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: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm

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

Post by bcomet » July 15th, 2010, 12:58 pm

I removed my entry.
Last edited by bcomet on July 26th, 2010, 2:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Posts: 1
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 2:37 pm

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

Post by » July 15th, 2010, 2:47 pm

Novel Title: The Funeral Home
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 228

It looked like the middle of the night, yet it was only mid morning. Spongy grey filled fog slowly crept along the pavement as waves of wispy white tendrils erupted randomly into the atmosphere, tethered to the ghostly air. Heavy mist shrouded the street as buildings, people, and cars slowly became invisible.

Sluggish gloom stealthily slithered like an alley cat into dark corners, soon to be covered with its murky presence. Blasts from cars and street conversations from ordinary people going about their business all ebbed into muted silence as the fog engulfed them and muffled all noise. Encased by the vapors, even the street lamps barely emitted any light.

At the end of the street, the fog slightly moved and lightened. Pushing through the thick grey mass, a long black car advanced towards them. Moving slowly as if time were of no concern, the hearse pulled in front of the church. Each of the six pallbearers remained stone silent as the double back doors gradually opened.

As if well rehearsed, three hands on each side of the coffin grabbed the rails. Slowly advancing up the stairs to the church, they paused at the dark double wide wooden doors, towering at least twelve feet above them. Briefly, the sun burst through the clouds, making them transparent behind the foggy veil as the doors to the church gradually opened.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 9:31 pm

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

Post by wartsandall » July 15th, 2010, 9:33 pm

Title: A Little Dip and Dab
Genre: Realistic/Urban Fiction
Word Count: 247

Tommy wakes up soaked in sweat on his bare mattress that rests on the floor. He rolls over, still expecting to see Cassie’s face outlined by her long auburn hair. How long has it been since she left? A month? Three? It’s hard for him to find a reason to keep track of time. He sits up and grabs a cigarette from a pair of jeans that is rolled on the floor. The smallest movement causes his whole body to ache, makes every muscle burn with exhaustion. His tremors are so bad he can barely bring the cigarette to his lips and once he does, he nearly burns them trying to light it. He smokes a few before getting off the mattress and walking to the kitchen where he trips over the tiles that have been pushed up from flood damage, creating little peaks and valleys he’s usually too weak or incoherent to navigate. He pulls a dirty cup from the mound of dishes in the sink and fills it with water, drinking it slowly. After a few swallows he feels his stomach start to churn and a moment later he’s dry heaving over the sink until he vomits the water back up. He walks along the counter, leaning against it for support, and picks up his cell phone to call someone. It’s still dark out and he doesn’t know if he’ll answer, but it’s been too long. The phone rings three times, then someone picks up.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 9:40 pm

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

Post by fishsticks » July 15th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Title: Jack Bendis and the Shape-Shifting Fungi from Outerspace (extremely working title)
Genre: Comedy/Science Fiction
Word Count: 248

Bob drove along the quiet country road that led to his house, his mind more concerned with the increasing size of the wart at the tip of his ring finger, right at the convergence of skin and nail, than with the task at hand. It sits there like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like it owns the place – arrogant little bastard. Giving the strange growths that periodically appeared on his body personalities was one of Bob’s favorite pastimes, second only to feeling inferior to them.

While he was busy trying to muster up the courage to confront the wart about its overconfidence, the strangest thing stepped out into the middle of the road – a man wearing nothing but tube socks and a rabbit-skin hat. The man was wearing one of the socks the way nature had intended it to be worn, the other he wasn’t. Bob stopped the car, sticking his head out of the window and yelling at the man to get out of the way. Instead of doing as he was told, the man approached the car and introduced himself.

“Hi, Jack Bendis, private investigator. I seem to have forgotten where I put my pants, mind if I tag along for a bit?” Bob, startled by Mr. Bendis’s matter-of-factness and appalled that he thought getting a ride was even on the same plane of existence as the realm of possibility, let alone within it, stared at the pants-less man in a catatonic stupor.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 10:12 pm

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

Post by butterfinger » July 15th, 2010, 10:24 pm

Title: The Avenue
Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
Word Count: 247

I grew up on a street called Pleasant Avenue in Wellsburg, WV, a town you probably haven’t heard of unless you happen to be an apple enthusiast, in which case you already know that it’s the birthplace of the Grimes Golden apple, which some believe is the predecessor to the ever popular Golden Delicious – so there. It had been years since the last time I was home. There wasn’t any reason to go back. The place had been dying for the past 30 years, just like the rest of small-town America, and I didn’t have any family left there – all dead or smart enough to get out. I don’t know what brought me back. Maybe it was some morbid curiosity or maybe I genuinely missed the place and didn’t want to admit it. I drove into town past all of the landmarks I expected to be there – the dollar store by the high school, Fonce’s Market (now just an empty shell), and the huge brick building right at the north end of town where there used to be a factory that manufactured aluminum cans. It had been the city’s biggest employer until it shut down while I was in middle school. The four-lane that these places sat on was built in the 50s, supposedly marking the beginning of endless prosperity for the whole county, just like the bridge to Ohio that everyone loved to talk about when I was young. Too bad the latter never got built.

Posts: 9
Joined: July 16th, 2010, 3:39 am

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

Post by turtledinosaur » July 16th, 2010, 3:47 am

Title: The Grave Winner
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror
Word Count: 247

Mom’s wooden casket gleamed too brightly in the sun. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at it any longer. I focused on the sky instead, at the black birds cutting across the wisps of clouds in a sharp v formation. But a flutter of movement back on Earth caught my eye.

Several yards away, a girl snaked in and out of the crumbling tombstones. Her body was thick with mud and grime. A dress, or the torn remnants of one, hung loosely from her scrawny frame. Her mouth was open as if she was about to scream. Or maybe too many heavy questions hung from her lips.

My own lips quivered as I struggled to make sense of the girl. Darby, my little sister, stood next to me, and I reached out to touch her. I wasn’t sure anymore if any of this was real, if I was completely losing it, but Darby was real. Her ache was real. My hand slid over her bony, quivering shoulders and squeezed her closer to me.

The girl stopped behind a tree as the minister’s voice rose in volume. Only her face was visible as she looked over in our direction as if to listen. The whites of her eyes blazed behind the darkness of the mud that covered her face.

I gasped as recognition hit me.

I knew the girl. Knew of was more like it. Her social circle was my social nightmare.

Posts: 4
Joined: July 17th, 2010, 2:47 pm

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

Post by shanchamber » July 17th, 2010, 2:51 pm

Title: Mythical Creatures
Genre: YA adult fantasy/sci fi/etc.
(250 words)

Jacob Marley was dead, and so was Jacob Abling. Their deaths were separated by one hundred and seventy three years, and, of course, the one was a fictional character, although the other, a year after his death, was also beginning to seem just a tad theoretical. That is, until I saw him in a Starbucks near Boston Common, picking at the remains of what appeared to have been a blueberry scone.

How did I know? How do you know your name, your parents, your favorite color? You just know. And then I was just running. My laptop bag banged painfully at my hip, car brakes squealed in surround sound, the very sky seemed to turn colors, but I was running. I was running so fast that I nearly went headfirst into the door of the coffee shop: would have broken my nose, in fact, if some bent old man hadn’t caught me with a surprisingly firm arm, a second before I exploded into the glass.

“Watch out there, dearest,” he told me, holding up his cane to the plate of glass, and winking. “You’ll end up the shadow of the waxwing slain.”

I couldn’t stop to feel grateful, or to ponder these strange words. If it hadn’t been for this old man, I might have caught Jacob. As it was, all that was left of him were some blueberry-colored crumbs, a packet of artificial sweetener, and one of those wooden stirring spoons, still drooling onto the plastic chessboard tabletop.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 17th, 2010, 5:42 pm

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

Post by cam » July 17th, 2010, 5:46 pm

Title: Dandelion Teeth
Genre: Literary
234 wc

Julia stood in front of O’Hare’s Gate B-20, staring at the check-in counter. Her feet were planted firmly on the tile walkway, the carpet and seats a world away. She’d made it through security without a problem, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk those last few feet.

Her roommate Natalie tried to talk her out of flying home, insisting that a car ride would be more calming. Calming, that’s how she put it.

“Are you lost?” a woman in an oversized Navy Pier t-shirt asked. She stood on the edge of the gate-area carpet, careful not to let her white tennis shoes touch the same tiled floor that Julia stood on. Instead, she leaned forward, a mixture of maternal worry and tourist fear tugging at the corners of her mouth.

A pale man, presumably her husband, watched the woman nervously as he guarded their bags. With round glasses and a thinning comb-over, the man looked nothing like her father, yet that’s all Julia saw. Her father was everywhere in the airport. She saw his pudgy white hands in the slender black hands of the businessman in front of her at security. She saw his graying curls on the shiny pink head of the bald man hawking last minute souvenirs in the terminal hallway.

The woman cleared her throat and wrung her hands.

“I’m fine.” Julia forced a smile onto her face. “Thanks.”

Posts: 6
Joined: July 17th, 2010, 9:33 pm

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

Post by matt » July 17th, 2010, 9:47 pm

Title: The Reaper's Maiden
Genre: Historical Fantasy
253 words

They caught me planting the seed-corn I had stolen the day before. Lucky for me I use a rusty length of rebar to poke holes in the ground for the seed. Unlucky for them a rusty length of rebar punctures a man’s flesh as easily as it pierces concrete-hard soil.

Five of them this time. Probably thought I’d make an easy kill being all by myself. But I’ve performed this dance many times before. It’s a jaunty little number and I hummed a tune to myself as I obliterated bone and tendon and joint. A whispered incantation boosted my senses and moved the world into slow-motion. One by one, I maimed them. Most practitioners of my trade prefer to kill with the distance and sterility of magic, but I’ve grown to enjoy the physical contact.

They each toppled to the earth, their impact throwing up billowing clouds of dust, which in my heightened state appeared as the slow moving dust storms now common where once there had been forest and farm. On the ground the men lay helpless before the killing blow. Their faces frozen in death with a look of disbelief: all the wizards were supposed to have been killed after the War—blamed for its length and severity and the ruin that had become of the Earth.

In the quiet that followed I searched among the ruins of their bodies. The seed required water to germinate—water I did not have. Would their blood be an adequate substitute?
Last edited by matt on September 13th, 2010, 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 21
Joined: July 9th, 2010, 11:42 am

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

Post by jfw » July 17th, 2010, 10:52 pm

Title: The Brickweavers
Genre: Science Fiction
(235 words)

That night the bricks had appeared to Jeppo as they had for many nights before and while he analyzed the pattern, a small, distant voice shouted, "Remember it!" while another countered, "He need not remember it. He need only understand." Then, surprisingly, the wall of bricks shuddered three times, and he was awake.

There was a jug of water near his bed and he grabbed it as soon as he had risen. The water was cool and he swallowed it desperately. Matanya was still sleeping next to him. She was lying on her stomach with her arms bent and her hands leisurely crossed over the top of her head. He could see her back rising and falling slowly but her face was turned away from him. As he watched her slumber, he heard three sharp raps on the door.

Jeppo moved out of bed quickly and wrapped himself in a robe. It would not be proper to see anyone in his nightclothes but he could still hear the nearly imperceptible cracking and sighing of the stressed crystals so it was earlier than he might expect to greet a visitor. He pulled himself up onto the ledge of the high window and saw that the sky was still dark but not its darkest. The window looked out onto a large but quiet plaza. The crystal lamps that illuminated the place at night were slowly dimming now.

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Joined: July 18th, 2010, 4:40 pm

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

Post by PantsAttack » July 18th, 2010, 4:44 pm

Title: The Book of Hours
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 241

Amanda Joy winced against the sun pulsing across her eyes and realized that even grimacing hurt, however that was possible. She touched her eyelids, surprised that they weren’t blistered, and even the smallest movement of her face contracted painfully across her sunburned cheeks.

A tiny well of panic sank itself down through her chest as she realized that nothing seemed familiar, there was nothing recognizable around her. She was in a car; maybe her dad’s car? Nodding her head, that puzzle piece slid into place. Definitely her dad's car, with the cracked blue vinyl on the glove box, and an eight ball topping off the stick shift. She furrowed her brow, and inhaled sharply at the pain that seemed to echo from her skin into her skull, knocking her thoughts about. Licking her parched lips she realized that this is one serious sunburn, or maybe worse--maybe heat stroke had addled her brain. Of course, her memory was not anything that could be considered reliable--thanks Aunt Easter, for the daily reminder--so maybe it was just a sunburn mixed with stupid. The voices outside the car, a jumbled heap she thought she recognized, pushed her closer to awake and worked to clear her head.

Despite the pain Amanda Joy made another face, thinking about her aunt’s reaction, about what she would say about this red hot mess—she loves rolling her own proverbs too much to let the opportunity pass.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 18th, 2010, 9:29 pm

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

Post by MDGrace » July 18th, 2010, 9:49 pm

Last edited by MDGrace on July 19th, 2010, 6:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 79
Joined: February 13th, 2010, 12:41 am

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

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 19th, 2010, 1:19 am

Title: Timeless
Genre: YA Romance
Word Count: 246

PROLOGUE - May 25th, 1856. St. Petersburg, Russia.

Nothing good could come of burying my parents. Or so I thought.

My thirteen-year old sister, Anna, clung to my arm. The black lace of her glove was already soaked, whether by tears or by the sheets of rain, it didn't matter. I hugged her slight frame tighter to me, pressing her against my coat as we sloshed over the stone walkway toward the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul.

The church loomed over us, its yellow-and-white facade seemingly gray under the storm clouds, its copper dome repelling the downpour in a violent mist. The flying angel at the top of the spire glared down at me from the overcast sky. Even the cherubs decorating the windows frowned.

"Prince Andreyev."

My formal title. I halted, still several paces from the entrance to the cathedral. A bony hand with curled, brittle fingernails clawed at my sleeve. Anna shrieked and tried to yank me away.

"Do not fear, young princess. I mean your brother no harm." The hunchbacked mystic bared her toothless gums in an attempt to smile, her leathery skin wrinkling.

"It's all right, Anna," I said. "It's only Afanasiya."

Still, my sister tightened her grip.

Another voice called to me from a short distance away. "Leo!"

Dmitri, my closest friend, hustled toward us, splashing muddy water onto his military greatcoat, his lanky frame balanced by the proud way he carried his shoulders under his new officer's uniform.
Last edited by EvelynEhrlich on July 28th, 2010, 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 8:22 am

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

Post by Suilan » July 19th, 2010, 8:28 am

Title: The Book of Names
Genre: fantasy
Word Count: 249

Tara didn’t look back. She just ran. Branches whipped her face, brambles tugged at her clothes, and with every step she sank ankle-deep into the snow. Someone crashed through the undergrowth not far behind. There were two of them, closing in on her from both sides. The Vrelds. They had found her. She had won four extra years, but now she was going to die.

Her breath came in sobbing gasps and her lungs burned from the raw night air. The forest was aglow with moonlight reflecting off the snow: a blind man could have followed the trail she was leaving, and yet she clutched her bundle to her thumping heart and willed her legs to move faster. They mustn’t have it. Father had died to protect it. ´Run, save the book,´ he’d told her. ´The enemy must never have it.´

Roots hidden beneath the snow pulled at her feet while the crashing noise gained on her.

"Over there!" came a shout.

Tara spotted a dark belt of conifers ahead and dashed toward it. If she could reach it, she might yet escape . . . But a root caught her ankle and sent her tumbling headlong into a snowdrift. She lost precious time scrambling out of it and retrieving her bundle before stumbling on. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a movement, a blurry shadow darting toward her. Dodging him, she bumped into the second man, and they went down in a tangle of limbs.

Posts: 1
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 11:45 am

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

Post by dlk777 » July 19th, 2010, 11:50 am

Title: Into the Heart of Darkness
Genre: Inspirational Historical
Word count:249

Liberia, Africa, 1918

William Mayweather placed his worn leather Bible on the table beside him and stepped out on the deep, shaded porch of the Newaka mission. His evening devotions would have to wait if what he was hearing was any indication. The smooth, hand-hewn rail of the porch transmitted the day’s heat through his hand while he listened for confirmation of his hopes from the dense Liberian jungle.

There it was. His ears hadn’t deceived him. The escalating cries of monkeys in the tree tops telegraphed a clear message over and above the noise of the busy compound. Someone was coming.

Finally. The two-week delay here at the base mission station seemed like forever despite the hospitality of his hosts, Hannah and Karl Jansen. William chafed to get back to the Pahn people and begin his work anew. He didn’t even mind the amount of physical labor that would be needed to restore his former home after a year of unfettered jungle reclamation.

He looked past the rectangular compound lined with wooden buildings, roofed with tin. The other outbuildings were thatched just like his at Nynabo were--if they still stood. William tried squinting as though his vision could possibly penetrate the dense vegetation just past the welcoming entrance arch. There was the possibility it was just a supply run, but given the dangers of travel in the bush, certainly the regular caravan would’ve waited for the two additional mission workers he’d been promised by the Mission Board.


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