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 bookgal77 » July 6th, 2010, 8:41 pm

Title: Stompin’ Time
Genre: YA novel in verse

Amy Owens
WC: 104
It happened on a Tuesday,
etymologically Tiw’s Day.
God of war, God of law.
Mrs. Teasdale taught me that, and she is full of hate.

30 days has September.
Learned that one in kindergarten.
Before that Tuesday, just an assimilated child

The bill of rights, one through 10.
But don’t forget about the 11th
amendment of the United States.
My United States.
A state cannot be sued by
someone from another state or country.
Emphasize country.
Like me.
Foreign, alien, unwelcome

19 hijackers.
2,995 dead.
For me, the numbers were smaller.
The number was greater.

One father,
One mother,
One son,
Last edited by bookgal77 on August 6th, 2010, 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Elsinora » July 6th, 2010, 9:56 pm

Title: Princess of Swans
Genre: YA Fantasy

Dawn’s first light trickles through the narrow windows as I race toward the stairs. Noor pants along beside me, her dressing gown billowing in her wake. Our feet slap the stones, the sound rebounding through the empty corridor. A real, live corbie, here!

It makes no sense. None. What could drive a corbie to leave Felvane Forest, let alone cross the border from Cathys? Even if something did, why here? Tavor Castle is a tiny, lonely fortress in the woods, not a palace. My father’s infrequent visits are the closest we come to real excitement. So what is a storybook creature doing in the castle garden before dawn?

Noor and I dash around a corner--and come face to face with the Dalmother. Our spiritual guardian never looks happy, but now she looks absolutely livid. Her nostrils flare as she looks us over. I cower under her glare, painfully aware of my flimsy dressing gown and bare feet. I glance over and see that Noor, too, blushes with embarrassment.

“What foolishness is this?”

“I--we were just…” The Dalmother raises her hand and cuts me off midstammer.

“No excuses. Go back to your rooms and stay there, both of you.”

“We were just going to see the corbie, Dalmother,” Noor says. The Dalmother’s face turns a brilliant shade of purple.

“I see. I warned that fool Ofra about bringing the heathen witch around impressionable girls. So, you wanted to pay a visit to the little savage, did you?”
Last edited by Elsinora on July 8th, 2012, 9:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by MarissaV » July 6th, 2010, 9:59 pm

Title: The Indigo Bunting
Genre: Women's Fiction

“Jack was not a monster.”

“I know, Harper.”

Sadie was not interested in hearing this again. It was her idea we go to dinner to celebrate my last night of mourning. It felt inappropriate, but deep down I thanked her a thousand times over. She made me wear pink. A color I despised, not necessarily on things like flowers or pigs, but whole heartedly on a paisley dress. But black was not allowed.

Sadie ordered champagne and we toasted my future. I wasn’t sure what my future would entail, if I would ever be happy again, if I would ever breathe with ease again. As I watched the bubbles rise to the top of my glass, I knew the toast wasn’t about my future at all, it was about my past. I had made it through the last year. The rest, I would have to figure out along the way.

I was told happiness was a choice, but everything I knew about happiness had gone out the window. If I was ever going to have it again, I needed to redefine it, my previous thoughts no longer applied. The white picket fence dream was a long lost memory, even though the symbolic structure stood freshly painted in my front yard. With my fence, everything inside was meaningless, devoid of laughter and full of loneliness.

After our somber celebration, Sadie dropped me off at home. She offered to stay a while but I declined. She was worried I might break down or stay up all hours and drink myself sick. But I could manage the night on my own.

I wandered through my dark and silent house listening for another set of footsteps, another breath, any reminder he was still here. When nothing but emptiness greeted me, I surrendered to the night and crawled in bed.
Last edited by MarissaV on August 17th, 2010, 8:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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

Post by lightelement94 » July 6th, 2010, 10:31 pm

Title: The Messiah Notebooks
Genre: Alternative history

It was April the 19th, 1820, when Miss Emily Trey came face to face with her mentor’s last words. The haphazard scrawl was difficult to read between the tears in Miss Trey’s eyes and the ink that had been spilt all over the paper, but this is what it said:

“17 April 1820
Miss Trey, I must beg you not to follow me. You have in your possession such a power that would allow you to step through the walls of heaven and hell and chase me into the dark hereafter. I will not allow this anymore than I will allow a certain Mr. Wilson Bradley to turn me into a martyr for his latest revolution. I charge you only with the safekeeping of this notebook, and beg you to remain cautious, though I am confident you will.
Have I withheld the information that may have saved my life, or may yet save yours? Yes. And I am very sorry Miss Trey, but I find myself short on alternative options. There is more between heaven and hell worth fighting for then any of us could imagine and I have indeed gone in pursuit of it.
If it is the case that a certain Darius Warwell is still alive as you read this, then things are worse than I had hoped and I have taken drastic measures. But do not be alarmed. I have merely gone for help, and I will back as soon as I can.
Yours most sincerely,
Mr. Christian Harking”

Only Christian Harking could ever describe the impossible distance between life and death as something not to be alarmed about.
Republic of Lions| bloody brilliant

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

Post by justinmckean » July 7th, 2010, 12:06 am

Safehaven, by Justin McKean
(Adult Fantasy/SF)

The taller stood near the third floor window, scanning the crowd of parade-goers lining the streets. He turned to the shorter and smiled.
“Bigger crowd, yes? Than last year?” the shorter said.
“Last year wasn't as big a deal. Oop – here we go.”
The shorter crossed to the window as well, standing carefully back from it. Outside the number 150 was blazoned on just about everything. One hundred fifty years since the Great Tomes revealing the Builders had been discovered.
A troupe of actors passed, playing out one of the Tome stories. The Tomes claimed an ancient enemy had chased the Builders across the sky and that they had died in a final stand, here, at the valley of Safehaven. Debate about the veracity of the texts shook academic halls for over a century.
The crowd roared. The King arrived, waving and laughing. Richard was in his sixth year as King. Kind, fair, savvy enough to throw a good party regularly, King Richard was the most popular monarch the realm of Safehaven had seen in generations.
The crowds' adulation continued but the King's laughter abruptly stopped because of the arrow which seemed to suddenly appear in his throat. He fell to his hands and knees, then began to get back up again, falling as a second arrow pierced his sternum. The crowd still screamed his name. It took another moment for the tone to change from praise to horror.

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

Post by backfence » July 7th, 2010, 1:47 am

Title: On the Border of Time
Genre: Time Travel/Romance
Word Count: 250

Hixson Mills, Missouri – August 3, 2009

Julia had been drawn to the courthouse clock tower from the moment her eyes opened that morning. It hovered in her thoughts as she shed the hazy remnants of last night’s dreams. She and her sister, Anna, planned to meet there to arrange for a notary public to come by their grandmother’s home to witness the signing of a Quit Claim transferring ownership of “Nonnie’s” farm in Blue River to them.

Just before 9:00 a.m., Julia maneuvered her car into a curbside parking space, fed the meter and entered the lobby of the courthouse. Her sister was to meet her at 9:30 a.m., which, in Anna-speak translated to 10:30, giving Julia an opportunity to revisit some of her favorite old haunts. Later, they planned on an afternoon of shopping—after a leisurely lunch at The Jailhouse, a trendy new restaurant in the historic jail on Main Street. Anna had read a favorable review and they were both dying to check it out.

Then it came to her again. A thought so random and intrusive that it surprised her. Where are the sparks? Julia shook her head as if hoping to banish from her mind all thoughts of Friday’s unexpected marriage proposal. She just wanted to enjoy her day with Anna.

Julia had left Danny only an hour earlier, after their daily run. She had feared he might pressure her for an answer then, but she needn’t have worried. He seemed to have intuitively understood her need for some time.

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

Post by Nik Johnson » July 7th, 2010, 6:13 am

Genre: YA Paranormal

I’ve never been with a girl – or a guy; I like both. What I mean to say is I’m sixteen years old and a virgin. That’s why I didn’t run or scream or call the cops when I walked into my bedroom and she was standing there naked.

I froze. I couldn’t think – or move. Well, one part of me was moving, but it was just making my jeans a little snugger (and it wasn’t something I was doing consciously).

She was in front of the window with her head cocked to the side. She was looking right at me; like she had been waiting for me. White-blonde hair, parted in the middle, fell to her waist. Her left breast was covered, but the other one – I could see.

My pants were still getting tighter, but I hadn’t moved. Normally, I’d be kind of embarrassed – getting hard in front of someone – but she was naked; we were past that. Also, I didn’t know who the hell she was.

“Don’t be afraid, Eden,” she said. I glanced up at her face and she smiled, straightening her head. “My name is Alice.”

I should have been afraid, but I let my eyes drift lower. She was shaved – no hair. None. Plus, Alice seemed like a nice name. A girl named Alice wouldn’t hurt me.

I didn’t know her. I’d never seen her before. I knew I should run back out of the room. There were a lot of things I should have done.

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

Post by Bradlee » July 7th, 2010, 8:31 am

The Lost and the Found
Upper middle grade-adventure fantasy
250 words

It was Thursday afternoon and as usual, Cooper Dalton was getting beat up. His tormentor was the same as every other day; Michael Easley, known as Measley by those too afraid to say it to his face. He wasn't the only bully that picked on Cooper, just the best, or the worst - depends on the point of view.

“Leave me alone, Mea…I mean Easley,” Cooper corrected himself. “I didn’t do anything to you.”

“Oh sure you did, Twerp,” Easley said as he gave the younger boy a shove. “You were born.”

What a genius. Cooper thought to himself as tried to stay his ground. If that’s your problem, go pick a fight with my Dad.

Fumes from the departing school bus still lingered in the air as the two boys pushed each other back and forth. Their feet shuffled on the dry, grassless earth, worn away by the everyday drop off and pick up of students. The few classmates that stuck around to observe the fight watched with excitement, but were careful to maintain their distance for fear of being targeted next. They formed a circle around the dust-strewn battlefield as the two combatants squared off. Most of the onlookers hated Measley, but were too afraid to root for Cooper, so they watched in silence.

Measley’s cronies were another story. They whooped and hollered at every move their buddy made, shouting encouragement and coaching tips as if they were a boxer's trainer yelling from his corner of the ring.
Last edited by Bradlee on July 26th, 2010, 10:46 am, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by Mike Peterson » July 7th, 2010, 8:41 am

Title: The Crown and the Colliers
Genre: YA action adventure
Word Count: 250

"Are you a tall Short, or a short Tall?" the gruff voice boomed.

It was not a friendly voice, and Gabriel didn't turn around. The small, bearded man behind the counter looked over nervously as he assembled the basket of cheese, cold meat and bread for the young man who had come with the soldiers.

Gabe looked out the open doorway of the inn, away from the voice. The fresh team was being backed into place in front of the wagon.

"He looks tall to me," the voice said. "Don't he look kind of tall to you?"

"Lay off, Conrad. He's just a kid," someone else said, and this time Gabe turned to look.

There were three Shorts at a table in the corner. He could tell which one was Conrad by the scowl on his face and the hatred in his eyes. The other two didn't look friendly, but at least they were trying to keep Conrad from starting trouble.

Conrad stood and walked to the counter, pushing a chair roughly out of his way as he came. People at other tables shifted uneasily in their chairs, though they, too, were short and stocky, with dark, thick hair like Conrad's, the men bearded, the women with heavy coils of braids.

The top of his head was even with Gabe's nose as he stood a little too close.

"You planning to get even taller, or are you about done?" he asked, and Gabe could smell the beer on his breath

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Location: England

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

Post by pwnelshj » July 7th, 2010, 10:39 am

Title: Kai-fu Legacy
Genre: Historical fiction
246 words

The afternoon Mina learned of her near death as a baby started out with a game of mah-jong. She and the other girls sat in her dressing room of the New Amsterdam Theatre clicking the tiles back and forth. They had a few hours to kill before the evening show. Mina had loved this theatre ever since she was a small girl. On the day of her audition, she had brushed up against one of the thick velvet curtains behind the stage and had stopped for a moment. The tinkling piano; the shuffling feet on the stage floor; the whisper of the dresses; the whiff of aching bodies and thick makeup; the barking instructions. The sights and smells of her childhood, of making herself invisible in a corner off the stage—partially wrapped in this same curtain—well away from prying adults, when her mother was needed in the office and her aunt and uncle were travelling and she couldn’t stay alone.

Her dressing room was not off the stage as the other actors, but up the stairs next to the producer’s office. The room had been her mother’s work area, and Mina had demanded it the day she was hired. Other secretaries had made their mark, but Mina sensed her mother’s presence in the room, and when she had moved in she brought in some personal touches—her mother’s fan and gloves and some of the theatre programs and posters of Simon Bartlett’s early shows.

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

Post by txblondie525 » July 7th, 2010, 2:49 pm

Title: The Whisperer
Genre: Paranormal Romance

The lights assaulted her eyes almost as much as the throbbing beat of the music pounded at her eardrums. Avery almost begged off attending the bachelorette party, but then, Tanya pleaded desperately. So here she sat, surrounded by multicolored spotlights in a dark club full of scantily clad men. Not really her scene.

“You should have a drink!” Stacy Montgomery sat only a couple of feet away, but Avery could barely hear her. “Come on, it’ll loosen you up!”

Sighing heavily and rolling her eyes, Avery sat up straighter in her chair. “You are a pain in the ass, Stacy, but fine, have it your way. I’ll have one drink.”

“Great! I’ll buy.” Stacy grabbed the passing waiter and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. Avery’s eyes bulged, because Stacy grabbed the young man who danced shirtless, feeding women test-tube shots. Of course, Stacy would complicate matters.

She held out her hand to take the shot from him, trying to avoid a performance. “Thank you,” she said, smiling.

But he just winked and held it out of reach. “Sorry, but I have to do my job.” He pointed toward an empty barstool, not looking sorry at all. He set down the tray of shots and reached his free hand to her in invitation.

Avery shot Stacy a look that would have caused her to burst into flames, if looks could kill. Then she reached out reluctantly. As soon as she touched him, she felt something in her stomach clench. She tried to pull her hand back, a warm, tingling sensation crawling up her arm, but the waiter gripped it tighter. When she looked into his face, she saw his eyes wide with shock.

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

Post by lorac » July 7th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Title: Not Quite Deliberate
Genre: Literary Fiction
Word Count: 249

They say that every child is born with a complete blueprint, and that from the start we are who we will be. They say that each of us has shades of dark and light, that we are equal parts miscreant and virtuous soul, and that the difference between eternal damnation and glorious destiny is in the sum of our choices. Sometimes though, I think it all comes down to just a single choice – a split second of instinct or resolve when, inexplicably, we transform all that we have ever known. In the aftermath, our reasoning is unimportant. Even we are unimportant as the totality of our being is reduced to the two-dimensional impressions of those who try to understand. Right and wrong are defined in the fallacy of others’ assumptions. Their contrivance becomes reality. Our imprint on the world – ignoble or righteous – is but an illusion. These are my thoughts now, as I wait. Whatever happens, whoever decides, I believe I made the right choice. Just about eight hours ago, I killed my sister.

It was Frank who called this morning to say that his wife of 26 years was gone. I was surprised to hear his voice at the other end of my hello. I had been expecting a call from my business partner, Percy. I needed to talk to Percy. Last night, as I lay awake, I began to worry about something I had said to him the other day that maybe I shouldn’t have said aloud.

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

Post by ted » July 7th, 2010, 5:31 pm

Genre: Suspense
Word Count: 250

Prologue: Blood Pendant

May, 1831
The two men sat on sloping rocks shaded by a Bear Island hackberry tree. Sweat trickled down their backs and foreheads and their reddened hands were streaked with dirt. Five hours of work on a spring morning had raised a thigh-high stone wall that bisected a swampy drainage. The feeder was operating now, watering the C&O Canal down from Seneca, and the sixty-foot depth of Widewater across the towpath was slowly filling. When their half-built wall was finished, it would prevent this grafted vein of the canal from draining out across the island toward the Potomac River.

Glancing through slender trees toward the towpath, the man with curly hair noticed the girl when she was still forty paces away. He caught the other man’s attention with a low whistle. Screened by sunlit trunks, they could watch her approach without being seen. She wore a tan skirt that might have been buckskin and a long-sleeved blouse. Her hands and dark hair swung a gentle rhythm as she glided forward with feline grace. A grin widened on the face of the man with curly hair as he watched the girl.

“She moves like an animal, eh Richard?” He gathered a clot of saliva in his mouth and spat it out tersely between his feet. “Bet she fucks like one too.”

“Just one way to find out,” Richard said, stroking his red-gold mustache. He rocked forward to crouch in the shade on the balls of his feet.
Last edited by ted on July 8th, 2010, 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by cjsimmons » July 7th, 2010, 7:47 pm

Title: Destiny
Genre: YA paranormal
247 words

“We're beginning our final decent into Duluth,” the captain's voice crackled over the intercom. I was on my way to Minnesota to live with strangers; relatives I’d never met, never even talked to. It’d been just me and Mom my whole life, until she married Jeremy Waters. Then three months ago we moved from our cramped Los Angeles apartment to his home in Orange County.

Peering past scratches in the small rectangle of acrylic, I envied the puffy white clouds floating in the clear blue sky. Free to roam where the wind took them, they had no obligations to fulfill or expectations to meet. When their burdens became too heavy, they simply shed the excess and started fresh.

The plane glided lower and white mist filled my vision. A small sigh escaped as my thoughts drifted back to the events leading up to this extended stay with my previously unknown family.

“Ooh, this one’s my favorite!” Mom declared and dialed up the volume on the radio. Eyes closed, hips swaying to the beat, one hand brought the small meat tenderizer up like a microphone. Her lilting voice rose above the lyrics as she rejoined me at the counter where I dragged pummeled chicken through batter and breadcrumbs. Her hip bumped into mine, nearly knocking me off balance.

“Come on, Calli. Feel the music in your blood.” Her hip bumped mine again, and this time I mimicked the rhythm, adding my voice to hers on the song’s chorus.
Last edited by cjsimmons on July 23rd, 2010, 11:23 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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

Post by moosatcows » July 8th, 2010, 11:02 am

Title: Refuge
Genre: Young Adult
Word Count: 292

The crucifix was heavy and its sharp edges were beginning to cut into Nic’s hands.

He balanced it in the crook of his arm and wiped his clammy palms on the white serving robe he wore. Outside the sacristy, the entire student body of Holy Cross Catholic High School gathered in the pews of the church, tittering, whispering, waiting for the opening mass of the school year to begin. Nic felt a ball of unease rise to his throat like it always did when he had to do something, anything, in front of a crowd. There, with appraising eyes on him, mistakes could not be secrets. Every imperfection was up for judgment.

The organ started to play, its pipes rattling all the way up to the church’s gorgeous arched ceiling, and Father Walters turned to Nic with a wide smile.
“Ready, Dominico?”

Nic was about to reply that yes, he was ready, when his thoughts were halted by the sound of a deep voice joining with the organ. It was powerful. Rich. Silky. It settled into Nic’s chest, heavy and warm.


“What?” Nic blinked at the old priest and then promptly disregarded his question. “Who is that singing?”

“That’s your new choir director, Mr. McKinley.” Father Walters stared toward the sanctuary, in the general direction of the cantor stand. “Isn’t his voice lovely? Well, we’d better start or they’re going to run out of music.”

Nic gripped the big crucifix and lifted it, the corners pricking the already sore skin of his palms. He walked slowly in front of Father as they processed up the middle aisle toward the altar. All the students were standing, joining in the singing with obnoxious volume, drowning out the beautiful voice of the new choir director.


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