream world every six nights for the better part of seven months and if she feels for me even half what I feel for her; then we have to say it.”

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

Post by Annb » June 10th, 2010, 12:56 pm

Title: Sad Girl
Genre: YA
Word Count: 250

“Kat, we’re going to have a baby.”

When he said it, I heard something crack. That might have been the moment I lost my mind. But if it weren’t for the baby, I might not have found Danny.

“We have something to tell you.” Steve said it. Like what they were about to say was so terrible that he didn’t want the filthy words to cross my mother’s tongue. His stinking pink shirt, and his arm clamped around her shoulder, and that look on his face. Urgh that look. Hopeful and frightened.

Mom had it too. Like I was some kind of monster about to feed and they hoped the small lamb they were about to offer up would be enough to satisfy me. She sat there on that stupid chair—the one that Steve insisted on keeping when we moved in two years ago—hands resting on her lap, looking at me. I can’t remember the last time she looked at me. In my eyes anyway. And her brown cow eyes were wet. “Honey,” she was shaking.
Come on. What could you possibly have to tell me that would shock me? You were there when Dad died seven years ago. You eloped with Steve when I was on an overnight camping trip. You didn’t tell me we were moving to Steve’s house until the truck showed up.

Seriously, I was ready for anything.

“Just tell me.” I tried to say it gently.

“Oh, let’s just come out with it!”

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

Post by scifibob » June 10th, 2010, 1:05 pm

Title: Desert Quest
Genre: sci-fi romance
Length: 314 words

Nessilla stood in front of the Temple baking in the heat of the desert sun, her weight shifting from foot to foot wishing he would hurry. She needed to get inside before her courage deserted her. Why did he have to be late, today of all days? The Eldest was to announce the new Caretaker today and she knew his decision would affect the rest of her life.

Everyone had told her she hadn’t a chance. Some trying to cushion the blow, some with malicious glee. Yet hope clung to her like a frightened child to his mother. The other candidates, all women as per the Scriptures, had been nominated quickly and with glowing recommendations. Except Nessilla. When the announcement came for nominations not one stepped forward to recommend her. Not her father, not even Tooma, her best friend.

Regretfully, she knew the reasons why. She was the village jokester. Not mature enough for such an enormous responsibility. She would disgrace the village.

That might have been true once, but not now. Not for this. She has dreamt of being the Caretaker with a consuming passion ever since she was first taught about the Ancients and the great gift they had bestowed on her village. To Nessilla, the Ancients gift of the Relic was more than a piece of their past. It was more than a symbol of the gods. It was an honor the Ancients had entrusted to her village to safeguard nearly two thousand years ago. Becoming the Relic’s guardian was her sole reason for staying in this isolated wasteland.

Nessilla had been ecstatic when she was finally nominated, and by the Eldest himself no less. Soon after though the others teased her that he had only done it to save her the embarrassment of being the only eligible candidate not nominated. Nevertheless, she took full advantage of the opportunity given her.

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

Post by ronempress » June 10th, 2010, 1:31 pm

Mourn Their Courage
Historical Fantasy

Liu Jie squinted at the distant barricade, wondering how to attack it. In the west, the hazy ginger sun set.
He walked among his men. Two sentries paced the camp's perimeter while others made ready for an early bedtime, boiling orange water thick with dust.
"Put your mat by mine," a nearby soldier instructed a friend.
"He wants feminine comfort tonight," another retorted. Strained laughter faded into uneasy silence as they stared at the distant rebel fort.
Jie sighed and returned to his fire where Zhang erected a wine-heating tripod. The bowl in the center remained empty, which was a relief. I knew he had a problem when I asked for his help.
Jie knelt and drew a rectangle in the sand for the rebels' camp and a box south of it for his location.
Zhang pointed to the barricade’s north side. "I'll take half the men and attack here."
Jie shook his head. "The strategist He Qian tells us, ‘Subduing the enemy without battle is best. Never attack walled cities.' We are target practice from behind that barricade. We need to draw out the rebels without letting them flank us."
"Attack at night." Zhang shrugged. "Force them to fight blind."
"There are always lamps." Jie smiled at his friend. "No. He Qian was right."
"He Qian gives me headaches. Give me a laughing philosopher who ponders his wine dregs."

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

Post by lisadgibson » June 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm

Title: Pig & Twig Theory
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word count: 250

I first overhead Bradford Smythe explaining it to Rob Plunkett. I didn’t find out until later that they were talking about Charlie and me.

“It’s classic Pig and Twig, dude.” Bradford said, while waiting in line at the cafeteria.

“I don’t get what you mean. What’s Pig and Twig?” Rob busy counting how many people ahead of them.

“Okay, one girl is thin, and pretty, but not hot. Actually it would work if she was hot too.”

“Go on.” Rob’s mind evidently focused more on lunch, than the conversation.

“So, if that average girl hangs out with a girl who’s big and not attractive, her overall rating jumps several points.” Bradford elbows Rob. “You see what I mean? That’s the only reason I can think that she wants her around so much.”

“Yeah, I hear ya’ brother.” Rob replied, as they grabbed trays.

I wondered if there would be anything left, only two people behind them, but I had seen them eat. It was amazing to me that guys could put away that much food and stay as fit as they do. It probably had something to do with all the football those two play. I, on the other hand, could gain four pounds just smelling cupcakes.

Like I said, I didn’t find out until later they were talking about Charlie and me, and it only took a second to figure out I was the pig in that scenario. In time, I would wish that’s all they were talking about.

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

Post by dios4vida » June 10th, 2010, 1:57 pm

Title: No Hill Without Treasure
Genre: Fantasy
(248 words)

Windrunner raked his fingers through his shaggy brown hair. With the other hand he swished his sword back and forth, trying to remember everything he’d been taught. His mind seemed strangely blank. In his nervousness he’d forgotten almost all of his year-long training.

There were others wandering around, most in similar positions. Each had the same look of nervous anticipation in their eyes. They were all there for the same purpose. Today was the annual Wisdom Challenge – the one chance a boy had to prove that he was a man.

A robed man stepped up behind the crowd. “Ksenia Windrunner!”

He cringed. He hated that name. Most people didn’t know his given name was Ksenia, and his mother was the only one to ever call him that.

Windrunner took a deep breath and followed the man into the arena. Gravel crunched under his feet. Butterflies fluttered in his stomach. He resisted the urge to rake a hand through his hair and focused instead on approaching the group of elders waiting for him.

A member of the council stood and addressed the crowd that had gathered. “Today is the first day of spring. We begin a new season and a new year today. Let us hope a new man is born before us as well!”

The man resumed his seat and looked at Windrunner. “Your name, Wisdom-seeker.”

“Ksenia,” he replied, “though I have chosen to be called Windrunner.”

The men of the council nodded. “A strong name. Your age?”
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Location: Quebec

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

Post by Claudie » June 10th, 2010, 2:01 pm

Steampunk fantasy

Captain Vermen’s rough hands rested upon the prow’s railing and he let his gaze embrace the world expanding at his feet. From above, the farming lands were a patchwork of greens and yellows, with the occasional house disrupting the pattern, and sinuous roads connecting the properties. The farms eventually gave way to forest and, far ahead – more than a day’s flight away – to the shadow of Kairn’s Mountain.

Somewhere in this stretch of land, his target was hiding.

It did not matter how fast Seraphin Holt ran; he could not escape him. Soon, Captain Vermen would find him, and he would put a bullet through his skull.
He had dreamed of this day for years, ever since the runaway had inflicted this dreadful fate on his brother. Twice since, Seraphin had escaped him. He would not slip through his fingers a third time. There was more at stake now, and the Empire had seen fit to grant him more resources.

Slowly, Captain Vermen turned around to face his soldiers. They were all lined up, standing straight, mouth closed into a thin and serious line, waiting for him to talk. He had handpicked them for this expedition, knowing he wanted only the best to come with him. These were men in which he could trust.

“Today, soliders, is one to mark on your calendars and etch into your hearts.” He took a confident stride toward the line. “I chose you to participate in this mission, my greatest achievement. Emperor Kurttman’s daughter has vanished, but we know who took her. Today, we hunt the White Renegade.”
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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

Post by mbourque » June 10th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Title: Untitled
Genre: Romance

Matt rounded the corner, grateful to see the rambling Victorian he’d called home for most of his life. It had been a long tour—six weeks. It had not gone well.

Between the red-eye flight, the car ride, and the nasty writer’s cramp he’d gotten from autographing the same boring phrase on ten thousand books, he was beat.

Add to that he could feel a sniffle coming on and a tickle in the back of his throat.

He pulled through the long driveway. A rusty Cadillac sat alone at the end, taking up more than its fair share of the narrow paving. Matt blocked it in with his truck; there was no choice. He wasn’t sure who was parking here—maybe one of his neighbors had guests and needed some extra parking. He spotted the license plate, “Hail Mary.”

Hail Mary? Where’d he seen that before?

He shut off the truck, grabbed his laptop, and made his way toward the side entrance.

The dewy grass brushed the hem of his pants as he walked to the door. It hadn’t been mowed in weeks, except for a small square of earth that had been freshly dug. Damn kid. He was supposed to keep on top of this stuff.

All he wanted in the world was to collapse into his own bed snuggled up to Bella, his dog.

He reached to unlock the door. Strange, it was slightly open. Someone had molded a piece of duct tape across the catch.

He pricked his ears for Bella, waiting for her to come greet him on the other side of the door as she always did. No Bella. It was quiet.

Hail Mary. Where had he seen that?

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

Post by CartoonBlue » June 10th, 2010, 2:40 pm

Last edited by CartoonBlue on January 19th, 2011, 4:12 am, edited 21 times in total.

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Posts: 190
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by FK7 » June 10th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Title: Trinity
Genre: Science fantasy
Words: 251 (out of 366. Prologue)

I heard the steps of death. She was coming back for her.

She laid in my arms, exhausted and in pain. I couldn't imagine a worse place to meet our end, in this filthy, disgusting cell.

As I heard them get closer, I was taken over by rage.

I couldn't let them take her. She wouldn't survive another minute. And yet, I was so pathetically weak, I knew there was nothing I could do to stop them.

She'd made me swear not to say anything, not to give in, no matter what. Even if I broke my promise now, it was too late.

There was another way, something so dangerous that she would never want me to consider it. The elixir could save her, and in spite of the risks, the chance alone was worth it.

"Take it!"

She was so weak, she could barely speak.

"No," she said, winding her head left and right with her lips pursed shut. It didn't matter how much she'd resist: if I had to force it down her throat, I would.

"Don't you dare give up on us, not after all this shit!"

She turned her head away, the raging tears rolling down her bleeding cheek begging me to stop. "NO!"

"TAKE IT!" My own tears of fury were filling up my eyes. I was terrified: of death, of them, of losing her.

I met her betrayed gaze: she was in agony, but not from her wounds. The dilemma was impossible. The temptation, torturous.


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