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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Joined: June 15th, 2010, 7:45 am

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

Post by judithvan11 » June 15th, 2010, 7:48 am

Title: Spells of Silence
Genre: Early Chapter Book – Fairy Tale
245 words

A long time ago, I was a very little girl. I was riding a horse in the night. It was too dark to see the other horses. I could hear horse hooves in the leaves. I could hear saddles creaking. I could hear horses and people breathing. Eight horses, six brothers, one father, and me. That makes sixteen breaths at a time, over and over.
"Where are we going?"
"To your new home," said Father.
"But why?"
"Quiet, Della," said John. "No one wants to talk about it."
"Why not?"
I sighed and patted my horse's neck. This trip seemed to take years. Soon, a castle appeared along with the light of the moon. The castle was on a hill. It stuck out of the trees into the sky. This was my new home?

I chose the tower for my room. Father sent the twins to get hay for my bed. Peter was mad at me for choosing the tower room. He had to carry hay up all those stairs! So Paul had to act mad too. They like to do the same things, all the time.
As soon as they left, I took Marta from my pocket. Marta was my very best thing. She was a wooden doll with jet black eyes. She had a black dash for a mouth. She looked a bit scary, really. But my mother gave Marta to me. Mother was sick. She knew she was going to die.

Sasha V
Posts: 6
Joined: June 15th, 2010, 11:06 am

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

Post by Sasha V » June 15th, 2010, 11:29 am

Title: Is There Anything For Me?
Genre: women's fiction

Megan frowned and glanced through a taxi window.
Corporate parties.
You can love or hate them. You can go there to have fun or do business. You can count days till a coveted evening or invent a dozen reasons to escape a dreadful event.
Megan hadn’t developed her own opinion on this subject yet. In fact, this was the first corporate party in her life. How ironic. She was twenty-seven years old; she had a five year-old son; she'd survived a terrible marriage, but she'd never been to a corporate party.
Megan would have even laughed if her heart didn’t pound with anxiety just the way it did in high school. Maybe she should listen to her inner voice and stay at home. Yes, stay at home and cuddle under a plush blanket with her son, watching yet another Christmas movie.
To distract herself, she smoothed imaginary wrinkles on her dress and leaned back, watching people on the street rushing somewhere to spend this Friday evening. People with normal, settled lives.
The cab made a right turn at the corner of the 40th street and Park Avenue.
“Are you all right, lady?”
Surprised, Megan shifted her gaze and met cabbie’s concerned eyes in a rearview mirror. “I … Yes, I’m okay, thank you. I’ll get out here.”
He nodded and steered to the right to park behind a gleaming black Chevy sedan.

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Joined: June 14th, 2010, 9:33 pm

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

Post by cassdunn » June 15th, 2010, 5:49 pm

Title: Julia's Well
Genre: Women's Literature

It’s an insignificant detail, but I remember that it was raining. Not a wintry cold downpour, but one of those unexpected smattering fall rains, the thirsty earth soaking up the water as quickly as it fell, long brown grasses of summer desperate to be green again. The road was covered in rainbow swirls of oil slick, freshly dislodged by the rain. The air hung heavy with a metallic scent, the tang of the first shower after a long dry spell.

“Take care of your dad, okay?” Mom said, as she pulled up outside his house. “Sometimes he needs someone to take care of him.”

His new house was a plain beige stucco, identical in shape and size to the houses on either side of it. The lawn was a scrubby brown patch, the blinds in the front window bent beyond repair.

“What about you?” I asked. “Don’t you ever need someone to take care of you?”

Mom thought about this for a moment, then shook her head. “No, I don’t think I do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it when people try to take care of me.”

It was the best possible answer and I understood her meaning. Dad needed me to help him feel grounded and capable in his new role as a single father. I had to be strong and well-behaved for him. Mom was tough, she could handle me being whomever I wanted. But whenever I put on the good behavior for her, she appreciated it. I nodded.

Posts: 25
Joined: June 15th, 2010, 3:36 pm

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

Post by k10wnsta » June 15th, 2010, 6:16 pm

Title: Cole Barrow's Driver on the Green
Genre: Literary Non-fiction(?) (creative non-fiction? literary fiction? YA? memoirs? Who knows?...not me.)
Word Count: ~240 of ~78,000
(*Note: Technically, this is the third page of the manuscript, but it's the first page of actual 'story' told in it.)

They came with night and told me he was gone. I would say it wasn’t easy to hear, but I don’t think it really affected me at first. In fact, sitting on the edge of my bed as my dad cautiously broke the news, my initial reaction was to glance out the window and notice the sun had already set. I’d just been told my best – my only friend left in the world at that point was dead and all I could think about was how night was falling earlier. Denial, I guess, superseded reality for a time.

The counselor I had too see asked me what my interests are. I told her I liked writing – or that I was an okay writer, I guess – and she suggested I start a journal. She said it could be about anything really, but I should try to write it about Chase or to Chase or some shit like that. ‘You can tell the journal what you might not be able to tell another person’ she insisted. But seeing as how she eventually wants to read it, I'm not sure how it’s any different from just telling her. Regardless, I didn’t see much good in dwelling on any of it and brushed off the idea at the time.

Later that same day, my dad suggested we go down to the beach house in Nag’s Head. He said it’d give me a chance to ‘relax’ and ‘get my mind off things'.
How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.
--Henry David Thoreau

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Joined: March 13th, 2010, 7:26 pm

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

Post by NickB » June 15th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Dark Romantic comedy adventure
Word count: 245

Deep within a non-descript patch of Florida Pine Flatwoods, somewhere mid-state…

A man blew out the end of a long-held breath as he eased from the passenger-side cab of a large, green-camo’ed pick-up truck.

The man: Sweaty dark hair (that usually swung in a professional bowl cut common to young boys in nineties Abercrombie and Fitch ads) that stuck to his forehead. Gritty, wrinkled dress shirt and pants that otherwise suggested he belonged in a corner office of a downtown high-rise.

The truck: Loaded gun rack. Small pack of hunting dogs. Confederate flags in various artistic representations lining the outer edges of the cab’s rear window. The man had overlooked all this due to: 1. Desperation and 2. A distaste for—to the point of utter denial—stereotyping i.e. profiling. (He had been mistaken for a Mexican drug-smuggler, a Colombian drug-and-human smuggler…that was the last time he would go out with five women at once, Miami flamer/man-whore…same as the last, Cuban rafter and French Canadian. It was the last that pissed him off the most simply because it made no sense and he still got cuffed.) As fortune would have it, the flags hid what would have been at least a head’s-up only an hour ago: The punch lines of two bumper stickers. As was, they read: Why experiment on animals…; and: 50,000 battered women…. Leading the man to believe that, despite appearances, the truck’s operator had grave concerns about animal testing and spousal abuse.
Last edited by NickB on August 12th, 2010, 10:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by HollyD » June 16th, 2010, 12:33 pm


I wasn’t sure which was worse, the smell or the sight of his organs spilled out onto his lap.

“What the hell did you hit him with?” I asked.

“My shoe.”

“Your shoe? Damn it, Lindsay, you can’t kill someone with a shoe.” I snapped.

“Hello, they’re Via Spiga.”

“Ugh.” I rolled my eyes. There was no way in hell she had done this kind of damage with a shoe. If she did women all over the world would soon be saying goodbye to their much beloved accessory, the high heel. The second men feared the women in their lives could kill them with a shoe every man, even members of the NRA, would insist on an instant ban of the deadly weapon.

“Any idea how he got this giant hole in his stomach?” I asked.

“What? No, I swear. I hit him and ran.”

“Come over here and see if you recognize him.”

“Gross, no way.”

“Quit being a coward and get your ass over here.”

“A coward? Did you just call me a coward because I don’t want to look at some dead guy?”

“Just get over here!” I yelled.

“Police, nobody move!”

I turned and spotted Twin Falls’ oldest beat cop, standing by the door, gun drawn, pointed in my direction. It would have been a scary sight, if he wasn’t 40 pounds overweight, all of it in his stomach. He looked as if any minute he would go into labor with triplets.

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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 2:39 pm

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

Post by takimmel » June 16th, 2010, 2:48 pm

TITLE: Honesty Deceptions
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Chapter One

No men were in the dining room as I waited for Marcia Wemhoff to meet me for lunch at Back in Thyme. The quaint lunch-time café and antique shop in one usually hosted mainly women out for lunch dates. After lunch, you could see the women perusing the other unique Main Street shops hidden behind the mature oaks lining the two lane road. Men, at this time of day, were only around to be used for their credit cards.

As I tried to think of ways not to focus on my impending, possibly awkward, confrontation with her, the memory of my first visit to this restaurant came to the forefront of my thoughts. I remembered Levi, her son who came with me on the lunch date, was the only man in the dining room that day.

“Lydia, I can’t believe you talked me into coming here,” he muttered to me. He rubbed his right hand bottom thumb knuckle against his lips and glanced sideways as he spoke. Heat from the lascivious gawks triggered his deeply rooted animal instincts to search for the source of possible attack, but he was never fast enough to catch the culprits. “Everyone is staring at me. I am so out of place. Look, the other women don’t want me here.” He shrunk down into his seat like a rabbit hiding in the brush.

“Thank you for coming with me.” I said with a small giggle slipping through my lips as he glanced the other way just missing the lustful gaze of another feminine predator.

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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 2:51 pm

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

Post by IsabelIbanez » June 16th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Early 16th Century, Seville
Mathias Pellanore sat hunched over a mahogany desk in his padre’s print workshop and regarded a sea monster. His fingers traced his favorite map, pausing over the long stretches of ocean surrounding Spain. Little drawings of serpents and whales peppered the sea, as well as a lone boat. Mathias liked to pretend he owned the boat. Further south, he examined a giant land mass labeled Terra Incognita. Unknown Land. But that wasn’t what interested him the most. The unknown land seemed to take over the entire map, with a small chunk of territory labeled Hic Sunt Dracones.
“Here be dragons,” Mathias whispered.
“Did you say something?” His padre asked absently, as he examined his new printing press. “Mathias, come look at this! It’s marvelous. We will be using oil-based ink from now on…and we can print six pages at a time. Think of how much faster we can print! Why, I think we can print hundreds at a time…”
His padre’s words droned on as Mathias dreamed of exploring. He’d worked for his padre since the age of nine and now, entering his eighteenth year, he hoped his padre would let him join a crew of seamen. Mathias wanted his own boat one day, providing he took care of the essentials. First, there was the money to contend with. Second, he had to learn how to swim. He’d been putting it off for ages, since the time he’d nearly drowned when he was twelve. Third, he had no sense of direction. Mathias wondered if that could be fixed.
A clap of thunder startled him.

Posts: 27
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Missouri

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

Post by Transitoria » June 16th, 2010, 11:29 pm

Genre: Commercial/Mainstream

“To write this story you’d already have to be dead;
only the dead can properly write their story”
—Elie Wiesel

Chapter 1

Bosnia, 1994- Two Years into the War
Each shot had to count. Alaga sighted carefully along the barrel of a rusty rifle. Bullets were scarce and more valued than money, but still more valuable was the meat he hoped to bring home. His vision blurred and he rubbed a grimy hand across his eyes, forcing them to focus. Hunger, fatigue or hatred caused the head of a large, brown rat to morph into the face of the soldier who had changed his life forever. He steadied himself, sighted again, then squeezed the trigger, separating the rodent’s head from its body. Yes! Tonight they would have meat to celebrate Zlata’s birthday.
He waited, listening for the sound of return fire. Silence answered. Rising with caution, he scanned the landscape a second time before trudging across patches of snow and ice that still peppered the early spring landscape. Although the calendar read April, no one had informed Mother Nature, and she threatened to make it the last month of winter by refusing to shift gears to warmer weather.
If Alaga didn’t claim the rat quickly, others would chew on its plump carcass. Scavengers fed on each other as well as the bodies of the ethnically cleansed. While human beings suffered and died, the rats thrived. He refused to think of what or who had fattened the main course of his sister’s birthday feast.

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Posts: 168
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by abc » June 17th, 2010, 12:30 pm

The Year of My Ghost
YA fiction

We are boarding a plane and it is going nowhere I want to be. It is going far away.

Far, far, away.

Well, first it is going to LA. Then we get on another plane and go to Sydney. As in Australia. As in as far away as you can get.
The plane leaves from Des Moines, Iowa, which is about half an hour from Ames, Iowa, my hometown. I bet if you asked most anybody where they’d rather be, Iowa or Australia, they would probably one hundred percent say Australia. After all, Australia is exotic. Australia has kangaroos and koalas and surfing and the outback and the Great Barrier Reef. Iowa has some rivers and small lakes and nothing close to surfing. Iowa has cornfields and cows. It doesn’t even have any real big cities. Des Moines is sort of big, but it is no Chicago or New York or even Minneapolis.

I wish we were going to Minneapolis. If we were going to go anywhere. Minneapolis is only five hours away and we could get there and back in just a day. Australia is twenty-four hours away by plane! I don’t know how long it would take to drive there, if you could drive there.

I don’t even know what day it will be when we get there. I keep forgetting if they are a day ahead or a day behind. Either we lose a day or we gain one. The same day as today. One today is definitely enough.
Last edited by abc on April 30th, 2014, 7:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Joined: June 17th, 2010, 11:00 pm

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

Post by jaldaen » June 17th, 2010, 11:07 pm

Title: The Incredible Misadventures of Avery Mann
Genre: MG Fantasy
250 words

A piece of paper smacked me across the forehead as I peeked out of the bushes I was hiding in.
Flick! Flick! Flick!
The paper’s ragged corner stabbed me in the eye several times.
Blinking back tears, I yanked the ferocious thing off my face, ready to rip it into subatomic particles. But as it flapped in the wind, my good eye focused on the word, “Magic.” I retreated into the bush and pressed the wiggling flyer against the ground.

Madame Magpie’s Magic Shoppe Grand Opening!
Amazing Magic Tricks! Great Gag Gifts! Unusual Novelties! And Curious Curiosities!
Bring in this flyer and get one free play of our fortune telling machine. Each fortune includes a prize ticket! One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card!

Visions of vanishing boxes, flash powder, and levitating wands floated through my head. I could buy a lot of magic tricks for my show with $100.
I poked my head out of the bushes and glanced around. Max, the school bully, and my six older brothers were nowhere in sight. I only needed to make it a few blocks to my parents’ bakery and then I’d be home free.
I kept to the neighbor’s backyards as much as possible. No reason to tempt fate by walking down the street like a normal kid. Sidewalks were for people who didn’t suffer daily pranks from their brothers or attract bi-weekly wedgies from Max. No, for me, the shadows were safest.
Last edited by jaldaen on July 7th, 2012, 8:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Joined: June 18th, 2010, 9:07 am

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

Post by hsmith » June 18th, 2010, 9:11 am

Title: Stone
Genre: Crime/Mystery
Word Count: 250

Thanks for the opportunity!

The day began, as they all do, with the sunrise, and today’s made ninety-two. Stone knew because he’d seen every one. Ninety-two sunrises since he’d heard the slam of thick steel doors. Ninety-two sunrises since he’d asked permission to walk or run or do anything but breathe. Ninety-two times he’d lain on the broken-down halfway house bed watching the sun rise from behind Yankee Stadium through the window’s grimy tint of dirt and soot.

Outside, the Bronx picked up speed. Squabbling Senegalese cab drivers clamored to be heard above the number four train braking on the elevated tracks in an agonized wrenching of steel on steel. Across the street the Bronx 13 bus swallowed the first commuters of the day with a hydraulic hiss and blasts of stinking exhaust.

It was going to be another miserable day. Humidity lay heavy on the Bronx like a dead weight. Even lying still in bed took a toll. The burden of the heat pressed the perspiration from Stone’s pores, soaking the faded pillow and sheets. His tiny room didn’t have the luxury of a fan or air conditioning or much of anything besides the rickety bed and even more rickety dresser. He considered opening the window but a sign written by someone with a large Sharpie and a small command of English demanded that he “KEP WINDW CLOSE PLESE!!” He supposed it was because of the rats, although whether to keep the inside rats in or the outside rats out, he couldn’t tell.

Posts: 33
Joined: May 4th, 2010, 3:12 pm

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

Post by writermorris » June 18th, 2010, 6:14 pm

Genre: Literary Fabulism
WC: 237

Maria had successfully been normal for 2,477 days. Since the night of her second date with Joe. She was good at it and no one knew how much of a challenge each day once was. Wake up. Go to work. Chatter at the water cooler. Subway home. Make dinner. Watch TV with Joe. Rinse and repeat. She barely felt the strain of it anymore.

And then on a bright, breezy day at the start of September, Maria heard the song that would change her life. She drove a rented car, winding her way towards to the Berkshires to interview a chef for the week’s column, hardly paying attention to the music. And then “Water’s Edge” began.

When Maria heard Sam Montgomery moan the opening notes of the song, despair overwhelmed her. It was physical, like some undiscovered organ secreted an electrically charged chemical. He drew her in—a magnet—gravity—she could not pull herself away. Maria did not know that anything was missing from her life until she heard his voice.

She eased the car onto the grass on the side of the parkway to compose herself. Once she succeeded, she downloaded the album onto her iPhone and listened to his voice again.

On that 2,478th day, in the early autumn breeze on the side of the Taconic Parkway, all of Maria’s efforts to live a normal life fell away.

This is when the dreams began.
Last edited by writermorris on July 13th, 2010, 9:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 37
Joined: June 18th, 2010, 11:11 pm

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

Post by danielle100 » June 18th, 2010, 11:15 pm

Untitled at the moment
Word count: 269
Genre: Romance
Author: Danielle S

Chapter 1

This morning a breakup happened between a guy and a girl. The rocky two-year relationship ended surprisingly peacefully. It took place in a coffee shop on the corner of Pine and Pike in Seattle. In all the years, seventeen other relationships had ended there and twenty-four had begun.
Later that day, on her way home, the same girl stopped off at a local second-hand store to look for a used camera required for the black and white photography class she had enrolled in at the community college. She did not know yet that this twist-of-fate would change the outcome of her career and subsequently her view of life. From the first picture she snaps, she will forever see life through a camera lens and process what she sees in a darkroom.

Different town, same time, a man meets his (future) wife-to-be in a coffee shop. They ordered the same drink, and when reaching for the drink after the barista hollered it out among the shop for all the customers to hear, “short dry nonfat latte!” both touched hands and exchanged smiles. He told her to take the drink and she said only if we can drink them together. He liked her forwardness and the two sat down at a small round table near the door where the constant ringing of the bell attached to the door alerted the workers of customers coming and of customers going. But the two did not seem to notice this bell or the gush of cold wind that accompanied it each time. The count was now twenty-five.

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Joined: June 18th, 2010, 6:58 pm

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

Post by writer-renegade » June 19th, 2010, 12:00 am

Title: Echo
Genre: YA Suspense
(250 words)

Benjamin Gray did not feel like getting out of bed. He was not ill. He was not skipping a test in school. He was not avoiding his ex-girlfriend. He simply did not feel like getting out of bed. That is what Benjamin told himself. If he could have made it a snow day, he surely would have done that. While Benjamin knew he could have made everyone think so, it would have taken such hard work that he would have spent the next few days sleeping off the exhaustion, not able to enjoy his handiwork.

No, he could achieve his goal of staying in bed for the time being in a much simpler way. This was child’s play for him. He had done this so many times before; he did not even have to think about what he would do. In fact, it was not until that very morning that Benjamin decided he would stay in bed and take a much-needed day off from school.

“Benjamin,” came a voice from the other side of his closed door. “Are you ready yet?” His mother’s voice was full of unnecessary concern.

“I’m just sleeping, Ma!” Benjamin called from under the covers of his bed.

“Are you okay?” she asked, beginning to turn the doorknob.

“Yeah. I just think I’ll stay home today!”

Ms. Gray idled by the door. “Have a good day then,” she said with hesitation. She walked away and left for work, completely unaware of what Benjamin did to her.


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