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 shadow » June 14th, 2010, 9:59 am

Word Count: 250

Someone was going to die today. There was no other choice: it was kill or die. Vitiosus stared at the tall, bulky warrior and took a deep breath to calm his anxious nerves. He stepped slowly forward, the gravel crunching below and the wisps of wind swirling about his head as he calculated his chances. With one last glance toward his father on the throne, Vitiosus walked to the middle of the arena. He was determined to make his father proud of him–just this once.
The Lassertians crowded around the village square, their roar drowning out the war cries of the human warrior. He was bound by thick, rusted chains and a troop of guards. Vitiosus studied the struggling warrior. His muscles twitched in a cocky sort of anticipation. Unlike the black leather clothes that outlined Vitiosus’ lean body, the giant wore a white tunic with green elaborate designs on the collar and sleeves, and a leather pleated skirt with golden accents. His dark blonde hair was stained with mud and his icy blue eyes locked on Vitiosus, mocking him.
Vitiosus took another deep breath. He had fought humans before, but fighting a human that killed Lassertians for a living would be a different story. Still, the warrior’s experience and ferocity would not stop Vitiosus from defeating him. Victory consisted of a well executed plan–nothing more.
The king raised his arm and cried, “Release the human!”
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by *kristen*isbell* » June 14th, 2010, 10:22 am

RUSH; women's fiction; complete.


I closed my phone and practically down the hill to the bus shelter. It still took me ten minutes to get there. The rain slanting in and drenching my clothes made the umbrella useless, but I kept it open anyways.

When I arrived at the bus stop he’d said, Jamie wasn’t there. I wondered if he’d sensed that something was wrong, guessed what it was and ducked out into the wet night. But a small movement out of the corner of my eye made me wade through a puddle to a covered walkway between two high rise university buildings.

Jamie was sitting on the steps, sending a text message. He got to his feet when I arrived and looked at me cautiously.

‘Nicola. I was getting wet at the bus stop, I thought I’d move somewhere drier,’ he explained with a smile.

I shook my head.

‘How could you?’ I shouted above the noise of the rain pelting off the roof above us.

Jamie looked confused.

‘How could you attack one of your students? How could you not tell me?’

It was the question I’d run twenty blocks in the rain to ask. It hit him like a dart and he paled in the faint light of the street beside us. I felt close to tears, the glassful of gin with just a hint of tonic I’d swallowed with Maddie covering me and blurring my thoughts.

Jamie shook his head, protesting his innocence. Why did I care so much?

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

Post by liz lee heinecke » June 14th, 2010, 10:30 am

Middle Grade Fiction

Jess had always hated the wind. It made her feel unsettled. She covered her ears with her sleeping bag, but she couldn’t block out the sound of the tent’s wild flapping. The bright moonlight wasn’t making it any easier to fall asleep.
When she finally drifted off, Jess didn’t dream about the black horse. Instead, she wandered through a nightmare where standing stones loomed and a boy with pale eyes murmured strange words. There was no place to hide when the wolves came.

Pushing her long brown hair out of her eyes, Jess peered through the mosquito netting. She pulled on her hiking boots and poked her head out of the stuffy tent. The mountain air smelled like pine needles and sunshine.
A few yards away, her mom and dad were eating breakfast next to a crackling fire. No one else was up. She crawled out of the tent, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

“Did the wind keep you up?” her mom asked, setting her coffee down and handing Jess a granola bar.

“Um, no. Someone’s snoring kept me up,” Jess joked, glaring at her dad.

“What? I don’t snore,” he said, shrugging innocently.

Jess rolled her eyes and tried not to smile. Stepping backwards, she almost tripped over Piper, who was sitting right behind her, tying the laces on her boots. Jess hadn’t even realized her sister was awake.

“Hey, watch out!” Piper chirped.

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Joined: January 15th, 2010, 11:02 pm

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

Post by PamelaKripke » June 14th, 2010, 11:46 am


She makes it in the ramekin, so it comes out round. I think this is the only day of the year when she uses it. It is a miniature ramekin, really, not nearly big enough for a soufflé or a custard pie, but it has the perfect dimensions for the egg cake. It is my birthday. I eat egg cakes on my birthday, and have been since my first celebration, nineteen years ago. That is a lot of egg cakes.

We sit at the kitchen table and wear hats and I eat off of a party plate and open presents. The photographs are on the wall, over my bowls. Nineteen is pretty remarkable, I know, for a bijon-poodle from the pound in Briarcliff Manor, New York. For anyone who is not a homo sapien or a gorilla or a tortoise, actually. In fact, I think I am the second oldest dog in Dallas. Pammy called about six hundred veterinarians in the greater metropolitan area and for three hours, I was the oldest. Then, she tracked down a dachshund who is twenty-one. She is a reporter and is always doing things like that. I love her. Maybe I could meet the dachshund. I could tell him to ask for the carrots, if he doesn’t already. A lot of people don’t know about the carrots.

It is funny to be older than someone, and to have been younger, too. At first, you are protected, taught, shown how it all goes. Then, it shifts. You are the child who becomes the parent, the novice who becomes the mentor. You know nothing; then, there is nothing that you do not know. What a perch, really, what a fanciful place to be. We figure out, though, that our ability to straddle time, to begin behind and emerge ahead, comes with serious responsibility. We have to do something with the gift. We have to transfer the perspective to our people, who need it, but rarely know that they do.

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

Post by taylormlunsford » June 14th, 2010, 11:58 am

Title: A Steady Wish
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Words here: 249

“Another year? That’s way too long, Daisy. You’ve already been away for three years.”
I rolled my eyes at the “Daisy.” We were 25 years old and my twin brother, Brant, still called me by the nickname he gave me when we were five and our mom was reading Little Men by Louisa May Alcott to us. I was an Oxford graduate, for heaven’s sake! The least he could do was call me Maggie. Oh well, I still called him by his family nickname. “I know, B.J, but it’s easier here. There aren’t as many painful memories to deal with.”
“You broke up with him, Daze. Doesn’t that cancel out the need for you to avoid things like memories?” He sounded like a petulant child whose favorite toy was being withheld.
“You are such a guy!” I was getting mildly frustrated by my whiney other half. “A long distance relationship wouldn’t have worked, especially with both of us doing graduate school. But it’s still hard to be totally cut off from him. Even after 3 years of not talking to him, I miss him.” We never mentioned my ex-boyfriend, Will’s, name in these conversations. We just went around and around about whether or not I should have ended the relationship of not. The only thing we ever really disagree about is romantic relationships.
“What’d you expect to happen? You essentially turned down an unofficial proposal from the guy, Maggie. You chose to go down your path without him there.”

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

Post by pkstephens » June 14th, 2010, 12:53 pm

Empire of Ruin
Epic Fantasy

A lump of rock, roughly the size and shape of a man's heart. A dull, black, mottled, lumpy little stone. It could have come from any hill, been plowed under in any pasture.

It had taken him twelve years to acquire: Six years chasing rumor and legend, three years establishing his web of couriers, scouts, merchants and spies across the continents, and still another three to actually get the muddy thing out here to this desolate and forsaken spot. Every man, every ship, every wagon, every horse had cost him coin.

He'd bought and bribed and paid and spent the last of his fortune. And then he'd bought and bribed and borrowed even more to unravel it all. He'd sunk the ships, burned the wagons and killed the men. All save the boy. Out of the hundreds that had touched the ore, the boy was the only one still living.

Will, was it? Was that the name?

Will writhed on the dirt floor, dying. His mouth stretched taught in pain and surprise, but his cry was silent. Walter's dagger had stolen his voice.

Baron Walter d'Gillay, Anointed Prophet of Light, The Living Sight, and the man whom thousands lovingly called their Seer, bent over and laid his finger on Will's lips. He ran his hand lovingly over Will's head and tousled his hair.

"For you. It was all for you," Walter whispered as he wrenched his dagger free.

Blood poured out of the hole in Will's chest and what was left of his life pooled in a muddy puddle on the dusty floor.

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

Post by patlaff » June 14th, 2010, 12:55 pm

Title: Keystrokes & Platitudes
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Words here: 237


To his eyes beholding her, she wasn’t beautiful: her round face a natural consequence of her heavy-set frame. She had, however, accepted his invitation to the prom graciously, excitedly even. They shared a limousine with her best friend and her best friend’s date, neither of whom were all that interesting nor consequential to the rest of the evening because, from the moment he picked her up until the next morning when the sun crested the horizon of the Atlantic as they sat barefoot in the sand, her head on his shoulder, waves lapping on the beach, they loved one another. He didn’t kiss her good night, or good morning, as it was, when he escorted her to her front door. He was content simply to have had someone with whom to share the evening.

The following weekend he had asked her to see a movie. Again, she accepted: graciously, excitedly. In her driveway, afterwards, his awkward advances were positively received and they kissed, long and passionately, his tongue flicking hers with uncertain consequence. Another week, another movie and another long session of wet, tentative kisses, this time up the block from her house, in the dark shadows between street lights. Again he called, this time without the pretense of a movie, and again she accepted and again they kissed.

It was early August and he called again. This time she declined. Graciously. She was always gracious.
Last edited by patlaff on July 19th, 2010, 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by KRwriter » June 14th, 2010, 2:28 pm

Title: Untitled
Genre: YA/sci-fi
250 words

The Earth hung in the blackness, a bright blue and green orb floating in a black sea of stars and silence. Some people still lived on Earth. They chose to stay during the Great Evacuation of 2800. Voya’s people chose to leave the polluted mess and let Earth heal itself. Voya placed her hand against the cool glass, sweaty palm hiding Earth from view, as if trying to block it out. The past few sleepless nights found her tossing in turning in a cold sweat, waking from nightmares she couldn’t forget.
In her dreams, Ark2 crashed to Earth. Earth’s inhabitants were rumored to be hostile, and in the dream attacked the fallen ship. Her dorm room lay in darkness, the only light coming from the stars winking in the sky outside. In a few short hours the morning bell would ring, signaling the start of classes for the day and the beginning of a new school term. Voya climbed back in bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut. She was determined to fall asleep again before morning.
The dream started as it always did, with Ark2 crashing to Earth, dragging a plume of flames and smoke behind it. Odd, she thought, to be viewing the crash from outside the ship. Usually she viewed it from a window, clinging to a bare pipe or door frame while the ship shuddered and jolted, everything succumbing to flames outside.

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

Post by krue22 » June 14th, 2010, 3:10 pm

Title: The Thirteen Deaths of Clancy Thomas
Genre: YA fiction
(138 words)

I hear all the time what my life should be. It pours from the guidance counselor’s mouth in long strings of letters forming words forming sentences forming banners which are strewn across the brick walls of high school calling attention to the fact that:
I’m troubled.
I’m selfish.
I’m damaged.
I can do it, yes I can…if only I didn’t suffer from unrealized potential. Unrealized because I only think about the world when someone is forcing me to get a grade.
Not true.
Well. Sometimes it’s not.
But in the right moment, I see the truth with crystal clarity in a way that older people only recall through a hazy fog of memory.
Death is one of those moments.
I was with Clancy every time he died. All thirteen times.
But only one of them was my fault.

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Joined: December 7th, 2009, 7:19 pm

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

Post by emptyrefrigerator » June 14th, 2010, 3:28 pm

HALFWAY TO ANYWHERE, literary fiction


Tonight was meatloaf. It was quiet and just our forks.

Then Mom said, “I think I’ll give her a call later.”

Dad didn’t answer.

Mom said, “What?”

Dad said, “These challenges…well, don’t you think they’re par for the course to adulthood? Maybe she needs a little space to find her way.”

That was about Steffi. I looked at her chair. It was an empty place and just three people now.

Mom said, “I hardly think I’m being overbearing.”

Dad said, “I know, hon. I didn’t say you were.”

Mom said, “It’s not like I’m demanding to know what color her socks are, or, or, what she had for lunch.”

Dad said, “Okay, Celie.”

Mom put down her glass and did a sigh.

I said, “Is Steffi an adult?” I used to be the one in the higher grade, before my extra years.

Mom picked up her fork. She said, “In my opinion, eighteen years old is still very much a part of adolescence.”

Dad said, “Some would argue adolescence is an art fact.”

I didn’t know “art fact.”

Dad looked at me and said, “An art fact is anything made by humans. Like tools, or-”

Mom made her voice loud and said, “Until Stephanie graduates from college and gets a job, she is not an adult.”

Some people don’t believe I am the older one. After we moved in this house a girl came in our yard. Holly.

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Joined: June 14th, 2010, 3:29 pm

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

Post by SK0609 » June 14th, 2010, 3:34 pm

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

“I want you to come and work with me in the Valley of the Kings. We’ve discovered a tomb that might just hold the next clue,” Mike said, his voice raising an octave in his excitement.

I gasped and fumbled with the phone, catching it seconds before it crashed onto the ceramic tile floor. I flipped it over and pressed it back against my ear.

“Are you serious?” I said. My body tingled with excitement. I’ve dreamed about going to Egypt since I was a little girl. A geek to the core, I spent much of my free time in the library studying Ancient Egyptian culture and brushing up on my hieroglyphic translation skills. This was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“Dead serious. I need a new assistant. And you need something to do for the summer to keep you out of trouble. What do you say?” I was glad he didn’t mention my job last summer cataloging arrowheads in the musty basement of the Archaeology department. No one wanted to relive that.

A thousand pictures went through my head; the towering statues flanking the Temple Abu Simel, and the lion-body of the Sphinx lying in the sand next to the Great Pyramids of Giza. And I couldn’t leave Egypt without taking the four hundred mile side trip to the breathtaking treasury at Petra in Jordan. A thrill of anticipation shot through me. How would I fit seeing all of them into a three month trip that involved working long hours on an archaeological dig?
Last edited by SK0609 on August 9th, 2010, 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by MarianAllen » June 14th, 2010, 3:56 pm

Genre: historical mystery (1968)

Jimmy still had his face smooshed against the screen, humming loudly. He said it tickled his lips.

"Cut it out," I said, pulling on a clean tee and buttoning my good Madras shirt over it. "You'll get lead poison or something. That screen's dirty."

"I washed it," he lied.

I hesitated between my pegged jeans or my new bell-bottoms. I decided to go with the more conservative look, and squeezed my feet through the older jeans and into my loafers. Thank God, I thought, for Trinity Episcopal Sunday School's Dorcas Class, who had chosen the Refuge as their "mission" for the year. They tended to concentrate on the younger kids, but one of the members was a male clothes horse, and he'd passed me some pretty cool threads.

"Better hurry, before she changes her mind," Jimmy mumbled, without taking his mouth off the screen.

I shook some Barbasol onto my hair and combed it back. Mrs. Brandt was with-it enough to let me wear my hair as long as I wanted – half-way down my ears – but she insisted I keep it neat. I could live with that.

I peered into the mirror. Did I need a shave? No, but maybe in a couple of days.

"Hope you like the taste of bug guts," I said, on my way out of the room. "Notice, if you will, the fly swatter on the floor under the window…."

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Joined: June 14th, 2010, 4:28 pm

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

Post by terri » June 14th, 2010, 4:35 pm

Title: Miracle on Coulter Mountain
Genre: Inspirational General

The woman pounced on Doug like a catcher on a short bunt. Human Resource’s duty dog grabbed his elbow nearly knocking his coffee from his hand as he left the elevator on the sixth floor of his office building overlooking downtown Orlando.
“You’re third Doug. We’ll call you.”
“After your bosses.” She dared paste on a cheap frown. “Sorry. We could only keep so many. You’ll get fifteen minutes to review your severance packet.” Then she turned on her three-inch heels and marched down the hallway as though she ruined people’s lives every day.
Doug Whitehall stumbled through his office doorway. He found his way to his chair—disbelief clutching at his chest. It was then he looked down because looking up would only confirm his worst fears. Plaques, awards and photos of past successes hung like safari trophies across his walls bearing witness to his management capabilities. But even with them, he’d lost his job like his father had before him. Would he also suffer the same fate and lose even more? Would God really let that happen to him?
Doug blinked. A picture of Jenna and he, taken on their last anniversary, rested like a crown on his blotter. A reminder of why he worked. With no children in their lives, at least he wouldn’t have to feel guilty about letting them down too. He dusted his finger around the silver-plated frame and then dropped his hand back onto the desk.

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Joined: June 14th, 2010, 6:54 pm

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

Post by TravisDillinger » June 14th, 2010, 6:58 pm

Title: The 100 Girls, 100 Days Project
Genre: Literary Fiction
248 Words

22 Years BP: The Hero of Time

Years before Samantha Gardeski broke my heart, I met the first love of my life. I was five and it was intense. I poured entire afternoons into just being around her. I was young and sloppy with my sword, but I wanted to get to her so bad. She spent most of her time with this guy that resembled a pig, but I was intent on making her mine. I could have been any nameless sap to her. My friends said that the game was too hard, that I’d be happier going after something easier, more attainable, but they didn’t know me so well. I didn't care how, but I was going to get my princess, my Zelda.

And it's true what they say: That first relationship sets the precedent. I spent my high school years trying to steal girls away from pigs, and never giving up on lost causes. I spent my college years trolling through dark rooms with phantom hands grabbing at me, dragging me through the depths.

I've spent more time than I care too learning how to master my sword with precision, and to shield myself from anything bad that comes my way. I've tried to have patience, and lost my temper. I've constantly fallen on my ass, and had long debates over hitting the continue button. But I'm a stubborn bastard, and I know in one of these dank rooms sound tracked by annoying music I'll find her. And I will get her.

Posts: 12
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 8:05 pm

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

Post by shinesteak » June 14th, 2010, 9:04 pm

Title: The Soldier
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Word count: 234

This was the end.

I jumped behind a scrubby old bush, barren from the ravages of the latest drought. It was as far as I could move in the precious few seconds allowed to me. Then they came, black shapes against a black sky, things that blotted out the stars, no more than shadows with glowing yellow eyes; the demons, the monsters. Them.

“Come out, there, soldier,” one monster growled.

I did not move. The monster took a step towards my bush, lifting a huge, stolen blade to the height of its shoulder. The steel shone in the moonlight, glinting like the eyes of the Beast that held it. It took another step, and I found myself trembling. They were going to catch me. I could not let them take me alive.

My weapons were gone, lost in the frantic flight from what was left of our recon camp. I had only my hands with which to fight. They would have to be enough. I grabbed a rock, the biggest one I could find in the moonlight, and clutched it in front of me for a brief second before leaping from behind the bush at the monster. I let out a wild scream, something between a big cat’s snarl and the shrill cry of a child, and brought the rock down on the monster’s head.

It glanced off without doing a bit of damage.
What's the point in living if you can't have fun doing it?


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