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 Inkblot » June 11th, 2010, 12:26 am

Title: Sanctuary
Genre: YA Fantasy
(247 words)

I’m not sure where this story began. Mum says stories begin with, “Once upon a time,” or “In the beginning” – but that only works for written-down stories. In real life there’s no one standing behind your shoulder, waiting to whisper the magic words that let you know something Big is about to happen.


Anyway, the first time I remember something weird happening – as good a beginning as any – was the Sunday right before school went back. Mum and Dad had been arguing again, and Dad had stormed out of the kitchen to get ready for work. He was always getting called in on Sundays. I think that’s why Mum yelled at him so much.

I sat at the breakfast table, swinging my legs and loudly slurping the last of the milk from my bowl so I could pretend I couldn’t hear the way Mum was slamming plates into the dishwater. I perched on the edge of my chair, ready to run the second I was done, expecting at any moment a plate to break and loose another burst of anger.

“Excuse me?” I said as I put the empty bowl down.

No one heard me.

Mum threw some more cutlery into the hot, soapy water.

“Excuse me?” I eyed Mum’s back cautiously. I really wanted to be excused, but I also really didn’t want to provoke an explosion. “Hello?”

My big sister Anna happened to be crossing through right at that moment. “What is it now?”

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

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 11th, 2010, 12:44 am

Title: Currently Untitled (I'm working on this)
Genre: YA Zombie Horror
Chapter 1

The nightmares didn't come to Zoe Lyons every night. Not anymore. She'd lived in sustained fear for five years, so to bring the nightmares the trigger needed to be something truly awful, a thing that burned into the deep, dark, protected places inside.

The trigger was pulled earlier that week on her way home from school. James walked on her right while empty, dilapidated buildings rotated past on the left. They were on East 3rd, though that meant little since there was no longer a West 3rd. Or addresses. Or mail.

James recounted a particularly gruesome leg wound he'd helped stitch up at the clinic that morning. A doctor from Minerva observed him work and seemed very impressed and didn't think there'd be a scar. Since James was waiting for an interview with Minerva's medical school, so this was the highlight of his story, but she'd become hung up on the image of a gaping hole in someone's leg. This was the sort of weird conversation she tried to avoid having with her brother.

She was looking down, thinking about leg wounds, when she saw a real leg extruding from an alley directly ahead of them. It was wearing a dirty white sock and a black leather shoe that looked as if it had once been shiny, but was now covered in spider web cracks and grime. Above the sock to the knee was just skin. Dirty, milky-gray colored skin.

“James,” she'd said, and reached for his elbow.
Last edited by Sommer Leigh on July 25th, 2010, 9:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
May the word counts be ever in your favor.
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

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Adrift in the Sound first page

Post by kcamp300 » June 11th, 2010, 8:42 am

She rounded out the child’s jaw line, shaded it with a pinkish tone and ignored her cramping fingers. A weaker person would have already put the paints away, but Lizette kept sketching, unaware of the nervous tics that tugged at her face, the soft chirps that gathered in the back of her throat and soundlessly escaped her lips. The child squirmed before her in the canvas folding chair, disturbed the light around his face and caused her to reconsider the contours of her drawing. She’d lost contact with her body and surroundings, so intent she floated in the clatter and rumble of Pike’s Place Market, while she zeroed in on her subject.

When the drawing was complete, she handed it to the little boy, who bowed his head and studied the image, looked up at his expectant parents. They clapped and said it was a wonderful likeness, pressed their son to tell Lizette “thank you,” which he offered in modest embarrassment. They paid her five dollars, said she was a regular Picasso and rolled the sketch up, draped their arms warmly around the child, said “let’s go home.”

Lizette felt a wave of loneliness as she watched them disappear into the crowd, felt the air’s chill intensify in the damp fall evening. The cold seeped into her awareness and her toes ached inside her boots. Frigid gusts gripped her exposed collar bones and she shivered, tried to stand, tottered and caught herself on a metal post. The market spun around her.
Seattle’s rain slick streets reflected the garish colors of the downtown’s neon signs, burning brighter in the gathering dusk. She read the topless joint’s marquee on the corner, its dazzling whiteness flashed: “Wearing Nothing But a Smile,” and frowned at the come on, glanced around the dingy produce stalls, gathered her bearings.

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

Post by linnet » June 11th, 2010, 1:19 pm

Title: W. A. S.
Genre: Science Fiction
Words: 250

The message began. W.A.S proudly invites Johanna Sills to partake of a rewarding project . . .

I stood in my home-office, wall frame ready to conference with employers across the ocean when the pinged message displaying W.A.S. official scrolls loomed too tempting to slide off my screen.

Distractedly, my mind flicked the energy sensor facing the panoramic view of the world, and used TDP to key an apology to potential employers, and those waiting for the meeting to begin. I stepped down from my elevated shoes to lounge on the restoration pod, the chair’s arms wrapped snuggly around me. A blink of an eye changed the background of my screen to the morning news as I brought the message to the foreground to avidly scan.

Three re-reads later, I realized my mother had contributed twenty-five thousand dollars to W.A.S., all those years ago, she who’d had so few possessions. Gentle, kind Lillian dead from a procedure to remove visceral fat had wanted to live forever. Now, the World Annihilating Senescence movement was offering me to join their 1,000 members chosen around the globe, to live 1,000 years.

Morning meeting was gone. There would be others. As a software troubleshooter I had my pick of contracts. I also had enough accumulated points to live out three lifetimes, except that if we were talking one thousand years, survival logistics might change. What would life’s standard be in the third millennium?
Last edited by linnet on June 11th, 2010, 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by lynnca » June 11th, 2010, 3:59 pm

Title: The Secrets of Toad Hollow
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy (Middle-Grade Readers)

Henry Cooper was certain he was being followed. For the past few days an elegant, well-dressed man wearing an orange bowler hat and carrying a toad-headed walking stick stood across the street from Henry’s brownstone, watching his building intently. Discreetly tucked in a shadowed entryway, the average person—intent on scrolling through emails and tapping out texts while hurrying to their next destination—never would have noticed him, odd attire notwithstanding. A month ago, chances are Henry wouldn’t have either. But since his dad went missing, he spent most of his free time staring out the window, waiting for him to come home, and so, of course, he saw the man.

While walking to school, Henry used a small mirror, cupped in his palm, to catch sight of him amid the pedestrians jostling down Fifth Avenue. Shadowing his steps at a discrete distance, the man artfully blended into the street’s crowd while never letting Henry out of his sight. Anyone else would have run to the police. Unfortunately, a sticky problem even worse than a possible stalker meant Henry was on his own. He couldn’t risk involving the authorities.

An eccentric and brainy 13-year-old student at New York City’s prestigious Creekside Academy, Henry Cooper had one friend, two hobbies (archeology and fencing), and the largest collection of ancient Amazonian blow guns outside of the Smithsonian. Keenly inquisitive, Henry tried to figure out what the man wanted. He furtively spied on the spy. He bought night vision goggles, surfed the Internet for anti-evasion tactics and stalker psychological profiles. He changed his daily routine, left home at odd times, but no matter how circuitous his route to school, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or fencing practice, Henry could not escape Bowler Hat Man. His best friend Kit had come up with the name.
Last edited by lynnca on June 12th, 2010, 11:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by Rebecca » June 11th, 2010, 5:26 pm

Title: Hunted
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 248

A loser? Jim was no loser, even though his brother was treating him like one. As soon as the media picked up the story, the rest of the sports world would assume Eddie had inside information, and Jim would end up on the has-been pile. He had to fix things.

Turning his back on the afternoon crowd milling about their parents' beach-side condo, he lowered his voice. "I don't get it, Eddie. I confirmed with the steering committee months ago."

"Back then you seemed like the perfect fit for a celebrity golf tournament." His older brother popped a stuffed mushroom into his mouth.

"And now I don't?"

"What can I say."

"I'll find another team."

"How many players get picked up midseason?" Eddie bit into a cracker slathered with cheese.

"Iverson did and Terry."

"But most aren't."

Jim set his plate of uneaten hors d'oeuvres on a nearby table. "If I'm scheduled to play in your tournament, people will know my knee is okay and—"

"But it's not."

"It will be."

Eddie swiped a napkin over his mouth. "I hope so, little brother, I really do. But the committee can't wait. They want a star they can promote now. You know, somebody who's actually playing."

Jim swallowed a trash-talk comeback about Eddie's failure to make the pros. "You could use your influence to convince them—"

His brother held up a hand. "Only high profile celebs bring in the kind of donations we need."

Jim crumpled his empty paper cup.

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

Post by Sam Hranac » June 11th, 2010, 5:29 pm

Title: Fairyland
Genre: Contemporary YA
(239 words)

“I, the Flaming Blue Ruler, universalize wisdom.” Patrick Swift posed in a comic rendition of nobility, one hand held high as he recited the lines displayed on his laptop. His voice thundered.

Val Russo, his classmate at Northfield High, laughed and pounded his well-made single bed with her fists. “That is so TRUE!”

“I integrate in order to generate simplicity.” Patrick continued, coating the words with dripping emotion.

Val chuckled for a moment, and then sat up on one elbow. “You lost me on that one.” Her customary bib overalls with an oversized shirt worn over the top hung freely, concealing her figure, which Patrick assumed to be ample in the absence of positive visual proof. She was a big girl, at any rate – tall with broad shoulders. Her bare toes, the long wiggly variety, wriggled freely, unencumbered by her black combat boots for once. Patrick had been startled to notice she painted her toenails (gleaming purple). “How do you do what again?” she asked.

“Uh… generate simplicity?” Patrick leaned closer to the monitor, adjusting his glasses, ignoring Val’s shiny toenails for the moment. Lank sandy hair flopped into his face. “I integrate, I guess.”

“Integrate what? How does that work?”

“Doesn’t say.” Patrick’s eyes glazed over as he stared at the screen. Why was his heart pounding now that they weren’t clowning around? Could Val tell? She never seemed to let on – she always seemed so relaxed.

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

Post by wetair » June 11th, 2010, 5:51 pm

note: this is not from the writing experiment on my blog (in case anyone notices). posting this one because i think it is stronger
working title: Shawn
genre: urban fantasy
Word Count: 250

Cold wind blew the exhaust of a passing bus into my face and I coughed. The bandages on my fingers caught on day-old bristle. I needed to shave but that was hard with bandaged fingers. The club would be warm and I wanted to get inside. But I couldn’t hurry on a bad knee. Just the thought made me cringe.

I shoved all thoughts of the cold away when I reached the club. The outside was plain; just a poster in the windows advertising a “magical night”. The words were black on white, just barely visible. The poster looked hand-made. Music poured from the doors and pulsed through my bones. If I was here for any other reason, I might have danced. At least if Bren were with me; he didn’t mind my new limp style dancing. But I wasn’t. I was here to see if this really was a saltation, a place for people to come and siphon energy away from the vulnerable. This was the closest I had gotten to field work in months and I didn’t want to blow it.

That’s why Aunt Sibhoen hovered beside me. The colors of her flesh had faded, so faded I could see the club through her. She needed to feed soon. My eyes passed over her, through her. I’d learned to do that if I didn’t want to look crazy to normal people or a mage to everyone else; we mages were the only ones who could see our ancestors.

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

Post by ddegreeff » June 11th, 2010, 6:15 pm

Gone, Kitty, Gone: A Brock Rockster Mystery
Middle-grade mystery/comedy

I smashed my steel-toed loafer through the front door and tumbled in, where I landed face-first on the floor of the large, dark foyer.

“Worst! Day! Ever!” I yelled. I knew everyone in the house was sleeping, but I didn’t care. I was upset, and with good reason.
“Carver!” I picked myself off the ground. “Carver! We need to talk!”

My perfect record had been shattered. When I woke up this morning I had been Brock Rockster, The Boy Who Always Got His Man, the twelve-year-old mustache prodigy and world’s greatest private investigator to the stars. I was untouchable, unstoppable, and undefeated – but not anymore. After today’s calamity, I didn’t know what I was.

I saw a room dimly lit off to the right and stomped toward it, each step echoing through the otherwise silent house. A reading lamp glowed in the room’s far corner over the head of Carver McCarver, who sat at her desk surrounded by stacks of papers and folders.

“Hello, pard,” she said. She finished reading the sheet in front of her before looking up. “Find Mr. Janston’s statue?”

“Janston got his weird little sculpture back just fine, Carver, but it wasn’t me that found it,” I said.

I took my fedora hat off, and Carver tipped her Stetson back in response. Carver was well over ninety years old, but had the energy of someone a third her age, and the wisdom of someone who’d seen the pyramids built.
Davy DeGreeff

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

Post by karalee greer » June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm

by Karalee Greer
Title: United in Death
Genre: Murder Mystery

“Hey, Cassandra!” Jody Blake jumped from the bus on Hastings Street. Ahead, her cousin tipped her red umbrella, blocking Jody from view, and kept walking.
“Cassandra, wait!” Jody hustled past storefronts covered with graffiti and metal bars. Wind chill and heavy snow had emptied the streets on Vancouver’s downtown eastside, and the mounds of blankets-over-newspapers had almost disappeared from the doorways.
Shelters are open. Jody smiled. And I’ll never have to use one again.
Her running shoes held a better grip than Cassandra’s high-heeled boots and the gap between them closed quickly.
“Hey,” Jody said, her breath steaming into the night. “New coat. Looks sharp.” Please don’t tell me you stole it.
“Whatcha want smart-ass?” Cassandra fished inside her large leather handbag and pulled out her cigarettes. She kept her head down. “You ain’t gettin’ none, no matter what.”
“S’okay. You know I don’t smoke no more.” Jody let her eastside talk come through, not proper English that Cassandra hated.
“That ain’t wha’ I mean. Who tol’ ya?”
“Tol’ me what?”
“Go ta hell.” Cassandra plunged her hand back into her purse.
A taxi sped by, spraying an arc of slush that soaked Cassandra from hip to toe. Cursing, she jumped sideways, her purse sliding from her shoulder, and Jody saw something fall into the snow. For a brief moment Cassandra turned towards Jody.
Jody gasped. Dark purple swelling ringed Cassandra’s left eye, her cheek and lip were also split and bruised.
“Jus’ go home Jody.”

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

Post by JD Revene » June 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm

by David Enever writing as JD Revene
Literary Erotica
1st page - 238 words

A sultry Sydney night, a woman dances in lingerie hinting at more than it reveals. She pouts and poses, tossing long, dark hair.

A couple watch.

“Nice tits,” the lady says, leaning into her partner.

He turns towards her.

“Not as nice as yours. Not even close.”

“Aw, baby.” She nuzzles his neck and squeezes his leg. Her fingers wander up his inner thigh.

He blushes and glances around.

Red-faced businessmen with loosened ties mix with cameraless Japanese tourists and a group of nervous young men, nursing drinks and counting cash. Fewer than half the tables are taken. No one pays attention to the couple. The lady downs an Alabama Slammer—old-fashioned glass, slice, no cherry—makes a vague gesture, gets up and totters away.

* * *

James Harford sat in the half-lit club, his back ramrod stiff. Beer washed away the after-burn of whisky. Empty bottles crowded the table, arrayed like soldiers at the end of a long march, not quite ordered. Suppressing a yawn he rotated his shoulder. Arthritis, and not even forty.

What the hell am I doing here?

The room should’ve been smoky, but new laws meant it wasn’t. Wordless men lined the bar, beers laid out before them, cricking their necks to watch, feet tapping and heads nodding more or less in time to music loud enough to drown out any attempt at conversation. There were no whistles or cat calls. The place was as upmarket as such places get.

[End Excerpt]

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

Post by ajcattapan » June 11th, 2010, 6:53 pm

Title: The Girl in the Moon
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi
Word Count: 250 words

The day I moved to the moon started out like any other. On February 8, 2216, Keala, my totally crazy cat, started licking my face before the sun was up. I call Keala crazy because she’s blind but she acts like she’s not. I’ve seen her smash her face straight into walls and then bounce off like it’s no big deal.

There’s no point ignoring Keala—she’ll keep licking your face no matter how many times you wave her away—so I got up and headed to the kitchen. By the time I’d programmed the MealMaker 2215, Grandpa had shuffled into the kitchen.

“Good morning, Alex.”

I faced him. “Today’s the day, Grandpa.”

“You say that every morning.”

“I know, but today is different. As soon as I got out of bed, everything felt different, like the air was super charged or something. And somehow I just knew—Grandma’s coming home today.”

Grandpa ignored my optimism. He hit a button on the Beverage Depot Deluxe, and a cup of steaming hot coffee dropped down. I knew he was pretending to ignore what I’d said, but his hand trembled as he pulled the cup away from the machine. When he spoke, he sounded like he was speaking more to himself than to me. “It’s hard to believe it’s almost two years now.”

I’ve seen Grandpa close to crying only a few times. It always gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. Adults aren’t supposed to cry in front of you, are they?
Last edited by ajcattapan on October 1st, 2010, 8:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by Kermit1941 » June 11th, 2010, 8:35 pm

Title : Coming Into Power
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy or speculative fiction
One sentence plot summary:
Helen Troy believed her newly acquired super powers would help her
persuade everyone to quit their tobacco addiction, but found it only
increased the number of problems to be solved.

Chapter 1
Helen pressed her leg lightly against Joe to get his attention. However, her musical voice, just by itself, always caught Joe's attention. "Joe, can I change the radio station? It's not that I don't love classical music. I do. However, I really do want to hear when my friend Melody leaves the moon, and is on the way back to earth. She and the other astronauts have beat Sam Raccetts 2066 record for how long an astronaut has stayed on the moon." Helen felt energized while sandwiched between her best friends Bob and Joe.

Joe divided his attention. While part of his mind focused on driving them to their concert performance in his ancient white camper truck, another part of his mind focused on answering her question. "You sure can. I even give you permission." He turned his head slightly so he could alternately see the road and her reaction.

She laughed. "I'm sorry I told you about my fifth grade English teacher and her 'may I' game." She reached forward and swiftly punched the code sequence needed for her favorite news station on the truck radio touch pad control panel.

". . .waiting for the signal to liftoff. It's t minus 2 minutes and counting. Brad, while we're waiting, tell our listeners why we gave the lunar module the name 'Grayjay'."

After a short period of static, Brad's monotonic radio voice began. "We gave it the name Grayjay because of the Canadian grayjay. The grayjay, a cold

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Location: North Carolina

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

Post by ZWarr » June 11th, 2010, 9:00 pm

Title: 13 Demon Days
Genre: MG Urban Fantasy
Words: 244

Josh stood beside Liz on the front porch and watched the cars pull away, but he didn’t wave goodbye. Liz could smile and flutter her hands if she wanted to, just as if their birthday hadn’t been another disaster and the guests a bunch of bully pigs, but Josh stuck his hands in his pockets and kept them there. He was done with pretending their family was normal.

Their cousins leaned out the car window and hollered something rude, then Uncle Dobbs drove up the street and the herd was finally gone. Josh went inside and headed for the stairs. He couldn’t wait to get to the quiet of his room and his iPod.

“Hey, where are you going?” Liz asked. “I’m not cleaning this up by myself.” She pointed to the toilet seat, sitting in the middle of the entry hall, resting on an island of tarot cards and crumpled napkins.

Josh looked back at Liz and thought about telling her to leave it for Mom and Dad. But she would never do that–Liz was the responsible twin–and besides, they didn’t know when Mom and Dad were coming back, or even where they were.

Liz crossed her arms. “Come on, Josh. You’re a boy–you should be all over cleaning up a giant white donut.”

Josh laughed, and grabbed a broom to start sweeping up the mess. Mom probably would have tried to save the tarot cards, but she wasn’t here.

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

Post by heather_hangs_it » June 12th, 2010, 1:01 am

Title: Life Sucks
Genre: Fantasy/paranormal fiction (with a dash of romance)

Lounging across his chaise like a withered quilt, Uncle could command entire armies with a single breath. To implant the proper motivation, he needed more.

Two had volunteered for the reenactment. One figure, hidden beneath a flowing black fabric, stood several feet away from another smaller figure, seated and draped in delicate white. They stood, still as death, inside the circle of onlookers.

Atop a makeshift platform within the arena, Uncle clapped his hands.

Black trudged toward White. A wind kicked up and rippled across the fabrics, making the scene play like slow motion. White cowered and backed away as Black stepped closer. Black was faster. It reached down and lifted White off the ground. Black held White there and buried its head into White’s neck.

White let out a shriek as the wind gained momentum. The drapes billowed and Black spun with its prey so everyone watching could see the white fabric swell with red. When White – now Red – went limp, Black stopped. So did the wind. All of nature stilled. Black walked over and laid Red at Uncle’s feet.

Uncle knelt and cradled Red, crying out for the lost child. He tore the sticky material from Red’s face to reveal a young girl, and she broke from his grasp. Red pulled a black veil from under her drape, placed it over her head and took Black’s hand. They embraced. When the pair turned back to face Uncle, black-veiled Red held a small creature in her arms.
Last edited by heather_hangs_it on June 14th, 2010, 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.


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