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 isaiahjc » June 12th, 2010, 1:03 am

Title: Incanto - A Fairy Tale
Genre: Contemporary Urban Fantasy

It’s a law of nature that phone calls before 6AM will only bring you bad news.

That’s why Noah didn’t answer his cell the first two times it rang on that Friday morning. When it buzzed a third time, he decided to grace the caller with his voice.

“Yeah?” He didn’t open his eyes at all, but kept his head firmly enthroned in his down pillow.

“Am I the first one to call you?” It was Melia, his personal assistant. Once upon a time she’d also been his girlfriend. That was an eternity ago.

“I dunno, probably.”

“Well, I hate to bear bad news-“

“Then don’t.” He rolled over, his satin sheets and pillow top comforter embraced him and wooed him back to dreamland. “Good night.”

“No, Noah, this can’t wait. There’s been a problem with one of the ships. The Fantasy, I think.” This was one of the five cruise ships owned by Noah’s company, Emmaus Entertainment.

He rose up on one arm and tried to pull his consciousness out of the dream it was in. “What happened?”

“It’s been attacked. We don’t know how, or why, or what provoked it. But…it’s sinking. It's all over the news.”

He turned on the bedside lamp, grabbed his remote, and flipped on the 50 inch TV he had on the wall. CNN was aflutter about the situation; they even had an aerial camera shot of the rescue attempt by the Marines.

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Joined: January 17th, 2010, 1:17 pm

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

Post by melissapearl » June 12th, 2010, 3:06 am

Title: Spero (to hope)
Genre: YA paranormal


Italy - 158 BC

They appeared with the morning star.
Seven infants, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lay in a perfect circle on the damp earth. Their cries pierced the misty air and nature stood still.

Lucia’s feet scuffled over the ground, her petite legs taking too long to close the distance. Out of breath, she knelt before them. She had seen this coming, her vision crystal clear. These infants would grow into a powerful force that must be weilded for good.

The dark skinned one would be their leader. The girl with the emerald eyes his bride. Together they would lead the group to their destiny. What it was she did not know, she could only see her part in the plan.

“The council will never agree to this,” her husband spoke softly.

“They are not abandoned, Quintus. These babes were sent.”

A small hand struggled against its wraps and five dark fingers quivered skyward. Lucia’s eyes glistened as the baby clasped her finger. She shifted the wrap and stared into eyes that sparkled like diamonds.

“We cannot let them perish. We have been called to protect them.”

Quintus shivered with a sigh. “These are the ones? You are sure?”

She shot him a withering look. “Do you know of any other who has come across seven babes like this? These are the chosen ones.”

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Posts: 159
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Jaime » June 12th, 2010, 4:27 am

Title: Waiting for April
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Two families sat around Henry Brice’s outdoor setting, and I knew them both, but there was no one my age here. I didn’t mind, as I got along with adults better than I did with people my own age, anyway, so I took a seat and answered questions about my plans for college while I waited for my parents to come back outside.
“Shortcake, would you help set the table, please?” my father asked as he emerged from the house.
I nodded and smiled, but as I got up I noticed he had a grin on his face. Narrowing my eyes at him suspiciously, I headed inside. There were a few people in the kitchen, so I waited for them to finish what they were doing before I made my way over to the cupboard. As I pulled out some plates and stood up, I accidentally backed into someone standing behind me.
“Sorry,” I said as I spun around, almost dropping the plates.
Scott Parker moved to steady me. I was speechless as he took the plates from me and gave me a tight-lipped smile before walking away. Straightening out my skirt, I tried to remember how to breathe as I watched him walk outside, turning to look at me as he backed out of the door. My mother held it open for him before coming into the kitchen.
She smiled. “Good looking young man, hey?”
I blushed and tucked my hair behind my ear. “I hadn’t noticed.”

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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 4:48 am
Location: England, UK

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

Post by Alicewonder » June 12th, 2010, 9:02 am

Title Midas and the Pirates
Genre - 8-12 years adventure (Think you call that middle grade in America!)
Word Count - 247 words.

The most important day in Charlie Hill’s life had finally arrived.
She covered her ears, trying to dampen the sound of hundreds and hundreds of voices screaming with excitement. She walked slowly, memorising every sensation. The city seemed different today, magical. Everything seemed brighter, cleaner, bigger.
As she turned the last corner she felt like her stomach was filled not with butterflies but big bats. The museum, which towered above her, was wrapped by a long line of children, all – like her- wanting to be the one chosen.
“I’m actually here,” she whispered to herself, plucking up the nerve to push her way through to the barriers.
Charlie managed to find a good spot, one advantage of being tall for a ten-year-old was that she could see over the heads of the other boys and girls. She tapped her feet, willing time to go quicker, then glanced at her watch; it was nearly noon. She compared it to the digital clock on the large HD screens attached to the building’s glass frontage. Superimposed over documentary footage of Midas’s adventures, it counted down the last, unbearable minutes.
Charlie had seen the clips a thousand times before; Midas the conservationist first, on safari tracking down poachers then helping out at a panda fertility clinic. Then Midas the artefact hunter; in Egypt discovering a new tomb, then tracking down a lost treasure in Iraq.
Suddenly the image switched to the museum’s logo and the words ‘Competition final here today’ appeared.

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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:50 am

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

Post by Kalicopalace » June 12th, 2010, 9:59 am

Title: Satellite
Genre: Mainstream
246 words

At two in the afternoon two security guards come through the double fire doors at the end of hall. They stand discussing things, looking casual but watchful.


A feeling of doom fills me. I’ve been hanging by a thread at this place since I happened to fall asleep at my desk the very afternoon the CEO came visiting accounts payable. Drooling onto your computer keyboard is apparently unacceptable to him. I was put on notice.

Maybe they’re not here for me, I think hopefully. But panic is dissolving through my bloodstream like instant espresso into hot water. Rent’s due next week, my car insurance lapsed last month, and I’m pretty sure my phone’s going to get cut off any day now.

I focus on the newspaper in front of me, open to the obituaries. This is another problem I have: I rarely do actual work at work. I’ve had five temp jobs in the last six months.

The guards look in my general direction but continue to chat, as if they have decided to make me suffer awhile. I go back to the newspaper. None of the obits catch my eye, so I push it aside and open my dead people notebook. The last entry I did was three weeks ago. Mr. Garrison Blatt. His rheumy eyes glare up at me from the grainy black and white photo, full of reproach.

“You were late again this morning,” he says. “What did you expect to happen?”

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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 10:10 am

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

Post by ShotintheDark » June 12th, 2010, 10:26 am

Title: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky
Genre: YA Fantasy
245 words

Chapter One: Fourteen Years Ago

Catherine stands in the doorway of the kitchen, staring at the blue duffle bag. She cannot believe this is happening again.
“Please, Scott, just tell me what is going on. Please. I'm not going to allow something like this to happen to us. Let me help you."
Scott stands at the table and jams a dark blue shirt into the bag. “I know," he sighs, "I want to, Cathy, but I don’t—I don’t have enough time. I just need you to be patient with me.”
A rumble of thunder shakes the house and a gust of wind batters the windows with rain.
“Patient?” Catherine laughs. “Scott, this is the third night in a row. How am I supposed to be patient when all I can—”
The phone rings. Scott quickly moves to answer it, but then immediately hangs it back up again. Catherine can feel her breath leaving her.
“Scott, just tell me where you are going. Just tell me.”
He crosses to her. “I know, I’m sorry, honey, this is—I don’t…” He pulls her close and pushes her blonde hair away from her face, lifting her chin to meet her eyes with his. “Look, it’s still me,” he says. “I’m here, just like always. It's me. Right?”
Catherine pulls away.
“Trust me,” Scott asks. “Please. I need that from you. I know it’s not fair and I don’t deserve it, but I need that. Everything we’ve shared, think of that, and not me standing here now. Because this is not who I am.”
Catherine stares at the floor. The both of them are silent as the rain falls down angrily outside.
“When I get home,” Scott begins haltingly, “I’ll explain it. Everything. I’ll—it will only make you think I’m even more insane, but in the morning, I’ll tell you every last detail. As long as you promise not to be mad. Okay?”

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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 11:34 am

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

Post by dchiraven2005 » June 12th, 2010, 12:36 pm

Title: Blackwatch
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
WC: 236

The first time I paused the world, I managed to sleep through the whole thing.

While I slept, a house burned in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, just up the street from the apartment I shared with my Mom. If I would have been awake and wandering at that time, I would have heard the screaming sirens fall silent. I would have seen the flames stop dancing, a still-frame of fire frozen in a state that wasn’t quite solid. Maybe I even could have helped the people who lived inside, ushered them to safety without anyone getting hurt...if I hadn’t been sleeping.

In my defense, I was completely unaware that I had stopped time. I mean, honestly, how was I supposed to know? That’s not something you ever expect to happen, except in the movies. So imagine my surprise when I finally woke up, after the best sleep I’d ever had, and found out that not a second of time had passed.

It took me a while to figure out what had happened, to realize that I was the one responsible for the world around me being stuck in time. Obviously, I got it started again, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. But the damage had already been done. If I’d have known then what I know now, well I’d probably go back to that day in Uncle Jonas’s pawn shop and do things a bit differently.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

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

Post by khanes » June 12th, 2010, 2:22 pm

Title: The Gravity of San Miguel
Genre: Women's Fiction

It’s easy to get lost when you don’t know which way is up or down, when both the water and the sky are the color of gunmetal. I guided my KRKO Ford Escape through the thick fog of downtown Seattle on my way to breaking news, cutting corners near buildings made of cold steel. The autumn air was damp and heavy, ominous against my windshield.
The piece of paper lay crumpled on the passenger seat beside me, directions to the scene. Small children held hostage in North Bend, their stepfather the suspected captor. I felt a rush of anxiety and my heart beat a little faster in my chest, unsure of what I would find.
The fog grew into a living thing over the floating I-90 bridge; it hung low and thick. I concentrated on driving, keeping the yellow dots in view as the freeway slithered away. It was hard to shake the feeling of loss as summer melted into autumn. The changing leaves of deciduous trees burned orange and yellow on the hilltops of Mercer Island, breaking through gray like fire.
The fog scattered and turned to rain near the exit to North Bend, 45 minutes outside of Seattle. I exited I-90, the GPS unit guiding my way to an upscale neighborhood near the hulking Mount Si. Tendrils of mist strangled the mountain’s peak; the jagged tops of evergreens cut the pale sky. I drove slowly toward the address, and saw yellow crime scene tape shimmering in the rain.

Terry MacFarland
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 3:21 pm

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

Post by Terry MacFarland » June 12th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Title: The Mysterious Leaping Man
Genre: YA historical
In which our Heroine’s first case presents itself.
Emily Holmes strapped on goggles and shoved her long black hair under her leather pilot’s cap. She wanted to go fast, on a day that always made her feel jittery and trapped. It wasn’t logical that she should feel much of anything, for facts were facts, and knowledge was always good. Except that on this day twelve years earlier, at age five, perhaps she hadn’t been ready for facts, at least ones so stark and final.
Mother had died in childbirth. Father was never coming home.
She’d stopped listening, the room blurring and buzzing as blood pounded in her ears and pain poured out in quiet tears. In the following twelve years, she’d never asked her governess to repeat the information. She remembered the date—August 4, 1878—because as Addie told her the story of her life, she’d stared at the newspaper thrown on the green brocade settee. The headline spoke of France and looming war, which seemed no further away than Addie’s kind voice as it faded into the background.
The unasked questions lay buried like ancient treasures beneath the walls she’d carefully built through the years. Do I have grandparents? Is Father dead as well, or does he simply not want me? Why am I wealthy? Did you know her, Addie? Do I look like her?
On this anniversary of the Truth of Emily Holmes, as she’d titled the day in her journal, she slung her leather satchel over her shoulder. It held her most prized possessions—her Journal of Important Observations, two novels, and one letter. She broke her promise to her mentor and butler Thomas, and left her pistol in her desk drawer.

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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 6:52 pm

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

Post by SleepyJohn » June 12th, 2010, 7:09 pm

Title: The Seven Gifts - that came to Earth
Genre: Fairy Tale

It was a simple story that the Angel told; and it was couched for these times, in which we read it.
She took her theme from St Paul: 'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things'. Then she wove those words around a little girl to whom everything was still possible and all things had meaning.
With such convictions, it was natural for the little girl to assume that life was straightforward and just as it seemed. It was plain, for instance, that the sun went down in the evening so that everyone could sleep, and rose again in the morning to wake them up. The fairies that she could see at the bottom of her garden were clearly there, even though no adults seemed able to see them.
It was quite obvious to the little girl - long before it became so to the scientists - that if she could imagine something then it must exist. Thus her world was full of wonder and magic; peopled by daring and handsome Princes who rescued damsels in distress, saved woodcutters and milkmaids from tyranny, and rode fine white chargers across the land, their goodness proudly emblazoned across their hearts.
Good fought with Evil all through the early years of her life, and Good always triumphed. And so life for a little girl was simple, and she had no difficulty in understanding what St Matthew had really meant when he said: 'Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'
The Seven Gifts - "A most unusual and beautiful story that lingers long in the mind"

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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 7:11 pm

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

Post by princesstk » June 12th, 2010, 7:15 pm

Title : Aeron's Crossing
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure Fantasy

Daniel kicked at the stones in the dirt as he walked the long path that edged Grandmother Alice’s fields. Some were small pebbles; some were rocks. His big size-nine sneakers resembled dusty boats next to the small stones and he relished kicking the small rocks far into the fields that surrounded him.

The hot afternoon sun beat down on the back of his neck, but he didn’t mind; he liked the comfort the sun’s warm rays gave. Daniel couldn’t believe he’d let the old lady get to him. His mother had warned him before he climbed aboard the bus to this God-forsaken, middle-of-nowhere farmland that the old lady had her ways and he should let them be. Accept them and move on, his mother had said.

He’d been slaving away all morning, mowing, feeding, collecting eggs and milking the darned goat and he was tired. He’d walked into the house wanting nothing but a sandwich and a shower, but Grandmother Alice was in the kitchen with that Catherine girl, and Daniel was buzzed away as though he were a fly.
It’s not like he wanted to be there anyway. He wanted to be at home with his mother; he knew she wasn’t coping well, but he was twelve, not two, he could have been of use. But here he was regardless, shipped off to neverland with nothing to do but milk goats for a cranky old lady.

He’d never much liked Grandmother Alice. She did nothing but nag and fuss.

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Joined: June 1st, 2010, 9:27 pm

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

Post by mbelyea » June 12th, 2010, 9:36 pm

Genre: Inspirational romance

Jack Sullivan looked into the window of Giovanni's, and cursed.  A group of women were clustered around the hostesses stand, laughing and talking. They hadn’t spotted him, but he knew as soon as he walked in that door all mayhem would break loose. Normally, he wouldn’t mind being stopped for an autograph or a picture. Tonight was different. Tonight he was meeting his fiance Jillian. Ignoring a sense of foreboding, he checked his watch. It was already six forty-five.  He had fifteen minutes.   

The door opened and a couple hurried to a waiting taxi. They carried with them the heady aroma of warm garlic bread and rustic Italian cuisine, making Jack’s mouth water.  He was a sucker for good Italian food. With a deep breath, he donned a pair of dark sunglasses, turned up the collar of his grey wool coat and pulled out his cell phone.   Less than a minute later, the door was being held open by the manager while the veteran hostess expertly called the women's attention to a nearby chalkboard.  With dramatic flair, she began to describe the specials, effectively drawing curious eyes away.

Jack stealthily made his way towards the back of the restaurant and a secluded table marked “reserved”.  As soon as he sat down, the waiter brought his usual, an espresso with twist of lime. Jack sipped the steaming coffee and mentally reviewed his carefully planned words.

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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 11:25 pm

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

Post by Taryn7 » June 12th, 2010, 11:30 pm

Title: Angels, Demons, and Beauty Queens
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 250

Juan knelt before Linny. Years of exposure to abrasive Monterey winds, infused with sand and dirt, had marred his face with deep furrows. And his body, permanently hunched from bending over hot-baked fields, looked like that of a crooked old man. Clearly, he was beyond help, light years past redemption. Nevertheless, Linny would not abandon him. Could not abandon him. For his lost, weary eyes begged for relief from unspeakable suffering - suffering she alone was compelled to end.

Images rushed across her mind. Images of Juan, laboring punishing hours under the scorching Salinas Valley sun. Plucking artichokes from the dark, fertile earth. Hoisting huge crates onto flatbed trucks. Thirst piercing his body like a knife. Agony in every inch of his being. Yet he does not stop. Does not complain. Gladly offers his body to the relentless pain. For through his sacrifice, a better life for his wife, Carlita, and their infant daughter, Esperanza, awaits. The American dream they so richly deserve.

Then tragedy strikes. A mangled pick-up truck scattered across an indifferent highway. Rivers of blood wending its way through asphalt cracks - his family’s blood. The grief over his loss is incomprehensible. Carlita was his life, Esperanza his greatest hope. A man possessed, Juan works triple shifts. A tortured human machine drenched in salty sweat. Until one day, a commanding voice booms across the smoldering landscape: “Follow me, Juan. For I alone can reunite you with your family. And in return, I have but one small favor to ask…”

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Joined: June 13th, 2010, 9:03 am

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

Post by caradupont » June 13th, 2010, 9:25 am

Title: Losing Rhythm
Genre: Chick Lit?
Word Count: 182

Her head turned slightly watching her port de bras in the mirror. Her curved arm floated belying the control and tension in every muscle as she worked to keep the illusion of seamless elegance. Losing herself in the music, she perfected the positions repeatedly until her arms burned in protest and the hollow feeling in her stomach lessened.
Madame appeared in the mirror’s reflection and beckoned her with a nod. Taking a breath, she followed Madame into the office cluttered with newspaper clippings, magazine articles, books, and record albums. She settled herself on the chair facing Madame’s desk and stared at the black and white photos that lined the shelf behind it.
Madame lit one of the thin French cigarettes smoked only in the privacy of her office and contemplated the ceiling as she spoke. “So he has left you. Is that it?”
She blinked back tears at the bluntness of it and nodded a barely perceptible nod. Her shaking hands reached for the packet of cigarettes.
Madame grabbed her hand. “You’re biting your nails again, I see. God, you’re a mess.”

Posts: 2
Joined: June 13th, 2010, 9:20 am
Location: Florida

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

Post by NicoleLRivera » June 13th, 2010, 9:29 am

Title: The Daisy Diamond
Genre: Twenty-something Romance
Word Count: 232

“I am not fat.”
“Good. Now say – ‘I am in control,’” Betty’s voice rang with pride.
I gritted my teeth fighting the urge to roll my eyes, “I am in control.”
“Last one: ‘I am worth love.’”
A knot formed in my throat. I don’t do mushy, but if I throw up she might diagnose me with bulimia. I have to pull myself together. Concentrate.
One. Two. Three. The numbers rang in my head like a voice from the past. My hands fisted as I pulled together every ounce of energy, and tried to control my temper.
“I’m worth love,” I said through clenched teeth.
She looked at me, analyzing. I hate that. Just tell me what you have to say.
Her brow scrunched as she jotted something down on her yellow notepad. “We’ll work on that,” she stated more to herself than to me.
When Betty was done she put down her pen and looked at me, surveying. Her eyes searched for answers or some sense to my insensible behavior. The air conditioning kicked in and diffused her strong perfume around the room
“Tell me – what’s been going on with Caesar?” she asked, her earlier pride squelched.
This time, I did roll my eyes.
She chuckled.
“Same.” Honesty has always been my virtue, maybe too much so at times.
“Care to elaborate?” An irritated smile tickled her face.
No. I sighed.


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